CINCINNATI -- Third baseman Scott Rolen was back in the Reds' lineup on Wednesday vs. the Mets, playing for the first time since Aug. 7. It was the morning after an off day on Aug. 8 that he had back spasms.
That was the second back issue this season for Rolen, who did not believe he would need to change his approach to playing, or play less, going forward to avoid having another back problem.
"I don't think so. I was playing as well as I've played all year," Rolen said. "I was coming off a day off. I was getting rest and I was feeling good, and it's one of those situations where -- whether it was a bus ride or whatever it might have been -- I woke up, it was a soft bed and I was on my stomach when I woke up. I don't know what happened. It locked up on me. I couldn't get out of it. I had a freak thing in San Francisco where for whatever reason, I took a funny swing in the batting cage and locked it up. I'm not going to go down the stretch here worried about locking my back up."
In the 15 games before he went down, Rolen was batting .367 (18-for-49) and he was batting .358 since the All-Star break to raise his overall average to .240.
Rolen showed he could move freely on Tuesday and took batting practice, which cleared the way for his return. The 37-year-old hoped to pick up where he left off, which he seemed to do in a 6-1 win over the Mets. While going 2-for-4, Rolen hit a second-inning double and fourth-inning solo homer to left field in his first two at-bats.
"I caught a little groove there during the All-Star break, and I was seeing the ball well and had a little better approach than I've had," Rolen said. "Hopefully, I can go back in there. I've been competing a lot better and more competitive with my bat, so I know I can compete for sure. We'll see how the results are."
Reds keeping close tabs on LeCure's shoulder
CINCINNATI -- Even with the off-day on Monday, the Reds were operating short in the bullpen during Tuesday's series opener vs. the Mets. And there were still some questions on availability for Wednesday.
That was because relievers Sam LeCure and Jonathan Broxton have been bothered by sore shoulders. LeCure, who has inflammation, was expected to try throwing pregame on Wednesday.
"He said he feels better. He's going to test it today and see where he is," Reds manager Dusty Baker said of LeCure.
LeCure is 3-2 with a 3.02 ERA in 33 games during a very solid season for Cincinnati. He has an 0.75 ERA over his last 12 appearances, but he has not pitched since working two-thirds of an inning on Friday vs. the Cubs.
Baker did not rule out the possibility that LeCure might need to go on the disabled list.
"This guy has been big in our bullpen, because he can do a lot of things," Baker said. "Fortunately for us, we got deep in the game last night, which allows us some luxury today. If we go deep in the game today, it allows us some luxury tomorrow not to have to have to use him. If it doesn't get better, then we have to make a decision, but right now, we're not at that point."
If LeCure did have to go on the DL, it could clear a roster spot, temporarily, to activate Nick Masset. Masset, who has not pitched all season because of a shoulder injury, was slated to make his latest rehab assignment outing Wednesday for Triple-A Louisville.
Baker has his ideal No. 8 hitter in Hanigan
CINCINNATI -- Reds manager Dusty Baker frequently hears suggestions from fans on how to construct his lineup. Apparently he's heard clamoring for catcher Ryan Hanigan to move out of the eighth spot and bat second.
Don't expect Baker to heed those wishes. Tuesday's game was an example of why, as Hanigan reached base three times with two outs -- on a second-inning intentional walk, a fourth-inning double and a sixth-inning single.
"More important than anything is to get the pitcher to the plate with two outs so he doesn't have to lead off the next inning," Baker said Wednesday. "That's huge. Most of the playoffs, when I've been in it and high-pressurized games that you don't win are games you don't get the pitcher to the plate, and you have to make a decision to pinch-hit for him in the next inning leading off -- even though you may not want to do that."
Hanigan entered Wednesday batting .282 with a .368 on-base percentage, two home runs and 13 RBIs.
"I know a lot of people are saying, 'Hey, he should hit second,'" Baker said. "He walks a lot, he gets a lot of intentional base on balls. He would be hitting higher if he ran any better. I think he's a perfect eighth hitter and perfect for what we need on this team."