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Competition heats up for Reds' final bench job

The SportsXchange

Spring training has been short on drama for the Cincinnati Reds. That's always the case when not a lot of jobs are on the line.

The one interesting battle is for the final spot for a position player. Jason Donald, Cesar Izturis and Emmanuel Burriss are battling for the slot, but the three aren't competing on a perfectly level playing field.

Donald is on the 40-man roster and out of options. That means the Reds would have to put him through waivers to get him to the minors. Izturis and Burriss are on minor league contracts.

All three have played well. All were hitting .300 or better at the midway point in camp.

"I want the best players," manager Dusty Baker said, "but upstairs has to decide who you take off and do you lose somebody if you take them off the roster."

"Upstairs" is the front office.

There are other factors: Donald is a right-hander hitter; the other two are switch hitters. Donald and Burriss can also play outfield.

However, the Reds have always carried a true shortstop as a backup under Baker. Izturis qualifies as that. He's a former All-Star and was an everyday shortstop up until 2010.

"He can play short if his legs remain healthy," Baker said. "That was the question when I had him in Chicago (with the Cubs). It's going to be a tough decision."

And there's the roster factor.

"It's not really fair in the decision process," Baker said, "but life's not fair sometimes."
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