Leake eyes rotation spot

Published 1:37 am Friday, March 18, 2011

GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) — Mike Leake is hoping he can win another spring training competition.

Leake pitched four scoreless innings to help the Cincinnati Reds beat the Cleveland Indians 5-1 on Thursday.

The right-hander, vying with Homer Bailey and Travis Wood for two openings in the rotation, allowed three hits, struck out two and walked one.

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“Leake is throwing the ball as well as anyone,” Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker said. “He threw the ball very well.”

Leake, who was selected in the first round of the 2009 draft, made the rotation during spring training last season, skipping the minor leagues. He was shut down when his innings mounted in his transition from college to professional baseball.

Wood helped the Reds complete the drive to the playoffs. Bailey, a former first-round draft pick, is out of options.

“Nothing is guaranteed,” said Leake, who won seven of his first eight decisions in 2010. “I hope they look at what I did last year but I’m still fighting for a spot. I’m trying to prove myself just like last spring.”

Dontrelle Willis, who left his previous outing with a sprained right ankle, followed Leake with a scoreless inning and legged out a triple. The big left-hander is trying to earn a spot in Cincinnati’s bullpen.

“That’s why we let him hit,” Baker said. “If Dontrelle makes the team he might be in that long relief role. He could always hit. He can still run and hit. He threw the ball well too.”

Fausto Carmona pitched six innings for Cleveland, allowing two runs and six hits. The scheduled opening-day starter struck out five and walked two.

“He worked fast, threw strike one, and went six innings very easy,” manager Manny Acta said. “He threw about 75 pitches and is right on track for opening day. We would like to see him throw 100 or 110 before that. It is not about how many innings he goes, but the pitch count.”

Carlos Santana, Cleveland’s top catching prospect, started at first base.

“He looked very good again,” Acta said. “I don’t foresee any problems with him over there about fielding ground balls, taking throws. He has to learn the little things like trailing runners, little stuff. He will be fine.”

Todd Frazier hit his first spring homer for Cincinnati.

Reds reliever Aroldis Chapman allowed a run and two hits in the ninth. A trainer came out to visit the mound after a single by Lou Marson.

“Chapman is OK,” Baker said. “We thought we saw him limp a little bit but he said he’s fine.”

NOTES: Indians 3B Jason Donald has played only twice since being hit on the left hand by a pitch on March 5. “Donald played defense for six innings with the minor leaguers,” Acta said. “He’s not ready to swing the bat yet. There’s still plenty of time for him to get back.”