PITTSBURGH -- It's been a tough season for the left-handed bats on the Reds' bench this season, to say the least.
First, Willie Harris went 3-for-35 (.086) before he was sent outright to Triple-A Louisville earlier this month. And Mike Costanzo entered Tuesday 0-for-11 with six strikeouts as a pinch-hitter and 1-for-13 overall for a .077 batting average.
Costanzo, who has five strikeouts in his last six pinch-hitting appearances, was watching video of his swings on Tuesday afternoon.
"I'm kind of getting myself out right now. It's frustrating," said Costanzo, who was called up from Louisville on May 12 after he spent eight seasons in the Minors. "I have to go in every day with a clean slate and continue to work hard, study the pitchers and the video and try to help the team the best I can."
Reds manager Dusty Baker is hoping Costanzo can swing his way out of the slump.
"I'm going to try and get him a start soon," Baker said. "A lot of people don't know that is a very tough job for a young hitter with no success, and pressure on him to try and stay in the big leagues."
The Reds have to be patient, because the options at Louisville are either not better or injured. Paul Janish and Chris Valaika are both on the disabled list. Dioner Navarro is not on the DL but is hampered by a sore right hamstring. Danny Dorn has been hot of late, but is still only batting .218.
Baker knows he is asking Costanzo to fill a role usually reserved for someone with more experience.
"That job is usually for older, veteran players that have some track record of success, where 0-for-1 doesn't drive you crazy until the next 0-for-1," Baker said. "The absolute best one I've seen was the Diamondbacks a few years ago, when they had [Danny] Bautista or [David] Dellucci. You had to choose which one you would face. Then when you get by those two, they had [Erubiel] Durazo and [Greg] Colbrunn.
"That was a hell of a combo. I was in that division trying to figure out which one I wanted to face. And all of them could hit. I was like, 'I hate this decision.' That's a manager's delight. But those combos are hard to find, and also hard to afford, too."
Frazier saves choking victim with Heimlich
PITTSBURGH -- Quick thinking by Reds rookie third baseman Todd Frazier, and his memory from high school of how to perform the Heimlich Maneuver, likely helped save a man's life on Monday night.
While having dinner at a downtown Pittsburgh restaurant with teammate Ryan Ludwick, Frazier noticed a man was choking.
"I was talking to [Ludwick] and I see it out of the corner of my eye," Frazier explained. "I said, 'I think that dude is choking over there.' ... There were two women side by side trying to give him the Heimlich. [Ludwick] said to get over there because I was the closest one. So I went over there and was yelling at them to get out of the way. They did, and I gave two pumps and it came out."
The man had apparently eaten a very large bite of steak.
"It was a big, fat piece, too, it was pretty insane," Frazier said. "It was a good 30 seconds that they were trying, at least.
"I remembered in high school they taught us, a couple of fingers below the sternum. It hacked that thing right out."
The unidentified victim was grateful for Frazier's assistance, which was certainly more important than anything he could do on the field on Tuesday, when he went 2-for-3 with an RBI double and an RBI triple in an 8-1 win over the Pirates.
"He paid for our [dinner], which he didn't have to do, and said thanks a couple of times," Frazier said. "It was pretty surreal. I have never done that before."
Votto seeing shift when digging in vs. Bucs
PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates employed a unique infield shift when Joey Votto batted during the Reds' 4-1 loss Monday. When the left-handed Votto batted, Pittsburgh played for a pulled hit, which included putting third baseman Pedro Alvarez into short right field between the second baseman and first baseman.
Votto was 1-for-3 with a walk in the game.
"They can do whatever they want to do," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "It doesn't bother me, and it doesn't bother Joey either. I've seen shifts before -- the Hank Aaron shift, the Willie McCovey shift. If you hit the ball hard enough, it doesn't matter. You don't try to alter your swing to combat the shift. That's what they want you to do."
Bray resumes throwing; Masset progressing
PITTSBURGH -- Injured Reds reliever Bill Bray, who has been battling left groin and lower back injuries, resumed a throwing program on Monday at extended spring training in Arizona. Bray, who also threw on Tuesday, is working from a distance of 60 feet.
Reliever Nick Masset, who has been out all season with a shoulder injury, continues to throw and increase his distance and has had no known issues.
Third baseman Scott Rolen, currently on the disabled list with a strained left shoulder, has yet to resume hitting and baseball activity.
"Once he goes, he gets from 0-100 quickly and it's not easy to hold him back," head trainer Paul Lessard said. "We want to make sure he has a good base of strength there before we get crazy."