SAN FRANCISCO -- Dusty Baker was working his way up and down the Atlanta Braves system in 1969, when the divisional era of baseball began. Now, as manager of the Reds, he is preparing for a potential shift back to the way things used to be.
In a report published Saturday, four sources told ESPN.com that Major League Baseball and the Players' Association are discussing a realignment that would create two leagues of 15 clubs instead of the current 16/14 structure. Citing a high-ranking executive, ESPN's report says they are considering completely eliminating divisions, and all 15 teams in each league would compete for five playoff spots. In order for the change to occur, 75 percent of Major League owners would need to approve it, although the plan has yet to be presented to them, according to the report.
Baker heard about the proposal Sunday and responded with mixed feelings.
"I like the realignment part to try to even the divisions," he said. "Some teams have six like us in our division, and some teams have four. Your chances of winning your division playing four are probably better than playing six. Whatever they do, I don't think we need drastic changes -- just tweaking, that's all."
He was particularly concerned about the idea of potentially increasing the number of games in Interleague Play, especially the thought of two squads playing out of their divisions during series that would decided their postseason fate. According to ESPN.com's report, that is one of the major sticking points of the proposal.
"I'm trying to figure out what we're going to do if we increase games in Interleague Play," Baker said. "Are you going to have to carry a DH, or will that hurt their DH productivity over the course of the year, playing more National League games?"
But, as Baker said, critics were unsure of how switching over to divisional play would go back in 1969, and aside from a few of its flaws, it has worked out just fine for the past 42 years.
"It came out being one of the best things. At that time, nobody knew," Baker said. "You don't know until you get into it if it's right or not. I'm sure they put a lot of brain power into it."
Reds' recovering hurlers doing well
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Reds' rehabbing pitchers are all back in action in the Minor Leagues, and at least one of them seems to already be back in top shape.
Right-hander Sam LeCure has made two appearances for Triple-A Louisville, tossing two scoreless innings while allowing just a walk. Recovering from a strained right forearm, LeCure threw a perfect inning in Saturday night's 8-7 Bats loss to Lehigh Valley, needing only seven pitches -- five of them strikes -- to get out of the inning.
"He's throwing the ball good. Us giving him that time is beneficial to him and us. He'll come back smoking and ready, hopefully," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "He's throwing strikes. He's not feeling anything. That means his delivery's intact."
Baker also liked what he heard about right-hander Homer Bailey's first rehab outing with Louisville. Bailey, working his way back from a sprained right shoulder, started for the Bats on Saturday night and didn't factor into the decision. He threw three innings and gave up four hits and a walk while striking out three, tossing 62 pitches -- 36 for strikes.
"That's good for his first time out. He's not going to go down there and shut them out all the time," Baker said. "The thing we want is for him to be happy and pain-free. That's what counts."
Meanwhile, left-hander Aroldis Chapman (left shoulder inflammation) made his third rehab appearance for Double-A Carolina on Sunday. He started the game and threw two scoreless innings, allowing no hits but walking two batters while striking out three. Sunday was Chapman's third appearance for Carolina after making three for Triple-A Louisville. Baker said the flamethrowing lefty will pitch a minimum of four games for Carolina, and the Reds won't hesitate to extend his rehab assignment if necessary.
Reds' top Draft pick visits team in San Francisco
SAN FRANCISCO -- Robert Stephenson is no stranger to AT&T Park, having grown up in nearby Martinez, Calif. But when he stepped onto the field Sunday afternoon, Stephenson was no longer just a Giants fan -- he was a guest of the Reds.
Stephenson, picked 27th in the first round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, was invited by the club to come out to the park and meet some of Cincinnati's players before Sunday's game. Stephenson said he got to talk to Jay Bruce, Scott Rolen, Joey Votto, Edgar Renteria, Bronson Arroyo and a number of other Reds.
"I thought it was actually kind of convenient that they were out here this weekend, so it was pretty cool," said Stephenson, who attends nearby Alhambra High School. "But I don't think I'll have a problem being able to root for them."
The 18-year-old right-handed pitcher has still not signed with the club, and he has yet to decide whether he'll do so or honor his commitment to play for the University of Washington. That's the next step for him, he said, as he continues to work out during the offseason. Stephenson went 7-2 with a 1.33 ERA in 13 regular-season appearances during his senior year and was named the San Jose Mercury News' Gatorade California Baseball Player of the Year.
Stephenson's high-powered fastball -- he has touched 98 mph on the radar gun -- helped him begin his senior season with back-to-back no-hitters, and Baseball America ranked him as the 25th-best prospect in this year's Draft. Giants special assistant John Barr said after the Draft the club was hoping to have a chance at drafting the local prospect, but the Reds took him two picks before the Giants were on the clock.
Stephenson said he is impressed with what he has seen out of the Reds, particularly in their 10-2 win over Tim Lincecum and the Giants on Saturday. And his initial impression of the Reds was on the mark.
"They can hit," he said, smiling.
Jonny Gomes was back in left field in Sunday's starting lineup, having sat out the last two games in favor of Chris Heisey and Fred Lewis due to matchup preferences.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Mike Leake's eight shutout innings and two hits off Tim Lincecum on Saturday made him only the third pitcher in the last 20 years to throw at least eight scoreless frames and record two hits off a Cy Young Award winner in the same game, joining Houston's Doug Drabek and Pittsburgh's Jeff Karstens.
Cincinnati's season-long stretch without a home run was extended to four games Saturday.
In the last six games, Reds pitchers are 4-2 with a 2.01 ERA, including a 4-1 record and 1.62 ERA from their starters (44 1/3 innings, eight earned runs).
Baker, who spent 10 years as the Giants manager, went fishing with his son, Darren, and friends after Saturday's game. He said the weather was so rough that they only stayed a few hours and couldn't get to their usual favorite spots. Making matters worse for the avid outdoorsman? Sunday afternoon's perfect fishing weather. "You fish when you can, not when you want to, in this business," Baker said.
Adam Berry is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.