CIN@ATL: Bruce makes a nice sliding grab in right

PHOENIX -- After coming off of the disabled list last Friday, Reds right fielder Jay Bruce has yet to find any traction at the plate. Bruce, who was on the disabled list from May 6-22 because of left knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus, came into Thursday 2-for-20 since his return.

Manager Bryan Price felt Bruce's knee had nothing to do with the slump.

"The guy did have surgery on his knee and our good fortunate is it hasn't given him any problems since his return," Price said. "[But] he may get a break every now and again in the early stages of his return. He's still building leg strength.

"I thought his best game was his first game back. His swing was on time. His front side was staying close and he was doing a lot of good things. He'll get started. When he does, it will be a nice thing to see. He'll do some damage."

Leake looks forward to facing mentor Arroyo

STL@CIN: Leake strikes out eight over six innings

PHOENIX -- When Reds starting pitcher Mike Leake recently saw the probable matchups for his start on Friday vs. the D-backs, he admitted he had to chuckle.

Leake will be facing his friend, former teammate and mentor -- Bronson Arroyo.

"You're still doing your thing and you're still trying to pitch, it's that added little friendship that's involved with the game is kind of cool," Leake said on Thursday.

The pairing wasn't lost on Reds manager Bryan Price, who was Arroyo's pitching coach the past four years. Both pitchers lack power velocity, but have been successful with deception, location and craftiness.

"It's an interesting coincidence that they would be matched up against each other for sure," Price said. "I think Bronson had a really positive influence on many of our pitchers, no one more than Mike. In many ways, it was how to embrace the competition and how to have fun and really enjoy your time at the ballpark and embrace the work. I would put Mike Leake and Bronson in that upper echelon of hard work and preparation guys I've had as well."

Arroyo, who was not brought back over the winter and signed as a free agent with Arizona in February, was one of Cincinnati's most popular pitchers from 2006-13. During his eight seasons in a Reds uniform, Arroyo went 105-94 with a 4.05 ERA. He had seven 200-inning seasons and the one he missed in 2011 saw him pitch 199 innings. There were five seasons in which he had at least 14 victories, including 17 wins in 2010.

"It's a bizarre situation, because this is the first time I will pitch against an entire team that almost every guy came up as a rookie when I was already an established Major League player," Arroyo said. "I dressed these guys in diapers. It's weird, it's like pitching against your best friend that's lived next door to you your whole life for the first time -- not just Leake, but everybody."

Arroyo expects a unique chess match against a Reds team that knows his entire bag of tricks on the mound.

"These guys know my game as good as anybody," Arroyo said. "Bryan Price, I've probably been as intimate with him as anybody I've ever been with in the game about my pitching style and my selection and why I do things. He's heard me talk about my idea of how to beat hitters and my theory on it for a very long time."

Arroyo and Leake have spoken already about facing each other.

"I talked to him today," Leake said. "He's always been a little jokester, so he asked me if I was ready for the face off. He's a good guy and I like him a lot."

Leake has pitched very well this season, with a 2.79 ERA in 10 starts, but has a 2-4 record because of poor run support. He is 0-2 with a 1.77 ERA in five starts this month.

Arroyo, who is 4-3 with a 4.15 ERA in 10 starts while also dealing with injuries, had a tough time predicting how Friday might turn out for him.

"I'm either going to put all zeros on the board, or I'm going to put up a nine spot," he said. "I don't think it's going to be anything in between."

Frazier in second spot for second game in row

CIN@LAD: Frazier crosses the plate on a wild pitch

PHOENIX -- For the fifth time this season and second game in a row, Reds third baseman Todd Frazier batted in the second spot behind leadoff hitter Billy Hamilton in the series opener at Arizona.

Frazier was 2-for-4 with two doubles and two runs scored in Wednesday's 3-2 win over the Dodgers. He came in batting .294 (5-for-17) as the No. 2 hitter this season and .269/.341/.489 overall with a team-leading nine home runs and 27 RBIs.

"If we can get Billy on ahead of him, it does get him some rushed fastballs from guys really trying to be quick to the plate," Reds manager Bryan Price said on Thursday. "Anybody hitting second with Billy on base is going to get better pitches to hit. It just seems to be inevitable. The good part is Todd is taking advantage of some of those mistakes pitchers are making with Billy on base."

Worth noting

• Reds first baseman Joey Votto, on the disabled list with a strained left quadriceps muscle, took grounders back in Cincinnati on Thursday and could take live batting practice on Friday. Votto, who is eligible to be activated on Saturday, still has an unknown target return date.

• The Reds had 75 players, coaches and staff from the team's player development complex in nearby Goodyear, Ariz., on the field to watch batting practice on Thursday.