SD@CIN: Ludwick, Baker on Ludwick's return to Reds

MILWAUKEE -- It has been a long, grueling road back from a right shoulder injury for Reds left fielder Ryan Ludwick, but on Saturday, he got his first two hits of the season out of the way in Cincinnati's 2-0 loss to the Brewers at Miller Park.

Ludwick, who dislocated his shoulder during the first game of the season and did not return until the start of this road trip, finished Saturday's game 2-for-3 with an infield single to the right side of the infield in the fifth inning and a bloop single to center field in the seventh.

"It's been a long road back. One day at a time," Ludwick said. "I think the most important thing is trying to win ballgames, and we've done a pretty good job of that thus far. Let's keep rolling, man. Still feeling it out, man. Taking it one day at a time."

Ludwick is now 2-for-14 in six games this season. But even with his two hits Saturday, he continues to say his timing is not quite right.

"Look at my at-bats," he said. "Just think of my last at-bat last night. [Brewers reliever Brandon Kintzler ] threw a first-pitch sinker down and in -- probably wasn't within a foot of the strike zone. I swung at it, and I was probably a foot out in front of it. Just timing. It's been really tough joining mid-season and trying to get that timing.

"But it'll come. I've just got to be patient, and that's what everyone's saying, be patient and let the process play out. That's the toughest part. Grinding."

Reds manager Dusty Baker said that although Ludwick's two hits were not pretty, they're a good sign that things are starting to go his way.

"Doesn't matter -- a hit's a hit," Baker said. "I told him yesterday, I remember talking to Jose 'Cheo' Cruz years ago. His nickname was 'Chop-Chop,' and he was in a slump, and I heard one of my teammates who was also in a slump say how he wanted to just knock the pitcher off the mound or hit one out of the ballpark. [Cruz], who was a perennial .300-hitter, he just said, 'Hey, man…' and I was talking to him, he goes, 'I'll be alright. I'll chop-chop one, and then I'll flare one to the opposite field.' And that's what he did. That next night, I think he had four or five hits. A hit's a hit. When you're 1-for-11, I don't care what a hit looks like. It takes the pressure off you.

"Especially since they started putting the batting average up there [on the big screen]. When you're going good, it's wonderful to look up there. When you're going bad, you kind of like, peek up there. You know what I mean? And you see .099 or .111. That's not a good feeling. You keep telling yourself you're 0-for-11, then you're going to be 0-for-12."

Hanigan takes over behind plate in finale

CIN@MIL: Reds strike first on Hanigan's RBI single

MILWAUKEE -- Ryan Hanigan started behind the plate on Sunday for the fourth time since coming off the disabled list for a sprained left wrist on Aug. 9.

Hanigan, who caught the final three innings of Friday's 7-6 loss, missed a month on the disabled list, and he said his wrist still bothers him while he's hitting.

"It's getting there," Hanigan said. "It only affects me offensively. It's still a little bit sore, but it's manageable right now. I've got the strength back, but it's not too bad."

Hanigan was the Reds' primary catcher prior to his stint on the DL, getting three starts to every two for Devin Mesoraco, according to manager Dusty Baker. Mesoraco started the first three contests of this weekend's four-game series at Miller Park.

"We need both of them," Baker said. "Mes has been calling a great, better game and throwing better, hitting better. And Hanie's starting to swing it now that his hand's better. He looks better."

Hanigan entered Sunday hitting 2-for-9 with a double, an RBI and four walks in five games and three starts since returning from the DL. Hanigan also missed time with a strained left oblique in late April, and early May and was hitting .195 (30-for-154) on the season.

"You just keep at it, do what you can when you get in there and try to get yourself going and help your team," Hanigan said.