DENVER -- The Reds had been searching for a middle-of-the order run producer before the non-waiver Trade Deadline, but there hasn't been much talk of that lately. They found one in their own midst of late in left fielder Ryan Ludwick.
Over his last 30 games entering Friday, Ludwick was batting .301 (31-for-103) with seven home runs and 16 RBIs. It's raised his overall average from a paltry .201 to .243, with 15 homers and 43 RBIs.
"I think if you took away the first month of the season, this is what I envisioned happening this year," Ludwick said on Friday. "Obviously, I got off to a rough start. I said a month and a half ago that this was the best I've felt since 2008-09. I still feel that way. I'm not quite as locked in as a couple of weeks ago, but I kind of got my swagger back. I know I can play here again."
Ludwick, 34, signed a one-year contract worth $2.5 million during the winter after a down 2011 in San Diego and Pittsburgh.
"Being here around these guys has helped," Ludwick said. "We've got a good team and that helps. I'm comfortable now with my surroundings and I'm really happy to be here."
Ludwick and the Reds offense has stepped up well in the absence of Joey Votto, going 8-2 in the previous 10 games with seven straight wins. Finding a cleanup hitter has become less of a priority for general manager Walt Jocketty, which can only benefit Ludwick to stay in the lineup.
"I think Walt and Dusty [Baker] were trying to catch lightning in a bottle because I had a couple of bad years," Ludwick said of his offseason signing. "I still believed in myself. Am I happy with what's going on? Yes."
Masset set for live action on rehab assignment
DENVER -- Reds reliever Nick Masset, who has been on the disabled list all season with a right shoulder injury, has advanced another step in his comeback. Masset was scheduled to begin his rehab assignment Friday and pitch one inning for the Arizona League club in Goodyear.
If all goes well, Masset will throw one inning on Monday for the Arizona League Reds.
"It's been good. He's done everything we've asked him to do -- bullpens, live batting practice and has come through them well," Reds pitching coach Bryan Price said Friday afternoon.
The reports Price have seen are positive from Arizona League Reds coach Derrin Ebert.
"He's shown some resiliency, which is the important part," Price said. "He's probably where you'd hope he would be before his first Spring Training outing."
That means Masset has at least five or six appearances to go before he might be cleared to return sometime in August.
"If he's healthy and activated in August, he's got to be able to assume the same responsibilities as anybody else in the bullpen," Price said. "We can't pitch him and then give him two days off because he's still considered a rehab. We don't have that luxury."