Ludwick appreciates return to Reds despite outcome

Ludwick appreciates return to Reds despite outcome

Ludwick appreciates return to Reds despite outcome

CHICAGO -- Because of his right shoulder injury sustained on Opening Day, Reds left fielder Ryan Ludwick had to wait more than four months between his first game of 2013 and his second.

Ludwick, who returned from surgery to repair a torn labrum, will have at least one day between his second and third starts of the season as he was not in Tuesday's lineup vs. the Cubs. He was 0-for-3 in his return to the lineup in Monday's 2-0 win.

"Tomorrow has a lot to do with Ludwick being off today," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "We've got a quick turnaround [with a day game] tomorrow. We certainly don't have very much time in between. And then if we elect to play him Thursday, we have a night game. That gives him more time. And then the next day, if he seems to be OK, we have a full 24 hours that day. Today seemed like the right time to do it."

Ludwick felt like he came through his first game back with no physical issues and felt fine on Tuesday.

"I wouldn't be here if I wasn't ready to play nine innings," Ludwick said. "Now I just have to take those fastballs and hit them the way I want to as opposed to getting underneath them and just missing. I'm close. I felt really good in the box last night. I was really disappointed I didn't get a hit. At least we won."

In his first two at-bats, Ludwick swung at the first pitch. In the second inning against Travis Wood, he sharply grounded a ball to shortstop for a double play. He popped out to second base in the third inning and grounded out to first base in the seventh.

"The second one was actually a better pitch to hit," Ludwick said. "It was almost right down the middle of the plate. I got underneath it a little bit long. I was chewing my butt off the whole time the rest of the game for missing that pitch."

Ludwick, 35, didn't take for granted that he was back on the roster and playing again. Signed to a two-year, $15 million contract through 2014 with a club option for 2015, he has renewed appreciation for being in the Major Leagues and has changed his workout program to stay sharper.

"It was probably the happiest 0-for-3 I've had in my life. Riding back on the bus and just being out there," Ludwick said. "When you're out four months, you realize how much you miss the game. I want to do everything I can to stay in the best possible shape as I can to make this thing last as long as possible."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.