Reds' rotation picture getting clearer

Reds' rotation picture getting clearer

BRADENTON, Fla. -- All that's guaranteed when Spring Training ends is that the Reds' roster will be down to 25 players. The path to get there has been loaded with intrigue.

Some of that mystery has lifted in recent days, especially in the rotation. On Friday morning, manager Dusty Baker declined to formally name the starting five but it's all but done.

Expect the rotation order to be Aaron Harang, Bronson Arroyo, Johnny Cueto, Josh Fogg and Edinson Volquez.

"It's not set yet -- we still have some action," Baker said. "It's pretty set -- except for that fifth spot, basically. I hate to tell young kids that they're [in] there too soon, in case something happens and you have to go back on your word for whatever reason. Plus, you want to keep them motivated and driven through Spring Training."

Volquez pitched two scoreless innings of relief on Thursday vs. the Twins.

"Last night, he actually went two, simply because he was going on one day short of rest in order to get things in sync for the rotation," Baker said. "Fogg did the same thing the last time."

Camp opened with three rotation spots up for grabs, but Cueto and Volquez put themselves into position with several dazzling performances. Fogg has pitched mostly well to help his cause.

The picture became clearer this week once Matt Belisle went out with a sore right forearm. After a couple of days off, Belisle threw on the side Friday and is scheduled to work in a side bullpen session on Saturday. It will be tough for him to catch up. Homer Bailey had a decent start on Thursday, but it probably was not enough after a lackluster spring.

Cincinnati's spring roster whittled down to 42 players after reliever Scott Sauerbeck and catcher Alvin Colina were reassigned to the Minor League camp on Friday.

The tightest battle remaining is the fight to be 25th man among Jolbert Cabrera, Andy Phillips, Andy Green, Jerry Hairston Jr. and Jerry Gil.

"That's a very important spot -- I wish we had 26-27 spots," Baker said. "You're like a minuteman. You have to stay ready all the time. It's a very difficult job for young players to stay ready ... [you look] for guys that have had some success in the past, where 0-for-1 isn't going to drive them crazy for a week until they get the next one because they have some history of success in this game. They're not worried about being sent down because they're out of options, generally."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.