Reds look for strong second half

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 17, 2008

CINCINNATI — Edison Volquez can pitch. Adam Dunn can hit for power. Jerry Hairston Jr. has just hit and hit and hit.

But the Cincinnati Reds will need more if they are going to climb back in the National League Central Division race or at least make a run at the wild card spot.

“I knew it would be tough when I got here. You don’t inherit (seven straight) losing seasons and not know it’s going to be tough.”

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The Reds offense, defense and pitching has been inconsistent. Dunn has been hot lately, but he remains a hot-and-cold hitter, much like the rest of the lineup.

“People see home runs, but they don’t see runs scored,” said Baker.

Volquez is among the pitching leaders, but Aaron Harang was hurt by lack of run support early and has struggled with a strained forearm in the past few weeks. Other than closer Francisco Cordero, the bullpen has not performed up to expectations.

Besides the defense being average, injuries have hit the Reds hard, especially at shortstop with four different players hurt including starter Alex Gonzalez was injured in spring training and has been lost for the season.

Speedy outfielder and top base-stealing threat Ryan Freel has been out since June 4 and catcher David Ross missed nearly a month early.

A four-game series at home against the New York Mets to begin the second half could be an indicator of what lies ahead.