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10/06/12 8:59 PM ET

Reds make two tough decisions to finalize roster

SAN FRANCISCO -- As the Reds set their National League Division Series roster Saturday, manager Dusty Baker and the front office had two particular difficult decisions.

Mike Leake or Alfredo Simon as the long man? J.J. Hoover or Logan Ondrusek for bullpen roles? Cincinnati chose Simon and Hoover.

Reds vs. Giants

Leake spent the entire season with the team as the fifth starter, and Ondrusek was with the club for all but 10 days that were spent in Triple-A.

"You hate to have guys that have been with you over a long period of time [not make the team], but you have to take your emotions out to decide and go with who you think is the best pick at the time," Baker said.

Hoover, a rookie acquired from the Braves in the Juan Francisco trade on April 1, posted a 2.05 ERA in 28 games over two big league stints with the Reds this season. Simon, a waiver-wire pickup from the Orioles after Spring Training, had a 2.66 ERA over his 36 games this season.

Ondrusek posted a 3.46 ERA in 63 appearances this season but struggled down the stretch. He had a 5.02 ERA over his final 16 games, with nine walks and 18 hits over 14 1/3 innings. But he was given a couple of appearances in the past week to try and help his cause.

"That was kind of by design at the end to try and make up our mind," Baker said. "That was one of the luxuries of having a big lead and clinching early. You can sort of see that.

"It just boiled down to who was going the best at the time. It's always a tough pick, a tough call."

Reds bring experienced roster into postseason

SAN FRANCISCO -- The last time the Reds reached the postseason in 2010, they were unceremoniously swept in three games by the Phillies. For the 2012 version, Reds manager Dusty Baker believes his team is better equipped to handle the bigger stage.

"I think we have more experience," Baker said. "It's a different team. It's a more mature team."

Of the 25 players on the National League Division Series roster vs. the Giants, 18 have had previous postseason experience -- and 13 played on the 2010 team, including Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips and Ryan Hanigan. Scott Rolen was also on the club and has won a World Series with the Cardinals in 2006. Five other players -- Ryan Ludwick, Sean Marshall, Jonathan Broxton, Dioner Navarro and Wilson Valdez -- have had postseason experience elsewhere.

"I think that experience, pitching in an atmosphere like this and playing in an atmosphere like this, is big," said Marshall, who was with the Cubs playoff teams of 2007 and '08. "I remember being very nervous before the games were starting. This time around, I don't feel the nerves I felt the first two times. I'm sure I'm in the same boat as the other players, where you kind of know what to expect."

The Reds coaching staff has had 207 games of experience as players, managers and coaches.

Reds recognize challenge of opening on road

SAN FRANCISCO -- Under the "2-3" format of this year's National League Division Series, the Reds have to play their first two games on the road vs. the Giants before getting the potential three games at home.

"I obviously don't want to step on anyone's toes. But it doesn't really feel like home-field advantage, to be honest with you," Reds right fielder Jay Bruce said.

"This is similar to '97, when we played the Florida Marlins down there," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "I was with the Giants here, and we played them down there, and they beat us the first two games, and we came out here and we had one game, and they ended up being the world champions. So it kind of reminds me of that. You would rather have the 2-2-1 format, but they say that's next year."

Adding an element to Games 1 and 2 is, well, the elements themselves. Chilly temperatures, wind and fog are just some of the things the Reds will have to be prepared for.

"There's so many things that are against you," Bruce said. "But at the end of the day, it's baseball. Come in here, take care of business, go home and finish it up there. I think it puts more pressure on them. They've got limited chances. They've got to get started hot. But it's tougher to win on the road, period. You play the hand you're dealt, and we're just as prepared as we would have been otherwise."

An electric atmosphere is something the crowds at AT&T Park are known to bring to the table.

"These people get loud, and they are expecting the same result they had two years ago," Baker said. "I was sitting in the stands, me and my son, one game [in the 2010 NL Championship Series vs. the Phillies]. I was yelling at Charlie [Manuel], sitting behind Charlie. Now somebody is yelling at me."

Worth noting

• Baker said that backup Reds catcher Dioner Navarro would catch for Mat Latos in Tuesday's Game 3 of the NL Division Series. Navarro and Latos have been paired several times in the last month of the regular season.

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.