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With the expected return of Ryan Ludwick on Sunday, the Reds roster will be at full strength coming down the final stretch and into the playoffs. Injuries will fortunately not be a factor in playoff roster construction.
Barring setbacks (as always), Ryan Ludwick is slated to return to the Reds lineup on September 30, after missing 9 starts with tightness in his groin. On Friday, Ludwick said he felt "awesome" after running the bases and doing other drills. Once Ludwick returns to the lineup, there will be no one on the Reds bench nursing an injury of any significance, which is an incredible stroke of luck as the team heads into the playoffs. In fact, if it weren't for the screwy away-first setup of the playoffs for this year, I would say it feels like a year of destiny for the Cincinnati club, as all the factors seem to be conspiring for a strong run in the postseason. Maybe it is a leftover high from Bailey's no-hitter yesterday, but the team seems to be firing on all cylinders at just the right time.
Ryan Hanigan returned to the lineup from a bruised shoulder on September 26, after missing two games. (and an inning). There was a small scare that this injury could have turned out more serious. Thankfully not, as Hanigan is a cornerstone of the offense and defense, and a key to the Reds success.
An update on Dusty Baker's status: the manager and guiding presence of the best Reds team in well over a decade is expected to return to the dugout on Monday. Baker's extended stay in the hospital did turn out to be more serious than an irregular heartbeat - he suffered a stroke. Acting manager Chris Speier (who has done a great job in Baker's absence) spoke to Baker on Friday and reiterated that "he's doing really, really good," as reported by John Fay. Baker's resumption of his role in the dugout is the last piece needed to get the Reds at full strength for the playoffs, a situation which will be unique for the team that hasn't been at full strength since the first month of the season. Timing is everything.