PITTSBURGH -- After getting into a groove a few games upon his return from a four-month stint on the disabled list, Reds left fielder Ryan Ludwick has fallen into a rut lately.
Ludwick, who had surgery in April to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder, entered Friday batting .200 (10-for-50) for September and 3-for-21 on the current road trip. He was in Friday's lineup, batting fourth against Pirates starter Francisco Liriano.
Reds manager Dusty Baker wasn't surprised that Ludwick has been in a funk.
"Joey [Votto] was in a rut for a long time. Jay Bruce was in a rut for a long time. Name me somebody on the team that has not fallen into a rut," Baker said. "The only way to get out of a rut is to play. You can't sit your way out of a rut. We need Ludwick. We need him bad. We needed him before he got back here.
"We just don't want him to worry about it. We don't need you all to overemphasize it, because he's the kind of guy to put a lot of pressure on himself anyway, sometimes unnecessarily."
Ludwick promptly rewarded his manager's decision in Friday's game, delivering an RBI single in his first at-bat against the Pirates, snapping an 0-for-15 drought.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.