09/24/12 12:09 AM ET
Dusty in Cincinnati, pays brief visit to Reds
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
Baker, 63, was back in Cincinnati late Sunday afternoon, and briefly visited his players in the clubhouse after batting practice.
"He was in good spirits," Reds left fielder Ryan Ludwick said. "He had a big smile on his face, which was a welcomed sight, obviously. He got a bunch of hugs from all of us. He seemed cool, calm and collected. Obviously, we want him here. But he's taking some time to chill out a little bit."
Backer headed home instead of staying at the ballpark for the Reds' 5-3 loss to the Dodgers on Sunday night.
"Hopefully with the day off [Monday] and him getting a good relaxing night tonight at home, he can come back on Tuesday and see how he feels. It's great news," bench coach and acting manager Chris Speier said.
Speier managed his fifth game in a row in Baker's place. The Reds clinched the National League Central title on Saturday without Baker. The club made video greetings during the clubhouse celebration.
"He looked great. I got to see him for a quick second," pitcher Homer Bailey said of Baker.
Baker's son, 13-year-old Darren, was slated to be at Great American Ball Park.
"Darren is going to be here and hang with us. That'll be good to see him," Speier said.
Reds 'easing' Chapman back into closer role
CINCINNATI -- Although Aroldis Chapman finished Saturday's 6-0 division-clinching Reds win over the Dodgers, he was not expected to draw a save situation for the time being.
"I think we're definitely easing him back into that situation," Reds acting manager Chris Speier said on Sunday. "It may be another time or two out of the bullpen, and then see what happens."
The Reds rested Chapman after he struggled in a Sept. 10 appearance vs. the Pirates because of a fatigued left shoulder. He resumed throwing off of a mound in Chicago on Wednesday.
Chapman pitched a scoreless ninth inning on Saturday vs. Los Angeles with one walk. He ended the game by inducing a double play on the ground toward second base with his 12th pitch of the appearance.
"I thought he looked good," Speier said. "I was happy that when he was off the strike zone, it was down. That's a good sign. He's getting out front and staying on top of the ball. I know he was anxious to get back out there and it was a good position for him to kind of have a soft landing, just to go out there and get that inning in. We're going to need him down the stretch here or into the playoffs."
In 65 games entering Sunday, Chapman is 5-5 with a 1.57 ERA and 35 saves.
Rest part of Reds' plan as they face contenders
CINCINNATI -- One day after the requisite celebrating of a National League Central crown after Saturday's game, the Reds rested several regulars vs. the Dodgers on Sunday. Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce, Scott Rolen, Zack Cozart and Ryan Ludwick were all out of the starting lineup.
Several regulars were told they could come to the ballpark late as well. Ludwick got another day to rest because of tightness in his left groin.
After Sunday and Monday's off-day, the Reds will have nine games remaining in the regular season before they commence postseason play. The club will toe the line between resting players and also keeping the integrity of competition on the field, especially since all of the Reds' remaining opponents are still contending for the NL Wild Card.
"I don't think that's too difficult," acting manager Chris Speier said. "With our personnel, we put a competitive team out there, I think, every day. We are going to take care of ourselves and make sure that the people that need a day or two to get their injuries under wrap will take those. I don't think that's going to be hard."
Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan was removed from the game before the eighth inning Sunday after he was struck on the neck and shoulder with a foul ball. Hanigan was diagnosed with a bruised right shoulder after X-rays were negative. Dioner Navarro replaced Hanigan behind the plate.
"He got a little scare, because it got him in the Adam's apple and the collarbone, so I'm sure he's going to be a little bit sore," Speier said of Hanigan. "He's fine, just a little precautionary measure on my side."