NEW YORK -- Left fielder Ryan Ludwick hasn't started the season close to how the Reds would like, but manager Dusty Baker is looking for ways to get him out of his hitting funk.

Ludwick started on Thursday against Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, whom he's had limited success against (2-for-6, one home run). Baker will also use Ludwick as a designated hitter when Interleague Play begins on Friday against the Yankees.

"We need him," Baker said. "He's my DH in two out of those three games, at least."

Ludwick entered Thursday batting .177, with three home runs, 11 RBIs and 25 strikeouts in 79 at-bats. He was 3-for-29 (.103) in his previous 10 games. While he's struggled, fellow left fielder Chris Heisey has recently heated up, with back-to-back three-hit games in the previous series at Atlanta.

"Sometimes there are good starts, fair starts and poor starts," Baker said. "I know he's better than he's shown, better than he's playing. The only way to come out of it is to play. We can only play three outfielders at a time. I know everybody wants me to play the guy who's hot, but what happens when the guy is hot gets cold and the cold guy never gets lukewarm because he's not playing?"

Mesoraco catches wins in past two starts

NEW YORK -- Although it's not necessarily a reflection of his performance, the starting catcher won-loss record has skewed heavily against Reds rookie Devin Mesoraco this season. While pitchers are 15-6 with Ryan Hanigan behind the plate, they are 4-11 with Mesoraco.

However, the Reds have won the last two games Mesoraco caught -- on Wednesday against the Mets and Monday against the Braves. Mesoraco primarily catches for starters Homer Bailey and Mike Leake.

"He was wondering [about his record] but he was catching Leake and Homer," Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker said on Thursday. "It's not like he's catching [Johnny] Cueto every day. He's catching two of our younger guys, two of the probably least experienced guys we've got. They're inexperienced and he's inexperienced."

Baker wasn't surprised that it hasn't all been smooth sailing for Mesoraco, who entered the season as the club's No. 1 prospect.

"I told you when the season started, the two most volatile positions on this team, because of lack of experience, was our rookie shortstop and our rookie catcher," Baker said. "They're two of the most important positions nearly on the team. You've got to teach them. It's part of the job. He's a good student. He asks questions and he accepts being critiqued."

Worth noting

• Rookie shortstop Zack Cozart snapped a 0-for-13 skid with a third-inning RBI double on Wednesday.

• Asked how Reds hitters should handle themselves against Dickey, the rare knuckleball pitcher, Baker had simple advice.

"Look for a fastball," said Baker, who also advised hitters to move spots in the batter's box. "I was taught with knuckleballs that you have to crowd the plate. The last thing they want to do is hit you, because it doesn't hurt and they don't like baserunners."