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Feeling strong, Ludwick comes early to Reds camp

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Reds left fielder Ryan Ludwick's surgically repaired right shoulder wasn't back to 100 percent, he estimated, until the end of December.

But the key thing for Ludwick is that it's 100 percent now.

"The good thing is I've been crushing my legs because I wasn't able to lift upper body until Nov. 6. It's helped my base and my core a lot," Ludwick said. "It feels good to be strong again."

Ludwick, 35, was the latest position player who reported to Spring Training early Monday. The full squad isn't required to be in camp until Wednesday.

Expected to be a key run producer in the middle of the lineup last year after he signed a two-year, $15 million contract, Ludwick's season was wrecked on Opening Day. He separated his shoulder sliding headfirst into third base vs. the Angels.

The injury required surgery to repair a torn labrum and four months on the disabled list to rehab. After Ludwick returned in August, he batted .240 with only two home runs and 12 RBIs in 129 at-bats over 38 games. It was a big loss for the offense after he had 26 homers and 80s RBIs in 2012.

"I think a lot of people don't understand that you come off of surgery, you rehab for four months, you're not going to be as strong as you are the following year," Ludwick said. "I kept telling people around me that they don't understand that. I've been through surgeries and you're never back feeling good until a year post-op."

With his body healed and in shape, Ludwick expects to produce again for the Reds.

"I guess one of the positive things is I got a lot of rest last year, my body did," he said. "And I didn't need any motivation this year to get into good shape. Any time the game is taken away from you, you kind of get a little bit more hungry. It was a good offseason."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon.
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