Baker puts extension talk on hold
Manager currently focusing on getting Reds into playoffs
DENVER -- It's been just over a month since the Reds offered manager Dusty Baker an extension of an unspecified length. It's been pretty quiet from both sides since. Asked if there would be resolution coming, Baker was non-committal."Sooner or later," Baker said on Wednesday. "Right now, I'm not focusing on me. I'm focused on us and getting to the playoffs." Baker also wouldn't say if he would wait until after the season to deal with the contract talks. He didn't want it to be a distraction to the team. "I don't know. I haven't really thought about it," Baker said. "I'm trying to figure how to win as many games as we can."
Tale of two seasons for Masset
DENVER -- Reds setup reliever Nick Masset entered Wednesday with a respectable 3.21 ERA in 71 appearances. But the numbers are more impressive considering that Masset rolled into May with a fat 11.45 ERA through 13 games and has been whittling it down since.The rough start to the season came following the best year of Masset's career in 2009, when he set career bests with a 2.37 ERA and 74 appearances. He was rewarded in January with a two-year, $2.58 million contract. "It definitely hurt. It was hard to go to sleep at night," Masset said Wednesday about the beginning of his 2010 season. "You kind of shock yourself. After the season I had last year, I had to come back down to reality. Sometimes maybe, you slack off a little on your aggressiveness. I came in a little more comfortable than I should have. "Once you start dealing with adversity, you try to attack. I never really got too down. I tried to stay positive. It's one thing to stay positive. It's another to be on the field getting the job done. I'm happy with how I've thrown and how the whole bullpen has thrown." Masset hasn't allowed a run in 15 games since Aug. 4 and has a 0.30 ERA over his last 28 appearances. He's easily on pace to set a new career high in games pitched. "My job is to come to the park every day and get people out," Masset said. "My main focus, what I lacked early on, is throwing strikes and getting ahead of hitters. I know I can be -- if you want to use the word -- deadly when I get ahead of hitters."
No soreness for Bruce after taking BP
DENVER -- Reds right fielder Jay Bruce tested his sore right side again by taking batting practice with the team on Wednesday for the first time since he was injured."It was fine," Bruce said after coming off the field. Bruce, who hasn't played since Aug. 30, took swings at what he estimated was 50-60 percent intensity. "It's common sense," Bruce said. "You're not going to go out there and let it eat the first day. It's a gradual process. That's what I'm doing now. It feels fine. We'll see how I feel [Thursday]." Bruce hit off a tee on Tuesday, and it was considered a success when he didn't arrive at the park feeling sore on Wednesday. The Reds didn't expect to play Bruce during the rest of the series with the Rockies, but it remains to be seen if he could return for Friday's series opener vs. the Pirates. "I can't say because I don't know," Bruce said. "I'd be lying if I told you I did. I don't want to lie. Hopefully it's sooner than later, but more importantly, when I'm ready."
Nix's return from DL currently nixed
DENVER -- Injured outfielder Laynce Nix (sprained left ankle) is eligible to come off of the 15-day disabled list on Friday, but it wasn't looking optimistic he would. Nix, who was injured on Aug. 23 at San Francisco, has been back in Cincinnati getting treatment."I heard today he's not much better, they said," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "It was disheartening because he's a big part of our club -- off the bench and spot playing against certain pitchers, and defensively late in the game. He's an important part of this team."
Baker moved Brandon Phillips out of the leadoff spot Wednesday after he was 3-for-23 (.130) in five starts since returning from a hand injury. Drew Stubbs led off for Cincinnati. "Stubbs is swinging a little better than Brandon right now," Baker said. "Hopefully, Brandon -- in front of Joey [Votto] -- will get some quality pitches to hit, too. I'm going with the hot hand to try and ignite our engine." ... No decision has been made about Saturday's starting pitcher vs. the Pirates. ... Saturday's 25th anniversary celebration of Pete Rose's 4,192nd hit will start at 6:30 p.m. ET. Gates open at Great American Ball Park at 5:20 p.m.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.