Affeldt looks to thrive in bullpen
Lefty reliever anticipating return to high-pressure role
SARASOTA, Fla. -- When told he was being sent to the Reds bullpen, former rotation candidate Jeremy Affeldt didn't react by taking his ball and going home.If there was even an ounce of despair at all, Affeldt concealed it well. "I love that job, too," Affeldt said of the bullpen move Tuesday morning. "It's not something I'm disappointed in at all. It's a fun job. Game on the line situations, I really like them. It's something I've thrived on in the past." Manager Dusty Baker told Affeldt on Monday that he was out of contention for a rotation spot. The left-hander began with two decent starts but followed up with back-to-back bad outings where he gave up a combined 13 earned runs and 15 hits. In four starts overall, Affeldt was 0-2 with an 11.57 ERA in 11 2/3 innings. When the Reds signed the ex-Rockies reliever to a one-year, $3 million contact in January, it came with the promise that he would get an opportunity to compete for the rotation. "I wanted to see if I could do it," Affeldt said. "In the timetable they gave me to do it in, I didn't prove to them I could do it. So they had to go with their best options. Selfishly, it would have been nice to go out there [to start] one more time. If it's best for the team [for me] to go into the bullpen, it's all about winning." Originally scheduled to start on Tuesday, Affeldt's turn was given to Josh Fogg, with Affeldt scheduled to throw two innings in a Minor League game instead. By adding Affeldt as a reliever, the Reds' bullpen appears to have gotten better. He was 4-3 with a 3.51 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 75 games with Colorado last season. Right-handed hitters batted .211 against him while lefty hitters batted .250. Baker is very open to the idea of going north with three left-handers in his bullpen but Affeldt's addition will tighten a roster battle. Bill Bray, Kent Mercker and Mike Stanton are among the leading lefties still competing for spots. One of them will likely be left out. "The Pirates always had that when they were winning. When [manager] Jim Leyland was there, they always had three lefties," Baker said. "More lefties can get righties out than righties can get lefties out."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.