The timing wasn’t ideal, but Zack Cozart isn’t about to complain.
Mired in a 5-for-32 slump since May 8, Cozart broke out in a big way Wednesday by going 4-for-5 with two doubles in a 7-4 win against the New York Mets at Citi Field.
Then he got to sit around and do nothing on Thursday’s off day, hoping the time off wouldn’t cool his bat.
“You can’t pick your off days,” Cozart said with a shrug Friday prior to the start of a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs at Great American Ball Park. “Actually, that’s something we talk about, trying to have a good game the day before an off day.”
The four hits were a career-high, and they were as welcome of a sight for Reds manager Dusty Baker as they were for Cozart.
“I’d been kind of wondering what to do,” Baker said. “That (No. 2 hole) is the spot for him on my team, but if you’re not getting on it makes it tough. There have been many times I’ve wanted to do something else with him.
“I hope he’s turned the corner,” Baker added. “It’s what we need, and I know he needs it. I see him over there grinding with it on his mind. It’s not easy not doing as well as you’d like to be doing, especially when you’re a young player.”
The four-hit game extended Cozart’s hitting streak to a modest four games, but he entered Friday’s game hitting .224.
“I feel like I’m hitting the ball better,” he said. “I don’t have nearly as many strikeouts, only 20 in like 200 plate appearances.”
It’s actually 22 in 170 at-bats, but Baker said the strikeouts aren’t the issue.
“You’ve got to stay out of the air,” Baker said. “He’s hitting a lot of fly balls, too many fly balls. We’ve talked about it. But I’m glad to see him get some hits. We’ve been pulling for him so hard to do that.”
Roster move: The Reds placed left-handed relief pitcher Sean Marshall on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left shoulder and reinstated lefty reliever Manny Parra from the 15-day DL.
The Marshall move was made retroactive to Tuesday.
“They said it’s a shoulder sprain, so we’ll just have to let it heal the way it’s going to heal,” Baker said. “It had been bothering him on and off since spring training. Hopefully this is just a chance to let it heal. We thought we had it healed before, but you don’t really know until you get out there.”
Marshall had not pitched since Monday, when he made his fourth appearance in five days. He is 0-1 with a 2.57 ERA in 11 appearances.
Parra was 0-1 with an 8.10 ERA in six appearances before going on the DL with a strained left pectoral muscle April 26.
“It’s a chance for Manny Parra to make his mark,” Baker said. “He’s going to be our main lefty out of the pen.”
Packed park: Friday’s game against the Cubs marked the third sellout of the season at Great American Ball Park, and Sunday’s 1:10 p.m. contest will be the fourth.
“It’s nice to see the fans come out there and support us,” second baseman Brandon Phillips said. “That’s what it’s all about. It’s a beautiful thing. We feed off those guys. It’s motivation. We get momentum from our fans.”
The two previous sellouts this season were April 1, when the Reds lost to the Los Angeles Angels 3-1 in 13 innings, and May 11, a 13-7 victory against the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Reds entered Friday with a record of 43-39 in 82 sellouts at GABP.