09/22/12 8:35 PM ET
Frazier hits cleanup in shuffled lineup for Reds
By Mark Clements / MLB.com
Several players were placed in their typical spots in the order -- Brandon Phillips leading off, Joey Votto hitting third, Jay Bruce in the five-hole. But three Reds were batting in unfamiliar territory.
Filling in for an injured Ryan Ludwick in left field, Xavier Paul was hitting second, a spot he hasn't occupied all season and one he's only hit from in 33 games in his four-year career.
Rookie Todd Frazier took over Ludwick's duties as the cleanup hitter, getting just his second start there after testing the waters for the first time in his Major League career Thursday in Chicago.
"It didn't work out so well," said Frazier, who went 0-for-5 in that game. "It's pretty cool though. I'm excited about it."
Fellow rookie Zack Cozart, normally a leadoff or No. 2 hitter, hit eighth for the first time in his career.
Cozart made his first start Friday since straining his left oblique muscle, and acting manager Chris Speier said the move to the No. 8 spot will hopefully allow Cozart to settle back in without any added stress.
"I had him in the two-hole [Friday], but today I said, 'Let's have him relax a little bit, take some of the pressure off and let him get back in the swing of things,'" Speier said. "We'll see how that goes."
The Reds might as well try everything. Entering Saturday, they had scored the fourth fewest runs (56) in the Major Leagues in September, posting a 10-8 record.
Frazier, who has hit in every spot except second in his career, said the lineup shuffle doesn't bother him, but he hopes it works.
"It's whatever to me, to be honest because I never know where I'm going to be," Frazier said. "Whether I'm batting seventh, fourth, first, I still have the same mindset -- get on base and try to do some damage."
Nagging groin issue keeps Ludwick on sideline
CINCINNATI -- The Reds kept left fielder Ryan Ludwick out of the lineup again Saturday as he recovers from tightness in his groin.
Ludwick first felt the issue while running the bases in the fifth inning of Wednesday's game in Chicago. He exited that game after the fifth and hasn't played since.
"The groin is a really nagging thing," acting manager Chris Speier said. "We really want to make sure that he's really close to 100 percent."
The Reds entered Saturday with the luxury of an 11-game lead in the National League Central, which allows them to give guys the extra days of rest.
"There's no hurry there," Speier said. "We're in that situation where we can give him those days. It's not make or break that we need his bat in there. I want to make sure that he's 100 percent before he goes back out there."
Ludwick is second on the team with 80 RBIs, and with a Reds club struggling to score runs of late, his bat is certainly missed.
"He's one of our RBI guys," infielder Todd Frazier said. "In those situations, he's come through a lot this year. When you lose a guy like that for a little while, you're going to be hurting. Other guys have to step up."
Chapman seals division in return to game action
CINCINNATI -- The 11-day pitching drought for Aroldis Chapman came to an end Saturday and in dramatic fashion.
Chapman came on in the ninth inning of Saturday's National League Central-clinching win against the Dodgers and closed out the victory in just three batters.
The Cuban southpaw got Matt Kemp to ground out to first to start the inning. He walked Adrian Gonzalez on five pitches before getting Hanley Ramirez to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
After some deliberation with pitching coach Bryan Price, acting manager Chris Speier said before Saturday's game that Chapman would be available to pitch, but he likely would not close.
It wasn't a save situation by definition, but the pressure was certainly on with the division title on the line. But Chapman answered throwing as hard as 99 mph and tossing seven of his 12 pitches for strikes to secure the win.
The Reds shut down Chapman after his Sept. 10 outing against the Pirates when he could not finish an inning for the first time all season. They diagnosed their hard-throwing reliever with fatigue in his left arm and have rested him since then.
With 1,152 hits, second baseman Brandon Phillips needs just three more to tie Hall of Famer Joe Morgan for 18th place on the Reds' all-time list.
Entering Saturday, the Reds were 32-16 in the second game of series this season. They are 25-24 in series openers.
Mark Clements is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.