04/07/2013 6:42 PM ET
Paul's first start in left comes against Nats' ace
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- Reds outfielder Xavier Paul welcomed getting his first start of the season in left field Sunday, even if that meant facing Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg.
It's not easy to sit for a few days and then face anyone, let alone Strasburg, but Paul is used to the role of a fourth or fifth outfielder.
"I think as time has gone on, I found a little bit better way to prepare myself mentally and physically," Paul said. "It's tough. The biggest challenge is keeping your body physically in good shape, keeping your legs loose after sitting down for four days and then playing nine innings without hurting anything."
Paul keeps busy before and during games by doing extra running, sprint and agility drills -- and of course, extra swings.
"After that, it's just mental," Paul said. "It's mentally telling yourself, 'Hey, I can get the job done.'"
Paul went 2-for-4 on Sunday with an RBI. Reds manager Dusty Baker batted him second between Shin-Soo Choo and Joey Votto to give three straight lefties for Strasburg to face. Last season, lefty hitters batted .271 vs. Strasburg vs. .185 for right-handed hitters.
Baker acknowledged that Paul's job is not an easy one.
"I think him playing as much as he did during Spring Training, it's only been about a week since we were there, it gives him an advantage than if I had waited a month," Baker said.
Marshall tosses solid seventh in 2013 debut
CINCINNATI -- Reds lefty reliever Sean Marshall finally got to make his 2013 debut Sunday, and he looked good. Marshall, who pitched the seventh inning during a 6-3 win over the Nationals, retired the side in order. His third out came by striking out Bryce Harper on a 75-mph curveball.
Marshall had not pitched in a big league game since March 22 during Spring Training because of fatigue in his left shoulder.
"That was great," Reds manager Dusty Baker said of Sunday's effort. "He wasn't available yesterday. He threw 30 pitches in the 'pen as a test run. He looked good today."
Getting on base can be painful process for Choo
CINCINNATI -- Through one week of the regular season, center fielder Shin-Soo Choo has given the Reds something they hoped he would bring -- someone who gets on base, a lot.
Considering Choo had reached base in more than half of his plate appearances over his first six games, and at least once in every game, he has been more than just successful. Besides having an on-base percentage of .516, he is batting .375 (9-for-24) with three home runs and three walks.
"If I get on base, I have a lot of confidence I'm going to score. That's my job," said Choo, who had scored a team-high seven runs.
Last season, the Reds had a .208 average and .254 on-base percentage from their collection of leadoff hitters. That was the catalyst for acquiring Choo in a December trade with the Indians.
"If I walk, get a hit-by-pitch ... there are a lot of options to get on base," Choo said.
Choo has been hit by pitches already a Major League-leading four times, including once vs. the Nationals on Saturday. Only one other player in baseball -- Minnesota's Trevor Plouffe -- had been hit twice in the young season.
Being hit by pitches is nothing new to Choo, who was struck 14 times in 155 games last season for the Indians. His career high is 17 in 2009 for Cleveland.
"I don't think they're trying to hit me," Choo said Sunday. "I don't mind getting by hit by a pitch. The second game [vs. the Angels in the ninth inning], I scored after getting hit by a pitch.
"I used to worry about it, but now I've changed my mind. Before I was a little defensive, now I'm not scared anymore. ... I know a lot of pitchers keep throwing the inside pitch, but I'm not changing anything. I just keep my approach."
Reds manager Dusty Baker is not entirely thrilled about seeing Choo staying in the box and getting plunked.
"The amateurs holler 'take one for the team' -- that ain't the way to get on," Baker said. "When you've been hit, that means they're pitching you inside. There's a very small margin between -- it's only two or three inches between an inside strike and hitting you. He's going to get hit because they're going to pitch him inside until he proves they can't come in there.
"As long as they hit him in the legs -- those big tree trunks he has. You just don't want him to get hit in the hand or the elbow or anything. You shouldn't get hit there if you're moving out of the way properly, unless one gets away from you and you don't see it."
• Top Reds prospect and center fielder Billy Hamilton was in the lineup for Triple-A Louisville on Sunday after sustaining what Louisville called a minor calf strain. Hamilton had not played since Friday, when he exited Louisville's game against Toledo.
• Playing second base in Louisville's 6-4 win over Toledo on Saturday, Jason Donald was 4-for-5 with two doubles.