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08/22/10 4:20 PM ET
Leake warming up to 'pen after first call
Reds righty allows two runs in 2 1/3 innnings in relief debut
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
LOS ANGELES -- For the first time during his brief big league career, Reds pitcher Mike Leake's outing on Saturday wasn't pre-determined as part of a five-man rotation.
Instead, his services were summoned via a phone call to the bullpen. Leake's first relief appearance came after Johnny Cueto struggled and exited after three innings during an 8-5 loss to the Dodgers.
"It was all right. It was a good new experience," said Leake, who gave up two runs and five hits over 2 1/3 innings while throwing 49 pitches. "It's always a little different until you get used to something."
Leake had to get warmed up pretty quickly as Cueto was rocked for four homers and fell behind, 5-0, after three innings.
"You watch the game and see it develop," Leake said. "You kind of see how things are going. Yesterday, I figured there was a chance once he started getting hit a little bit."
Leake had a perfect fourth inning but gave up two runs in the fifth on a two-out RBI double to Casey Blake followed by Jamey Carroll's RBI single.
"Last night he gave up a couple of 0-2 hits. He had them," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "He just made the mistake on the pitch. What happens next time if he doesn't give up the two hits? He wouldn't have given up anything."
The Reds decided early last week to move the 22-year-old Leake from the rotation to bullpen as his innings total escalated. He is now 8-4 with a 3.85 ERA with 138 innings pitched.
With the Reds having a deep rotation, Leake has been given no indications he would return to starting as the Reds enter the stretch run of their pennant race.
"Not at this time right now," Leake said. "I'm still helping the team. I can't complain about that."
Reds rookie Smith endures rough patch
LOS ANGELES -- Since a streak of 13 scoreless innings over 11 appearances ended on Aug. 11, Reds rookie reliever Jordan Smith has been giving up more hits and runs than the club is used to seeing.
Over his last five appearances, totaling four innings, Smith has allowed nine hits and six runs of his own. Overall, he entered Sunday 2-2 with a 3.60 ERA with five of his nine inherited runners scoring.
"Well, maybe they're figuring him out, too. That's one thing," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "And he's getting the ball over the heart of the plate. He's almost throwing too many strikes. These guys go to school. They start seeing patterns. You might have to change your pattern or come up and in more. You do whatever it takes to get them out."
With rosters slated to expand to up to 40 players on Sept. 1, manager Dusty Baker was asked if he was concerned that the Reds' pennant race could be affected by someone that's been in the Minors all season. "That doesn't bother me because I was that guy," Baker said. "I was that guy four times and that's why I couldn't be Rookie of the Year because I had too many cumulative days. I just hope that our guys we call up are better than the guys they call up."