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Hamilton, Byrd struggling at plate

Since getting off to a nice start, Reds leadoff hitter Billy Hamilton has cooled quite a  bit. He started out 4-for-9 in the first two games, but is batting .107 (3-for-28) in his last seven games. Entering the day, he’s 1-for-13 on the road trip and his last walk came when he drew two bases-on-balls April 10 — which also was the last time he stole a base after a 7-for-7 start in the first four games.

Not a coincidence, the Reds offense has also slowed since the 4-0 start, and without Devin Mesoraco’s absence.

“We’ve also had to move Brandon [Phillips] up to the four-hole without having Devin here, which I hate to say shortens our lineup but it’s certainly not the lineup we anticipated,” Reds manager Bryan Price said on Saturday morning. “Having Brandon hitting further down the lineup really gave us authoritative bat there in the back of the lineup. It’s certainly important. [Hamilton] is a big factor in our offense. He’s quite often in scoring position. He’s going to score in a myriad of ways with his speed. And it’s just one more guy for us to knock in with that middle of the order group we have. It’s pretty important that he’s on base as far as generating our offense. [But] we’ve got seven other guys that have similar responsibility to get on base and drive in runs.”

And one of those players should be Marlon Byrd, who is off to a poor start after a strong Spring Training. Byrd enters Saturday batting .132 (5-for-38) in his 10 games. He still had Price’s full support.

“We’re definitely going to have way more leeway with a veteran player that’s got career numbers,” Price said. “He’s coming off a year where he hit 25 homers and drove in over 80 runs. That doesn’t just disappear because he struggles for a 10-game stretch. I’m looking forward to him breaking out and the impact it will have on our lineup, for sure. I haven’t lost any faith that he’s going to have a real nice year for us.”

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Game 11: Reds at Cardinals

RHP Pedro Villarreal was optioned to Louisville while Homer Bailey was activated from the DL.

First pitch: 2:15 pm ET

Hamilton 8

Votto 3

Frazier 5

Phillips 4

Bruce 9

Byrd 7

Pena 2

Cozart 6

Bailey 1

Price on Corcino

Reds fans that were used to hearing about RHP Daniel Corcino being a prospect in years past might have been surprised that he was designated for assignment and claimed off waivers on Friday by the Dodgers.

Here is what Reds manager Bryan Price had to say about Corcino:

Corcino?

“The development has slowed,” Price said. “It doesn’t mean he’s not a big league pitcher or won’t sometime be a very good one. It’s just that the progress he had made through 2011, had slowed down a bit. I think he can pitch in the big leagues but to be really good on a good team, he’s going to have to continue to mature. And we have to protect the guys we feel are closer to helping us here. I think we had some guys ahead of him on the depth chart. That was a decision that we had to make that we felt was best for the club.”

“We lost [Ryan] Dennick too – and stuff like that. You don’t like to lose your own players. Everybody has to go through it when you’re challenged to find roster spots.”

Corcino was 11-7 with a 3.42 ERA with 34 walks and 156 strikeouts at Class A Dayton in 2011, and 8-8 with a 3.01 ERA, 65 walks and 126 strikeouts in 2012 at Double-A. But he had a 5.91 ERA at Triple-A and a 4.14 ERA at Double-A last season.

With Michael Lorenzen, Robert Stephenson, Jon Moscot and others the organization is high on, it appears that Corcino wasn’t as prominent in the future plans as he once was.

Game 10: Cardinals at Reds

Hamilton 8

Votto 3

Frazier 5

Phillips 4

Bruce 9

Byrd 7

Pena 2

Cozart 6

Cueto 1

Barnhart called up

The Reds recalled catcher Tucker Barnhart on Friday from Triple-A Louisville and optioned catcher Kyle Skipworth to Louisville.

Also, RHP Daniel Corcino, who was DFA’d Monday, was claimed off waivers by the Dodgers.

Skipworth did not get into a game after he was called up from Double-A Pensacola. He was added catching protection when Devin Mesoraco missed the three-game series vs. the Cubs with a left hip injury.

Mesoraco is expected back for the Cardinals series.

Barnhart was batting .313 (5-for-16) with three doubles in five games for Louisville.

Game 9: Reds at Cubs

First pitch at 8:05 p.m. ET

Hamilton 8

Votto 3

Frazier 5

Phillips 4

Byrd 7

Bruce 9

Pena 2

Cozart 6

Marquis 1

Villarreal recalled; Smith optioned

The Reds recalled RHP Pedro Villarreal from Triple-A Louisville on Wednesday and optioned RHP Josh Smith back to Louisville.

Smith, who was called up on Monday, did not get into either of the last two games.

Villarreal struggled during his eight games in Spring Training, with a 13.00 ERA. He allowed at least one run in each of his last seven appearances and overall had 17 hits and 13 runs, including three homers given up.

More later on reds.com

Game 8: Reds at Cubs

Hamilton 8

Votto 3

Frazier 5

Phillips 4

Bruce 9

Byrd 7

Pena 2

Cozart 6

DeSclafani 1

Game 7: Reds at Cubs

Negron 8
Votto 3
Frazier 5
Phillips 4
Byrd 7
Bruce 9

Pena 2

Cozart 6

Leake 1

**Roster moves: OF Raisel Iglesias and INF Chris Dominguez optioned to Triple-A Louisville.
Catcher Kyle Skipworth called up from Double-A Pensacola
Pitcher Josh Smith called up from Triple-A Louisville.

Corresponding 40-man roster moves pending to make room for Skipworth and Smith.

Devin Mesoraco is back in Cincinnati having an MRI on his left hip because of discomfort.

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