CINCINNATI — Reds outfielder Ryan Ludwick tore cartilage in his right shoulder while sliding into third base during the season opener and will need surgery, leaving the defending NL Central champions without one of their main run producers for an uncertain period.
The team didn’t project how long Ludwick will be out.
Ludwick dislocated his right shoulder on a headfirst slide in the third inning of Cincinnati’s 13-inning, 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Monday. He said the shoulder popped out when his hand caught on the dirt.
An MRI today — the team’s day off — found the torn cartilage. He’ll have surgery today. The Reds plan to put him on the 15-day disabled list and replace him on the roster before the second game of their series against the Angels.
It’s a significant setback for the Reds, who relied on Ludwick’s right-handed hitting to balance left-handers Joey Votto and Jay Bruce in the middle of the lineup. Ludwick batted cleanup, between Votto and Bruce.
His value to the team was evident when they gave him a two-year, $15 million dollar deal to stay last December, one of several moves to keep the defending division champions intact for another playoff run.
The 34-year-old outfielder was a key component in their championship season. After Votto went down with torn knee cartilage that caused him to miss 48 games, Ludwick became the Reds’ top run producer. He batted .340 with 12 homers and 36 RBIs while Votto recuperated.
Ludwick also led the team with three homers during a five-game series loss to San Francisco in the opening round of the playoffs. Overall, he batted .275 with 26 homers and 80 RBIs in 125 games last season, including 107 starts in left field.
Chris Heisey took over for Ludwick after he got hurt on Monday. Heisey started 80 games in the outfield last season and batted .265 with seven homers and 31 RBIs.
Manager Dusty Baker was noncommittal after the game when asked if Heisey would take over the starting job in left field. Baker will have to juggle his lineup to try to make up for the loss of Ludwick’s right-handed production.
“There’s quite a few things that go into that equation,” Baker said. “We’ll see.”
The Reds were generally healthy last season, when they won their second division title in three years. The back end of the bullpen was wiped out by injuries during spring training, but all five starters made it through the regular season without having to miss a game because of injury. Votto’s injury was the most significant to a starting position player.
Now, they're down one player after one game.
“It’s disheartening,” Baker said. “We’ve done so well the last couple of years with injuries.”