CINCINNATI -- Before Wednesday night's 8-2 loss to the Mets, Dusty Baker seemed less than enthusiastic about Yonder Alonso's ability to play left field."I've heard he's OK," Baker said. "I've heard he needs some work, and we'll see. Everybody can't play left field. ... Yonder is more of a first baseman than he is a left fielder; speed is the question, and range. We'll see how it works out." In fact, Alonso's adjustment to roaming the outfield seemed to be what confined him to Triple-A Louisville for so long. But Baker brought the 24-year-old into Wednesday's game as part of an eighth-inning double switch -- and so far, so good. Alonso only saw one ball hit his direction, but he got a good break on it and made a sliding catch in foul territory in the top of the ninth. "I definitely was not expecting that," he said. At the end of the inning, Alonso received plenty of dap from teammates and coaches, including Baker, who left his usual post and walked across the dugout to give Alonso a fist bump. Alonso, whose 6-foot-2, 240-pound frame doesn't equate to agile defensive gems, told outfield coach Billy Hatcher that he wants to come in early every day before games to get extra work in left field. He plans on doing drills six hours before opening pitch, at least for night games. He said he had a similar routine while he was with Louisville. "I'm going to be out here grinding, getting ready, getting after it," he said. "It's going to be good. At the end of the day, it's going to pay off for myself, but it's [also] going to pay off for the team."
Heisey likely to start majority of time in left field
CINCINNATI -- With the departure of Jonny Gomes, fans should expect to see a heavy dose of Chris Heisey going forward. He started in left field against the Mets on Wednesday night, and manager Dusty Baker said before the game that Heisey will receive the majority of the playing time at that position.Despite starting just 36 games, Heisey ranks fourth on the team with 12 home runs. Overall, he has been more effective as an option off the bench -- he is hitting .321 as a sub, .221 as a starter -- but Heisey has at times flashed brilliance. He hit three homers against New York on June 22, and on July 15, against St. Louis, he smacked a leadoff homer -- one of two blasts in the game -- and robbed Albert Pujols of a long ball in a game Cincinnati ultimately won by one run. "Any time you get to start the majority of games, you have to feel blessed, especially kind of taking the road I have," said Heisey, Cincinnati's 17th-round Draft pick in 2006. "But I'm not expecting to be out there every day. We've got some other guys. Freddy [Lewis] is going to play. I'm sure Yonder [Alonso] is going to play some. It's good to know they have the confidence in me to run me out there." The Gomes trade made room for Alonso, who had been hitting .296 with 12 homers at Triple-A Louisville, and Baker knows the newest guy in the locker room will be the most popular option among fans. Alonso doubled off the bench on Tuesday night, so he's batting 1.000 thus far. Still, Baker sees Heisey as a better defensive player and, therefore, a better everyday option. "There was a point where everyone was hollering for Heisey in left," Baker said. "Now Yonder's here and everybody wants Yonder to play, and what are we going to do with Heisey?" Lewis, Baker's other option in left, has started 34 games and is hitting .257 overall.
Cozart hopes to shed arm brace by weekend
CINCINNATI -- Shortstop Zack Cozart admitted he gets irritated wearing a hard brace on his left arm. Luckily, he could be getting some relief as soon as this weekend.Cozart, who suffered a hyperextended elbow against Atlanta on Saturday, is wearing a custom brace that runs all the way down his arm, keeping it in at a permanent right angle. The brace stabilizes Cozart's elbow, helping it heal after bending back too far the other way upon injury. If he continues to improve, however, he could be out of the hard brace at the end of the week. At that point, he will wear a sleeve that still protects him but also grants him mobility. Currently, Cozart takes the hard brace off a couple times a day to regain his flexibility. "The idea behind the rehab is to give him a nice range of motion," team trainer Paul Lessard said. "Once he gets that, we'll focus on more baseball-related stuff." As for now, Cozart continues to sit and wait. At the very least, he conceded that the hard brace looks cool. "I don't know what it's called," he said. "[Team doctor Tim Kremchek] made it special for me, and he has a special name for it. I call it the bionic arm." Since getting called up from Triple-A Louisville at the beginning of the month, Cozart was hitting .324 with a pair of home runs in 37 at-bats before the injury.
Masset feeling unlucky in recent outings
CINCINNATI -- While he wasn't saddled with the loss on Tuesday night, Nick Masset's rough outing proved to be the difference in the Reds' 8-6 loss to the Mets. In two-thirds of an inning, Masset allowed two earned runs on four hits and a walk.Entering in the top of the seventh, Masset walked Carlos Beltran and gave up a couple singles up the middle. After a mound visit, the reliever retired a pair but also surrendered two more hits, and another run. Masset said Wednesday that he actually felt good on the mound, that he hit his spots and was simply unlucky. Regardless, he has struggled of late, giving up two earned runs in two-thirds of an inning on Friday night and allowing a hit to the only batter he faced on Sunday. "Things just haven't been going my way," Masset said. "Last night, for instance, three balls hit the hole, one ball was off the end of the bat. It's not like I've been walking a lot of guys." Actually, Masset's walk rate is only mediocre. Including Beltran's walk on Tuesday, Masset has issued 3.12 free passes per nine innings this month, putting him eighth out of 14 among Reds pitchers. Masset pointed out the obvious challenge of being a reliever -- he only gets one inning, and failures are magnified. But he also pointed out the other side of the coin. Unlike a starter, he can redeem a poor effort a day or two later. "You've got to have amnesia in this game," he said. "You've got to forget about it, move on, learn from it and not put too much pressure on yourself."
Although he did not see the controversial call at the end of the Atlanta-Pittsburgh game that concluded Wednesday morning, manager Dusty Baker weighed in on the instant replay debate."I'm an old-school guy, in some ways, because I'm old," he said. "But I would like to think of myself as an all-schools guy. I try to make adjustments and adapt to what's happening. If they could come up with something that would show a proper angle and do it in a very short period of time, I'd be for it." The Reds were victimized by a controversial call in a one-run loss to Atlanta on May 29. In the eighth inning, Paul Janish was called out at the plate when replays indicated he had not been tagged. The documentary "Let's Get Ready to Win: A Day at Great American Ball Park" will air on MLB Network on Saturday at 5 p.m. ET. It will feature the Sept. 28 game, during which Jay Bruce hit a walk-off homer to clinch the National League Central.
Tyler Jett is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.