After experiencing a bounceback season in 2012, Ryan Ludwick's 2013 campaign didn't go as planned, as the veteran outfielder suffered a serious shoulder injury on Opening Day. The injury caused him to miss most of the season and he wasn't nearly the same when he returned in August.
Now, the 35-year-old said he "feels strong" entering 2014, but will he be able to replicate the 26 HR/80 RBI success he enjoyed in 2012? ESPN Insider and former Reds general manager Jim Bowden isn't so sure. This is why Bowden pegged Ludwick as one of seven players who could potentially lose their jobs this spring.
Remember, Ludwick is just one year removed from hitting 26 homers and he will be a key to the Reds’ offense both in production, as well as providing a right-handed bat between lefties Joey Votto and Jay Bruce. However, if Ludwick has a poor spring, the Reds must consider giving Chris Heisey some playing time, while Walt Jocketty searches the trade market for an upgrade.
Quite frankly, the Reds are banking heavily that Ludwick will be healthy and productive this year. If not, it could put the club in a real bind when it comes to finding offensive firepower elsewhere. Considering the financial investment the Reds have put into Ludwick for this season, $8.5 million to be exact, I think he will get plenty of opportunities to right the ship if things go awry. If he can post numbers similar to his career slash line (.262/.332/.460), he and the Reds should be in good shape.
Photo: Cincinnati Enquirer