CIN@PIT: Cozart laces a run-scoring double to left

CINCINNATI -- Since a 3-for-5 game on April 20 at Chicago, Reds shortstop Zack Cozart returned to an extended hitting drought. Cozart, who is batting only .148 overall this season, entered Tuesday 3-for-his-last 21.

Reds manager Bryan Price, who has started Cozart in 23 of the team's 26 games this season, has continued to show support. Much of that confidence is derived from the fact that Cozart has maintained excellent defense throughout.

"It depends on how you want to look at it. I used to always talk about defense up the middle -- catcher, middle infield and center field -- and the importance of that," Price said on Tuesday. "[Former shortstops] Mark Belanger, Don Kessinger and Eddie Brinkman and guys like that were guys that were there every day to play great defense. I think Zack has a great [chance] to be a dynamic offensive player. We haven't lost any confidence in our optimism that he is going to be a solid offensive player beyond where he's been so far in his career at the Major League level.

"Even though it's been a slow start, there's a great deal of optimism from [hitting coach] Don Long, Walt [Jocketty, the general manager] and myself and the staff that he's going to be a very, very good offensive player. His defense shows up every day and it's a difference maker."

Cozart has yet to commit an error this season. Sabermetrically, he is ranked No. 1 in the Majors among shortstops (and fifth overall) with a 4.0 ultimate zone rating on Fangraphs.com, and third with four defensive runs saved.

"I think conscientious baseball players are always trying to find some part of their game that's going to help their team, even if another area is struggling," Price said. "Maybe it's an even great motivator that when you're not swinging the bat, you find some way to even enhance your defense to find that way to help."

Chapman says he's ready for rehab assignment

Chapman feels good after throwing live BP

CINCINNATI -- Following his final pitching tune-up in the controlled setting of live batting practice on Tuesday, Reds closer Aroldis Chapman felt ready to begin a Minor League rehab assignment later this week.

Chapman threw 25 pitches while facing teammates Roger Bernadina, Neftali Soto and Ramon Santiago.

"It went very good," Chapman said via translator Tomas Vera. "I think all of my pitches were how I want. I believe the location was the way I wanted. I think everything went well."

The tentative plan is to have Chapman begin a rehab assignment on Thursday at Class A Dayton.

"Yes, I think I am ready," Chapman said. "I believe about four to five games would be good for me before I join the team once again."

"Right now what makes the most sense is Dayton," manager Bryan Price said. "They have their final game [of a series] against Lansing up there. We'll have to manage it moving forward. It's not written in stone. It's a possibility."

Chapman, who is trying to return from being hit in the head by a line drive on March 19, threw 27 pitches in the first live BP last week in Pittsburgh and 43 pitches over two simulated innings in the second one on Saturday in Atlanta. In the second and third sessions, he worked without a screen.

This time, Chapman was dialed back to one inning of work again.

"He's stretched out. His arm is in great shape," Price said. "It's just a matter of real game situations. We feel he is ready. It shouldn't be a terribly long rehab stint, I believe."

Chapman also did not use his fastball as much in Tuesday's effort.

"I was throwing more changeups and sliders," Chapman said. "I was working more with them because I know I have my fastball. I've got the feeling of my fastball. I need to keep working with my breaking pitch."

Schumaker gets three hits in first rehab game

Schumaker discusses dislocating his left shoulder

CINCINNATI -- In the first game of his rehab assignment with Triple-A Louisville on Monday, Reds infielder/outfielder Skip Schumaker was 3-for-4 with two doubles and one RBI against Buffalo.

Schumaker, who dislocated his left shoulder on March 21 in a Spring Training game, played again on Tuesday. He went 0-for-1 before being ejected for arguing a call at second base, according to the Louisville Bats' Twitter account.

What happens next remains murky, in part because of a murky forecast.

"He swung the bat well and feels good," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "The issue right now is there is a lot of bad weather in this neck of the woods and a day off on the schedule for Triple-A. We're trying to find alternatives to make sure he stays active over the course of the next 48-72 hours."

Worth noting

• As the winner of an auction that benefited Stand Up 2 Cancer during the Winter Meetings, Ben Murphy from Morehead, Ky., and his family had lunch Tuesday with Reds third baseman Todd Frazier. Murphy and Frazier ate at the Blue Bird Diner in Norwood, and he was scheduled to watch Reds batting practice on the field before Tuesday's game vs. the Cubs.