Reds notes galore

I checked in with shortstop Alex Gonzalez this morning to see how his left knee was holding up after several days of drills. So far, so good — but Gonzalez said he is still easing into the running and not going at 100 percent.

“They don’t want me to run yet everyday,” said Gonzalez, who missed all of last season with a compression fracture. “When I started running, it was two-three times a week. Not only that, I’m doing a lot of stuff. Two days ago, I felt a little tight in both legs. Every day, I’m feeling good. I’m lifting weights and getting stronger. It’s nice and easy and getting ready for the season. Last year at this time, we were here and I was in the training room doing rehab. Now I can participate in Spring Training. I’m glad I can do a lot of stuff.”

A hodge podge of topics came up in manager Dusty Baker’s office this morning.

Pitcher Nick Masset is definitely in the mix for the fifth starter’s spot. Masset conditioned himself for starting during the off-season and could always go back to the bullpen if he doesn’t crack the starting five.

If Micah Owings doesn’t make the rotation, Baker wants to find a way to maximize his use as a pinch-hitter and reliever.

“If we could figure out how to get him loose, if he doesn’t make the starting rotation, he could be like a Brooks Kieschnick situation where he can pinch-hit and go into the game,” Baker said. “That was an interesting scenario when Kieschnick was doing it for the Brewers.”

Kieschnick was an outfielder-turned-pitcher for Milwaukee in 2003-2004. In 2003, he batted .300 with seven homers. Owings is .319 hitter with five home runs in 116 career big league at-bats.

“It’s no fluke. Some guys can hit,” Baker said.

Baker affirmed Willy Taveras’ statements earlier this week that it was possible for him to steal 100 bases this season. Taveras swiped 68 last year in a down offensive season.

There was a lot of praise for the effort position players had during drills on Friday.

“Yesterday was the finest baserunning and conditioning that I’ve ever seen as far as technique, cutting the bases, energy, training,” Baker said. “And some fun and competition as well. No complaining. This is an excellent group of guys.”

Coaches Mark Berry, Billy Hatcher and Eric Davis supervised the running drills. Baker was asked if there was more energy at this year’s camp.

“That comes with youth,” Baker said. “Youth, attitude and competition. And a desire to succeed.”

The first batch of players with 0-3 years of service time were signed. The club agreed to terms on one-year contracts with: OF Jay Bruce, RHP Jared Burton, RHP Carlos Fisher, 3B Juan Francisco, LHP Daniel Ray Herrera, RHP Sam LeCure, LHP Matt Maloney, RHP Robert Manuel, RHP Josh Roenicke, IF Adam Rosales and C Craig Tatum.

The spring rotation cleared up some. Aaron Harang will start in Tuesday’s intrasquad game. On Wednesday at TB, Edinson Volquez will start and be followed by Homer Bailey and Johnny Cueto. On Thursday vs. Minnesota, Owings will start. On Friday vs. the Phillies, it’s Bronson Arroyo. On Saturday at the Red Sox, it’s Masset. 


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