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03/19/07 10:00 PM ET

Notes: Denorfia to keep improving

Reds outfieldier wants to improve his swing and consistency

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Outfielder Chris Denorfia keeps reminding himself of one thing: He needs to keep getting better.

That might sound like the simplest of things for Denorfia to ask of himself, yet it's more complex than people might think. Denorfia sees himself on the edge of being in the Majors already, and thanks to the misfortunate injuries of Ken Griffey Jr. (broken left hand) and Ryan Freel (sore right hamstring), Denorfia has been getting plenty of chances during Spring Training to show he's a player who belongs in the bigs.

A season ago, he got a big helping of Major League life. He bounced between the Reds and Triple-A Louisville four times. He didn't, he said, enjoy the bouncing.

"I learned it can be tough sometimes, it can just be tough," said Denorfia, who started in left field for Monday's game against the Tigers. "It's not always easy to try and roll with the punches. But it makes you stronger, you know.

"Going through a year like last year, it definitely makes you mentally stronger."

The mental side might be what Denorfia needs to handle better, yet he's also got some baseball-specific stuff to focus on as well. He's not sure he can pinpoint one specific thing, which is why he keeps the thought of just getting better running through his mind.

It was that thought which took the 26-year-old Denorfia to the winter ball to get more at-bats, and that same thought has him working closely with hitting coach Brook Jacoby, who's helping Denorfia fine-tune his stroke.

"Some of the things I'm working on definitely take a certain number of at-bats," Denortia said. "I'm just taking advantage of this opportunity right now, and trying to get ready for the season to start."

Opening Day preparation: Bronson Arroyo called it an outing he needed. Not that it was his top-shelf best, for it was hardly anything that good. But he got a solid day's work in Monday over his 4 2/3 innings against the Tigers.

"He battled," manager Jerry Narron said. "He didn't have his best stuff."

Arroyo conceded both points. He also thought he needed to battle, because his performances this Spring Training haven't been the most taxing. He hadn't given up a run in seven innings, and he'd only given up three hits.

Those numbers changed after his outing Monday.

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"You want your body to work," said Arroyo, who gave up four runs, three earned, on seven hits. "You want to pitch from the stretch, because you're gonna pitch a lot in the season from the stretch. You wanna kind of bear down and throw those good 2-2 pitches."

Griffey watch: At some point this week, Narron said he's expecting to use Griffey in a Grapefruit League game. Griffey has been taking batting practice, but lingering soreness in his left hand has kept him out of game action.

"Whenever he says he's ready to go, we're going do everything we can to get him in the lineup," said Narron, who reiterated on Monday that Griffey might start the '07 season on the disabled list.

And the question is ... Who was the first Reds player to lead the National League in batting? (See answer below)

Did you know: In 1954, slugger Ted Kluszewski accomplished a rarity in baseball when led the National League in homers (49) and in hits (192). Kluszewski is one seven Reds to lead the league in hits, though several like Pete Rose (six) led the league in more than one season.

Winfrey will sing God Bless America.

Reds notes: The Reds optioned right-hander Brad Salmon and left-hander Brian Shackelford to Triple-A Louisville, moves that cut the number of pitchers in Reds camp to 19. Narron said he simply couldn't find innings for Salmon and Shackelford. Both of them made strong impressions in Spring Training. ... Right-hander Kirk Saarloos and left-hander Bobby Livingston are scheduled to throw in Minor League games on Tuesday. ... Adam Dunn hit his third homer of the Grapefruit League season. It was a solo shot off Tigers left-hander Kenny Rogers in the fourth.

The answer is ... A team with as storied a history as the Reds surely didn't go deep into baseball's history without having an early batting leader, right? In 1905, Cy Seymour led the National League with a .377 average. Seymour also led in hits with 219.

Quotable: "Stuff-wise, he's probably got the best of anybody in our bullpen." -- Narron, on Rule 5 Draft pick Jared Burton, a 25-year-old right-hander

Up next: The Reds have a day off on Tuesday. Their next game is Wednesday when they travel to Fort Myers, Fla., to play the Twins at 1:05 p.m. ET. Left-hander Eric Milton will start for the Reds, and he'll face Twins right-hander Sidney Ponson.

Justice B. Hill is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.