CINCINNATI -- For most of May, shortstop Zack Cozart had been having a tough time getting anything going at the plate. The struggles had become bad enough that manager Dusty Baker started to consider making a change in the two-hole, where Cozart has hit most of the season.
"I've been kind of wondering what to do," Baker said. "That is the spot for him on my team, but if you're not getting on as a double leadoff man, that makes it tough. Many times I wanted to do something else."
In his first 12 games this month, Cozart hit .208 (10-for-48) with seven strikeouts, although he also managed seven RBIs.
He broke through on Wednesday against the Mets, though, going 4-for-5 with two doubles and two runs scored. That game gave Cozart a four-game hitting streak, which he extended to five games with a single in his first at-bat on Friday against the Cubs, and Baker said he hopes all of it is an indication that the 27-year-old shortstop's struggles are behind him.
"This is what we need, and I know he needs it because I saw him over there sometimes grinding with a lot on his mind and stuff," Baker said of Cozart. "It's not easy not doing as well as you'd like to do, especially when you're a young player."
Parra activated early but feels ready to play
CINCINNATI -- Fresh off a trio of rehab starts for Double-A Pensacola, Reds reliever Manny Parra was back in Cincinnati this week to pick up some things and do some laundry before moving on to continue his rehab assignment with Triple-A Louisville.
Plans changed, though, when the Reds put fellow left-handed reliever Sean Marshall on the disabled list on Friday, and Parra received a call that he was to stay in Cincinnati.
"I'm excited," Parra said. "It's not always good when one of your guys goes down, but I'm excited to get back and compete at this level again."
The roles were reversed about a month ago, when Parra hit the 15-day disabled list with a strained left pectoral muscle and Marshall was reinstated from his first DL stint. Before the injury, Parra amassed an 8.10 ERA in six games, in large part because of a four-run outing on April 21 against Miami.
In his three starts for Pensacola, Parra pitched a total of five innings, surrendering three hits and no runs while registering five strikeouts. Most recently, he pitched two hitless innings on Sunday for the Blue Wahoos.
Although he was slated to continue rehabbing, Parra said he's ready to pitch at the big league level immediately. That's good news for manager Dusty Baker, who has just two left-handers in the bullpen between Parra and Aroldis Chapman.
"He's going to be our main lefty out of the pen," Baker said of Parra. "I'm just glad we got him, and he's back and healthy, because as soon as we get one guy back, another guy goes down. But at least we have some guys to put in that place."
Baker wasn't sure exactly how he planned to utilize Parra. Marshall often entered the game for special situations to face just one batter, and Baker said he might initially use Parra in a similar fashion.
"It all depends on how he does," Baker said. "Everything depends on his performance, as well as everybody's performance, so it's hard."
Sculptor Tsuchiya finishing up Morgan statue
CINCINNATI -- Tom Tsuchiya is the sculptor responsible for the statues of Joe Nuxhall, Ernie Lombardi, Ted Kluszewski, Frank Robinson and Johnny Bench that can be seen at Great American Ball Park. On Wednesday, Tsuchiya previewed his latest creation, a statue of former Reds second baseman and Hall of Famer Joe Morgan, which will be unveiled at the park later this summer.
Currently putting the final touches on the foam and clay mold that will soon be covered in bronze, Tsuchiya has been working on the project since last fall. The first step was deciding what it would look like.
"The hardest and most challenging thing about doing something like this is picking and finding the best and most appropriate pose for the player," Tsuchiya said.
He read books and articles on the internet to research Morgan's career, and, as a Reds fan since his dad used to take him to games in the 1980s, he happened to have a DVD of the 1975 World Series. After looking through picture after picture, he landed on a shot of Morgan breaking for second in one of his 689 career steals.
"That automatically implies he was a good hitter, because he obviously made it to first," Tsuchiya said.
Once the pose was chosen, Tsuchiya made 3-D models of Morgan using a computer program. Then, he sculpted three to-scale clay models, the last of which was scanned onto a computer before a fabricator built it out of foam. In about a week, Tsuchiya said he will be finished detailing the sculpture in clay, and it will be sent to a foundry in Indianapolis, where it will be cast in bronze just in time for its unveiling on Sept. 7.
As part of the celebration honoring Morgan, the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum will open a year-long exhibit dedicated to him. Rick Walls, its executive director, said the not-for-profit organization is still looking for contributions to help fund the statue, as it approaches its goal of $100,000.
For Tsuchiya, his contribution is adding yet another monument to remember the club's long and storied history.
"This is just cool," Tsuchiya said. "It's kind of bizarre, because I never would have imagined being a part of the whole Reds history. It's crazy."
Marshall sent to DL again with shoulder issue
CINCINNATI -- When Reds reliever Sean Marshall was held out of action on Wednesday after feeling soreness in his left shoulder during pregame throwing, he thought Thursday's off-day would be enough time to get himself right.
As it turns out, he'll need more time than that, as he was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Friday with a left shoulder sprain.
"We have to let it heal the way it's going to heal," manager Dusty Baker said. "Because it had been bothering him on and off since Spring Training."
The same shoulder put the 30-year-old lefty on the 15-day disabled list in April after pitching in just one game. On that trip to the DL, the injury was classified as shoulder tendinitis. Marshall came back and pitched a total of six innings in 10 games, allowing two earned runs, four hits and two walks while striking out six.
Baker didn't know if Marshall would need more than 15 days on the disabled list, but he said he wants the lefty to be back for good whenever he does return.
"Hopefully this is a chance to just let it heal," Baker said. "We thought it had healed before, but you don't really know. You don't really know until you get out there."
Jeremy Warnemuende is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.