9/22/2013 1:02 P.M. ET
Choo remains out of lineup, but thumb improving
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
PITTSBURGH -- As expected, center fielder Shin-Soo Choo was out of the Reds' lineup again on Sunday because of a sore left thumb. Choo never enjoys sitting, but he was relieved to know his injury was improving.
X-rays taken on Saturday were negative. This was the same thumb that needed surgery in 2011 to insert a plate and screws.
"The doctor said the bone was OK," Choo said Sunday morning. "I saw it, and after that, my mind was better. I think I healed quicker. Every hour, I feel better. I keep moving it."
Rookie and speedy top prospect Billy Hamilton made his second Major League start in Choo's place, and also batted leadoff.
In the ninth inning of Friday's 6-5 win over the Pirates in 10 innings, Choo jammed his thumb into first base while making a headfirst slide in an attempt to get an infield hit.
Choo expected to be available for the series finale vs. the Pirates, if needed. He also plans on being back in the lineup Monday vs. the Mets.
"I was warming up in the sixth inning [Saturday] night and ready to pinch-hit," Choo said. "It was tough to stay in the dugout. I don't like sitting in the dugout. I want to play every day. That's me. Especially in a team situation, it's very tough sitting in the dugout watching the game. I can't do anything. I can't help my team. That's the most tough time for myself on a team."
Reds manager Dusty Baker also hoped Choo would be ready for the Mets series, but he wasn't ready to commit to it.
"It's not only swinging, it's gripping the ball and throwing it, too," Baker said. "You don't realize how important your thumb is until you hurt it."
Baker preparing for numerous playoff decisions
PITTSBURGH -- The potential playoff scenarios the Reds might have once the regular season ends next weekend are multiple. Just like the fans, the club's decision-makers are thinking about all of the possibilities.
Inside a binder on his desk, manager Dusty Baker has several sheets of paper that detail potential rotations and rosters that hinge on who the opponent might be.
"I've got it written down," Baker said. "Sometimes, you think about your roster, if you've got a one-game playoff or a Wild Card home advantage or if you win the division. It's going to be different on who you probably keep, [depending] on the opposition. If they have a bunch of left-handed hitters or if they're right-handed strong in the bullpen -- there are all kinds of things you think about."
Final roster decisions are naturally fluid at this point. Teams can change rosters between the one-game Wild Card and Division Series rounds.
"No matter what you do, you're not going to make everybody happy," Baker said. "Somebody is going to be unhappy, whether it's the fans or whether it's somebody on the team or whatever it is. It's not an easy decision."
The rotation is subject to change, although Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake are locked in for Monday and Tuesday, respectively, vs. the Mets. Cincinnati plays the Pirates again next weekend at Great American Ball Park, which should provide implications on both the division race and Wild Card spots. Mat Latos, Homer Bailey and Bronson Arroyo are tentatively slated to pitch in that series.
"First, you've got to get there. Then you have to know where you are when you get there," Baker said. "We're not there yet, we're close. You can't overlook the Mets thinking about the Pirates and then the Mets mess you up. They're going to try and beat us, too."
In 11 games over the last two seasons, Reds pitchers have a 2.48 ERA vs. the Mets. Starters have not allowed more than four earned runs in a game since Bailey allowed nine in four innings on July 28, 2011.