Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Reds expected to be without Ryan Ludwick for at least three months


On Wednesday, Reds outfielder Ryan Ludwick underwent successful surgery to repair torn cartilage in his right shoulder. That is the good news.

The bad news is that Ludwick is expected to miss at least three months, 13-14 weeks to be exact, as he waits for the injury to completely heal. This timetable would put the slugger back into action around the All-Star Break.

Ludwick sustained a dislocated shoulder while sliding into third base in Monday's season opening loss to the Angels. The 34-year-old exited the game and did not return. An MRI a day later revealed cartilage tear in the surrounding area.

The loss of Ludwick is undeniably a huge blow to the Reds offense. Cincinnati was expecting the veteran to hit clean-up and build off last season's success (.276/26/80), which is precisely why they offered him a two-year, $15 million contract over the winter.

Reserve outfielder Chris Heisey will now be called upon to fill the void. Manager Dusty Baker said that this is Heisey's chance to show what he can do on a full-time basis.

"For Heisey, this is his opportunity," Baker said. "I hope he doesn't put too much pressure on himself. It's his opportunity for extended play. I'm making it as easy on him as I can, to bat in front of Joey Votto. It's up to him."

This isn't the first time the Reds have had to cope with the loss of one of its big bats. Votto was sidelined for nearly two months last season due to a knee injury, but the club hung in there and managed to win the division anyway.

"This is a very resilient team," Baker said. "We just have to find a way. It's a big blow, especially in the middle of our lineup. He's one of the leaders on the team. But much like last year with Joey, I hope we have the same success with whoever's taking Ludwick's place.

"We missed Joey for 50 games last year. Everybody wrote us off then. But this team has a way of coming together."

Outfielder Derrick Robinson has been promoted from Triple-A Louisville to fill Ludwick's spot on the roster. The 25-year-old will be making his major league debut once he enters a game for the first time.

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