4:05 PM ET, March 31, 2010
Phoenix Municipal Stadium, Phoenix, Arizona
PHOENIX -- Although Mike Leake is likely to begin the regular season in the minors, the Cincinnati right-hander is giving Reds management plenty to think about.Leake pitched six strong innings in his final start of the spring, scattering two runs and four hits in Cincinnati's 8-3 win over the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday.The eighth overall pick in last June's draft, Leake has been the Reds' biggest surprise in camp given his lack of professional experience. With his nasty curve, he stayed in the competition for the fifth spot in Cincinnati's rotation until the end and didn't do anything to hurt himself with the solid outing against Oakland."I did what I could," Leake said. "I'm just patiently waiting. That's what I needed to do. If I came out here and didn't do so hot, it would have probably helped them make a decision. Hopefully what I did was good enough in their eyes."Good enough to keep them deliberating."He's done everything he can possibly do in his power to make the club," Reds' pitching coach Bryan Price said.Drew Stubbs homered, doubled and drove in three runs, Lance Nix also homered and Scott Rolen hit a three-run double in the sixth for the Reds, who snapped a six-game losing streak while beating the A's for the third time this spring.Travis Buck hit a solo home run and Eric Patterson added a double and sacrifice fly for Oakland.Every Cincinnati starter had at least one hit while Stubbs and Rolen had three RBIs apiece.While the offensive outburst was a welcome sight for the Reds, Leake's outing was also impressive. In his second start of the spring, he retired 12 of the first 14 batters he faced and carried a shutout into the fifth until Buck's leadoff home run. Leake then walked Gabe Gross, who later scored on Patterson's sacrifice fly.Leake and left-hander Travis Wood have been competing for the fifth spot in Cincinnati's rotation and the team is expected to make an announcement Thursday.Wood, who seems to have the edge on Leake based on experience, has also pitched strongly this spring. A second-round pick in June 2005 out of high school, he made his final case by striking out five in four innings, allowing three runs and five hits against a Dodgers split squad in Las Vegas later Wednesday night.Left-hander Aroldis Chapman made his first appearance in a big-league game since he had back spasms on March 22. He gave up a hit and a walk in his first inning, when he threw mainly fastballs. He worked on his slider in his next inning, walked a pair of batters and gave up a run."I felt great," Chapman said through an interpreter. "I threw a couple of sliders out of the strike zone. I haven't thrown a lot of sliders in the bullpen, so today I wanted to throw more sliders than fastballs."In Las Vegas, manager Dusty Baker said Chapman was "a little behind.""He's got tremendous talent," Baker said. "He's got to get his endurance up. It would be easier for him if he was in the American League -- where he would just go out and pitch. I haven't made up my mind yet."Stubbs hit a solo home run in the second then added a two-run double in the fourth. Both came off Oakland starter Dallas Braden, who was roughed up for seven runs and 12 hits in 5 1/3 innings.Braden's afternoon was in sharp contrast to Leake's.The Oakland lefty, who has nerve damage in his left foot that causes it to go numb from time to time, allowed at least one hit every inning while struggling with his fastball command. But Braden didn't seem too concerned and brushed off his final Cactus League start."Spring training's over, that's my impression of it," Braden said. "It's quite difficult to get up for the last thing. But all things considered my ultimate goal was to leave healthy. That will be achieved barring getting ran over by the bus or something. Everything else felt good. I was just up in the zone a little."Oakland's Eric Chavez, making the change to first base this season, played two innings at third and two at shortstop, while utility infielder Adam Rosales played four different positions.The A's flew back to the Bay Area after the game to prepare for a three-game Bay Bridge exhibition series against the San Francisco Giants.Cincinnati, on the other hand, will remain in Arizona and finish with one game against Texas and two against Cleveland. The Indians and Reds share a spring training stadium.