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03/20/12 7:19 PM ET

Francis focused solely on task at hand

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Seemingly on the outside looking in when it comes to a Reds' rotation spot, non-roster starting pitcher Jeff Francis doesn't plan to opt out of his Minor League deal and would report to Triple-A Louisville.

"I'm not going to go home. I'll be pitching," said Francis, who can request his release if he's not on the big league roster by March 28.

Francis started against the Mariners on Tuesday and pitched five innings with three runs (two earned) and seven hits allowed while striking out five. Through four games, he has a solid 2.77 ERA with no walks and eight strikeouts over 13 innings.

It would still take the unexpected for Francis to crack the rotation, which already features Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Bronson Arroyo, Mike Leake, Homer Bailey and a sixth candidate in Aroldis Chapman.

"I came here just trying to do what I know how to do," Francis said. "I feel like I've thrown the ball the way I usually throw it and like to throw it. I've commanded pitches and stayed ahead in the count and stayed away from walking guys. All the stuff that's out of my control, I leave that to the powers that be and just try to do my job."

Francis, who can earn a $1.5 million base salary if he makes the club, is not currently pursuing potential big league job openings before camp ends.

"I am not even thinking about it," he said. "I'm just trying to get people out."

Madson, Bray throw simulated games

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Reds closer Ryan Madson and lefty reliever Bill Bray each threw an inning in a simulated game on Tuesday in their latest tests while trying to return from injuries.

Madson has been out with irritation in his right elbow, and Bray is rehabbing a strained left groin. Both threw 20 pitches to hitters Juan Francisco, Chris Valaika and Denis Phipps. Reds general manager Walt Jocketty came away pleased.

"They looked good, really good," Jocketty said.

The next step for both pitchers will be to throw one inning in a Minor League game on Friday. Neither have pitched in a Cactus League game yet this spring.

"I like that I felt good and didn't feel anything in my groin," Bray said. "I got ahead of hitters pretty well. I got a little excited, though, and tried to throw the nasty pitches. Other than that, I felt great. I was around the plate, so I was happy."

The big question facing the Reds with nearly two weeks left in Spring Training is whether Madson and Bray can be ready in time to open the regular season.

"It's close," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "Where they want to be and where they need to be is the issue. You don't want to rush them to get to that point, either, because it's a long year.

"You do need a certain number of reps. With the case of Madson, since he's so new, we don't know what that number is. It'd be different if we had him for two or three years. If you wait too long, he's champing at the bit. That's not good. If you rush him, you risk something happening later on in the year."

Baker not worried about Mesoraco

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Through 10 games this spring, rookie catcher Devin Mesoraco is batting .136 (3-for-22).

Mesoraco, who batted .180 as a September callup last season, is expected to split time with Ryan Hanigan behind the plate this season.

His offense should be part of the equation to help the Reds in the regular season, but manager Dusty Baker was not concerned about the current results.

"He's been concentrating so much on catching," Baker said. "Mes has always hit. If he never hit, it'd be, 'What can we expect?' If he has always hit, sooner or later, if he can maintain confidence, he's going to hit again."

Boone named grand marshal of Findlay parade

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Former Reds third baseman Aaron Boone knows exactly what he needs to do to be a solid grand marshal at a parade.

"Elbow, elbow, wrist, wrist, wrist," Boone joked as he practiced a wave. "I'm working it out."

Boone, now a baseball analyst, was in Reds' camp on Tuesday with ESPN for their tour around Spring Training sites. On March 10, the club announced Boone would be the grand marshal of the 93rd Findlay Market Opening Day parade on April 5. Later that day, he will be in the broadcast booth for ESPN's coverage of the Reds-Marlins game.

A 12-year big league veteran and a member of the Reds from 1997-2003, Boone batted .271 with 86 home runs and 362 RBIs with Cincinnati.

"I think some of you that know me know what Cincinnati means to me, what the Reds mean to me," Boone said. "The fact that they asked me to do this is a great honor. It's going to be a lot of fun. Never having taken part in the parade as a player, just understanding what a big day it is, it will be cool to be riding in a car doing it."

Worth noting

• In a Minor League game Tuesday against the White Sox Triple-A squad, Reds Opening Day starter Johnny Cueto gave up four earned runs and five hits over 3 2/3 innings. Cueto walked two and struck out three with two home runs allowed.

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.