03/06/12 6:56 PM EST
Valaika cleared to play games
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
Baker: Francisco 'behind' in camp
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Even though he is out of Minor League options, Reds third baseman and prospect Juan Francisco is not as secure to make the 25-man roster as originally thought.Manager Dusty Baker made that sentiment crystal clear on Tuesday about Francisco, who had been out with a strained right calf since camp started. He debuted in Tuesday's game against the Padres. "He's got time, but he's behind," Baker said before Tuesday's game. "Part of that is if he had rehabbed properly in the winter time. Part of that is he came into camp as one of the few guys overweight. The guys that came in ready, I can't shelve them because he didn't. I'm trying to get him ready the best I can. We need him."
Originally slated to get one at-bat, Francisco went 0-for-3 after entering the game in the fifth inning.Francisco was hurt during winter ball in the Dominican Republic, but did not immediately get treated by the club. Baker estimated that Francisco came to camp 10-12 pounds overweight, but someone pointed out that the weight was likely added because Francisco couldn't run much after the injury. "Then he's got to stop eating," Baker replied. The Reds are seeking a left-handed hitter for their bench and a quality backup for days that regular third baseman Scott Rolen is unavailable. Injuries prevented Francisco from being that guy last season. In April, he had a strained left calf and he needed arthroscopic right knee surgery in July.
Baker was still excited on Tuesday about some of the defense that was played on Monday vs. the Indians. In one inning of the 12-7 win, shortstop Didi Gregorious, left fielder Willie Harris and center fielder Chris Heisey all made very nice plays."That's usually the last thing that comes around," Baker said of defense. "I am sure we'll have a few games where we kick it around or throw it around."