The Reds' projected cleanup hitter is on his way back to the lineup.
Ryan Ludwick's ill advised head-first slide on opening day caused a shoulder separation that has taken three months to heal.
Ludwick will join the Dayton Dragons on Wednesday to get himself back into playing shape.
"He's worked hard," Dusty Baker said. "I'm proud of him. Most guys would have been frustrated. The toughest part is to say when you're ready. Your mind tells you your ready but you have to be careful that you don't hurt something else. How will your body react to bending into a defensive stance 150 times a game. Your eye, your swing and your legs, as much as anything, need reps to get back."
The Reds will try to get him enough top notch competition without having Ludwick making a lot of minor league bus trips. Dayton and Louisville and perhaps Pensacola will have Ludwick in the lineup at various times. A position player can spend up to 20 days on minor league rehab, the rough equivalent of spring training.
"He's a slow starter anyway," Baker said.
Ludwick started out slowly in 2012. The 35-year old had a .201 batting average as late as June 13 . before he took off, finishing the season with a .275 average. He hit 26 home runs and drove in 80. stabilizing the Reds' lineup.
Cincinnati resigned the free agent over the winter and projected Ludwick in the cleanup spot.
The opening day plan did not work as the Reds planned. Brandon Phillips, who was supposed to hit second in the lineup, had to cover for Ludwick in the fourth spot. Phillips led the National League with 78 RBI going into Sunday's game. Jay Bruce, batting fifth, has 66 RBI good for fifth in the NL.
"That's the type of team we are," Phillips said. "We fill in the gaps. I can't wait until Luddy gets back."
The Reds expected Phillips to flourish in the two hole which has been a problem for Dusty Baker with Ludwick on the shelf. Although Phillips has performed well, he is not the typical cleanup hitter and his skills are more suited to batting second in front of Joey Votto.
"I know he is anxious to get back," Baker said of Ludwick. "He told me that there are a lot of RBI out there."