Fans are rightfully concerned about rotation depth coming into the 2012 season. The club has needed seven starters to make 10 or more starts each of the past two seasons. Ten different pitchers made at least one start in a Cincinnati uniform last year.

There was some news Tuesday that Jeff Francis may be willing to report to Louisville if he doesn’t crack the major league rotation. Francis has a clause in his contract that allows him to opt-out if he is not on the 25-man roster by March 28th.

“I feel like I’ve thrown the ball like I usually throw it, like I like to throw it. I’ve made the pitches, stayed ahead in the count, stayed away from walking guys. All that’s out of my control, I’ll leave that to the powers-that-be and try to do my job.”

Francis wouldn’t say whether his agent is looking at other teams.

“You know what I’m not even thinking about that,” Francis said. “I’m going out and trying to get people out.”

Francis said he will go Triple-A Louisville if he doesn’t make the Reds.

There was a lot of news in the Enquirer yesterday on relief pitchers:

–Nick Masset threw a perfect inning in Monday’s game against the White Sox in his first game action since March 7th

–Bill Bray and Ryan Madson threw a simulated game on Tuesday. Both pitchers threw well and reported no recurrence of their groin (Bray) and elbow (Madson) issues. The current plan is for each pitcher to throw in a minor league game on Friday, and a major league game on Monday.

–Bryan Price was asked if Bray and Madson would be ready by opening day. It sounds like the team would start the year with a 12-man bullpen.

“Absolutely,” Price said. “If they’re healthy from here on out, the one thing they’ll miss is that month-long Cactus League where they throw bullpens and go on back-to-back days. But there’s no reason they can’t be ready for the start of season. We’ll be able to use them like we normally would? Probably not.

“But that’s the good thing about having a deep bullpen. Hopefully, we won’t have to use anyone too much.”

–John Fay has a story noting that the Reds are banking on Jose Arredondo to have better control this season being two years removed from Tommy John surgery. Arredondo pitches well against both left-handed and right-handed batters but issued 31 walks in 53 innings. The Reds signed him to a two year contract in the offseason.