ST. LOUIS -- Admittedly playing at 60 percent on a sore left hamstring, Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips is clearly favoring the injury when he runs.
It was more than evident when Phillips hit into two double plays during Wednesday's 11-1 Reds loss to the Cardinals. He could not run hard up the line. Reds manager Dusty Baker was asked Thursday if there was concern about Phillips becoming seriously hurt by playing.
"There's always concern," Baker replied. "I don't know anybody that hasn't played with a hammy or a quad or something. You could put him on the DL and you still won't know when [it will be all better]. That's the thing about baseball, once you hurt something, it usually stays hurt a long time. You don't have a week [between games] to recuperate.
"That's why I told him to play smart with your stride -- have no sudden stops or starts. If you're out on a double play, just be out so you can play again. I told him if they boo you for not hustling, don't pay attention to them because you want to play another day."
Phillips initially injured his hamstring on April 9 and missed five starts. He lobbied to get back in the lineup, which finally happened on Sunday.
"I've never been on the DL, so I gave him instruction on how to play hurt," Baker said. "When he was out, everybody was asking when he would come back and how come he's not back yet? Now everybody is asking if there is any fear of hurting him. You can't have it both ways."
In Thursday's 6-3 victory over St. Louis, Phillips was 2-for-5 with his first two RBIs. He hit his first home run of the season with a solo shot in the fourth inning and had an RBI single in the fifth. It raised his average from .207 to .235.
"It felt good to get my first RBI. My leg is feeling so much better," Phillips said. "I've been treating it every day. I feel like it's getting stronger. I stayed back on my leg more. The more innings I played, the more I started feeling it. At the beginning of the game, I felt real good. I think the heat on my leg was wearing off. ... I got a lot of Icy Hot on my leg. I have to put the whole jar on me next time."