MIAMI -- It's been a resurgent season for Ken Griffey Jr., and the Reds want to keep it that way. Nothing was wrong with Griffey, but the right fielder was out of the starting lineup against the Marlins on Friday night. Expect more rests for Griffey at various times during the rest of the season. On Friday, interim manager Pete Mackanin met with Griffey and head trainer Mark Mann in his office.
"We all agreed that from here on down, we're going to pick spots for him to take a day off here and there," Mackanin said. "He's not getting any younger, and I think he's going to remain productive, but we have to make sure he doesn't tire out." The 37-year-old Griffey has been mostly healthy, starting 83 of the previous 96 games, and 31 of the last 32. Norris Hopper started in right field vs. Florida. Not one who enjoys talking about himself, Griffey did not want to discuss the meeting. "I just work here. I'm employee No. 3," said Griffey, referring to his uniform number. Griffey entered the night batting .283 with 24 home runs and 65 RBIs this season. In a critical bases-loaded, no-outs jam Thursday vs. the Marlins' Taylor Tankersley, Griffey struck out. "Actually, it's because he struck out last night," Mackanin joked. "I'm mad at him and I wanted to get him out of the lineup." "It's a good solid benching," Griffey concurred humorously. "He lost confidence in me in one plate appearance. I'll work on it for next time. I'll try harder and dig a little deeper." Gonzalez still out: Shortstop Alex Gonzalez missed the seventh and final game he's permitted under the bereavement list rules to be with his ailing 10-month-old son, Johan, who is hospitalized in Cincinnati. Because he is not ready to return, Gonzalez is expected to be placed on the restricted list by the Reds on Saturday. It will enable the club to play with a full 25-man roster. There was no word on when Gonzalez might return. Belisle struggling: In the eight starts since his last victory on May 29, Reds starter Matt Belisle is 0-3 with a 6.50 ERA. Eleven of his 16 homers allowed this season have come in that span, including two against the Marlins on Thursday. Belisle, who is 5-6 with a 5.13 ERA in 19 starts overall, lasted 4 2/3 innings and gave up five runs, four earned, and 10 hits for a no-decision in Cincinnati's 7-5 win over Florida. "Nobody is more frustrated than me about it," Belisle said Friday. "I keep high aspirations and high goals and never doubt myself. I'll keep pressing." Belisle's spot in the rotation did not appear to be in jeopardy. "We haven't discussed it," Mackanin said. "What we did talk about was just the fact that he hadn't started in a while [as a former reliever], his pitch count is higher than it has been the last few years. We just touched on it last night and wondered if it has, or will continue, to have some effect on him. He has good stuff. It's a matter of knowing how to use it. He's in the process of learning how to do that. I think he's going to be a good one." Belisle didn't want to assign blame for his rough run on any particular reason. "I don't use the first year starting or any of it as an excuse. It's just a cop-out," he said. Belisle watched video of Thursday's performance and saw that his fastball and slider were flat and running back over the plate, especially to right-handers. Both long balls he gave up, by Miguel Olivo and Josh Willingham, were against right-handed hitters. "I think any pitcher who pitches off his fastball and mixes in his secondary pitches, he leaves himself open to problems if he can't locate his fastball the way he wants to," Mackanin said. "If you can locate your fastball and pitch off of that and get batters out with your secondary pitches, that works." What's next? Rehabilitating closer Eddie Guardado threw 30 pitches in live batting practice Friday and an additional 14 pitches on the side in the bullpen. Guardado pitched to Pedro Lopez, Javy Valentin, Jeff Keppinger and Chad Moeller. "A lot of throwing today," Guardado said. "It was a positive day. We'll see after that. I don't know what the next step is. Hopefully, it's that I'm ready to go. We also have to be smart, too. We'll know the next step hopefully tomorrow." Bray update: Lefty reliever Bill Bray (shoulder tendinitis) returned from a rehabilitation assignment Friday and was optioned to Triple-A Louisville. Bray was 1-1 with a 7.96 ERA in nine games, with two walks and 13 strikeouts. Bailey examined: Top pitching prospect Homer Bailey (right groin strain) was examined by team medical director Dr. Tim Kremchek on Friday. The injury was considered moderate, and Bailey will be examined in two weeks. Bailey was placed on Louisville's disabled list Thursday. Coming up: Bobby Livingston (2-0, 3.18 ERA) will start for the Reds against the Marlins and Byung-Hyun Kim (4-5, 5.18) on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. ET.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.