Paul shows off bat, speed, glove in first Reds start

Paul shows off bat, speed, glove in first Reds start

Paul shows off bat, speed, glove in first Reds start
HOUSTON -- Outfielder Xavier Paul rewarded manager Dusty Baker's confidence in him during Tuesday night's game against the Astros.

Baker put Paul in left field and in the sixth slot in the lineup for his first start in a Reds uniform, resting regular outfielders Chris Heisey and Ryan Ludwick. Paul responded with a 3-for-5 night at the plate in Cincinnati's 4-2 comeback victory.

Paul picked up two RBIs, one in the sixth inning on an infield single and the other in the ninth inning on a single through the right side of the infield. He picked up his first Reds hit with a single in the second, followed that with a stolen base and he made a terrific heads-up play to throw out Marwin Gonzalez at third base in the fourth.

Before the game, Baker cited a number of reasons for wanting to get Paul, called up to the Reds on July 18, a start.

He said Paul's productivity at Triple-A this season merited more than pinch-hit duty. After being signed to a Minor League contract by the Reds on July 11, Paul batted .480 (12-for-25) for Triple-A Louisville. In 213 at-bats with Triple-A Syracuse, a Nationals affiliate, earlier in the season, Paul hit .315/.376/.512.

"He was hitting the ball great in Triple-A when he was playing every day," Baker said.

The manager also factored Monday night's long game -- it lasted 3 hours and 56 minutes -- into his decision to rest Heisey and Ludwick.

"Ludwick's played consecutive games and a long game, Heisey's played consecutive days," Baker said. "Like I said, we've got to keep these guys fresh and strong."

The fact that Paul is from Slidell, La., 350 miles from Houston, also played into Baker's decision to start the 27-year-old. Paul said he had some family members at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday.

Paul, whose previous start came on Sept. 28, 2011, with the Pirates, entered Monday 0-for-3 with the Reds in three pinch-hit plate appearances. He batted .254/.293/.349 in 232 at-bats for the Pirates in 2011.