Gonzalez looks healthy this season

Gonzalez looks healthy this season

CINCINNATI -- Reds shortstop Alex Gonzalez was given a day off on Sunday. But unlike last season, this rest was for good reason.

Gonzalez had more days off than he hoped for last year when he missed the entire season with a compression fracture in his left knee.

So far this season, Gonzalez has proven himself to be healthy. And after a slow start at the plate, he's beginning to heat up offensively.

Gonzalez, who collected his 1,000th career hit with an RBI single on Friday, was batting just .152 in 14 games. But he was showing significant signs of improvement.

Gonzalez currently has a season-high five-game hitting streak, during which he's batted .294 with a double and five RBIs.

He clubbed his first home run of the season, a two-run shot, in Saturday's game. It was his first homer since Aug. 9, 2007.

"That's why I was hoping and praying that he'd be healthy this year," said Reds manager Dusty Baker. "We're not out of the woods yet, but he looks strong."

Gonzalez is expected to be back in the starting lineup Monday when the Reds begin a three-game series against the Houston Astros at Great American Ball Park.

Regarded as one of the better defensive shortstops in baseball, Gonzalez has been fluid in the field with no apparent indications he's being hampered by the injured leg.

"I don't see him limping or any hesitation out there," said Baker. "He's got good balance at the plate. A lot of [recovery] is psychological. He looks good."

Pitching matchup
CIN: RHP Johnny Cueto (1-1, 2.55 ERA)
Cueto pitched a fantastic game Wednesday, working seven scoreless innings for a 3-0 Reds win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field. He allowed four hits -- all singles -- and struck out two. Most importantly, he did not walk a batter. Cueto avoided his penchant for nibbling around the plate and falling into deep counts. Throwing 108 pitches, he was aggressive with his fastball and worked ahead. In his previous matchup vs. Houston and Oswalt on April 17, Cueto lasted only 4 2/3 innings and gave up only two hits but walked six. Both starters got a no-decision when the Reds won, 2-1, with a ninth-inning homer.

HOU: RHP Roy Oswalt (0-2, 4.68 ERA)
Oswalt is still looking for his first win and, based on history, there's no better team for him to be facing in his next outing. Oswalt is very good against Cincinnati. He's 23-1 over 29 career games, including 27 starts. He has a 2.39 career ERA vs. the Reds. He last faced them on April 17, taking a no-decision after throwing six shutout innings.

On Monday at 1 p.m. ET, Reds pitchers Mike Lincoln, Nick Massett and David Weathers will join 30 students from Elder and Seton High School from the Cincinnati Action Team youth volunteer program on the grounds of Antioch Manor for a landscaping project. The program is administered by Volunteers of America and the Major League Baseball Players Trust. Antioch Manor houses low-income adults with physical disabilities. ... Entering Sunday's game, the Reds had not made a roster move since the final Spring Training cuts prior to Opening Day. The Reds began the season without a player on the disabled list for the first time since 1990. ... Second baseman Adam Rosales (Triple-A Louisville) and shortstop Todd Frazier (Double-A Carolina) both extended personal hitting streaks on Saturday. Rosales now has a nine-game hit streak and has reached base in all 15 games he's played. Frazier is on an eight-game hit streak. He leads the Southern League in doubles.

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On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

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• FS-O

On radio
• WLW 700

Up next
• 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
• Thursday: Off-day

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