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03/01/09 1:01 PM EST

Gonzalez may be on Wednesday path

Reds shortstop must first pass tests to satisfy his skipper

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Shortstop Alex Gonzalez and the Reds are targeting Wednesday for his spring debut.

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If Gonzalez shows he's ready to the satisfaction of manager Dusty Baker, he will be the designated hitter in an exhibition game vs. the Netherlands squad of the World Baseball Classic. But nothing has been decided beyond that.

"He still has to pass a few tests," Baker said on Sunday morning. "He'll never pass all of them until he gets out there and play. He'll run the bases a couple of more times and do sliding a couple of more times."

Gonzalez confidently said everything with his troublesome left knee was sound, but he pointed to the area just above it on his leg.

"There's still a little bit of tightness in the muscle. It's got nothing to do with the surgery," Gonzalez said. "It maybe has to do with doing nothing on the field and then doing everything. I'm doing a lot of stuff and working every day. My knee feels good."

The 32-year-old Gonzalez missed all of last season with a compression fracture in the left knee. It was an injury that required surgery and extensive rehabilitation. He was cleared to participate in all drills at the start of Spring Training, but the club has limited the amount of running he does.

Gonzalez is entering the final year of a three-year, $14 million contract that will pay him $5.375 million in 2009.

"I did sliding [on Saturday] and baserunning. I've done everything," Gonzalez said. "They don't want to hurry it. It's a long Spring Training. I have time to get ready. I will work hard and be ready to play."

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