SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Reds manager Dusty Baker knows what you're thinking. He knows the question you are about to ask.Save your breath. Baker said he is still mulling his options for the ninth inning and doesn't know how his club will replace Ryan Madson as the team's closer this season -- yet. Madson, who signed a one-year, $8.5 million deal in January, is out for the season and scheduled for Tommy John surgery next week. "I've been getting that question from all my friends, family and people in restaurants," Baker said. "We have to talk to the guys. You just don't throw somebody in that role. A closer, ideally, needs to go three or four days in a row, because that's how the closer thing goes, and he might not get work for another week. There are very few guys out there who have gone three, four or five days in a row."
Sean Marshall could be a top candidate to close, but Baker said the club wants to stay away from pitching him three days in a row. Bill Bray, Nick Masset and Aroldis Chapman are all candidates to pitch in the final inning.The club could also explore options outside of the organization, such as former closer Kevin Gregg, who is reportedly being shopped by the Orioles.
"It might have to be by committee, which I hate," Baker said. "Hopefully, somebody will emerge and then you hate to have to go through it until somebody fails and you have to go to somebody else. That's the thing you don't want to get into. These are valuable games for a starter and for us. Usually, it takes about 30 seconds to mess up two and half hours of work by everybody."Baker shouldn't expect the questions about closer's job to end anytime soon. "I'm sure I'm going to get a whole lot to advice on it," he said.
Arredondo sympathizes with Madson
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Just over two years removed from his own Tommy John surgery, Jose Arredondo has felt Ryan Madson's pain. The right-handed reliever has some advice for Madson, who is scheduled to have season-ending surgery next week."The biggest thing for me was getting my confidence back to throw the same way and feel that everything is back to normal," Arredondo said. "It's the hardest part of the process. It's mental. If you can handle the mental side, you can be fine." A top prospect in the Angels organization, some considered Arredondo the heir apparent to Francisco Rodriguez as the closer in Anaheim after a stellar season in 2008. But Arredondo struggled in '09 and was not offered a contract by the Angels after the season. He had Tommy John surgery about a month after signing with the Reds in January of 2010 and missed the entire year. The right-hander went 4-4 with a 3.23 ERA in 53 relief appearances for the Reds in 2011. "It was my first year [after surgery] and the ball was moving all over place last year," he said. "I'm healthy now. I have a lot better control this year." Arredondo, who pitched primarily in the seventh inning last season, said he could also pitch in the ninth inning if needed. "I don't have a preference. Whatever inning they call me, I'll be ready," he said. "There is a lot of talent in this clubhouse. We can pick up the slack for Madson."
Francisco looks to kick spring slump
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Reds infielder Juan Francisco is the first to admit that Spring Training has not gone as planned and hopes his poor showing does not keep him off the big league roster when camp breaks next week.Francisco has five hits and 11 strikeouts in his first 36 at-bats this spring. He said his health is not an issue, as he has fully recovered from the strained right calf that bothered him at the beginning of camp. "Basically, I am not doing my job and things are not coming out the way I want, but I'm still working hard," he said. "I don't know what it is. I'm in a little slump, I guess. Every player goes through that." The Reds need a left-handed bat off the bench and a backup third baseman and were hoping Francisco could fill the need. Complicating matters is the fact that Francisco is out of Minor League options and showed up to camp overweight. "It's up to management," Francisco said. "I'm trying to do my job. I think if I can do my job, things will go the right way and in my favor."
Reds reveal Opening Night plans
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- On Monday, the Reds announced the entertainment lineup for Opening Night on April 7. All the players from the club's 25-man roster will walk a red carpet in the Fan Zone from 5:20 to 6:10 p.m.
Josh Hutcherson, a native of Northern Kentucky and star of "The Hunger Games" will throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Eben Franckewitz, a native of Loveland and "American Idol" season 11 contestant will sing the national Anthem.
Eighties cover band "The Rusty Griswolds" will play during inning breaks and during the post-game fireworks show presented by TriHealth featuring Rozzi's Famous Fireworks.
Reds reliever Bill Bray, who has been slowed all spring with a strained left groin, allowed two hits and struck out three in one scoreless inning against the Rangers in his Cactus League debut Monday night. He believes he will be ready for Opening Day."Absolutely," he said. "I've got three more appearances scheduled. We have a week to go and I'll give it my best shot."
Jeff Francis, a non-roster invitee, was charged with 11 runs, all earned, on 11 hits in three innings in Monday's 12-2 loss to the Rangers. He is competing against Homer Bailey and Aroldis Chapman for the final spot in the rotation."It was one of those days," Francis said. "I've had them before and I'll have them again. You can't leave the ball over the middle of the plate like I did."
Outfielder Ryan Ludwick was scratched from the starting lineup Monday night because of an illness.