CINCINNATI -- Interim manager Pete Mackanin believes that Edwin Encarnacion's walk-off single against the Cubs on Friday night came at just the right time. "You can read people, and you could tell he's not real happy with his production," Mackanin said. "You can tell when a player's happy and when he doesn't feel like he's getting the job done." Entering Saturday, Encarnacion was batting .221 in the month of July after posting a .305 average one month earlier.
Encarnacion's walk-off single not only gave the Reds a win over second-place Chicago, it also may have sparked the third baseman back into offensive form. "He did a lot of good things yesterday," Mackanin said. "Very often, that kind of thing gets you going, makes you take a nice, deep breath, relax a little bit, and go up to the plate and feel like, 'Hey, OK, now I'm back in [it].'" Mackanin said that Encarnacion's dedication to analyzing video of his previous performances and his demanding workout routine both show how dedicated he is to improving his game. "He spends half his waking hours in the video room looking at video, and I understand what that's like," Mackanin said. Encarnacion does not expect to change his routine anytime soon, whether he is finding success or not. "Keep doing my routine, that's what I have to do," Encarnacion said. "That's how I'll be a better player. I feel like, if I don't feel good, I can go watch a video [of game film], watch my video and see what I do wrong. Go out there, don't think too much, and do the best I can." Encarnacion said he handles the ups and downs that any player finds both in the field and at the plate by separating the two aspects of the game in his mind. "You've got to separate defense and offense," he said. "If you're not hitting good, then go play some good defense. If you don't play good defense, then go hit. You've got to separate them." Guardado to appear for Louisville: Left-handed reliever Eddie Guardado, who has not played with the Reds since undergoing Tommy John ligament replacement surgery last September, was sent on a rehabilitation assignment to Triple-A Louisville on Saturday. Guardado pitched the sixth inning for Louisville, giving up one hit in 13 pitches. Before soreness in his throwing forearm and lower back held back his recovery process, Guardado made seven Minor League rehab appearances earlier this season. He pitched three innings for Class A Dayton without giving up an earned run and gave up two earned runs in 3 1/3 rehab innings with Louisville. Potential infielder jam: While the Reds have only one shortstop, Jeff Keppinger, currently listed on the team's depth chart, there may be somewhat of a surplus of players for the left side of the infield when Opening Day starting shortstop Alex Gonzalez returns from the restricted list. Keppinger can play all infield positions, but with Encarnacion at third, Gonzalez at short, Brandon Phillips at second and Jeff Conine and Scott Hatteberg splitting time at first, finding Keppinger playing time may be difficult for Mackanin. Mackanin, though, is none too eager to leave Keppinger's hot bat out of the regular lineup. The 27-year-old was batting .326 on the season entering Saturday and .351 in his past 10 games. "I was thinking about that [infielder dilemma] today," Mackanin said Saturday. "What do you do when that happens? I'll try to figure it out that day, but I don't want to think about it yet, because it's not going to be an easy decision." Lohse clarification: Right-handed starter Kyle Lohse has been one of the most-mentioned names in Reds trade rumors throughout this season. So, when Mackanin didn't to mention Lohse's name when he listed the Reds' starting rotation for next week on Friday, talk of Lohse's imminent departure grew louder still. But on Saturday, Mackanin put out most of the small fire he started with his comments on Friday. "I don't want to say too much, because apparently I didn't mention Lohse's name in the rotation, and everybody's got him traded," Mackanin said. "I'm sure his name is being bantered about, but there must be something there that I don't even know about." Up next: On Sunday, the Reds and Cubs will play the final game of their three-game weekend series at 1:15 p.m. ET at Great American Ball Park. Reds right-hander Matt Belisle (5-7, 5.28 ERA) is scheduled to face Cubs ace right-hander Carlos Zambrano (13-7, 3.65 ERA).
Patrick Allegri is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.