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Starting fresh after injury, Heisey hot at plate

CINCINNATI -- Chris Heisey had no other choice. Upon returning from a nearly two-month stint on the disabled list, the Reds left fielder had to bury his lousy April and start anew.

Since returning from a strained right hamstring on June 25, Heisey entered Saturday hitting .367 (11-for-30) with three home runs, five doubles and seven RBIs. During Friday's 5-3 victory over the Pirates, he hit a first-inning solo homer and an RBI single off third baseman Pedro Alvarez's glove in the fifth.

"I've been working with our hitting coach [Brook Jacoby] to really try and just slow it down and just trust the ability I have and not overthink things," Heisey said. "It's been working for me."

In 23 games before going on the DL on April 29, Heisey was batting .173 with two homers. During that stretch, he was trying to replace the injured Ryan Ludwick as the regular left fielder.

"That was kind of my thing -- to try and forget about the April I had," Heisey said on Saturday. "It wasn't what I wanted to start the season like. When I look at my numbers, I try to look at them from the time I came back. Looking back, I don't feel like I was in a great place, mentally, to go out there and put really competitive at-bats together.

"Maybe it was the fact I felt it was my job and I wanted to kind of prove I can be an everyday guy, and putting that added pressure on myself probably wasn't a good thing. Mentally, I've been able to get to a better point where I can go out there and say, 'Hey, this is what I've got. Relax. If it's good enough, it is. If not, what are you going to do?'"

Reds manager Dusty Baker kept the righty-hitting Heisey's hot bat in the lineup on Saturday vs. Pirates right-handed starter A.J. Burnett.

"He's made some adjustments," Baker said of Heisey. "It's who I stack him up against, kind of. Ordinarily, I might not be playing him today against Burnett because he throws a bunch of breaking balls."

Heisey is primarily a fastball hitter.

"I had a talk with Heisey today about how to hit that breaking ball," Baker said.

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