CHICAGO -- The Reds featured a vastly different lineup for Thursday's series finale vs. the Cubs. Nearly all of the regular players were rested, and bench players and September callups filled in. It marked the first career starts in the Majors for second baseman Henry Rodriguez and center fielder Denis Phipps.
Reds manager Dusty Baker made out the lineup ahead of time before he left the club with an irregular heartbeat on Wednesday.
"The lineup was done before he left for the hospital. That's Dusty," said acting manager Chris Speier. "He left that lineup there. So [I am] just following suit."
For Cincinnati, which held an 11-game division lead as it neared a clinch of the National League Central, it's one of the final chances to give key players a rest. With the Cubs already eliminated from the postseason, it also doesn't affect the competitive balance for another playoff race.
"We're in a really good position to where we could afford to do that," Speier said. "We had a tough one last night, a long one. We can rest our guys and make sure we get ready physically for the playoffs. By having this kind of lead, it gives us a chance to play some of the younger guys and the bench guys that will be there, it will give them some at-bats, which will be very important to keep them ready."
Speier makes no secret of managerial aspirations
CHICAGO -- Reds bench coach Chris Speier is getting another taste of managing while Dusty Baker is in the hospital. Speier managed in Baker's place for two games in both 2008 and 2010 while Baker served a pair of two-game suspensions.
Managing in the Majors full-time, somewhere, is an ambition for the 62-year-old Speier, who has been coaching at some level since retiring as a player in 1989. There is only one known opening, currently with the Astros, but others could surface during the offseason.
"I've never pushed my name out there," Speier said. "I think everybody in baseball understands that I would love to have the opportunity to at least go through the interview process and be part of that. That's never been a secret. I don't put myself out there. People know what I've done and what I am capable of doing. The reputation that I hopefully have around is one that if it's warranted for an opportunity, that I will get that."
Ludwick hopes to return to Reds next season
CHICAGO -- Reds left fielder Ryan Ludwick has revitalized his career in his first season with the club. Ludwick, who signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract in January with a $5 million mutual option for 2013, hopes he can return to Cincinnati next season.
"I've told numerous people I like it here," Ludwick said. "I'm definitely going to do everything in my ability on my side to stay here. I know it's a business and budgets become factors in an organization. I'm really hoping everything works out."
Ludwick, who came out of Wednesday's 6-5, 11-inning win over the Cubs in the fifth inning as a precaution for a tight left groin and was rested Thursday. Ludwick is batting .276 with 26 home runs and 80 RBIs this season.