Lutz talks to Meggie about getting to the Majors

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Reds announced five more cuts to the spring roster Saturday morning, which dropped the total to 39 players.

Optioned to Triple-A Louisville were right-handed pitchers Pedro Villarreal and Curtis Partch, infielder Henry Rodriguez and first baseman Neftali Soto. Outfielder/first baseman Donald Lutz was optioned to Double-A Pensacola.

Reds manager Dusty Baker was especially pleased with the play of Lutz, who entered the day batting .360 (9-for-25) in 14 games with one home run and seven RBIs. Lutz, who still started in right field during a split-squad game vs. the Giants on Saturday, hails from Germany and didn't start playing baseball until he was a teenager.

"There was a lot to be impressed with," Baker said. "He did a lot of things well. His upside potential is great. He's relatively new to the game and catches on quickly."

Baker also liked what he saw from Soto and Rodriguez.

"Soto had a great spring too. Pollo had a really good hitting spring," Baker said. "I told them all what they need to do, what they need to improve on. It's not that much, but to enhance what they're already doing well."

Rodriguez still has work to do in the field, as he committed a team-high five errors in his 14 games.

"Defense encompasses a lot of things," Baker said. "It's not only defensively, it's judgment on certain things. In order to improve judgment, you either have to be really instinctive or play more and hone in those instincts."

Votto feels 'much better' after day of rest

Whitt, Votto, Taillon on Team Canada's elimination

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Reds manager Dusty Baker usually gives key players an unscheduled off-day each Spring Training, and Joey Votto really needed the one he received Friday.

Votto was back in camp Saturday, was in the starting lineup at first base and homered for the Reds split-squad team that played the Brewers in Maryvale. The day off did him some good.

"I feel much better," Votto said after returning to his locker from an early-morning round of batting practice. "I felt sick a bit. I needed a day to get some rest. I didn't feel well."

Votto was away from camp last week to play for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic. He played a full nine innings in the final two games for his country.

On Sunday evening, Votto will not have to leave camp to enter the pop culture realm. He voiced an appearance on "The Cleveland Show," which airs at 8:30 p.m. ET on FOX.

"I did it a year and eight months ago," said Votto, who taped his lines in Los Angeles while the Reds were in town.

The animated show's star and co-creator, Mike Henry, is a big Reds fan and often visits at Spring Training. In the episode, Cleveland pursues a lifelong dream of becoming a Major League scout. Among those also appearing in cartoon form with Votto will be Matt Kemp, Jimmy Rollins and David Ortiz. Both Votto and Rollins are represented by agent Dan Lozano, who set up with the Reds star's guest appearance.

Votto has yet to see the episode and wasn't sure he'd be in front of the TV to view the show.

"I would think so but if I get caught up playing FIFA with one of my teammates, I will download it on Hulu or something," Votto said.

Reds will ease Phillips back into spring action

Phillips on his experience in World Baseball Classic

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips has been given some extra time before returning to camp. Phillips was part of Team USA, which was eliminated in the second round of the World Baseball Classic by Puerto Rico on Friday night.

"He's supposed to come in today. I want to give him [Sunday] off," Reds manager Dusty Baker said Saturday. "I saw how spent Joey [Votto] was. Brandon played every day, nine innings every day, and he had to travel cross-country twice."

Phillips batted .269 (7-for-26) with one RBI in six games for Team USA.

Baker interested in managing USA someday

Team USA on being eliminated from the Classic

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Tommy Lasorda, Davey Johnson and Joe Torre have all had turns managing the American squad in the World Baseball Classic. One of these days, Reds manager Dusty Baker would like a shot.

"I would like to manage it when I'm through," Baker said Saturday. "I don't want to do it now."

All three Team USA managers were no longer managing when they took the post. Johnson did return to the Majors and currently skippers the Nationals.

"Tony La Russa is probably next in line," Baker said of the retired former Cardinals manager.

Team USA has been eliminated from the Classic in the second round in all three editions.

Baker, who kept tabs on the tournament, likes how seriously the Latin American and Asian teams and fans are about the World Baseball Classic. He was disappointed with how things turned out this year for the Americans, who were eliminated Friday by Puerto Rico.

"It hurts me to see, not the elimination part, but the fact that most of our best players didn't play," Baker said. "Not to take anything away from the guys there, but there were a lot of players that canceled out for whatever reason. You look at the other countries, there were a lot fewer that canceled. It kind of shows that I don't know if this is as much as American of a game as we'd like to think."