Scott Rolen's Return to the Cincinnati Reds Lineup: Pro or Con?

Cliff EasthamSenior Writer IIJune 20, 2012

CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 18: Scott Rolen #27 of the Cincinnati Reds autographs a baseball as young fan Jack Saylor (R) looks on prior to the game against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on June 18, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images

Scott Rolen began the season as the starting third baseman and cleanup hitter for the Reds. He got injured and came out of the lineup on May 11 with a batting line of .174/.238/.304.

He has just been deemed healthy enough to come back and take his job.

With his return come several problems for manager Dusty Baker. What to do with Todd Frazier and Ryan Ludwick?

They have both been batting very well lately, so it could be harmful to the Reds when they leave Cleveland. You see, Frazier was the Designated Hitter last night so there was no conflict.

Rolen came back strong getting two hits in four trips to the plate and knocking in a pair of runs.

Ludwick had two doubles in four trips and had one run knocked in.

Frazier wore a size four collar last night, but in his last nine games he has hit .300 with two doubles  and a home run with seven runs delivered home.

Drew Stubbs' stint on the shelf has given Ludwick steady playing time in left field as Chris Heisey has taken over in center.

Ludwick is one of the most productive hitters in the National League. As of games played through June 18, he is ninth in the NL in R/AB.

As an aside it is worthwhile to note that there are three Reds in the top nine in this department.

Ludwick's productivity is .193. Andre Either leads the league at .223. Jay Bruce is currently in fifth place with a mark of .202. Joey Votto is just ahead of Ludwick in eighth place at .197

So what do you do with Ludwick? Do you sit him when he is as fresh as a daisy? In his last 11 games he is batting .273 with six doubles, three home runs and 10 RBI.

Is it fair to Ludwick to allow Frazier to play left field because Rolen is back? Is it fair to move Frazier off third base even though he has played very well?

I would not want to be Baker at this point. When your team is playing great without Rolen and loses his first two games back, it makes one wonder if a change should be made.

Perhaps things should be left alone until Stubbs comes off the DL.