Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 5/22/12
CINCINNATI Ryan Ludwick was thrilled beyond comprehension his first appearance on FOX Sports Ohio as the Star of the Game for the Cincinnati Reds and first appearance on any Star of the Game Show for a long, long time. For a guy seemingly locked in mediocrity, as least as far as his batting average was concerned, it was a special moment for the 33-year-old outfielder. What made matters even worse than his anemic batting average (.206), Manager Dusty Baker said he would be the teams designated hitter when it began interleague play last Friday against the New York Yankees in the golden resplendence of the new Yankee Stadium. But while pinch-hitting in Citi Field against the New York Mets, Ludwick was hit on the left forearm by a pitch so he was unable to answer the DH call Friday and Saturday. But he recovered enough so that Baker had him playing DH Sunday afternoon, and what a Sunday after it was. Ludwick had three hits, including a home run off CC Sabathia when the Reds trailed, 3-2, and a two-run double in the ninth to push that one-run lead into a 5-2 margin, the final score. So there he was, standing in front of the FOX camera with broadcaster Jim Day, enjoying the moment. Then, just as the interview was about to end, Ludwick said, May I say one more thing? Told that he could, Ludwick looked into the camera and said, Cody, I love you. Being the solid interviewer, Day asked about Cody and Ludwick told the story. Cody Clark is Ludwicks 20-year-old nephew, hospitalized in California after a leg amputation due to cancer. And it took off my from there. Day put it on Twitter with the hash tag, Pray for Cody, and it went viral. @TerriClarkLV Cody and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers, hang tough Cody, we're here to support you! prayforcody Jim Day (@JimDayTV) May 20, 2012 Ludwick said he was reluctant to share Codys story on television, fearful he wouldnt want his story out there, But he was ecstatic. He is a huge baseball fan. So the three hits, the home run, the three RBI, the big victory over the Yankees were great stuff, but the reaction from Cody and his mother not only made Ludwicks day, it probably made his year. But it is a year he expects to get better and better. He remains in a collar-to-collar race with Chris Heisey for the left field spot. Ive worked and worked with (hitting coach) Brook Jacoby on just the basics, he said. Batting practice is great, but Ive had a really hard time transferring it into games, as far as timing. In BP, Ill be on top of the ball hitting line drives, then I I get in the game and all of a sudden Im underneath the ball. Ill get a good pitch to hit and swing through it or foul it off. Ludwick wants to produce, be a factor, not matter what his role. And thats the way he approached it when he signed with the Reds last winter. The main thing is winning and thats why I came here I came here to win, he said. I sure came to get my career back on track, but the most important thing is that Id love to win a championship before I retire, before Im doing playing. And this team, of all the teams I talked to, I thought had the best chance of doing that. Ludwick spliced together a monster year in 2008 for the St. Louis Cardinals .299, 27 homers, 113 RBI. And 2009 wasnt bad .265, but 22 homers and 97 RBI. Since then, though, with stops in San Diego and Pittsburgh, Ludwick is working to fit the pieces back together again, pieces that were scattered all over the expansive outfield in San Diegos Petco Field. The thing is, Ludwicks average is .206 but tucked within those small numbers is production four home runs (third on the team) and 15 RBI (third on the team and thats in only 87 at-bats. Yes, if you look at the RBIs and the power numbers and the amount of at-bats, its OK. Its really OK, he said. Thats a home ever 20 at-bats and Im driving in some runs. Obviously, the average isnt real good, he said with a guffaw. Its hard on all of us when were not helping the team. He was one huge help Sunday. Were playing pretty good baseball, he said. We just came back from splitting games with Atlanta and the Mets, both teams playing over .500, and took two of three from the Yankees in their own house. In the big picture, thats what Im trying to focus on. So Sunday for me? It was fun. It was nice. I can build on that. Yes, the Reds are doing well and Ludwick was enthralled with his Sunday contribution. But the best part of the day was given that little shout-out to my nephew with cancer, he said. It was amazing the response it got when it hit Twitter. Complete strangers started tweeting, How can we help? That brought a smile to his face. And the smile remains on Ludwicks face, too.
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