CINCINNATI -- Medication and rest appears to have helped Reds third baseman Scott Rolen and his back. Rolen, who had not been in the lineup since Sept. 4, entered as a pinch-hitter in the 13th inning of the Reds' 4-3, 14-inning win over the Pirates on Monday. He grounded into a forceout.
Rolen was on the field to take batting practice on Monday.
"He's better. There's a chance he can play real soon," Reds manager Dusty Baker said before the game. "[Todd] Frazier has done a good job, all the guys have done a good job. But I mean, Scotty is our leader on the field. It's just a little different when your leader is not out there."
How critical is Rolen's leadership behind the scenes? According to Baker, very.
"Most teams, especially most good teams, have a leader," Baker said. "Leaders are not appointed by anybody, they're just sort of anointed by the players on the team on how they gravitate towards him, how they go to him for advice. They emulate how he plays, how he goes about his business as a professional.
"I've never appointed a captain, never, because you might appoint the guy that nobody else wants to follow, but the guy that you think is the captain. If there was a captain, it'd be Scotty, because everybody goes to Scott."
Rolen, 37, was dealing with two disc protrusions in his lower back and opted for anti-inflammatory medication over an epidural injection to get relief.
In 79 games this season, before Monday, Rolen was batting .244 with six home runs and 33 RBIs. But he's batted .314 in the second half, and his defense has been at its usual high standard.
"I think his defense is overlooked because you just take advantage of what he does. He makes it look so easy," Baker said.