NEW YORK -- Left fielder Ryan Ludwick hasn't started the season close to how the Reds would like, but manager Dusty Baker is looking for ways to get him out of his hitting funk.
Ludwick started on Thursday against Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, whom he's had limited success against (2-for-6, one home run). Baker will also use Ludwick as a designated hitter when Interleague Play begins on Friday against the Yankees.
"We need him," Baker said. "He's my DH in two out of those three games, at least."
Ludwick entered Thursday batting .177, with three home runs, 11 RBIs and 25 strikeouts in 79 at-bats. He was 3-for-29 (.103) in his previous 10 games. While he's struggled, fellow left fielder Chris Heisey has recently heated up, with back-to-back three-hit games in the previous series at Atlanta.
"Sometimes there are good starts, fair starts and poor starts," Baker said. "I know he's better than he's shown, better than he's playing. The only way to come out of it is to play. We can only play three outfielders at a time. I know everybody wants me to play the guy who's hot, but what happens when the guy is hot gets cold and the cold guy never gets lukewarm because he's not playing?"