CIN@SF: Cozart collects four hits in opener

LOS ANGELES -- Reds shortstop Zack Cozart was out of Thursday's starting lineup due to a sore left hip, his third straight absence from the lineup. Cozart went 4-for-4 in Game 1 of Tuesday's doubleheader against the Giants and had one pinch-hitting appearance in Game 2.

"I'm definitely better today. I was better yesterday," Cozart said. "It's loosened up the past couple of days. I should be ready to play pretty soon."

Cozart planned on taking full batting practice and infield work Thursday before the Reds opened a four-game series against the Dodgers.

"He could have been ready today," manager Dusty Baker said. "I decided not to play him today and we'll wait until tomorrow. This way, he is available late in the game. I'd rather have him late in the game today than having to take him out late."

After enduring some first-half struggles, Cozart has been hot since the All-Star break and was batting .351 (13-for-37) in his last 10 games entering play Thursday.

"I had four hits and have been doing better at the plate and something like this happens," Cozart said. "It's one of those things that if you don't calm it down, it might nag you the rest of the year."

Reds quiet as Trade Deadline approaches

Walt Jocketty discusses trading for Shin-Soo Choo

LOS ANGELES -- Major League Baseball teams have crossed the less-than-one week threshold before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. While some clubs have already been active, and many others are part of rumors, there hasn't been much heard from the Reds -- yet.

"It's very quiet. There have been a lot of conversations, but nothing of substance," Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said on Thursday.

Next week's Deadline to trade players without passing them through waivers is 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday.

Among the Reds' needs is a right-handed bat to help the offense. But they're also well aware that one is not far from returning from within their own ranks in Ryan Ludwick. The left fielder, who has been out of action since injuring his right shoulder on Opening Day, began a rehab assignment on Wednesday.

It's a similar situation with pitching needs as the Reds await the return of ace Johnny Cueto and key relievers Jonathan Broxton and Sean Marshall.

"When we get them back, it strengthens our club even more," Jocketty said. "I don't want to trade prospects to improve the club. … Unless something develops in the next week, I'm not sure you'll see us do anything."

The addition of a second Wild Card last year has helped freeze activity on the trade market. Currently, 18 clubs have winning percentages of .450 or better -- which at least gives some teams hope of possibly getting into the postseason. Entering play on Thursday, Cincinnati had a 5 1/2-game lead for the second National League Wild Card spot.

"I think there are still several clubs unsure of what position they're in yet," Jocketty said. "I'm not sure the next week will make any difference. People have to remember that a lot of clubs don't want to signal to their fans they're giving up, either."

Would moving the Deadline back a couple of weeks from July 31 help loosen things up?

"It's been discussed a lot," Jocketty said. "I don't know if I'd push for it, but I wouldn't be opposed to it. A lot of clubs would have a clearer picture on where they stand."

Broxton expected to throw live BP Saturday

LAA@CIN: Broxton fans two in perfect inning of relief

LOS ANGELES -- Injured Reds reliever Jonathan Broxton played catch on the field Thursday in Los Angeles and had no issues one day after a bullpen session on Wednesday in San Francisco.

Broxton, who has been on the disabled list since June 15 with a right elbow strain, is expected to face hitters in a live batting practice session on Saturday.

"He had a great bullpen yesterday," pitching coach Bryan Price said. "He was throwing all of his pitches and looked sharp. It looked like he was in good throwing shape. The next step will be to face hitters and maybe after that, get him out to a rehab assignment."

Lefty reliever Sean Marshall (sprained left shoulder) has not resumed mound work since being shut down late last week. Marshall played catch on Thursday and Price was optimistic he would not lose too much of the progress he had been building in his program

"He was good, in throwing shape," Price said. "He had a little bit of a setback and took a few days off. He's working on his strength and hopefully it's not too far away when he gets back on the mound."

Worth noting

• Ryan Ludwick was 0-for-1 with a walk and a run scored Thursday in his second rehab assignment game for Class A Dayton. On Wednesday, Ludwick was 1-for-2 with a walk.