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Unflappable Cozart continues to mash

MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- With 11 days left until the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, Reds shortstop Zack Cozart was done discussing rumors, choosing to avoid the issue on Thursday morning. Cozart occupies the same end-of-the-clubhouse locker that once belonged to Jay Bruce, who was dealing with heavy rumors a year ago at this time.

In the week leading up to his Aug. 1 trade to the Mets, Bruce homered in five straight games as he blocked out the distractions. Cozart, who was the starting shortstop on the National League All-Star team last week, appears poised to do likewise. In Tuesday and Wednesday's games vs. the D-backs, he was 7-for-10 with two home runs.

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CINCINNATI -- With 11 days left until the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, Reds shortstop Zack Cozart was done discussing rumors, choosing to avoid the issue on Thursday morning. Cozart occupies the same end-of-the-clubhouse locker that once belonged to Jay Bruce, who was dealing with heavy rumors a year ago at this time.

In the week leading up to his Aug. 1 trade to the Mets, Bruce homered in five straight games as he blocked out the distractions. Cozart, who was the starting shortstop on the National League All-Star team last week, appears poised to do likewise. In Tuesday and Wednesday's games vs. the D-backs, he was 7-for-10 with two home runs.

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"From my dealings with Zack, I thought he's been the ultimate pro. I thought Jay handled it well last year and it was tough," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "One thing I've noticed in the eight years I've been with the Reds is guys, especially the ones that come through the system, they don't want to leave. It doesn't matter who it's been."

Video: ARI@CIN: Reds take early lead on Cozart's solo homer

Like Bruce last year, and Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake in 2015, Cozart can become a free agent at the end of the season. The Reds explored trading Cozart in the past offseason but found a barren market for shortstops. Recent injuries to shortstops on contenders like Houston, Arizona and Washington have at least sparked speculation this summer.

Of course, Price would like to see Cozart be able to stick around in Cincinnati.

"There is hope that something can be worked out," he said. "Zack also has an opportunity to go out there and test free agency for the first time. That might end up being a robust opportunity. I think the challenges here are a little bit different. But I think he has handled it marvelously to this point. I admire him for that."

Cozart was not in Thursday's starting lineup vs. Arizona, his second scheduled day off of this week so he could rest a problematic right quadriceps. Price modified his playing time going into the break but planned on using him every day going forward, provided that Cozart indicated he was fine.

"I just think at this point, it's not going to get any better without rest so I might as well just play," said Cozart, who was on the disabled list from June 19-30 with a strained right quad. "It's going to be something I will have to deal with. I've been doing that ever since I hurt it in San Francisco. Unfortunately, in baseball, there is no time off to get recovery. I think I'm ready to just start playing. We'll be on one of those day to day that if something happens in the game, I'll have a conversation with Bryan and go from there."

Lorenzen not ruled out as starter in 2018

Reds reliever Michael Lorenzen earned the victory with two scoreless innings in the 4-3 win over the D-backs in 11 innings on Wednesday. Lorenzen, a former starter who would like to start in the future, hasn't been ruled out going back into the rotation.

"Going into the offseason, we certainly can reassess and see if we can provide him with the opportunity if that's the best fit for the club," Price said. "And I think he can start. He's not a reliever because we don't believe he can start. He's a reliever because he's filling a current need."

Video: ARI@CIN: Lorenzen K's Mathis to escape danger in 11th

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Cincinnati Reds, Zack Cozart