Two quiet: Reds seek production in key slot

Two quiet: Reds seek production in key slot

Two quiet: Reds seek production in key slot

ST. LOUIS -- When the season started, manager Dusty Baker had the Reds' lineup all figured out -- namely that Brandon Phillips would bat second and Ryan Ludwick would take the fourth spot.

"That plan didn't make it one day," Baker said on Monday.

Ludwick tore the labrum in his right shoulder on Opening Day and missed over four months. Phillips took over the cleanup spot and has done well since. He remains there even with Ludwick back in the lineup, now hitting sixth.

But no one has picked up the slack for Phillips in the two-hole. The latest person to helm the spot -- third baseman Todd Frazier -- entered Monday night batting .179 with a .246 on-base percentage, two home runs and four RBIs in that slot. Zack Cozart struggled mightily there before Frazier and others have come and gone without great success.

The No. 2 spot in the Reds' lineup this season has batted .226 -- ranked 29th out of 30 clubs -- with a .272 on-base percentage.

"The rest of the guys aren't really suited to be in that spot," Baker said. "Either sometimes guys strike out or hit into double plays. They haven't learned yet how to manipulate the ball the other way. That is probably the hardest, most unselfish spot there is in the batting order.

"I was telling Joe Morgan, you would prefer that guy to be a left-handed batter to make use of that hole over there when the leadoff hitter gets on, and a guy that takes pitches for your leadoff guy to steal."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.