HOUSTON -- Reds manager Dusty Baker denied a FOXSports.com report on Tuesday that he asked the front office about a contract extension. The story, which was based on information from a baseball source, said the club wasn't ready yet to decide on the skipper's future."I haven't talked to them. I don't know where he heard that," Baker said. Baker is in the final season of a three-year contract with Cincinnati. "It's going to come when it comes," Baker said. "If it doesn't come, what can you do? You still have to keep living, still keep doing your job."
Phillips moved to No. 2 in lineup shuffle
HOUSTON -- With his club's offense spinning its wheels and a few hitters going nowhere fast, Reds manager Dusty Baker opened the hood and tried to tinker with his lineup.In Tuesday's series opener vs. the Astros, struggling Brandon Phillips was moved up from fourth to the No. 2 spot. Orlando Cabrera, the Reds' leader in RBIs, was shifted from second to sixth. And usual fifth hitter Scott Rolen moved into the cleanup spot. "I'm just trying to figure out a way to get Brandon started, and maybe hitting in front of Joey [Votto] will help," Baker said. "Rolen has been good. They've been pitching around Joey lately, throwing him tough pitches. Cabrera has been real good in the clutch driving in runs." Baker called both Phillips and Cabrera into his office on Tuesday afternoon to inform them of the changes. "He asked me how I felt hitting sixth," said Cabrera. "I said, 'Whatever you decide to do, I don't care.' It's only for one reason -- to see if it works, to do something different." The Reds entered the day 11th out of 16 National League clubs with a .242 team batting average. Leadoff hitter Drew Stubbs came into the night with a team-leading 21 strikeouts while batting .158 with a .273 on-base percentage. And now batting behind him is Phillips, who entered batting .219 with two homers, nine RBIs and a .296 OBP. The last time Phillips batted second for the Reds was April 21, 2008, against the Dodgers. "He's missing pitches he ordinarily puts in play," Baker said of Phillips. "He's fouling them back -- a lot of pitches. Usually when you're struggling, you're fouling balls off you'd put in play. It puts you in a defensive position. Last week, he missed about a half-dozen he usually bombs or hits hard. It's a matter of concentration or relaxation, I think."
Baker picking his spots for trusty Rhodes
HOUSTON -- At age 40, when most pitchers have already shown decline, left-handed setup man Arthur Rhodes is doing the opposite. Rhodes was 1-1 with a 1.17 ERA through eight appearances entering Tuesday. Over his past six games, he hadn't allowed a hit in 5 2/3 innings with one walk and seven strikeouts.That type of late-inning stinginess could make a manager greedy to use him too much, but Reds skipper Dusty Baker is trying to pick his spots with Rhodes. "Some people are like, 'Why did you take him out? He's doing so good,'" Baker said. "He's 40 years old and had Tommy John [surgery] a few years ago that's hopefully past him. We have a long way to go. If you give him two-inning stints, usually he's not any good for a couple of days. Or if I use him two days in a row, then I have to give him a day off. I have to protect this guy to make sure he's there down the stretch." Rhodes also had a solid season in 2009, when he had a 2.53 ERA in 66 appearances. He's considered a veteran leader in the clubhouse and, of course, the bullpen. Usually called on during the seventh or eighth innings, Rhodes sets the right tone. He retired seven of the first eight batters he faced. "There aren't many 40-year-olds around that throw like him," Baker said. "Most of them are breaking-ball and offspeed pitchers at this point. He's still a power pitcher. We try not to get him up. We keep track every day of what he's done, how many times we got him hot. We give him time and notify him when he will most likely be in the game and most likely face so he can get loose accordingly."
Chapman starts Wednesday for Louisville
HOUSTON -- Reds lefty sensation Aroldis Chapman's next start for Triple-A Louisville is scheduled for Wednesday at Scranton/Wilkes Barre, the Yankees affiliate. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. ET, and the game will be carried live on MLB.TV.Over his three previous starts this season, Chapman has a 0.60 ERA, 10 walks and 18 strikeouts over 15 innings. The 22-year-old Cuban defector was signed for $30.25 million over six years by the Reds in January. On Thursday vs. Indianapolis, Chapman was a 7-1 winner, but as in his previous outings, he threw a lot of pitches early and didn't get into the late innings. He pitched 5 1/3 innings and allowed one unearned run with five walks and eight strikeouts. He left the game in the sixth with a 4-1 lead after 95 pitches. As a hitter in that game, Chapman was 1-for-2 with a single in the fifth inning.
The University of Michigan baseball team will retire Barry Larkin's No. 16 before its May 1 game vs. Ohio State. Larkin played at Michigan from 1983-85 and was a two-time All-American. He will be the sixth player to have his number retired by Michigan baseball. ... The Reds have seven players on their active roster who have ties to the state of Texas. Homer Bailey was born and lives in LaGrange. Daniel Ray Herrera was born in Odessa and lives in Austin. Arthur Rhodes was born in Waco. Paul Janish was born and resides in Houston. Jay Bruce was born and lives in Beaumont. Drew Stubbs was born in Atlanta, Texas, and lives in Austin. Laynce Nix was born in Houston and lives in Dallas.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.