By Kevin Kelly
The Cincinnati Enquirer
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Standing beside his locker, right arm wrapped in ice and sweat still beading on his forehead, Jimmy Haynes oozed humility through carefully chosen words.
"If that's what they plan to do, that would be great," the Reds pitcher said, responding to a question regarding whether Tuesday's impressive 4 2/3-inning performance against the Phillies clinched an Opening Day start against the Pirates March 31. "I'd definitely enjoy it and be honored."
No longer is it necessary for Haynes to speak in "ifs."
Convinced after watching the right-hander's best performance so far this spring, Reds manager Bob Boone announced that Haynes will start Cincinnati's first regular-season game at Great American Ball Park.
Ryan Dempster will pitch Game 2.
"Today we kind of saw every day of his second half last year," Boone said of Haynes. "That's what we expect out of him."
A loser of 17 games with the Brewers in 2001, Haynes has been rolling since he won a spot in the Reds' rotation last spring.
He finished a career season with a 15-10 record and 4.12 ERA, leading the Reds' staff in wins, starts (34), innings pitched (1962/3) and strikeouts (126).
The Reds rewarded the 30-year-old with a one-year, $2.5 million contract that includes an option year at the same price.
And now this.
Haynes held the Phillies to two runs on four hits while striking out four and walking one.
He has a 5.27 ERA, eight strikeouts and five walks in 132/3 innings this spring.
"The main thing you want to do down here is get your arm in shape and just get ready," Haynes said. "That's the big thing going into the season. ...
"(Tuesday) went really well, definitely the best (start) I've had all spring."
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