4/30/2014 7:34 P.M. ET
Phillips still adjusting to hitting third in lineup
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- The Reds lineup as a whole has produced better offensively since the move of Joey Votto from third to second in the lineup on April 13. But the production from the current No. 3 hitter, second baseman Brandon Phillips, has been far from robust since the switch.
Phillips, who was batting .328/.350/.414 with one home run through 14 games on April 15, is batting .227/.235/.258 with no homers as the No. 3 hitter entering Wednesday. Overall, Phillips came in batting .255 with a .593 on-base-plus slugging percentage.
"He's a better hitter than he's been in the last week," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "I don't have a concern. He's got a huge resume of performance. It will be something special when he warms up and does what he's capable of doing.
"It kind of goes back to the whole ebb and flow of the season for guys that get off to the good starts. Inevitably, things balance out by having a tough week or two. That's just baseball. The great part about veteran players is you know the track record. There is always something to come back to."
Phillips has been less selective at the plate than usual this season. He was tied with the Phillies' Marlon Byrd for the Major League lead by swinging at 44.1 percent of pitches outside of the strike zone. For his career, Phillips has swung at 34.2 percent of pitches out of the zone.
"We just want him to hit not necessarily to the spot in the order, but just to hit," Price said. "Get a good pitch to hit and hit it. Don't worry about whether you're hitting first, second or third, fourth or fifth."
Chapman to throw one rehab inning tonight
CINCINNATI -- Reds closer Aroldis Chapman's first rehab assignment outing is now set. Chapman will start a game for Class A Dayton tonight and is expected to throw one inning.
It will be Chapman's first game action since he was struck in the head by a line drive off the bat of Salvador Perez on March 19 vs. the Royals. Chapman required surgery to repair fractures above the left eye and nose.
Chapman will likely make three or four rehab appearances, but the particulars and exact plan remain fluid.
"We're going to get through one at a time," manager Bryan Price said on Wednesday. "We have a schedule. We have a template. We're not going through this blindly. We'd just like to see him go out there and pitch in a game before we announce any further outings. I think that's the responsible thing to do.
"I don't want to put something out in front of him that he can't live up to or isn't ready and everyone sees it as a setback when it's really not."
Chapman has had three live batting practice sessions against Reds hitters, including one on Tuesday, and has encountered no difficulties. On Wednesday, he took pitchers' fielding drills for the first time.
It is likely Chapman will start the majority of the rehab games, mostly so the club can guarantee when he'll be pitching. Price did not feel it was necessary for Chapman to work in any save situations or close a game.
"He's going to come out of the bullpen at least once in what should be roughly four outings," Price said. "At the tail end of the rehab, we'll bring him into a game coming out of the bullpen. The ninth inning, I don't think has a great deal of relevance to it. There's no way to guarantee there will be a save opportunity."
Heisey coming through in a pinch
CINCINNATI -- Reds fourth outfielder Chris Heisey has been big as a pinch-hitter during his big league career, and his numbers this season reflect his prowess in that role. Heisey came into Wednesday leading the Major Leagues with four hits and six RBIs as a pinch-hitter.
During Tuesday's 3-2 Reds win over the Cubs, Heisey had the game-winning hit with a RBI single in the sixth inning off of Jeff Samardzija while pinch-hitting for pitcher Alfredo Simon.
"I do have  pinch-hit at-bats, I saw. I was surprised," Heisey said. "That's a lot of pinch-hit at-bats. I did have success right away. That could be why I have confidence doing it. My first week in the big leagues, I had a game-tying home run off of Billy Wagner [on May 19, 2010]. I was like 'Maybe I can do this.' I'm prepared. I go in there. I know what the pitcher has got. I go in there and compete and try to put a good swing on it."
The approach at the plate isn't varied for Heisey between starting or coming off of the bench.
"Zero. I'm aggressive starting or pinch-hitting," Heisey said. "That's how I've always been as a pinch-hitter. I've never been a guy that works walks, sometimes to a fault. I don't want to ever take my aggressiveness away because I like that fastball.
"Early in the counts, sometimes it's the best pitch you're going to get. I'm not content with taking the first pitch down the middle, because it could be the only one you get. You don't want to take three strikes pinch-hitting, that's for sure."
Hamilton learning on fly about when to steal
CINCINNATI -- During Tuesday's Reds win over the Cubs, Reds rookie center fielder Billy Hamilton reached base four times and stole his 10th base of the year. Hamilton was also caught stealing in the third inning. It was the fifth time he was caught stealing in 15 attempts.
Reds manager Bryan Price was not concerned about the relatively high caught stealing rate for Hamilton. It's part of the adjustments that will need to be made as the rookie's season progresses.
"He's been running fairly early in the count, and when that happens, sometimes you don't have a chance to evaluate the times that you're getting to the plate," Price said on Wednesday. "The other thing, is you have Joey [Votto] hitting behind him and you don't want Joey sitting around expending two or three pitches to allow Billy to run. We want Joey, if he gets a good pitch to hit, to hit it. Those are the things that change when you have speed."
Price has noticed that opposing pitchers are rushing more to the plate, which is also helping catchers throw out Hamilton. On the other hand, it could cause a pitcher to make a mistake to Votto.
"There are times we are seeing with other baserunners that are 1.35-1.45 [seconds] and Billy gets there and they are 1.18 to the plate," Price said. "Even the best of base-stealers are going to have a more difficult time stealing on guys with those types of times to the plate."