Leyland and Baker spoke before the game and Baker got some insight to how his counterpart handled bringing along young pitchers. Last season, Cueto started at high Class A but got a taste of Triple-A with four starts before finishing at Double-A."I was talking to [Leyland] before the game about what happened with him and [Joel] Zumaya and [Justin] Verlander," Baker said. "These guys came out of A ball. Sometimes you go with your talent, especially if you haven't been winning with the same stuff you've been using." Baker has all but said that Cueto will begin the season in his rotation, but hasn't made it official. "I don't want to squelch other guys and I don't want him to think he's got it made yet," Baker said. "I don't think he's that kind of young man, but I want to keep pushing him and keep him rolling." Just before Monday's game, Baker told Affeldt he was out of contention for the starting five. The left-hander will work out of the bullpen this season. Affeldt was 0-2 with an 11.57 ERA in four starts, totaling 11 2/3 innings. Over his last two starts, he gave up 13 earned runs on 15 hits. The Reds signed Affeldt as a free agent to a one-year, $3 million contract with the promise he'd get a shot at the rotation. The former Rockies reliever was 4-3 with a 3.51 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 75 games last season. "He wishes he had a little longer time [to compete] but he knows what to do in the 'pen and he's been successful in the 'pen," Baker said. "Time is running out as far as us getting him deep into the ballgame. Two or three times around we've seen he's had difficulty with it." If Cueto makes the team, that leaves four pitchers fighting for the two remaining rotation spots -- Josh Fogg, Matt Belisle, Homer Bailey and Edinson Volquez. Fogg is starting on Tuesday vs. the Pirates in place of Affeldt, who was originally scheduled. It will obviously be a pivotal start for Fogg. Belisle nor Bailey have distinguished themselves this spring. Volquez, who has a 3.46 ERA, with 19 strikeouts to three walks in his four games, seems to have the inside track for one of the spots. "Cueto and Volquez haven't earned a spot yet," Baker asserted. "I think they've painted a pretty good picture. We'll let you know when it happens."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less