PITTSBURGH -- It's been a tough season for the left-handed bats on the Reds' bench this season, to say the least.
First, Willie Harris went 3-for-35 (.086) before he was sent outright to Triple-A Louisville earlier this month. And Mike Costanzo entered Tuesday 0-for-11 with six strikeouts as a pinch-hitter and 1-for-13 overall for a .077 batting average.
Costanzo, who has five strikeouts in his last six pinch-hitting appearances, was watching video of his swings on Tuesday afternoon.
"I'm kind of getting myself out right now. It's frustrating," said Costanzo, who was called up from Louisville on May 12 after he spent eight seasons in the Minors. "I have to go in every day with a clean slate and continue to work hard, study the pitchers and the video and try to help the team the best I can."
Reds manager Dusty Baker is hoping Costanzo can swing his way out of the slump.
"I'm going to try and get him a start soon," Baker said. "A lot of people don't know that is a very tough job for a young hitter with no success, and pressure on him to try and stay in the big leagues."
The Reds have to be patient, because the options at Louisville are either not better or injured. Paul Janish and Chris Valaika are both on the disabled list. Dioner Navarro is not on the DL but is hampered by a sore right hamstring. Danny Dorn has been hot of late, but is still only batting .218.
Baker knows he is asking Costanzo to fill a role usually reserved for someone with more experience.
"That job is usually for older, veteran players that have some track record of success, where 0-for-1 doesn't drive you crazy until the next 0-for-1," Baker said. "The absolute best one I've seen was the Diamondbacks a few years ago, when they had [Danny] Bautista or [David] Dellucci. You had to choose which one you would face. Then when you get by those two, they had [Erubiel] Durazo and [Greg] Colbrunn.
"That was a hell of a combo. I was in that division trying to figure out which one I wanted to face. And all of them could hit. I was like, 'I hate this decision.' That's a manager's delight. But those combos are hard to find, and also hard to afford, too."