With Scott Rolen due to return on Monday, the Reds face a similar situation to what the Red Sox just half-measured with Kevin Youkilis. The major difference: the Reds have a much more logical way to work their rookie and veteran third basemen into a lineup. Not only that, the recent health crisis in the outfield might let Walt&Co punt the decision for a while.
Todd Frazier needs to continue to play almost every game. Through 127 PAs this season, he's the Reds' second-best hitter (2nd to Votto in OPS+, wRC+, wOBA). You might argue he's the 3rd, 4th or even 5th best hitter by by true talent. But that doesn't get us much further from the fact that he needs to be an everyday starter. The team is worse if he's not.
Even with Rolen back and a healthy Drew Stubbs and Chris Heisey - whenever those three things end up being true at the same time - Frazier needs to play. This weekend, he'll probably keep playing third. If Rolen returns Monday - and Heisey and/or Stubbs are unavailable - Frazier can play left field.
Once the Reds have their Opening Day lineup back, it's a lot muddier. But there's nothing inherently special about the lineup on Day 1. It's not like the classic lineup of your favorite band who ripped through a bunch of crappy drummers and keytarists. It's just a shot in time.
What the Reds should do about their various roster puzzlers:
Unless he's coming back, like now, let's free up that spot. There might be three or more position players partly or mostly unavailable this weekend. Get a warm body in there. If it's going to be a three day call-up, better make it someone you either don't mind bumping right back off the 40-man once you need the spot again.
Assuming Heisey and Stubbs are out: Ludwick to LF, Valdez to CF (ride the hot hand), Bruce to RF. With how incredibly thin the Reds' are behind their starting line, I don't need to see Bruce taking any additional risks in CF.
Ease Rolen back in
If he does indeed come back Monday, there's no reason he has to hit the ground running. Let him lead with his defense.
J-Hoovah has been great, but he's shown some wear lately: 4 ER in 2.2 IP. He doesn't deserve to get sent down, but he has options and Bray isn't going to stay in limbo. He also might have his groove back, while the Reds desperately need a little starting depth at AAA. Stretch out Hoover. Or stretch out LeCure.