MILWAUKEE -- Any time Wilson Valdez is batting for the Reds, he's a threat to bunt for a hit. But manager Dusty Baker sees Valdez as more than a bunter."That's just part of his game," Baker said on Wednesday. "He hasn't played enough for anybody to see what he really can do. His batting average was fair with Philly, but he was a big hit guy. He got a number of hits in the clutch, some against us. These guys played near every day when [Placido] Polanco, [Chase] Utley and [Jimmy] Rollins were out. This guy played on a championship team for a couple of years and played a lot." On Wednesday against Milwaukee, Valdez started at third base in place of Scott Rolen, who was given some rest with a day game following a night game. In 13 games entering the series finale, the 33-year-old Valdez was batting only .200.
Numbers game gives Frazier start in left
MILWAUKEE -- Though there wasn't just one reason why manager Dusty Baker started rookie Todd Frazier in left field for the first time this season on Wednesday vs. the Brewers, it mostly came down to the numbers of the left-field tandem of Ryan Ludwick and Chris Heisey."A lot of times, I have my lineups two or three days in advance, which I did," Baker said. "You look at the numbers, and it's not that difficult. Right now, Ludwick isn't swinging good, and neither is Heisey." Ludwick entered the day batting .176, and 1-for-18 over his last five games. Heisey was batting .219 and had yet to notch a home run. Frazier went in batting .421 in the 11 appearances he's made since his April 17 recall from Triple-A Louisville. Most of his at-bats have been as a pinch-hitter or while filling in at third base. Then there are the lifetime numbers vs. Brewers ace Zack Greinke -- Ludwick was 0-for-11 with six strikeouts, and Heisey was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. Frazier had faced Greinke only once and drew a walk. "I just try to go with the best lineup I can on that day," Baker said. "That's part of Frazier's value, that he can play a lot of positions. Plus, Greinke doesn't know him, which helps Frazier. A lot of them don't know Frazier yet, which is in Frazier's favor as long as he remains aggressive." Frazier, who can play up to six positions, played four games in left field last season. This season, he had only one start there for Louisville, as he primarily played third base. Since returning to the Reds, he's been taking fly balls in the outfield during batting practice to stay sharp. "I'll be good," Frazier said. "It's basically about getting used to the fly balls and the feel for the grass out there."
Baker reaches milestone win with nail-biter
MILWAUKEE -- When the Reds squeaked out a 2-1 victory over the Brewers on Wednesday, it meant a winning series and a winning road trip for the team.For manager Dusty Baker, it was career win No. 1,500. "It means something every time you win something," Baker said. "They came and told me I won my 1,400th here and my 1,500th here. Who knows? Maybe I will win my 2,000th here if I am around that long." In his 19th season as a manager, Baker ranks 20th all-time in victories and is second among active managers, behind the Tigers' Jim Leyland. "I just heard now. It's a pretty cool deal," Reds reliever Logan Ondrusek said of Baker's milestone. It was Ondrusek who had to notch the save in a wild ninth inning where the Reds nearly lost the game. Baker has managed the Reds, Cubs and Giants over a managerial career that started in 1993. Whenever his players reach a milestone statistic for their career, Baker gives them the lineup card and asks the team to sign it. This time, it was Baker who will keep the card. "All the guys congratulated me and gave me a bottle of Dom Perignon to take home and a bunch of stuff," Baker said. "It was a good day for us."
When there is a short turnaround, such as Wednesday's 1:10 p.m. ET game against the Brewers after a night game on Tuesday, teams often pass on taking batting practice. But with Milwaukee starting Zack Greinke, Dusty Baker had his players take their cuts."If you go out there half sleeping against him, you'll be in the fifth inning before you wake up," Baker said. "We want to get the blood flowing with a condensed batting practice and run around. That's a nasty man right there."