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03/01/12 6:15 PM ET

Leake will get ball in Cactus League opener

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Reds manager Dusty Baker revealed on Thursday that Mike Leake would start the team's Cactus League opener vs. the Indians on Saturday. Homer Bailey will start on Sunday vs. Cleveland. Both pitchers are expected to go two innings.

Baker knew the plan after Sunday, but would not disclose it.

"Yeah, but I'll give it to you later," Baker said. "Something could happen between now and then. You don't want to go too far."

Bronson Arroyo said he was told he would start on Wednesday. Although it could certainly change this spring, it appears highly possible that the Reds are lining up Leake to be the No. 4 starter and Bailey in the fifth spot. Johnny Cueto is already known as the No. 1 starter, and will get the ball on Opening Day vs. the Marlins on April 5.

Harris aiming for spot on Dusty's bench

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Open spots are few and far between on the Reds' projected 25-man roster, but veteran Willie Harris sees the opportunity knocking for a place on manager Dusty Baker's bench.

It was the main reason why Harris signed a Minor League contract with the Reds in January.

"Dusty is a manager who really utilizes his bench. That was an attraction [for] me," said Harris, who would earn $800,000 this season if he makes the team. "These guys are planning on winning, and I want to be part of a winning team and organization."

Harris spent 2011 with the Mets and batted .246 with two home runs and 23 RBIs. He's also played for the Nationals, Braves, Red Sox, White Sox and Orioles during a big league career that started in 2001.

The 33-year-old Harris is known more for his defensive ability and versatility. He can play all three outfield positions, second base and third base.

"You never know how things will pan out," Harris said. "I want to come here and show them my character, and I really don't care about having a great spring. I know who I am as a player, but it would definitely help. I want to perform well, but also let them know my character. I will be here whenever they need me and for whatever they need me for."

The Reds lack a lot of left-handed-hitting options, which could be to Harris' benefit. He also hit well vs. left-handed pitching last season, with a .355 split average. Over his career, he has batted .215 vs. lefties and .245 against right-handers.

"I don't feel uncomfortable with it, let's put it that way," Harris said of southpaws. "I don't want to jinx it and say, 'Yeah, I rake lefties.' I had a pretty good year last year facing lefties, but last year is over with. I have to focus on this season."

Reds players react to possible Wild Card news

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Although a deal was not yet completed as of Thursday afternoon, Major League Baseball and the Players Association were reportedly near an agreement that would expand the postseason for the 2012 season.

The plan was to add two additional Wild Card teams -- one in the National League and one in the American League -- to create a one-game, first-round playoff in each league. The deadline to enact this arrangement for this season was Thursday.

"It gives another team the opportunity to get in," Reds outfielder Ryan Ludwick said. "It's a grueling season -- 162 games. I think it's the most grueling schedule in all of sports. Giving that extra team the opportunity to take it a step farther, I think it's a great idea."

The new format would mean that 10 of the league's 30 clubs would have a chance to play for a trip to the World Series. While that was appealing to some on the Reds, there were logistical concerns, as well.

"It's going to be really interesting to see how it works out with tiebreakers, possible rainouts and stuff," said reliever Bill Bray, the Reds' union representative. "Scheduling could be difficult. Travel could be difficult. I think adding a fifth team puts way more emphasis on winning your division.

"It's still the playoffs. I think we all decided we'd rather be the fifth team -- with a bad travel schedule with an opportunity to keep playing -- and the potential of getting to the World Series, than to be sitting at home watching. I think most guys will have that opinion."

Worth noting

• Injured third baseman Juan Francisco, who has not worked out with the club yet in camp because of a strained right calf, has made progress and could begin full participation on Friday.

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.