Reds set rotation; Francisco makes team

The Cincinnati Reds have set their starting pitching rotation, and third baseman/left fielder Juan Francisco has made the 25-man roster to open the 2011 season.

With Homer Bailey (shoulder impingement) and Johnny Cueto (shoulder inflammation) on the Disabled List to begin the campaign, the Reds’ rotation will be, in order: Edinson Volquez, Travis Wood, Bronson Arroyo, Mike Leake and Sam LeCure.

The bullpen will consist of: closer Francisco Cordero, Jared Burton, Bill Bray, Aroldis Chapman, Matt Maloney, Nick Masset and Logan Ondrusek. Maloney beat out Dontrelle Willis for the long-reliever spot.

Also, the promising Jose Arredondo will begin the season on the DL as he continues to come back from right elbow surgery.

Left fielder Fred Lewis – expected to platoon with Jonny Gomes, no matter what manager Dusty Baker was saying publicly – will also start the year on the DL with a strained right oblique.

That opens the way for Juan Francisco to come north, er, northeast with the team out of spring training for the second straight year. The young slugger might stick this time though. The Reds are in need of a left-handed bat and Francisco has been getting reps in left field to increase his versatility and value to the team. Since the Reds are already used to dreadful defense in LF following years of Adam Dunn and now Gomes, as long as Francisco can catch the ball as well as your average beer-league softball outfielder, he’ll fit in just fine defensively.

The Reds are definitely banged up to begin the season, but the good news is that none of the injuries appear serious.

Thursday’s season-opener against the Brewers at Great American Ball Park can’t get here fast enough. And I think it will be these two teams that will battle for the NL Central title all year. I am picking the Reds to repeat as Central champs, but the Brewers have put together an impressive roster and will be an annoyance throughout the season.