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There's No Joy in Ludville

The dreaded 15 day DL looms for the Reds' Opening Day LF.

Who's going to shoulder the LF load, now?
Who's going to shoulder the LF load, now?

The Reds announced today that starting LF Ryan Ludwick will undergo surgery tomorrow to repair a torn labrum in his right (non-throwing) shoulder.

Well, rats.

Ludwick will be placed on the 15 day DL, but returning from a torn labrum is something that will take months, not weeks, to fully heal. It's quite the bummer for both Reds fans and Ludwick, who signed a 2 year, $15 million contract following his resurgent 2012 campaign, the first multi-year contract of his career.

I speculated last night on potential lineup shuffles that we could see as early as Wednesday, but I was proposing those under the premise that Ludwick would only be out for a short period of time. It appears, of course, that is not the case. Walt Jocketty has already confirmed that Shin-Soo Choo will not be moved from CF to LF, which means Chris Heisey will likely get first crack at the bulk of starts in LF, with Xavier Paul seeing an increased role, too. What remains to be seen, however, is how the Reds play their cards in terms of who is called up.

One thing is for sure: top prospect Billy Hamilton will not be the one to get the call. He's not ready, Walt knows it, and he needs PAs more than bench time. Career minor leaguers Denis Phipps and Derrick Robinson (both of whom are capable of covering CF) will likely be the two considered for the promotion, and while neither truly inspires any real confidence, they're not going to be any worse than Cairo or Valdez were last season off the bench. Damning with faint praise, I know.

On the surface, this is a pretty major blow considering Ludwick's contributions to the team last season, but it's not something that will completely derail the season. If anything, we can look squarely at Ryan Madson's injury last season as an example of having an important player go down early and overcoming it.

Expect to see some lineup shuffling, too, since Chris Heisey will not be penciled in at cleanup while playing everyday. To keep with his knifey/spoony tendencies, I'm certain it will be either Phillips or Frazier put at cleanup, with either Heisey (who Dusty knows can be a successful bunter) or Zack Cozart moved up to 2nd in order.

Basically, it's not good news at all, but things could be a lot worse in Reds land. Here's to a speedy recovery, Luddy.