CINCINNATI -- It still is not known when injured Reds third baseman Scott Rolen will return to the lineup, but he appeared to have turned a corner this week.
Rolen, out since May 12 with a strained left shoulder, took batting practice and fielded ground balls on Wednesday for the first time since he went on the disabled list. He did it again on Thursday.
"I felt good and I'm ready to go out and do it again and progress this way," Rolen said before heading to the field on Thursday. "No timeline."
Rolen planned on dialing back the number of ground balls he took on Thursday. The club will continue to watch him carefully, and is not rushing a return. But they're pleased with the results so far.
"He looked pretty good," Reds manager Dusty Baker said of Rolen's Wednesday BP on Thursday. "Today is a key day and tomorrow and the next day and the next day. It's how he looks in successive days."
Stubbs out of lineup for second straight game
CINCINNATI -- Reds center fielder Drew Stubbs was out of the lineup for a second straight game due to a strained left oblique. Stubbs, who was injured while taking a swing in Tuesday's game, reported that he felt better on Thursday.
However, Stubbs hasn't done any baseball-related activities since Tuesday.
"I still haven't done any activity to test how it feels," Stubbs said. "Yesterday was more of a take it easy, don't aggravate it and get treatment done. I already got some treatment done additionally, today. We'll see what the training staff says and maybe incorporate some movements and see how it feels."
Stubbs said walking around and doing normal things causes him no issues. Taking a swing with a bat could be another story.
"Anything that makes it contract a little bit will make it twinge," he said. "Hopefully it won't be bad enough to keep me out long."
There is no timetable yet for a Stubbs return to the lineup. Chris Heisey started in center field in his place again on Thursday against the Pirates.
Stubbs' absence opens door for Ludwick
CINCINNATI -- With Drew Stubbs out indefinitely for the Reds with a strained left oblique, Chris Heisey will get the bulk of time in center field. And that means more playing time in left field for Ryan Ludwick.
Ludwick hasn't hit well all season and entered Thursday batting .207 in 39 games. But he's been a big run producer in clutch moments, with 24 RBIs and six home runs in 121 at-bats. He had a bases-loaded double that scored three runs in Wednesday's win over the Pirates.
"He's probably 65-70 points from where he'd be satisfied to be," Reds manager Baker said. "I haven't seen too many Joe Carters around. That's how Joe Carter was. He'd hit .220 and drive in 100 [runs]."
In the Reds' 5-4 loss to the Pirates in 10 innings, Ludwick had a big night with his 13th career multi-homer game. Both were game-tying shots.
Leading off the fifth as Cincinnati trailed by a 2-1 score, Ludwick slugged a first-pitch homer to left field off of Kevin Correia. And to begin the ninth with his team down 4-3, Ludwick crushed a first-pitch from Joel Hanrahan into the upper bleachers in left field.
Reds one of four clubs to use only five starters
CINCINNATI -- Through the first 56 games of the season, including Thursday, the Reds have used only their five original starting pitchers in 2012. Only three other teams -- the Mariners, Cardinals and Marlins -- have used just five starters all year.
This is the Reds' longest streak of using only five starters since they needed a sixth starting pitcher in the 80th game of the 1992 season.
"That's the secret to any winning team," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "You've either got to stay healthy or you need to have a tremendous amount of depth, especially in the pitching department. Our trainers and doctors do a great job and our fitness guy, Matt Krause. They run probably more than they have in the past. We do everything we can, including nutrition, weight training, stretching -- everything and anything in our power to keep them ready."