Reds' Patterson heads to Triple-A to work on swing

CINCINNATI -- Corey Patterson is headed to the minors to try to work the kinks out of his swing.

The Cincinnati Reds optioned their leadoff hitter to Triple-A Louisville on Wednesday as part of a mutual agreement. The center fielder knows something has to change.

Patterson pinch hit and flied out Tuesday night in a 9-6 win over Pittsburgh, leaving him in an 0-for-18 slump that dropped his average to .200. His on-base percentage was .240, extremely poor for a leadoff hitter.

Patterson approached manager Dusty Baker to talk about going to the minors to streamline his swing.

"It was a mutual decision," Baker said. "Actually, I was going to call Corey in to talk to him, and he came in before I could get him and said, 'I've got to get my act together and change some things.' He knows he's better than he's played. He's got skill and talent. He's only 28 years old."

The Reds purchased the contract of utility infielder Andy Phillips, who was batting .315 with five homers for Triple-A Louisville.

Cincinnati also transferred shortstop Alex Gonzalez to the 60-day disabled list. Gonzalez sustained a compression fracture in his left knee early in spring training and still is having problems when he runs hard.

One of the Reds' biggest problems has been finding a leadoff hitter. They thought Patterson could fill the need when they signed him on March 3, the only team willing to give him such a chance.

Part of the attraction was Patterson's history with Baker. He played for him with the Chicago Cubs, having his best moments in the majors before flaming out. Patterson hit well during spring training, winning the job in center field. He was set to make $3 million in the majors this season.

Patterson's struggles in the last few weeks led the Reds to look for another option. They called up Jay Bruce and started him in center on Tuesday. The former first-round pick went 3-for-3 with a pair of walks in his major league debut.

When Bruce was called up, Patterson decided it was time to work on his swing. Baker hasn't given up on him.

"He's got the skill," Baker said. "It's not just going on like or dislike. I like the skill. I know skill when I see skill. I know talent when I see talent. If he was 35, it might be a little different."