NYM@CIN: Latos tosses seven frames of one-run ball

LOS ANGELES -- Reds pitcher Mat Latos appeared on track to make his second rehab start for Triple-A Louisville on Friday at Columbus. Against Buffalo on Sunday, Latos threw 49 pitches over four innings and allowed two runs (one earned) with three hits, one walk and three strikeouts.

"Everything that I've gotten has been positive," Reds manager Bryan Price said Monday about the reports. "With Mat, what's really important has been the days following. He'll back in Cincinnati for the next couple of days and back to Louisville to throw his bullpen and so on and so forth. The reports we get today and tomorrow will be more telling than what we saw in the game."

Latos, who had right elbow surgery in October and left knee surgery in February, suffered a setback in April during his previous rehab assignment with a strained tendon in his forearm.

Assuming there are no more setbacks, Latos will get a total of three starts for Louisville before the organization makes an evaluation of whether to activate him for the first time this season.

Cozart is coming around at the plate

STL@CIN: Cozart sends a single to left, plates Pena

LOS ANGELES -- The "Mendoza line", also known as a .200 batting average, is starting to appear well back in Reds shortstop Zack Cozart's rearview mirror.

Cozart entered Monday's series opener against the Dodgers with hits in nine of his previous 11 games and was batting .372/.400/.442 in that stretch. He is hitting .329 over his last 22 games to raise his overall average from .148 on April 27 to .238.

The climb out of the early slump did not require major mechanical adjustments. Rather, it was mostly because of his mental approach.

"Obviously, it's confidence, being on time and getting good pitches to hit," Cozart said on Monday. "I'm kind of looking in a zone, and if they throw it there I'm attacking it. If they're not there early in the count, I'm letting it go. Early in the year, when I started the year 0-for-22, I was chasing hits instead of trying to get my pitch and drive it. I'm definitely feeling a lot better."

Throughout April, when some fans were calling for Cozart to be benched, his solid defense kept him in the lineup as an asset to manager Bryan Price. It also didn't hurt that Price personally told Cozart a couple of times that he didn't have to look over his shoulder.

"Nobody wants to struggle. I'm not a young guy, but I've only got three years here. To have your manager tell you that is big," Cozart said. "It definitely helped me out for him to say 'I'm still going to run you out there every day. I know you're going to come through this.'

"I go through something like this every year. It just happened to be at the beginning of the year this year. Better to get that bad streak out of the way early. Hopefully, I can continue to stay strong and finish strong."

Price opts to sit Lutz against lefty Ryu

Top Prospects: Donald Lutz, OF/1B, Reds

LOS ANGELES -- For Monday's series opener vs. the Dodgers, Reds manager Bryan Price contemplated having lefty-hitting Donald Lutz make his first start of the season at first base against lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu. Price changed his mind and started regular third baseman Todd Frazier at first base while Ramon Santiago took Frazier's spot.

"He may get a start in this series," Price said of Lutz, who was recalled from Triple-A Louisville on Friday. "In this situation, you don't want to have guys coming up from the Minor Leagues like Lutz, who is swinging the bat well, and not play him."

Not helping is that the Reds faced Cardinals lefty Jaime Garcia on Saturday and St. Louis ace righty Adam Wainwright on Sunday. After Ryu, the Reds will see 7-1 right-hander Zack Greinke and another lefty in reigning National League Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw.

Price isn't afraid to use Lutz against any of those pitchers, but decided that Santiago needed the playing time.

"Keeping him active is even more of a priority. Ramon is playing once every five games and somehow gets in there to do something in one other game," Price said. "It's been hard to rotate him around, because our infield is pretty much set up with regulars except for first base until Joey [Votto] gets back."

Louisville's Diaz making case for Reds' bullpen

Jumbo Diaz has a 1.54 ERA and 12 saves at Louisville. (AP)

LOS ANGELES -- As the Reds' bullpen remains a sore spot, with the highest ERA in the National League (4.85 entering Monday), power right-hander Jumbo Diaz has posted impressive numbers for Triple-A Louisville.

Diaz, who had a strong showing for the Reds in Spring Training but was one of the final cuts, has a 1.54 ERA and 12 saves in 21 appearances for the Bats this season. With pitchers like Logan Ondrusek, Sean Marshall and J.J. Hoover struggling, Diaz could be worth a look, but a callup didn't seem imminent.

"We want to have guys down there who are pitching well that give us that opportunity to make changes when we feel they're necessary to make," Reds manager Bryan Price said on Monday. "I don't think we're at that point now.

"You look back at our bullpen, and those are guys that have a track record of being effective. We really don't want to look to make that type of drastic decision. [But] in the end, we have to have the best team possible moving forward so we're going to need to see improvement."

Diaz is not on the Reds' 40-man roster, so a promotion would require someone to be taken off.