Taveras not one to ask for downtime

Taveras not one to ask for downtime

CINCINNATI -- Willy Taveras said he'd never ask for a day off, but the Reds center fielder was grateful that manager Dusty Baker chose Saturday to give him a rest.

"[Taveras] thanked me," Baker said. "He's played every day [since Opening Day]. A guy that runs as much as he does and plays center field, he needs a break every now and then."

Chris Dickerson replaced Taveras in the leadoff spot for Saturday afternoon's game against Atlanta. Jerry Hairston Jr., who was replaced by Darnell McDonald after being ejected in the third inning for arguing a called third strike, started the game in center.

Taveras is batting .275 with two doubles, a triple, and six stolen bases. He leads the team in runs scored and stolen bases. He's scored at least one run in nine of 15 appearances.

Taveras, who did not play Opening Day due to the flu, tripled as a pinch-hitter the following game and has started every contest since.

"I have a lot of respect for Dusty as a manager," said Taveras. "I'm never going to ask for a day off, but I've got to be thankful for it. We need to keep guys fresh, and I want to stay healthy."

Taveras is expected to be back in the lineup on Sunday afternoon for the series finale. Right-hander Micah Owings (0-2, 5.59 ERA) will be looking for his first victory for Cincinnati.

Baker said he knew little about Taveras when the Reds signed him to a two-year contract in December.

The skipper consulted Reds scout Jamie Quirk, who served as the Rockies' bench coach while Taveras played in Colorado, to get a take on the 27-year-old veteran.

"That's how you learn about a guy, you ask questions," said Baker. "[Quirk] said Taveras will never ask for a day off. You have to go get him."

Pitching matchup
CIN: RHP Micah Owings (0-2, 5.59 ERA)
In a 7-2 loss to the Cubs on Tuesday, Owings worked 4 2/3 innings, allowing five runs, two earned, on five hits. He walked four and struck out three. After a slow start, he cruised through the third and fourth innings before hitting a wall in the fifth. Consecutive one-out walks were followed by an error that led to three runs, chasing him from the mound. In two career starts vs. Atlanta, Owings is 2-0 with a 3.46 ERA.

ATL: RHP Kenshin Kawakami (1-2, 4.76 ERA)
Since winning his Major League debut on April 11, Kawakami has gone winless in the two starts that have followed. The 33-year-old right-hander has been able to keep opponents off balance with a slow curve that has helped him notch 17 strikeouts in 17 innings. He surrendered one homer in each of his first three starts, and his 10 walks further indicate he isn't showing the same kind of control he exhibited while pitching in Japan.

Reds manager Dusty Baker plans to give Alex Gonzalez a day off on Sunday. Baker said he believes Gonzalez, who missed all of last season with a compression fracture of the left knee, is getting stronger. The 32-year-old shortstop hit just .140 in his first 13 games, but has a season-high four-game hitting streak, including his 1,000th career hit recorded in the fourth inning on Friday. He hit his first home run of the season in the second inning on Saturday. ... Infielder Adam Rosales continued his hot hitting at Triple-A Louisville, going 2-for-5 with a double and a run scored in a 5-4 victory over Toledo on Friday. Rosales currently has an eight-game hitting streak and has hit safely in 13 of 14 games.

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Up next
• Monday: Reds (Johnny Cueto, 1-1, 2.55) vs. Astros (Roy Oswalt, 0-2, 4.68), 7:10 p.m. ET
• Tuesday: Reds (Aaron Harang, 2-2, 2.00) vs. Astros (Wandy Rodriguez, 1-2, 1.80), 7:10 p.m. ET
• Wednesday: Reds (Edinson Volquez, 2-2, 6.20) vs. Astros (Felipe Paulino, 0-1, 3.00), 7:10 p.m. ET

Jeff Wallner is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.