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Hernandez behind plate for Leake's debut

Hernandez behind plate for Leake's debut

CINCINNATI -- Ramon Hernandez is behind the plate for Mike Leake's historic debut on Sunday afternoon at Great American Ball Park.

It was Hernandez's normal turn, but Reds manager Dusty Baker agreed there are some residual benefits to having a 12-year veteran catch the 22-year old right-hander in his Major League debut.

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Leake is facing the Chicago Cubs, becoming just the 21st player since the Draft began in 1965 to debut before appearing in a Minor League game.

Despite the magnitude and historical significance of Leake's achievement, Hernandez said he won't alter how he calls Sunday's game.

"I'm just going to let him pitch," Hernandez said. "There's a reason why he's here. We'll set a game plan and just go out and execute. I'll let him decide what works for him, and we'll go with it."

Leake said on Saturday that he'll take just a moment to soak up the atmosphere prior to Sunday's game, then it'll be time to go to work.

"I remember gawking at Willie Mays," said Baker. "There comes a time when you have to get him out."

While "Cool Hand" Leake seemed calm on the eve of his first career outing, Baker knows firsthand what the Southern California native will experience during his much-ballyhooed debut.

"It's like Hank Aaron told me, 'It's OK to be nervous, but don't be scared,'" Baker said. "After a pitch or two, the nerves will be gone. The stakes are a little higher, but it's the same game."

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