MILWAUKEE -- Struggling utility player Willie Harris never got going at the plate and ran out of time to find a spark.
To make room for utility infielder Miguel Cairo's activation from the 15-day disabled list on Monday, the Reds sent Harris outright to Triple-A Louisville. The transaction removes the 33-year-old Harris from both the 25- and 40-man rosters.
Harris, who has 72 hours to report to Louisville, was batting .086 (3-for-35) in 19 games this season, including 1-for-11 as a pinch-hitter. He was signed as a free agent to a Minor League deal in January. After making the team out of Spring Training his big league salary was $800,000.
With Harris demoted, the Reds' bench will be functioning without a left-handed hitter for the immediate future. That's something manager Dusty Baker hadn't done before.
"Not that I can recall," Baker said.
The need for productivity -- from any side of the plate -- won out.
"That's what it boiled down to. We hoped Willie would have done better in his limited action," Baker said. "We needed to move somebody. I hope he accepts the assignment because we're probably going to need him again somewhere down the line. If he goes down and gets his stroke together, like we know he can do, he can come back and help us."
If Harris refuses the assignment, he would become a free agent. His departure meant that rookie Todd Frazier, a right-handed hitter, got to remain on the roster. Frazier entered the night batting .389 (7-for-18) in his 10 games, and hit his first home run of the season on Sunday in the Reds' 5-0 win over the Pirates. He was called up when Cairo went down.
Cairo, 38, went on the DL April 17 with a strained left hamstring. He played three games on a rehab assignment at Class A Dayton -- going 0-for-10 with two strikeouts.
"I wasn't worried about hitting the ball or stuff like that," Cairo said. "I was worried about being able to move at third base and getting out of the box, and turning on the bases and stuff like that. That was my main concern. I have to be careful and be smart."
Cairo appeared as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning of the Reds' 6-1 win over the Brewers on Monday. He hit a two-out, ground-rule double that one-hopped over the right field-fence and scored Chris Heisey.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.