CINCINNATI -- Left fielder Ryan Ludwick rejoined the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday, four months after he tore cartilage in his right shoulder while sliding headfirst into third base. It's unclear how much he'll be able to contribute at the outset.
The Reds plan to activate Ludwick off the disabled list on Monday before the start of a three-game series in Chicago against the Cubs.
Ludwick needed surgery to repair the shoulder and couldn't swing a bat for three months, leaving him rusty. He went 6-for-44 on a minor league stint that ends on Sunday. He'll work out with the Reds until then.
The cleanup hitter says it's been difficult to get his timing back. Manager Dusty Baker plans to use him lower in the order until he gets an idea of how he's swinging.
"It's been a lot tougher than I thought it would be," Ludwick said. "Mainly, it's been the speed of the game. Normally, I hit for 2½ months (in the offseason) and then have spring training and everybody's starting off even.
"My shoulder's fine, but my swing is long. I made a diving catch the other day. I wasn't supposed to do that, but instinct took over. It's just the timing of the game has been a lot harder than I thought."
Last season, Ludwick was Cincinnati's top run producer in the second half of the season when Joey Votto was recovering from knee surgery. Ludwick batted .340 with 12 homers and 36 RBIs with Votto out, helping the Reds pull away to the NL Central title.
Baker is eager to see how Ludwick looks against major league pitching.
"Right now, we're thinking of starting him out in the sixth slot," Baker said. "That can change, depending on what we need and which guys are producing and which aren't."
The third-place Reds also have gotten catcher Ryan Hanigan and set-up man Jonathan Broxton back from injuries this week, leaving their lineup intact for the first time since Ludwick got hurt on opening day.
Ludwick, who missed a month with a sprained left wrist, was activated on Friday and went 0 for 2 with a pair of walks during a 7-2 win over the San Diego Padres. Broxton, who was activated earlier in the week after recovering from a strained elbow, pitched one inning and gave up one hit.
Broxton said he felt fine a day after his first appearance since June 13.
"We had guys who picked up a lot of innings while I was out," Broxton said. "I just want to get back and take some stress off the other guys."