Down to only two fully healthy outfielders for their playoff push, the Cincinnati Reds acquired utilityman Willie Bloomquist from the Kansas City Royals on Monday for either a player to be named or cash.
The NL Central leaders had been looking to get another outfielder after injuries left them with just Jonny Gomes in left and Drew Stubbs in center. The Reds began the day with a six-game lead over St. Louis.
Bloomquist is a short-term fix. He had been set to start in left field Monday in the Royals' game against Oakland. The Reds expect him in town for the second game of their series against Arizona on Tuesday.
"He's much needed," manager Dusty Baker said. "He plays all over, especially in the outfield where we could use him. Plus, he can pinch-run and pinch-hit, especially against left-handers. We've been searching for a couple of weeks. We got him because we need him. We hope he's a valuable spoke in the wheel."
Because he was acquired after Aug. 31, Bloomquist is ineligible for the playoffs if the Reds go that far.
The 32-year-old Bloomquist has started games this year at second base, third base, left field, center field and designated hitter. He had a nine-game hitting streak snapped over the weekend. He's batting .265 with three homers and 17 RBIs.
"Cincinnati called a couple of days ago, and we've been working on it since then," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "I loved having him play for me."
"Willie Bloomquist is a guy who's a free agent at the end of the year and he's got a chance to go from a team that's 27 games under .500 to a team that's 20 games over .500. I wanted him to go ahead and experience it," he said.
The Reds have held onto first place despite a series of strains, sprains and bruises that hit the outfield particularly hard. Laynce Nix has a sprained ankle, Jay Bruce and Jim Edmonds have strained abdominal muscles and Chris Heisey has been limited by a strained biceps.
Bruce was originally out of the starting lineup for a game Monday night against Arizona, but Baker decided to put him in after the outfielder said he felt up to it. Bruce hasn't played since Aug. 31 because of strained muscles on the right side of his abdomen.
"It should be good," Bruce said. "I'm looking forward to getting back in there and getting my feet wet. I told Dusty I was ready to play. A lot of guys have nagging stuff.
"It's time to go. I want to get ready for the push and help this team win as much as I can."
The Reds were so desperate for a healthy outfielder that they started infielder Miguel Cairo in right field over the weekend against Pittsburgh. It was only his third career start in right field and his first in five years.
The Reds also have been forced to use backups for shortstop Orlando Cabrera (strained abdominal muscles) and second baseman Brandon Phillips, recovering from a bruised hand.
On Monday, the Reds also recalled right-handed reliever Jared Burton from Triple-A Louisville and designated right-handed reliever Enerio Del Rosario for assignment.
AP freelance writers Alan Eskew in Kansas City and Mark Schmetzer contributed to this report.