CINCINNATI -- Early arrivals at Great American Ball Park on Monday were surprised to see rookie first baseman Yonder Alonso on an empty field taking grounders at third base. Alonso, a first baseman by trade, struggled in left field this past weekend at Wrigley Field.Reds manager Dusty Baker would like to have his bat in the lineup and with reigning National League Most Valuable Player Joey Votto ensconced at first, Baker is looking for other ways to insert Alonso. "You don't want to do this in the big leagues, but that's the position he started at," said Baker before the Reds opened a four-game series against the Rockies on Monday night. "[Third base] is a mirror image of first base, actually. Most first basemen, if they're not left-handed and have the arm, can play third. We'll see. We're trying to figure out the best place to get his bat in the lineup." Alonso, 8-for-16 with a homer and four RBIs in the 10 games since he was brought up from the Minors on July 26, said he's played third base before and was certainly game to make the move. "It's kind of natural to me," Alonso said about playing third base. "Let's say it's not as new as left field. I played there all my life. It's something I can do. Left field is tough and I'm trying to get better at it and first base is locked down. As long as I'm adequate out there at third -- and I think I am -- hopefully they'll give me a shot." Alonso added, though, that he'd been given no indication by Baker when he might play third base in a game. With incumbent Scott Rolen on the disabled list after left shoulder surgery, the position is wide open at least for the time being. "If you do [find out], let me know," said Alonso, the seventh overall pick by the Reds in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft. "They haven't really told me. They just told me to work. Come in early every day and obviously I do. That's one thing I'm going to do. No question I'm going to work hard. Hopefully, I can get it done and play." Baker, though, said there were no immediate plans of running Alonso back out there, during a game in left field.
Rolen back in clubhouse after surgery
CINCINNATI -- Almost a week after the most recent surgery on his left shoulder, Scott Rolen was back in the Reds clubhouse on Monday night a few hours before his club took on the Rockies at Great American Ball Park.The All-Star third baseman said he was in the early stages of his rehab, but after doctors cleared out his A/C joint, he felt easy movement in his neck and shoulder for the first time this season. Whether he'll be back again in 2011 is still unknown. "I certainly have aspirations of returning this year," Rolen told the media. "And I think [the Reds] have aspirations of me returning this year, but we're not even a week out of the surgery right now and I have some work to do to get back to the field. I have to strengthen it. Do range of motion stuff. "We're going to rehab it correctly and do the right thing. When that time comes, we're going to see where we are and play some baseball. That's the plan right now. I don't have a timeline. I don't have a deadline. That's kind of for you guys." The Reds indicated it would be a four-to-six week recovery after the arthroscopic procedure, which was done this past Wednesday. Rolen, who has been on the disabled list since July 22 this time around, had bone spurs and fragments cleaned out of the A/C joint by Reds medical director Dr. Timothy Kremchek. It's been a litany of left shoulder problems for Rolen -- which he verbally documented -- since 2005 when he was injured in a collision with then Dodgers first baseman Hee Seop Choi and underwent two procedures. Later, Rolen missed the last month of the 2007 season to have his shoulder repaired and went on the DL again in '08 with a shoulder sprain. This season, he was also out from April 24 to May 12 with an injury to the same shoulder. Rolen is hitting .242 with five homers and 36 RBIs in 65 games this season. Despite all that, he was a late add to the National League All-Star team at third base when Chipper Jones of the Braves had to undergo knee surgery. After top fan choice Placido Polanco of the Phillies also had to miss the game because of injury, Rolen was named the starter. Rolen said on Monday that he felt better than he has all year and was encouraged by the quick improvement. "If you can't do real life, you can't do baseball," Rolen said, raising his left arm toward the ceiling just to demonstrate his better range of motion. "It's just the little stuff like driving a car and being able to turn my head. I'm a lot better driver right now. My neck's not locked up in my shoulder. I can turn the steering wheel." Even on the club's own timeline, Rolen might not be ready to steer a baseball until early September.
Phillips hopes ankle injury responds quickly
CINCINNATI -- Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips was out of the lineup for the second consecutive game on Monday night because of a right ankle sprain, but he made it clear to manager Dusty Baker that he's ready to start again in Tuesday night's rematch.Phillips came off the bench and opened the seventh inning with a long pinch-hit home run off Rockies reliever Rex Brothers to tie the score at the time. The Rox, though, won it, 10-7. "I told [Baker] that I've got to play. I want to play," Phillips said after the game. "I just can't really sit through the games. That's two games I've missed. I can't do it, man. I'd rather go out there and just play hurt rather than sit on the bench. It's not a good feeling. I've been through that before in the past. I'd rather just go out there." Phillips injured the ankle on Saturday at Wrigley Field. He collided with Drew Stubbs ranging out to center field to catch a pop fly. Stubbs dropped to the ground to try and avoid the collision, sideswiping Phillips in the ankle. Paul Janish was at second base for the Reds on Monday night with the veteran Edgar Renteria at short. Phillips, who's now hitting .289 with 11 homers and 63 RBIs in 108 games, said the injury was a new experience. "I got my foot taped up pretty good, first time taping up my ankle. Never had that done before," he said beforehand. "Don't know how people do it. I never even had it done playing football. I've got good ankles." Baker said that he had heard Phillips loud and clear and hoped to have him back in the lineup for the second game of the four-game series. "There's a pretty good chance he'll be in there tomorrow," Baker said afterward. "Tonight he really was able to pinch-hit only and he did his job."
Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.