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03/02/12 5:48 PM EST

Cozart declares himself ready to go

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Of course, the biggest tests of Reds rookie shortstop Zack Cozart's surgically repaired left elbow come once exhibition games begin on Saturday. But Cozart has survived Spring Training without any issues to this point.

"I haven't had any problems," Cozart said on Friday. "I still wear a brace because they want me to wear that at least halfway through the year. Everything feels good and I am ready to go."

Cozart, 26, underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery to repair a ligament in his non-throwing left elbow on Aug. 12. He was originally injured in a July 23 collision while covering a force play at second base against the Braves.

"He's getting more natural, I've noticed," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "He was more guarded in the beginning, which is natural. The further you get away from the injury, the more natural you become. You can you're not thinking about it. I don't care who you are, it's on your mind some."

Cozart has the inside track in camp to claim the everyday shortstop job, in part, based on his brief time in the Majors last season. He batted .324 in 11 big league games before the injury, and had a .310 average with seven home runs and 32 RBIs in 77 games at Triple-A Louisville ahead of his promotion.

"I need to see, No. 1, is he healthy?" Baker said. "He served his apprenticeship, a year and a half, a year and two-thirds, in Triple-A. Sometimes you go on what you see now but most of the time, I like to go on guys' background during the championship season.

"There are a bunch of guys that look like Hall of Famers at Spring Training. A bunch of them look like there's no way they could ever play, but look like All-Stars during the season."

Francisco seeks to win backup job at third

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Third baseman Juan Francisco, the last Reds player to get on the field this spring, participated in Friday's workout. Francisco had been out since camp opened because of a strained right calf.

"I feel 100 percent," Francisco said after coming into the clubhouse following the drills.

Injuries have dogged Francisco over the past couple of seasons. The 24-year-old prospect first injured his right calf playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic. He was on the disabled list for the Reds last season with a strained left calf. He also missed time for Triple-A Louisville because of a torn meniscus in his right knee. In 2010, he required an emergency appendectomy.

Francisco is seeking a spot on the 25-man roster to back up regular third baseman Scott Rolen and be a power-hitting lefty off of the bench. While the injuries certainly don't help his chances, he does benefit from being out of Minor League options.

In 31 games for Cincinnati last season, Francisco batted .258 with three home runs and 15 RBIs.

Worth noting

• The Reds played a two-inning intraquad game on Friday with the gray team beating the white team, 1-0, on a Todd Frazier opposite-field home run to right field in the top of the second inning off of Donnie Joseph.

Andrew Brackman pitched one scoreless inning, walking one while throwing 10 pitches. Josh Judy also worked a scoreless inning and hit a batter. The only regular Reds players to see action were Drew Stubbs, Cozart, Chris Heisey and Ryan Ludwick. Stubbs worked a walk against Judy after beginning with a 0-2 count.

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.