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Baker ready for Reds pitchers to see at-bats

Baker ready for Reds pitchers to see at-bats

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- For the first time this spring, the Reds chose to play a game without a designated hitter in their lineup on Friday and had ace Johnny Cueto bat for himself. Cueto did record one at-bat vs. the D-backs on March 4, when Arizona refused to allow the Reds to use a DH. In that game, he was told not to swing and struck out looking.

Reds manager Dusty Baker plans to have his pitchers hit in games the rest of spring.

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"Unless I think somebody needs some ABs or something," Baker said. "If an American League team comes, especially, or a National League team, I don't care. You have to get your team ready, which is what [D-backs manager] Kirk Gibson disagreed with."

Reds starting pitchers were all taking practice before Friday's game.

"They've been hitting in the cage 10-12 days," Baker said. "That's an unnatural motion for them to swing. Especially with Johnny, he got that oblique [injury] from last year [in the postseason]. You hope that doesn't come back. That's something you're always afraid of when pitchers are hitting."

Cueto, who was 1-for-2 against the Rockies with a broken-bat single to short right field in the third inning, had no issues with his oblique swinging the bat.

"I felt nothing," Cueto said. "I feel 100 percent."

Asked if he felt good to go for Opening Day, the Reds ace replied, "I'm ready."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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