Notes: Gonzalez rejoins Reds

Notes: Gonzalez rejoins Reds

CINCINNATI -- Shortstop Alex Gonzalez returned to the Reds lineup on Tuesday night after he spent the past five days in Miami with his hospitalized seven-month-old son, Johan.

Gonzalez, who had been placed on bereavement leave, batted seventh against the Brewers. He returned to Cincinnati late Monday night after missing four games.

In the Reds' 11-5 win over the Brewers on Tuesday, Gonzalez drew a bases-loaded walk that scored the go-ahead run in the seventh inning. The 30-year-old was 1-for-2 with a run and is now batting .324 (11-for-34) this season.

"He seemed like he was mentally into the game, too, which a lot of guys might not do with what he's been through this past weekend," Reds manager Jerry Narron said. "It's great to see him back out there on the field."

Gonzalez's return doesn't mean all the news is good back at the hospital. Johan is scheduled to have surgery for his undisclosed ailment. It is possible the boy could be transported to have the operation performed at Children's Hospital in Cincinnati.

"It's going to be difficult for him [to play]," Narron said of Gonzalez's personal ordeal.

To make room on the 25-man roster for Gonzalez, infielder Enrique Cruz was designated for assignment. Cruz made his Major League debut as a late-inning replacement at shortstop during Monday's 10-6 loss to Milwaukee. He flied out in his only at-bat.

Hamilton (and Freel) starting: It was only a matter of time.

Ryan Freel fully expected to see Josh Hamilton's name in the starting lineup playing center field in his place on Tuesday. But Freel was still in there, too, batting leadoff and playing third base for Edwin Encarnacion.

"I thought for sure I wasn't even going to play today," Freel said. "You try to figure it out. I knew Hamilton would play for sure. It is a pleasant surprise."

"It gives us a chance to keep Freelie in the lineup, move him around," Narron said. "It gives us a chance to have Josh in the lineup with two other left-handed hitting outfielders."

A super-utility player until he became the Reds' regular center fielder this spring, Freel can play five positions. The 31-year-old made nine starts at third base last season, but none since July 8 at Atlanta.

"It might be a little bit nerve racking because I haven't played there in so long," Freel said. "But I'm excited. I played well at third base last year. Hopefully, I can start where I left off. I felt pretty confident over there. Last year was probably the first year I felt that good."

Freel has spent the past few days taking ground balls at both third base and second base to get ready.

"I've been reading between the lines and seeing what's been going and having to have Hamilton's bat in the lineup," Freel said. "I figured it was going to end up happening that I would be in the infield. Nobody told me that I was moving to infield. I wanted to be ready in case I played the infield."

Getting a break: A sixth-inning two-run single in Monday's game snapped a 0-for-22 skid for Encarnacion, who is batting .186 (8-for-43) through 13 games.

"I think Eddie is going to hit, I really do," Narron said. "He'll come out of this. I'll give him a day here where he just sits and watches and give us a threat off the bench tonight. I've been very, very pleased with the way Eddie's been playing defense. He's done an outstanding job."

Injury report: Reliever Jared Burton, currently on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring, was sent on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Louisville. Burton will meet the team in Richmond.

Norris Hopper, who has been out since Spring Training with a bruised right heel, is close to being ready. Hopper is also on a rehab assignment with Louisville and went 1-for-3 with a stolen base on Monday. He entered Tuesday 4-for-11 (.364) in three games.

Reliever Bill Bray (left index finger fracture) has not been able to start throwing yet at the club's complex in Sarasota.

Farm report: The Louisville rotation has posted an impressive streak in its last seven games dating back to April 8. Michael Gosling, Homer Bailey, Tom Shearn, Phil Dumatrait and Bobby Livingston have combined for a 0.66 ERA in 41 innings. The group has allowed three earned runs and 20 hits with 17 walks and 32 strikeouts.

Rhodes retiring: Greg Rhodes, the executive director of the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum, has announced his retirement. Rhodes, 60, will step down on June 1, but he will continue to serve as the team's historian. A search for a replacement is under way.

Coming up: The Reds open a two-game series with the Astros on Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. ET. Aaron Harang (2-0, 5.40) will start for Cincinnati and Woody Williams (0-2, 5.63) is scheduled to go for Houston.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.