By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer
SAN DIEGO - Reds manager Dave Miley is hoping a drop in the batting order can get another of his hitters going.
Miley dropped D'Angelo Jimenez from first to sixth in the order before Thursday's game against San Diego.
Jimenez was mired in a slump that had dropped his average from .353 to .197 heading into Thursday's game. He was hitting .140 over his last 24 games and was hitless in his last 15 at-bats.
Jimenez was 1-for-3 with a walk in Thursday's 8-2 loss to the Padres.
"It's the same scenario as we used with Junior (Griffey)," Miley said. "It's a change of atmosphere to try to get him going."
Ryan Freel hit leadoff, instead. Jimenez had been in that spot for 32 of the Reds' 33 games, with Freel leading off one other time.
Freel was 2-for-4 Wednesday and drove in the Reds' only run in their 2-1 loss. Freel was hitting .353 over his last five games.
Freel gives the Reds more speed at the top of the lineup. He has five of the Reds' 14 stolen bases.
IN A PINCH: As pinch-hitters, the Reds are 6-for-42 (.143).
Jacob Cruz (2-for-5) and Juan Castro (2-for-7) are the only bench players with any success as pinch-hitters.
Javier Valentin (0-for-9), Wily Mo Pena (0-for-9) and John Romano (0-for-5) are a combined 0-for-23.
Starters Austin Kearns (1-for-2) and Barry Larkin (1-for-3) accounted for one-third of the Reds' pinch-hits.
KEARNS-LARUE UPDATE: Kearns went 2-for-3 with a two-run homer in Louisville's 12-11 victory over Toledo on Thursday night. Three games into his rehab assignment, the outfielder is 4-for-12 with three RBI.
Catcher Jason LaRue, also on a rehab assignment, went 0-for-4 with a sacrifice fly.
TREVOR TRIVIA: Trevor Hoffman, the Padres' closer, got his start in the Reds' organization.
In fact, Reds third base coach Mark Berry is the answer to the trivia question: "Who was Trevor Hoffman's first pitching coach?"
"I was pitching coach at Cedar Rapids right after they converted Trevor (to a pitcher)," Berry said. "Fred Funk was the manager. He was the one who worked with Trevor but I had the title."
Hoffman was converted from shortstop to pitcher at the instructional league after the 1990 season.
"Word got out pretty quick on him," Berry said. "In a couple of weeks, he was the standout of that league. Scouts started showing up."
Hoffman went 1-1 with a 1.87 ERA and 12 saves that year.
Miley was Hoffman's manager in Nashville, his last stop in the minors, in 1993.
Florida took him in the expansion draft after '93. He went to San Diego in a trade in June 1993.
MAJOR-LEAGUE LEADER: Valentin leads the majors in throwing out would-be base stealers. Valentin has thrown out six of eight runners.
FARM REPORT: First baseman/left fielder Tony Blanco hit his 11th home Wednesday night in Single-A Potomac's 13-4 loss to Kinston.
Blanco, 22, was acquired from Boston in the Todd Walker trade in 2002. He leads the Carolina League in home runs.
David Shafer allowed one run over three innings to earn a save in Dayton's 5-2 win over South Bend. Shafer, 22, was the 20th-round pick in 2001. He is 2-0 with 0.47 ERA. He has struck out 26 and allowed four hits in 19 innings.
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