PHOENIX -- The Reds sent rookie sensation Mike Leake to the bullpen on Tuesday, temporarily dropping the right-hander from the starting rotation.

Leake, Cincinnati's No. 1 pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, never played a day in the Minors. He's 8-4 with a 3.78 ERA spanning 22 starts and 135 2/3 innings. But in his past three starts he allowed 17 runs on 21 hits, losing the past two.

"This way we can see where we are," Reds manager Dusty Baker said before his club played the D-backs at Chase Field. "It doesn't take him long to get loose. We can monitor his innings. It shouldn't be a horrible transition."

Baker said there was no particular timetable for bringing Leake back into the rotation.

"It depends," Baker said. "It depends on how far we go into September and hopefully into October."

Right now the starting rotation will be Bronson Arroyo, Edinson Volquez, Travis Wood, Homer Bailey and Johnny Cueto.

Jocketty: Owings wanted to get new start

PHOENIX -- Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said on Tuesday that it was a tough decision to designate right-hander Micah Ownings for assignment to make room for first-round Draft pick Yasmani Grandal on the 40-man roster.

The catcher, from the University of Miami, was signed to a Major League contract on Monday.

The Reds have 10 days to trade Owings, who was obtained two years ago in a deal that sent Adam Dunn to the D-backs for the stretch run. If they don't trade him, he can become a free agent.

"When we sent Micah down a couple of weeks he requested that we try to trade him to another club that would have a better future for him," Jocketty said before the Reds played the D-backs at Chase Field. "That's what we're going to try to do now. We're going to try to get him an opportunity somewhere else and get him a new start."

Owings, 27, appeared in 22 games for the Reds this season out of the bullpen, going 3-2 with a 5.40 ERA. He has 35 strikeouts in 33 1/3 innings. He also has been a pretty fair hitter in his four seasons, having compiled a lifetime .293 batting average with nine homers, 14 doubles, and 34 RBIs.

"He's a versatile guy -- he can go both ways [as a starter or reliever]," Jocketty said. "Micah did a nice job for us, but some guys jumped past him in the rotation. He's a great guy, a great teammate and a good guy to have on a club. Maybe there will be a better opportunity for him somewhere else."

Baker trying to keep players focused

PHOENIX -- The Reds have a chance to make the playoffs for the first time since 1995, and manager Dusty Baker is trying to keep a group of players that has never been there before on even keel with 44 games to go.

"I just hate all the losing," Baker said before the Reds opened a key nine-game trip through Arizona, Los Angeles and San Francisco with a game against the D-backs at Chase Field on Tuesday night. "That's the way it's been for four years. When you lose everybody thinks you don't know what you're doing. Then when you win you're a genius. It's funny how that works."

The Reds went into the series with 67 wins, leading the Cardinals by one game in the National League Central. It wasn't so long ago that Reds general manager Walt Jocketty was considered a genius when his Cardinals won the 2006 World Series in five games over the Tigers. The job played itself out for Jocketty in St. Louis and now here it is again with the Reds.

"It's great," Jocketty said. "We're past the middle of August and we're hanging in there. We've gone back and forth with the Cardinals. I'm sure it's going to be a very interesting race until the end."

Likewise, Baker is back again. As a player, he went to World Series with the Dodgers in 1977, '78 and '81, finally beating the Yankees in their third confrontation in '81. As manager of Giants, he was within eight outs of winning the 2002 World Series over the Angels when the roof caved in. Ditto when he managed the 2003 Cubs to the brink of victory over the Marlins in the NL Championship Series. Both series ended in seven heartbreaking games.

"You try to keep the game simple," Baker said about playing this time of year. "No need to put any extra pressure on yourself because of the magnitude of the situation. There's enough pressure as it is. This is something we discussed since Spring Training, about getting to this point. You see things starting to formulate and then come to fruition. We're all goal-oriented. You have to keep that goal in mind all the time. This is what you've been working toward your whole life."