ST. LOUIS -- Following a hot first week when he had three home runs through his first three games, it's cooled off entirely at the plate for Reds right fielder Jay Bruce lately.Bruce entered Wednesday with a career-long hitless streak -- 0-for-19, then singled in his first at-bat in the second inning. Inconsistency at the plate has been a bugaboo for Bruce since he debuted in the Majors in 2008. "That's frustrating him," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "He wants to be more consistent and not hot and cold. There are certain players like that and certain players that it takes a while to figure out how to remain consistent. Nobody remains hot all the time."
Baker shakes up order, bats Phillips cleanup
ST. LOUIS -- Reds manager Dusty Baker couldn't ignore his lineup's struggles any longer, and he certainly wouldn't snub his inner voice when it tells him to try something new.On Wednesday against the Cardinals, Baker chose to move leadoff man Brandon Phillips to the cleanup spot. Zack Cozart went from second to first, Drew Stubbs went from seventh to second and Scott Rolen was dropped from fourth to sixth. "It comes to me," Baker said. "You just trust what comes to you. It usually comes in the middle of the night. I've been awake quite a bit lately, but this actually came to me after the game [Tuesday] night." Cincinnati entered Wednesday night with a .205 team batting average and 32 runs scored, both of which ranked 15th out of 16 teams in the National League. Phillips was approached by Baker about the idea of moving to the cleanup spot. He has batted there more than any other spot in his career. In 397 games batting fourth, he had a .278 average with 59 home runs and 248 RBIs. "That's why he's so valuable," Baker said. "He's the one of the few guys I ever played with or had that can bat almost anywhere in the order and had some success doing it." Phillips has been struggling with a sore left hamstring, which has affected his swing. He feels it when he puts weight on his left foot in the batter's box. Batting lower should mean less running for Phillips and more responsibility to drive in runs. "I told them if you really need me to do it, I will do it," Phillips said. "I just have to get my timing right after I missed those five games. It messed up my timing a little bit. I'm up for the challenge again. I came in worrying about hitting leadoff and getting things going for the team, but as a team, we're not doing our job. I understand that they want to change things up and get people going." Six players in Wednesday's Reds lineup came in batting .200 or less. "It's hard especially when you know your team can hit," Baker said. "I take pride in looking up there and seeing everybody's averages like the Cardinals are now. Their averages aren't going to stay as high as they are as a team. And our average isn't going to stay as low. Everything evens out." A rookie, Cozart entered the night batting .341 after being hot during Spring Training. "In a perfect world, Stubbs would be leading off and Cozart would be No. 2," Baker said. "You just hope it doesn't affect what [Cozart has] done. Perhaps he can do the same. Perhaps Stubbs batting in front of Joey [Votto] can do the same. The only down part is if he gets hot, how much do you run him and take the bat out of Joey's hands?"