03/23/11 9:21 PM ET
Reds acquire righty McCulloch from White Sox
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
Time dwindling for Willis, Lewis to earn spots
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Reds manager Dusty Baker said it wasn't exactly a bubble that was popped on Wednesday with Dontrelle Willis' latest Cactus League outing, but it certainly is leaking. And the same can be said for outfielder Fred Lewis. Both are trying to secure the final spots on the roster as Spring Training days are dwindling to a precious few.Willis didn't help his cause by pitching a reckless one-third of an inning in the Reds' 10-7 loss to the Padres. He replaced Homer Bailey with a runner on first in the sixth, allowing five earned runs on three hits and as many walks. Willis also tossed a pickoff throw into the stands behind first base and a wild pitch that allowed a runner to score. Baker said Willis probably will get two more chances in the final six Cactus League games, but he has to be more consistent. He's on a Minor League contract, and the Reds would have to take someone off their 40-man roster if they want Willis in the big leagues. They are at 40.
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"He had a little trouble with his command today," Baker said. "That was a tough sixth inning right there. It's just a matter of inconsistency. One time good, one time not so good. It's just a matter of when he throws strikes, he's tough. He's one of the guys who have a chance to make the club. Anytime he pitches good it increases his odds and anytime he doesn't it decreases his odds. That's the way it goes."Willis hasn't been able to throw strikes consistently for years. Last year he was released by the Tigers and picked up by the D-backs. He made six appearances (five starts), walking 27 in 22 1/3 innings. Soon after he was released again. Lewis is hitting .175 and is clearly on the bubble for an outfield spot. The Reds signed him to a one-year deal as a free agent for $900,000 and expected him to be a backup. He had a double in four at-bats on Wednesday, making him 7-for-40 on the spring. "He was better today," Baker said. "He was better than he has been the last few days. He hit the ball hard twice. That's why I sent him down to the Minor Leagues yesterday. He had seven at-bats yesterday and went 4-for-7 as a designated hitter."
Baker hopes Kings don't leave his hometown
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Reds manager Dusty Baker is a favorite son of Sacramento, California's capital city, where he still makes his home in the offseason.So it wasn't so surprising on Tuesday when he spotted a columnist from the Sacramento Bee after his team lost 10-8 to the A's at Goodyear Ballpark that he blurted out this question: "The Kings aren't leaving, are they? I've been following it [the situation]." The Kings are the NBA's Sacramento Kings, whose owners have been negotiating a deal to move to Anaheim because deals to build a new arena in Sacramento have fallen apart on a number of occasions. Baker, a coach and then manager of the Giants from 1988-2002, still has his Kings season tickets, once owned by his late dad, Johnnie B. Baker Sr. "My son [Darren] is going to miss them if they go," said Dusty, whose given name is Johnnie B. Baker Jr. "He's just getting old enough to know all the players, getting into basketball. It'd be a big loss. What are you going to do in the winter? Some people go to 49ers games, Raiders games, Warriors games. But to be able to drive across town to see big league basketball ... your own team? [And] how many times can the Kings change towns?" For the record, the Kings have already moved three times. They were founded as the Rochester, N.Y., Royals before the NBA was formed in 1949, moved to Cincinnati in 1959, Kansas City in 1972, where they were rechristened as the Kings, and on to Sacramento in 1985. A move to Anaheim would probably mean a name change again so as not to conflict with NHL's Los Angeles Kings, who were among the original six expansion teams and have been there since 1967. The Bee, of course, blogged the item.
Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.