Cairo ready to help in new role for Reds

PHILADELPHIA -- On Friday, when manager Dusty Baker vehemently argued after a play at the plate called safe that scored a Phillies run, one wondered if he might get ejected.

Now that Chris Speier has moved from the bench to coach at third base while Mark Berry is away for cancer treatment, Miguel Cairo is the bench coach. He would have stepped in as manager if Baker was thrown out.

"I was ready. I'll be ready," Cairo said.

Cairo retired as a player following last season, capping a 17-year career in the big leagues. On Feb. 14, he joined the Reds' baseball-operations department as a special assistant to general manager Walt Jocketty. But plans changed upon Berry's throat cancer diagnosis in March, and Cairo has gotten a lot of coaching exposure in a jiffy.

"It's been a learning experience," Cairo said. "I've got Dusty and the rest of the coaches with a lot of experience. I'm right besides Dusty. He's got a lot of experience. His job is a handful and he knows how to deal with it. This has been an opportunity to learn."

Like most coaches, Cairo has a fungo bat at his side nearly constantly and has recently started throwing batting practice.

"I wasn't planning on this, but they asked me to help," he said. "Walt brought me over here to work with him, and I couldn't say no. It's a great opportunity for me."

Cairo, who has played for managers like Baker, Joe Torre and Tony La Russa, could one day be a skipper himself. That's not at the forefront at the moment, however.

"Right now, I'm just trying to help," Cairo said. "Later on, maybe. I want to help with the players and be helpful for the team."

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.