SAN FRANCISCO -- A struggling Brandon Phillips was given the day off Friday as the Cincinnati Reds opened a three-game series against the San Francisco Giants. Meanwhile, a scorching Edwin Encarnacion, who entered the game on a 14-game hitting streak, made his first appearance of the season as the Reds' cleanup hitter. Since April 12, Phillips has hit .158 (6-for-38) and seen his batting average plummet to .250 from .320.
"He's a little frustrated right now," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "He's chasing balls and his concentration is not there." Phillips, coming off a career year of 30 homers and 94 RBIs with Cincinnati, may be trying to do too much. "It looks to me that he's guessing," Baker said. "He'll swing at something out of the strike zone and then take a perfect pitch. I want to give him a day. He needs to concentrate and do what he can do. He's not a power hitter, he's a hitter with power." Encarnacion is familiar with hitting cleanup, having hit .286 with 10 home runs and 32 RBIs in 51 games there before this season. Baker doesn't want him to think like he's a cleanup hitter, but to keep his same approach. "He's swinging the hot bat and hopefully someone will be on base when he stays hot," Baker said. Encarnacion, who opened the season with two hits in his first 22 at-bats (.083), has hit four home runs in his last five games, all solo shots. Baker picked a good place to move the third baseman up a couple of spots: AT&T Park is one of Encarnacion's favorite places to hit. He's a .313 lifetime hitter against Giants pitching overall and a .371 hitter in the 9-year-old ballpark, his second-best mark in any park.
Rick Eymer is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.