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Mesoraco sits vs. Dodgers as Pena gets nod

Mesoraco sits vs. Dodgers as Pena gets nod play video for Mesoraco sits vs. Dodgers as Pena gets nod

CINCINNATI -- Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco was not in the lineup vs. the Dodgers on Monday, while backup Brayan Pena was behind the plate to catch starting pitcher Tony Cingrani.

Mesoraco entered Monday in a 0-for-17 slump, his longest hitting drought of his career, and 1-for-18 on the homestand. It as lowered his overall average from .347 to .304.

"We've been running him hard," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "It gives Pena and Cingrani a chance to get linked up and give Devin really just a day off. He's basically been four out of every five and Pena has been catching [Johnny] Cueto exclusively."

Mesoraco, who was one of the Reds' hottest hitters in April and May between disabled list stints, and was batting .406 just 19 games into his season on May 23, came into Monday with nine home runs and 27 RBIs. Price wasn't worried about the recent dip.

"I didn't think he was going to hit .475 all year," Price said. "I never was with Tony Gwynn or George Brett or Wade Boggs but I was with Ichiro. It was maybe a .380 month followed by a .280 month. In the ebb and flow of the game, it's hard to maintain that level.

"I also know I've asked a few guys to slide into those middle order spots from time to time. I think there is a certain sense of obligation to all of a sudden now become a power threat or you've got to drive in runs with homers or extra-base hits. Keep the same approach. It's what has given you this opportunity to hit where you're hitting."

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.

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