“I saw glimpses, when he kept the ball down. He had great movement, sank the ball,” Baker said. “When he got it up, like any sinkerballer, he was gonna get hit. But the guy knows how to pitch.”
Robinson impresses: Although Billy Hamilton was noted as the fastest man in camp, Baker said Derrick Robinson hasn't been far behind.
After Robinson belted a homer and a double on Thursday, Baker said he’s been impressed wih the former Kansas City Royals prospect.
“He’s an interesting player. He brings speed, he’s a switch-hitter, he’s a very good outfielder. He’s very serious about his profession,” Baker said. “I thought he runs good, but he runs great. He wouldn’t get beat too much by Billy Hamilton. I’m impressed with both of them.”
With GM Walt Jocketty sitting nearby, Baker also tipped his cap to the personnel department.
“Our management staff, it’s their job to find those diamonds in the rough, six-year free agents, and to persuade them to come with us,” Baker said. “They probably had other offers. You can find some, you’ve got to just search for them.”
Choo in pencil: Chris Heisey got the start in center on Friday, but Baker said he expects Shin-Soo Choo to return from back spasms when the Reds host the Rangers on Saturday (4:05 p.m.).
“There’s a good chance. I’ve got him penciled in,” Baker said. “It depends how he feels (Friday night) after activity, but I don’t anticipate any setbacks.”
Choo was hitting .400 before being sidelined with the issue, which he said was his first bout with back problems.
Extra bases: After getting the endorsement of Baker and Jocketty as the club's fifth starter, Mike Leake went out and promptly gave up a three-run homer to Luis Cruz in the bottom of the first inning Friday. That wasn't all the damage Cruz did, adding a solo shot in the fourth. … Baker has noted Devin Mesoraco's improved defense this spring, and the catcher made a nice throw in the fourth inning to catch Elian Herrera trying to steal second. … Ryan Ludwick struck out twice on Friday, and the starting left fielder is hitting just .143 this spring. … The Reds will get a look at Texas star pitcher Yu Darvish on Saturday. The game will be replayed on the MLB Network overnight (3 a.m.), but Sunday's game will be carried live on the network.