CINCINNATI -- Reds pitcher Mike Leake has been the rotation's most consistent starter this season. Historically, he has also been the staff's best hitter -- but not this season.
Leake, who was 0-for-2 and grounded into a double play in Friday's 5-3 win over the Pirates, is in an 0-for-25 funk since his last hit, a single vs. Braves pitcher Mike Minor on June 8. He is batting .200 overall after he batted .295 with two home runs in 2012. Perhaps the opposition is no longer treating him like a free out during their planning meetings.
"Sometimes that happens. They're definitely pitching me a little bit tougher, I feel," Leake said on Saturday. "They're definitely not saying, 'Here, hit this fastball.' They're definitely making me work more. It's one of those years, probably, where I'm not making the best contact. It's just something where you have to take it, and the next game you'll be better."
During Friday's win, Leake pitched 5 2/3 innings with three runs, six hits and two walks allowed while he struck out five. He is 9-4 with a 2.79 ERA in 19 starts.
"I'm here to be a pitcher. I'd rather be slipping on my hitting than my pitching," Leake said.
Starting fresh after injury, Heisey hot at plate
CINCINNATI -- Chris Heisey had no other choice. Upon returning from a nearly two-month stint on the disabled list, the Reds left fielder had to bury his lousy April and start anew.
Since returning from a strained right hamstring on June 25, Heisey entered Saturday hitting .367 (11-for-30) with three home runs, five doubles and seven RBIs. During Friday's 5-3 victory over the Pirates, he hit a first-inning solo homer and an RBI single off third baseman Pedro Alvarez's glove in the fifth.
"I've been working with our hitting coach [Brook Jacoby] to really try and just slow it down and just trust the ability I have and not overthink things," Heisey said. "It's been working for me."
In 23 games before going on the DL on April 29, Heisey was batting .173 with two homers. During that stretch, he was trying to replace the injured Ryan Ludwick as the regular left fielder.
"That was kind of my thing -- to try and forget about the April I had," Heisey said on Saturday. "It wasn't what I wanted to start the season like. When I look at my numbers, I try to look at them from the time I came back. Looking back, I don't feel like I was in a great place, mentally, to go out there and put really competitive at-bats together.
"Maybe it was the fact I felt it was my job and I wanted to kind of prove I can be an everyday guy, and putting that added pressure on myself probably wasn't a good thing. Mentally, I've been able to get to a better point where I can go out there and say, 'Hey, this is what I've got. Relax. If it's good enough, it is. If not, what are you going to do?'"
Reds manager Dusty Baker kept the righty-hitting Heisey's hot bat in the lineup on Saturday vs. Pirates right-handed starter A.J. Burnett.
"He's made some adjustments," Baker said of Heisey. "It's who I stack him up against, kind of. Ordinarily, I might not be playing him today against Burnett because he throws a bunch of breaking balls."
Heisey is primarily a fastball hitter.
"I had a talk with Heisey today about how to hit that breaking ball," Baker said.
Robinson's sore shoulder product of headfirst slide
CINCINNATI -- Reds outfielder Derrick Robinson has been bothered by a sore left shoulder since he slid headfirst into home plate vs. the Brewers on July 9 at Miller Park. Robinson has been getting it treated and felt he was improving.
"It will be all right," Robinson said.
Robinson was trying for an inside-the-park homer when he slid into Brewers catcher Martin Maldonado. Baker, who might have normally matched him up vs. Pirates starter A.J. Burnett on Saturday, hates seeing his players take the risk of sliding headfirst into the catcher.
"I try to tell these guys and young kids, don't headfirst slide into home plate," Baker said on Saturday. "You're risking injury. All you can do is tell them. It's a natural instinct. They've been sliding headfirst since they were coming up. That's what they see on SportsCenter. That's what they see everywhere. It's not like I can put a shock collar on them when they're about to slide headfirst."