Leake, Latos, Cairo…

*Dusty Baker said pre-game nothing should be read into Mike Leake working from the bullpen today. He’s still in the mix to start in the rotation.

“Why wouldn’t he be? The guy has had two good years,” Baker said. “We feel he is ready. He’s stretched out pretty good. It’s more of a tune-up. This is more of a keep him sharp thing rather than reading into him being in the bullpen.”

*Mat Latos remains the probable pitcher for Sunday vs. the White Sox. But the key word here is “probable.” The decision has not been made as Latos remains day-to-day with a strained left calf. Latos is slated for a side bullpen session on Friday. He did some light running today.

“I’m not going to say he’ll definitely pitch,” pitching coach Bryan Price said. “We’re optimistic the calf strain won’t be a tenuous issue. However, I think we need to get a little closer to the start date before we sign off on him taking the ball.”

*The Reds have 12 healthy pitchers left in camp, including non-roster LHP Jeff Francis. The club, which is planning to go north with 12, isn’t ready if this is the exact 12 that make the 25-man roster.

“We haven’t really decided,” Baker said. “We still have a few days for something to happen, to make up our minds, whatever. We’ll let you know.”

The Reds have some options with that decision for the last bullpen spot. They could bring someone back over from the Minor League camp that was already cut. They could also explore the market for guys that were in the last wave of cuts from other teams.

*Miguel Cairo entered the day batting .343. Cairo, 37, came into camp in excellent shape and was ready from the get-go.

“You have to get ready earlier than everyone else,” Cairo said. “There are a lot of young kids. I like to be ahead of the game and tell myself that.”


Doubt that Cairo’s roster spot was really ever in question, but glad he had a good spring anyway. Will be interesting to see if Reds try to sign Mike Gonzalez to a deal since he worked out for them. I find it hard to believe that Jeff Francis would go north in the pen. Although I don’t like the idea of Bailey in the pen, it appears that Chapman has out-pitched him for the 5th starter spot. I just don’t trust Chapman long term for the roster yet. He need a year as a starter in AAA before being in the Reds rotation.

Still not sure about Cairo. He’s had a good Spring and contributed in the past, but the roster spot numbers just don’t work. With 12 pitchers, which I think is a given, you get 5 bench spots. Reds already have 2 catchers and 2 LFs, Ludwick & Heisey, so that only leaves 3 spots. You need a true shortstop backup: Valdez or Janish. And I think you need a lefty hitter off the bench: Francisco or Harris. That leaves one spot and I think you have to consider Frazier. He’s more the future and its now or never for him: he’s 26 now. He’s had a killer Spring and plays basically the same spots as Cairo. If his Spring didn’t earn him a spot, then he never really had a chance. But I don’t see how you can keep him and Cairo.

Good analysis with the exception of your comments about Cairo. Dusty has all but said
that Cairo is, and was, a permanent bench rider. His contributions with the glove and bat
are absolutely terrific. He plays lst, 2nd and 3rd and had a .265/.330/.412 line last year.
And, what makes those numbers really glow is that they were done pinch hitting and as
a spot role backup. Above all, Dusty loves the guy. I think Janish will be sent down as the
Reds traded for Valdez, nor does he have any options left, and Janish has never shown
any ability to hit (.221/.289/.302) against big league pitching. Francisco, after being in
Dusty’s dog house earlier in spring training, is showing his amazing power, here in the
final week of spring traiining; Harris will be sent down imo. Also, Francisco is the future
3rd baseman of the Reds, or so it has been said. His left handed bench power may well
hide the fact that he is too big to be a spectacular 3rd baseman, however serviceable.
As for Frazier, I like him. He plays all positions except C and P and owns a ‘xtra’ basehit
bat. I think he will open up on the big club, as he has done everything Dusty has asked
of him this winter. However, if it comes down to Cairo or Frazier, Cairo will win; Frazier
will be sent down with an undated-one-way-return ticket. Lastly, Dusty is somewhat
forced to choose Valdez, Francisco and Cairo, as they are all out of options. Unless,
of course, a release, a waive or trade is worked out; I think those options are premature
given that we are on cusp of starting the season. As they say, time will tell.

Easy…Cairo stays; Frazier goes to Louisville to hone his skills, add depth to the organization, and wait for his inevitable call-up when someone goes down.

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