Reds manager Dusty Baker was essentially asked to look into a crystal ball that doesn't exist, but his answer about pitcher Mike Leake on Friday was crystal clear.

Baker sees Leake's immediate better days ahead coming as a reliever and not as a starter. The 23-year-old was moved to the bullpen earlier this week to make way for Johnny Cueto's return from the disabled list. Cueto will make his season debut on Sunday against the Cubs. Having Cueto and Homer Bailey back means there is no space for Leake among the starting five.

As for Leake, could he one day find his way back to the rotation?

"It's too far down the line, No. 1," Baker said. "I think he'll be a very good long man. He stays in shape. He comes in, he throws strikes. He's keeping the ball down to get double plays. I don't have to hit for him if he comes up like you do a lot of relievers, because he can hit. Therefore, he can extend that part of my bullpen out, unlike a lot of guys.

"In the second half [of last year] and this year, he's had a little trouble with the lineup about the third time around. To me, that equals, in theory, a perfect long man."