Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 9/25/12
CINCINNATI -- Acting manager Chris Speier needs to wear a stovepipe hat instead of a baseball cap and add a nickname in front of his signature: "Honest Chris Speier." First of all, he honestly wishes he could return to his bench coach position and not be acting manager. He wishes manager Dusty Baker was still leading the team. But that isn't going to happen for at least six more games. It was revealed Tuesday that when Baker was about to be released from a Chicago hospital last Friday after tests for an irregular heart beat he suffered a mini-stroke. So he was detained until Sunday and while he visited the team both Sunday and Tuesday he did not put on his Cincinnati uniform. He returned home before the game began. And the timetable for his return won't be until next Monday when the Reds finish the season with three games in St. Louis, meaning Speier will manage the next five games. He has managed the last six, including Tuesday's 4-2 win over the Milwaukee Brewers. When asked if he wanted the Reds to put together the best record in the National League so they could grab the No. 1 seed, Speier squinted his eyes and let his feelings be known. Supposedly, there is a benefit to being the No. 1 or No. 2 seed. It is called home field advantage. But is it really this year? Most think not. The team with the best record has to play on the road for the first two games and then the final three games, if necessary, will be played at home in the five-game National League Division Series. Hey, Hertz may be No. 1 and Avis may be No. 2, but Speier says he wouldn't mind being No. 3. "You know what seed I'd like to be?" Speier said, raising his voice about three octaves. "I'd like to be No. 3. I'd like to know that the other team is coming to me, that I have two games at home first." But snickered twice, breathing quickly out of nose and then added, "But that's not the scenario that this team is about -- winning or losing games (to adjust its seeding). We're going to try to win every game because we're playing teams that are hot. And we're going to try to do everything we can to knock teams out (Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, St. Louis -- all wild card contenders)." It's a touch-and-go question Speier has to address for the next five games as he leads the team. Will he rest his players for the playoffs. Will he drive them hard to try to get the No. 1 seed? "There is a fine line there," he said "The main thing is that you want your team healthy -- the first and foremost thing so we can go into the playoffs as healthy as we can be." But? "We have to be as ready as we can be, too," he said. Right now left fielder Ryan Ludwick, third baseman Scott Rolen and catcher Ryan Hanigan are absent from the lineup with injury assortments -- none serious, but niggling enough to keep them benched. So Speier is carefully monitoring them, but knows that at some point they need at-bats to sharpen up for the postseason. "That's that fine line of intensity at-bats, innings played, pitches pitched that we have to monitor," he said. "We are going to try to win every ballgame that we can. That's how I look at it as a manager." Rolen has missed a couple of starts so he can rest the shoulder and back issues that have flared off and on all season. "He said he felt good today, but I said, 'OK, let's give him one more day,' said Speier. "That's another of those fine lines between health and at-bats. He wants at-bats, needs at-bats. And we need to do that without jeopardize his health. "We're monitoring that as we go and (left fielder) Ryan Ludwick is the same way (groin pull)," Speier added. "We need to get him healthy, get him 100 per cent, but get him at-bats down the stretch." Catcher Ryan Hanigan is a bit beat up after a home plate collision over the weekend and a foul ball that crash landed under his hockey mask. He did not play Tuesday. "He got banged up pretty good, even though he is a tough son of a kid," said Speier. "He got hit in the Adam's apple and the collarbone. He'll catch Wednesday so we can get into a situation where we don't have a catcher playing a day game after a night game." The pitching rotation has been adjusted this week. Mike Leake was skipped and the order is Johnny Cueto, Bronson Arroyo, Mat Latos and Homer Bailey, the four guys who will pitch in the NLDS. "The way we have it set up now you can see we can carry it through to the playoffs (Cueto, Arroyo, Latos, Bailey). You can say this is how it is going to be in the playoffs and you'll probably be pretty close," said Speier. So will Leake, who hasn't missed a start all season (8-9, 4.73) be left off the postseason roster? The Reds say that has not been determined. "I don't know, I haven't heard a thing, they haven't talked to me about it," said Leake. "Whatever they want me to do help I'd be willing to do. I know I haven't done anything to earn one of the four starting spots. But I could pinch-run or bunt or be a guy who could pitch if the game goes 14 innings. Whatever they want."
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

WATCH: D'Angelo Russell hit in groin by LeBron pass

Kobe Bryant has great response to Tyronn Lue story

Report: St. Louis Blues no longer interested in Jonathan Drouin

Doc Rivers: Warriors have 'swagger' of defending champion

Damian Lillard added as a finalist for 2016 U.S. Olympic Team

Celtics legend Paul Pierce prepares for what ‘could be’ his last game in Boston


Free-agent WR Josh Morgan accidentally shot himself, charged with crime

Jon Beason retires after nine NFL seasons

Brewers Association sends Peyton Manning case of craft beer

Report: Police recommend charges against LeSean McCoy

Heat interested in Kings’ 3-point specialist Omri Casspi

Rick Pitino thinks Louisville should be fined $10 million for scandal

WATCH: Kevin Love re-injures left shoulder

Johnny Manziel’s grandpa on ex-girlfriend: ‘The girl has her problems’

Andy Dalton reunited with missing luggage thanks to social media

Chad ‘Ochocinco’ Johnson used to soak his ankles in urine

Why Tom Thibodeau needs to be in New York

Defensemen in high demand as NHL trade deadline looms

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

Security guard indicted for assaulting University of Houston football fan

The LeBron-Kobe rivalry and Finals matchup that never was

Mario Williams recognizes Bills may release him

Terrell Owens says Cris Carter 'begged his way' into HOF

QUIZ: Name every WWE Heavyweight Champion

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

The NCAAB power rankings

Report: Kings to keep coach George Karl

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Report: Knicks fire coach Derek Fisher

The best and worst commercials from Super Bowl 50

Best and worst from Super Bowl 50

Six best plays from Super Bowl 50

Eli doesn't look thrilled as Peyton wins Super Bowl

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker