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Osoria continues to impress

Osoria continues to impress

BRADENTON, Fla. -- After another scoreless outing from reliever Franquelis Osoria, it would seem pretty safe to take out the ink.

Osoria had been penciled in as a probable addition to the Major League bullpen already -- based on his effectiveness with the big league club a year ago and his strong start this spring. But after another impressive showing in Friday's 5-0 loss to the Reds, Osoria seems to have himself in position to snag one of the four bullpen spots.

In other words, get ready to write his name down in pen.

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The only smudge on Osoria's latest appearance was the one-out single he allowed to Brandon Phillips. The hit was the first that the 26-year-old right-hander had given up all spring. He's now allowed just three baserunners total in four innings of work, and not a single one has reached second.

"What he's doing is very encouraging and he's making a very good impression," pitching coach Jeff Andrews said. "He's aggressive. He's confident. He's got a lot of things to offer."

Manager John Russell had much of the same to say.

"I like the way he goes about his job," Russell said recently. "He's the kind of guy you like to watch because he keeps the ball down in the zone with movement. He's a guy who's going to get us a lot of ground balls. I like the way he's doing things right now."

According to both Andrews and Russell, Osoria has the intangibles as well. Both have separately talked about his mound presence, his resiliency and his efficiency. And then there is that devastating sinker.

"That's as good as you can throw," Andrews said, referring to Osoria's sinker to Scott Hatteberg on Friday that got the Reds first baseman to strike out swinging. It was Osoria's fourth strikeout of the spring.

That sinker has given hitters fits all spring, just as it did last season during Osoria's two months in Pittsburgh. The work still to be done, though, comes with the rest of his pitch repertoire.

"They come and go," Andrews said of Osoria's other pitches. "It would be nice to have another pitch to go to."

Andrews and Osoria have talked about potentially relying heavily on the slider against right-handers and more on the changeup against lefties once Osoria feels comfortable enough to do so. In the meantime, however, Osoria has proven that he can still be effective.

At this point, it would seem like Osoria's name would also be in the mix for the role as the team's right-handed setup man. With no right-handers currently a lock -- other than closer Matt Capps -- Osoria's propensity for ground balls and aggressiveness could make him a solid fit in that spot.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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