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02/25/12 6:33 PM EST

Reds hitters face pitchers in live batting practice

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- It was only the second day of full-squad workouts, but the order of the day on Saturday was live batting practice, for Reds batters to face Reds pitchers. The conditions were game simulated, and pitchers did not pitch from behind a screen.

"Those aren't very good days for the hitters. I remember those days," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "The pitchers are way ahead, and it looks like they're throwing a thousand mph. You have to really be careful not to start bad habits like pulling away, flinching. You've got to have it. Pitchers can have all the bullpens they want, but when there's a live hitter up there, it's a totally different window to throw it to."

Mike Leake, Sean Marshall and Nick Masset were among Reds pitchers that threw to hitters on Saturday. Right fielder Jay Bruce faced two non-roster pitchers in Kanekoa Texeira and lefty Clay Zavada.

"They both looked good," Bruce said. "Texeira had a lot of action -- a sinker, cutter and a split-looking changeup kind of a deal. The first day, it can't get any harder, I guess."

For Bruce, it was a good chance to test out his lighter frame -- he dropped 15 pounds during the winter.

"It's the same, so far anyway, other than feeling lighter on my feet," Bruce said. "It's easier to move 218-220 pounds, as opposed to 230-235."

Reds will have unconventional LF platoon

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- However the Reds plan the platoon in left field between Chris Heisey and Ryan Ludwick, it certainly won't be conventional. For starters, both players are right-handed hitters.

When manager Dusty Baker writes out his lineup card this season, scouting reports and pitching matchups will play a large role in his decision-making for left field.

"Ludwick likes the ball more down and away, and Heisey likes the ball in and up," Baker said.

Heisey also likes to pull the ball, and is a lifetime .288 hitter vs. right-handed pitchers, compared to .180 against lefties.

"Everybody thinks put the right-hander up against the lefty," Baker said. "I remember Pedro Guerrero hated lefties. There'd be a lefty, and then they'd bring in this tough right-hander throwing sinkers and he'd say, 'Thank you.'

"It's part of my job to put [Heisey] in a situation where he will succeed. Everybody says, 'Oh, he should play every day,' but there are certain guys he will struggle against. And there are certain guys that he should have success against. It's not only left-handers he has trouble with. It's guys that throw to that side of the plate."

Over his career, Ludwick has also been better vs. right-handers, with a .272 average compared to .237 against lefties. Ludwick was signed to a one-year, $2.5 million contract as a free agent over the winter.

"It's difficult when a guy hits two or three home runs against a guy he should hit, and then you don't play him the next day," Baker said. "A few times, you say, 'OK,' and then play him the next day and they do nothing. How many times does that happen?"

Castellini visits camp, upbeat about season

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- For the first time this year, Reds CEO Bob Castellini visited Spring Training on Saturday, to watch his club. Expectedly upbeat and optimistic, Castellini sensed excitement about the Reds from fans that matched his own.

"The anticipation for this season is about as high as I can remember it since our ownership took over," Castellini said.

A flurry of offseason acquisitions has helped create the buzz surrounding the Reds. Castellini was asked if that would translate to more people in the seats this season at Great American Ball Park.

"It's a long process. When you've had a long string of not being in the postseason, you lose interest," Castellini said. "We all know Cincinnati. It will come back, and we feel like it's coming back. Our season tickets sales are up. The interest in the team is to a much higher degree than it's been in the last seven years, I believe."

One competitive challenge that faced the Reds over the winter, and could affect them for winters to come, is the substantial local television rights contracts some of the other clubs have signed. The Rangers and Angels are among clubs that have received a large influx of money to add players. It helped the Angels get Albert Pujols, and the Rangers sign Japanese import Yu Darvish.

While the exact terms of the Reds' current deal with Fox Sports Ohio is not known, it is not believed to be ranked high compared to the rest of the league.

"It's always a challenge," Castellini said. "Small-market teams are not going to have the lucrative local television contracts that the bigger-market teams have. If you have wonderful baseball people involved, they're going to work smarter and harder, and their experience is supposed to be able to help them make moves that are going to be a little better than the next guy's, regardless of the money. But I don't discount the challenge."

Worth noting

Third baseman Juan Francisco was the only position player that wasn't hitting or fielding with the team on Saturday. Francisco is still nursing a sore left calf. He has been doing strength and conditioning work, and has graduated to hitting in the cage. He will participate fully once he can run without pain.

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.