CINCINNATI -- For the eighth time in nine games on Sunday, Willy Taveras' name was missing from the leadoff spot and in center field for the Reds. Manager Dusty Baker is giving Taveras all the time he needs to recover from a sore right hamstring. That's because he can afford to with Chris Dickerson playing fantastic in his place. And Jerry Hairston Jr. has also done fine in the leadoff spot. "Why rush Willy when I have Dickerson playing well?" Baker said. "I've got the best of both worlds. Willy will be back healthy and fresh and Dickerson is getting some playing time and when I need him, he'll be better because he's played."
Dickerson entered Sunday 8-for-28 (.286) since he replaced Taveras in center field and was hitting .304 (14-for-46) over his previous 21 games. Dickerson has also played a crisp center field, defensively, and has made several highlight-deserving catches. Someone asked whether Taveras, who was struggling before he was injured, would still have his job when he was ready to return. The suggestion irritated Baker. "I get tired of hearing that. I really do," Baker said. "First, the season started and it was, 'How come Dickerson isn't playing every day?' Then [Laynce] Nix was doing good, and it was, 'How come Nix isn't playing every day?' Whoever is doing good, why aren't they playing every day? It doesn't work like that. We're a team. Everybody is going to play. "You don't shove Willy. Willy is my center fielder. You just have to feel fortunate you have somebody like Dickerson that can play when Willy is unable to play." Also on the injury front, third baseman Edwin Encarnacion is scheduled to have an MRI for his left wrist on Monday. Encarnacion, who has been on the disabled list since April 28 with a chip fracture in that wrist, was sore after several days of batting practice. There had been thoughts of his possibly starting a Minor League rehabilitation assignment after this weekend, but that is now on hold. "That's a very delicate area," Baker said. "I've had three hand operations. Your hands and your feet are two areas you take for granted until you hurt them. Your hands, there are a lot of little bones in there."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.