8/28/2013 8:17 P.M. ET
Looking for production, Reds move Phillips to two-hole
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- The Reds have been searching for production from the No. 2 spot in the lineup all season. Why not try Brandon Phillips, the guy originally slated to bat there?
Phillips was moved to cleanup after Ryan Ludwick's Opening Day shoulder injury sidelined him for four months and hasn't been back to the two-hole since. He was there Wednesday against the Cardinals, and Jay Bruce batted fourth behind Joey Votto. Ludwick was moved up from sixth to fifth.
"That was my original lineup from the beginning -- Brandon batting second -- trying to put more guys on base in front of Joey and Jay," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "I talked to Brandon last night. Ordinarily, I don't like having two left-handers in a row. By the time we get to their 'pen, hopefully we'll have a lead and it might not matter as much."
Phillips, who entered the night third in the National League with 95 RBIs while batting .264 with 16 home runs, declined to comment when asked about the change in the lineup.
However, Phillips did publish a tweet that a change was coming following Tuesday's 6-1 loss and his office chat with Baker: "#WellAlright... After tonight's loss, it was that time to talk to POPS about changing my role! NEED NEW RESULTS ASAP! #ALLREADY."
"He asked me could he tweet it. I said, 'Go ahead, it's going to be news the next day anyway,'" Baker said.
Phillips has a .277 lifetime batting average with a .320 on-base percentage, 21 homers and 68 RBIs in 183 games batting second, though he's spent only one game there since 2011.
Bruce, normally the fifth hitter, has batted cleanup seven previous times this season.
"I don't really see it as any different, to be honest with you," Bruce said. "I will take the same consistent approach. I'm completely fine with it."
Baker has tried Zack Cozart, Derrick Robinson, Chris Heisey, and most recently Todd Frazier in the second spot. The team's .226 average there entering the night ranked 14th out of 15 NL teams. Their .273 on-base percentage in the two-hole ranked last in the Majors.
"It's not a decision that I make or anybody in this room makes," Bruce said of changing the lineup. "It's the guys in the front office. It's Dusty, first and foremost. He knows what he's doing. That's first and foremost."
Consistent baserunning mistakes frustrate Baker
ST. LOUIS -- The baserunning gaffe by Reds shortstop Zack Cozart in the fourth inning of a 6-1 Reds loss on Tuesday was not an isolated incident to manager Dusty Baker.
"All through the year we've had them. This has been one of the worst baserunning years I have ever seen," Baker said. "We go over it. We practice it. We have Eric Davis in Spring Training and [Billy Hatcher]. I help out to go base to base. You have to be a quick thinker -- not necessarily smart, but baseball smart and a quick thinker, because you have this much time to make up your mind between being safe and being out."
Cozart was running from first to third base on a Mat Latos single. Jay Bruce, who was on second base, was originally waved home by third-base coach Mark Berry before being held up. With his head down, Cozart did not notice and ran to third, where he was tagged out to end the rally and inning.
It was brought up to Baker that the Reds used to be strong in baserunning, especially when former third baseman Scott Rolen was on the team.
"In 2010, we had somebody to emulate," Baker said, referring to Rolen. "It's a lot easier to emulate. For me to tell you something, it's not the same effect as me telling you something and then showing you how to do it.
"Too late. He's home. Rolen had judgment. Plus he had forethought -- when to go, when not to go, the speed of the outfielder, the arm and accuracy of the outfielder."
Cingrani confident in quick return from back strain
ST. LOUIS -- Reds lefty starter Tony Cingrani, who was placed on the disabled list Sunday with a lower back strain, threw on the field Wednesday. Cingrani has yet to work off of a mound, but reports no recent issues.
"Everything is going well. It feels good," Cingrani said.
The Reds have been optimistic that Cingrani will miss only two starts and can be back on Sept. 5 to pitch against the Cardinals at Great American Ball Park.
"I'll be ready," Cingrani said.
• Former Major League closer Lee Smith, who has 478 career saves, visited Baker in the Reds' clubhouse on Wednesday. Baker brought Smith around and introduced him to several players, including relievers J.J. Hoover, Logan Ondrusek and Sam LeCure.