Reds option Patterson to Minors

Reds option Patterson to Minors

CINCINNATI -- Everyone that followed the Reds knew Corey Patterson wasn't getting it done. The Reds center fielder apparently wasn't in denial about his hitting woes.

Patterson was optioned to Triple-A Louisville by the Reds on Wednesday. As a veteran of eight big league seasons, he had to agree to the move. The contract of infielder Andy Phillips was selected from Louisville to replace Patterson.

"It was a mutual decision," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "Actually, I was going to call Corey in to talk to him. He came in before I could pull him in. He said, 'Hey, I have to get my act together and change some things.' He knew and we knew he was better than he played. He's got the skills and the talent. He's still only 28 years old."

Patterson, who was most often used as Cincinnati's leadoff hitter, did not serve that role well at all this season. He was batting .200 with a .240 on-base percentage in 45 games, including 29 starts.

Before the roster move, Patterson was in an 0-for-18 skid. In Sunday's 18-inning loss at San Diego, he became the first Reds player to go 0-for-8 in a game since 1983.

The Reds signed Patterson to a Minor League contract on March 3. When he made the club out of Spring Training, he was given a $3 million contract for 2008. At the time of his signing, his lifetime .298 on-base percentage was an indicator that Patterson wasn't a solid fit in the leadoff spot, but the Reds and Baker liked his upside and speed.

Patterson hit a couple of big home runs during the first week of the season, but his production diminished since. He was frequently hitting the ball in the air and popping out instead of trying to hit line drives. The prolonged hitting issues and the arrival of top prospect Jay Bruce as the regular center fielder made Patterson expendable.

Baker hopes Patterson will be able to clean up his swing in Triple-A and not try to pull the ball so much.

"Sometimes, you have to hit rock bottom before you make a change," Baker said. "It's humbling to come to that realization. I like the skill. I know skill when I see skill. I know talent when I see talent. If he was 35, it might be a little different."

In Phillips, the Reds will get an extra right-handed bat that primarily plays first base. The 31-year-old can also play second base, third base and the outfield. He had four different gloves sitting in his locker, ready for any situation.

"It gives me another right-handed bat that's willing to do and accept whatever to stay here and help us," Baker said.

To make room for Phillips on the 40-man roster, injured shortstop Alex Gonzalez was transferred to the 60-day disabled list.

Phillips was batting .315 with five home runs and 22 RBIs in 40 games this season for Louisville. Signed in the offseason to a Minor League deal, he spent parts of the previous four seasons with the Yankees.

After a slow start, partially because of a hamstring injury, Phillips caught fire and enjoyed a 17-game hitting streak from April 27-May 14. A 27-game streak of reaching base safely ended Tuesday. He credited Louisville hitting coach Smokey Garrett with getting him rolling.

"I've been getting after it," Phillips said. "I started out a little slow and got hurt. I came back from that. I've been working hard with Smokey down there. I started feeling really comfortable at the plate. It's been a good couple of months down there."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.