Hoover's performance impressing Baker

Hoover's performance impressing Baker

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The battle for precious few spots in the bullpen is tight and J.J. Hoover is giving the Reds every reason to make the decision harder. In his last two outings, Hoover has struck out all seven batters faced. He fanned four batters against the Rockies on Monday.

Reds manager Dusty Baker isn't discounting Hoover's performances just because it's just Spring Training.

"A guy throwing fastballs is an even greater feat because that's what guys are ready to hit. He's throwing fastballs," Baker said on Tuesday. "Guys throwing a lot of junk, it's tarnished a little bit because guys aren't ready to hit junk."

Hoover has a 2.25 ERA in seven appearances but faces an uphill battle nonetheless because he has Minor League options. Relievers like Alfredo Simon and Jose Arredondo do not have options left.

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.