Cozart out with oblique strain, back 'next week'

Cozart out with oblique strain, back 'next week'

CINCINNATI -- Reds shortstop Zack Cozart was in no mood to talk to reporters on Friday after testing his sore back with stretching and fielding grounders. A MRI performed Friday revealed the underlying source of Cozart's frustration: a left oblique strain.

Cozart's stellar play with both his bat and glove has earned him National League Rookie of the Year consideration. But an oblique strain will require additional rest for Cozart, and more lineup shuffling for Reds manager Dusty Baker.

"Best scenario, sometime next week," said Baker, when asked about a timetable on Cozart's return. "I'd rather have it [be] now than the last week of the season. Hopefully he'll be ready. I hope everybody's ready. We're in the final stretch now."

Cozart, who first experienced pain in the middle of his back on Tuesday, is batting .243 with 32 doubles, 15 homers and 32 RBIs.

On Saturday, Wilson Valdez made his third start at shortstop in the past four games. Rookie Didi Gregorious had the other start. "We just have to mix and match, again," said Baker.

Cozart was receiving treatment prior to Saturday's game and wasn't available for comment.