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02/16/11 5:27 PM EST

Reds have competition for two rotation spots

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The competition for the final two spots in the Reds rotation should provide some of the most robust story lines during Spring Training.

Reds manager Dusty Baker said that seven or eight pitchers were going to be prepared as starters.

"That's early. Then you start cutting back once you decide which guys," Baker said. "Health is a big issue here, too. You hope it doesn't come into play, but it usually does."

Bronson Arroyo, Edinson Volquez and Johnny Cueto are locks for the front three spots. Homer Bailey, Travis Wood and Mike Leake lead the battle for the final two spots. Matt Maloney and Sam LeCure are also considered in the mix.

"There's always a surprise like Leake in there somewhere," Baker said. "Last year, Leake wasn't on the radar. You want to leave some space for the surprise guy."

Maloney and LeCure are also possibilities to make the Reds bullpen if they don't start. Both worked some games in relief last season.

"They've been knocking on the door here," Baker said of the two pitchers. "If it was an organization with lesser pitching, they'd probably be in the door. This is scouting, development and the Minor League system. It starts with scouting."

Arroyo open to taking ball on Opening Day

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Last spring, when given the option to start on Opening Day for the Reds, Bronson Arroyo passed because he preferred not to pitch amidst the usual hoopla. He also felt Aaron Harang should get the start for the fifth straight time. Harang was the team's most tenured player at the time.

Now that Harang is with the Padres, Arroyo is the senior member of the entire team. The club has not asked Arroyo to take the ball yet for the March 31 opener vs. the Brewers at Great American Ball Park, but he would be open to it this year.

"If they ask me, I won't turn it down," Arroyo said on Wednesday. "But if they said they were on the fence between me and someone else, I'd say, 'Do whatever you want.' I really don't care."

Arroyo was 17-10 with a 3.88 ERA in 33 starts last season and has pitched at least 200 innings in all five of his seasons with Cincinnati. He is 70-60 with a 3.97 ERA over 169 starts with the Reds.

"Whatever they need me to do, I will do," Arroyo said. "If they want to give me the ball on Day 1, I will do that."

Lehr working his way back from elbow surgery

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Even though he has no shot at winning a big league job or even pitching in a game until May, right-hander Justin Lehr was invited to camp as a non-roster player. Lehr had Tommy John surgery on his elbow last May and is nearing the stretch run of his rehabilitation.

"After being at this for nine months, it was a big deal [to be invited]," Lehr said. "I was like, 'Yes!' I'll be way ahead as camp starts, but I will fall behind because I have to do everything more. Obviously, it's nice to be invited when you know you won't be competing for a job."

Lehr made seven starts for Triple-A Louisville before he was injured and last pitched for the Reds in 2009, when he was 5-3 with a 5.37 ERA in 11 starts.

"If everything continues as it has, I'll be throwing five innings some time in camp -- maybe not this camp," Lehr said. "I want to try and get an inning [at big league camp]."

When Lehr is ready to resume pitching this season, it will likely be for Triple-A Louisville.

"I think we are looking at the long-term future with Justin somewhere in the organization, maybe as a coach or scout," Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. "That's why we extended the opportunity that if he had the surgery, to come back if he can. If it doesn't work out long term, maybe we'd come up with another plan for him."

Worth noting

Of the 28 pitchers on the spring roster, only Edinson Volquez was not present for the first workout. Volquez had some issues getting his flight out of the Dominican Republic but was expected to arrive later Wednesday.

For the first time the Reds worked out in their new Spring Training jerseys. The most noticeable difference is the large scripted "Reds" written across the front. On the right sleeve, the club wore a black patch that read "Sparky" to honor former manager Sparky Anderson, who died this winter.

The Reds' Double-A affiliate is playing in Carolina for the final season. The team is relocating for 2012 to Pensacola, Fla., where a new ballpark is being constructed. The Carolina site is becoming a Class A club, but will not be affiliated with the Reds.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.