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03/06/12 6:56 PM EST

Valaika cleared to play games

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Reds infielder Chris Valaika made his spring debut on Tuesday vs. the Mariners after he was cleared to play games. Valaika is coming off of September surgery to repair a torn ACL in his right knee.

Valaika entered at third base in the sixth inning on Tuesday and went 1-for-2 with a bloop RBI single to right field in his first at-bat. On Monday, he was was 0-for-3 in a 'B' game scrimmage vs. Seattle.

"I got cleared to do all the workouts, but Doc had to come back to town and clear me again to start games," Valaika said before Tuesday's game. "I was 0-for-3, but the knee felt good. I was more than happy to be out there again to get the reps. I was behind a little bit."

Valaika is trying to earn one of the spots on the Reds bench this spring.

"It will take some time to get back in the swing of things with timing and reps," Valaika said. "But I feel good doing everything."

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.

Worth noting

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."

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.