CLEVELAND -- It was certainly no surprise that outfielder Jonny Gomes served as the Reds' designated hitter on Friday against the Indians. He has American League experience and he was the DH in 16 of the Reds' previous 18 games at AL parks the past two seasons. A new wrinkle for the struggling Gomes, however, was that he batted second in manager Dusty Baker's lineup. Gomes was hitless in four at-bats during the club's 5-4 loss. "That's the best lineup I could come up with. Hopefully, it will get him going the way it got Jay Bruce going," Baker said prior to the game.
Bruce was scuffling when he batted second for Cincinnati from April 25 to May 1. Since May 2, he has batted .305 (18-for-59) with five homers and 13 RBIs. The Reds would certainly take those numbers from Gomes, whose average dropped to .176. His Monday homer against the Cubs gave him his first long ball since April 17 and first RBIs since April 30. Theoretically, at least, Gomes could see more fastballs batting second -- especially if leadoff man Drew Stubbs reaches base ahead of him. Of course, Gomes is also ahead of the Reds' third hitter, and best hitter, Joey Votto. "You still have to swing at strikes," Baker said. "I remember in the past, I put Glenallen Hill in front of Barry [Bonds] and they were still throwing him balls and he was still swinging at balls." Gomes entered the night batting .172 (5-for-33) in 11 games batting second over his career, including five starts. "Maybe hitting in front of Joey will [help] but not hitting in the two-hole," Gomes said. "You only hit in the two-hole the top of the first inning, and then that's it. I've never hit in front of him. I've hit behind him a number of times. So we'll see." As for being the DH, Gomes didn't necessarily expect a boost with extra time to watch video or think about hitting. This could be a pivotal series for Gomes, who has lost some playing time in left field because of his extended slump to start the season. "As far as looking for hits, it doesn't help at all," Gomes said. "In this day and age, when you see guys succeeding in the DH role, you see guys fail in the DH role. It's almost another position. It's not really the unathletic guy gets thrown in the DH role. These days, it's becoming a science, if you will. It's not for everybody. The first part to having success in the DH role is to be willing to DH. And I'm definitely willing to DH."