WASHINGTON -- Major League Baseball's First-Year Player Draft is Monday and Reds center fielder Drew Stubbs remembers sitting around his college apartment with some friends waiting for his name to be called.

Stubbs had already worked out a pre-Draft deal in 2006 with the Reds, so when he became the eighth overall pick of the first round, it was a bit anticlimactic. Still, Stubbs remembers the excitement of finally achieving his lifetime goal of being drafted.

"I was looking forward to it more than anything else," said Stubbs, a three-time All-American at the University of Texas. "The Draft is a funny deal because up to the minute you get picked, you might think you're going in one spot and go somewhere completely different. There is a lot of excitement that day for young players."

Stubbs is one of four players on the Reds' roster who were first-round picks, along with outfielder Jay Bruce (2005, 12th overall), and right-handed pitchers Mike Leake ('09, eighth), and Homer Bailey ('04, seventh). For many players, Monday will be a day they remember for the rest of their lives, Stubbs said.

"It's something you dream of, to have the opportunity to play pro ball," Stubbs said. "[The Draft] is just the beginning to it."

Stubbs was eventually called up to the Reds last season, and he batted .267 with eight home runs in 42 games. Some of the biggest adjustments from college to pro included playing games almost every day, using a wooden bat, the extra travel and high caliber of play.

"Each level you climb, the competition gets better," Stubbs said. "Players make fewer mistakes. There's a lot of guys that are real good in Triple-A, but they're not as consistent in the Majors. Overall, the stuff pitchers have up here is better, but it's a pretty fine line between the big leagues and the upper level of the Minor Leagues."

Baker giving Rhodes day to rest

WASHINGTON -- Reds reliever Arthur Rhodes was likely to get a day off Sunday against Washington because manager Dusty Baker wanted to give him some rest.

Rhodes has pitched in 26 games this season, going 1-1 with 0.38 ERA -- best in the National League. However, he has appeared five times since May 30, with his only rest coming on an off-day Thursday.

Rhodes allowed his only run this season April 10 against Chicago. His active 22-inning scoreless streak is second in the Majors, behind only Detroit's Jose Valverde, who has pitched 22 1/3 scoreless innings.

"Arthur is not available today probably," Baker said. "He has gone like four of the five of the past days. The only day he didn't go was the off-day."

Bailey's return remains uncertain

WASHINGTON -- Reds manager Dusty Baker downplayed reports that pitcher Homer Bailey might do a rehab stint at Triple-A Louisville.

Bailey has been on the disabled list with right shoulder tightness, but his return to the rotation remains uncertain. There was speculation Bailey could start Tuesday against San Francisco, but Baker was non-committal.

"I'd rather have a guy over-ready than under-ready," Baker said. "He threw better today than he did [Friday]. He had better command."

Bailey is 1-2 with a 5.51 ERA in nine starts this season.

Starters finding success throwing strikes

WASHINGTON -- Reds starters are 16-3 in their past 27 games, including putting together a 10-game winning streak in May -- its longest since 1985.

Reds manager Dusty Baker said the starters have been effective throwing strikes and going deep into games, which has saved the bullpen. The starters have an 4.34 ERA with three complete games on the season.

"It's basically all about throwing strikes and defense. Most of the time, they go hand-and-hand," Baker said. "When you get in trouble is when you start walking people. As long as they throw strikes and let the defense have a chance, and we have a very good defensive team, they're going to have a good chance to go deep in games, which we need them to, or else you're gonna wear the bullpen out."

The bullpen struggled early, but has pitched better over the past few weeks. Entering Sunday's game, Reds relievers were 11-12 with an ERA of 4.77.

"Somebody has to pick up the innings," Baker said. "You don't want everybody in your bullpen making 66 appearances. Starters are starters because they are conditioned to go deep into games."

Reds setting tone early in games with hot bats

WASHINGTON -- The Reds offense has dominated opposing pitching this season, and has set the tone by scoring runs early in the game.

Heading into Sunday, Cincinnati leads the National League in several offensive categories, including home runs (70), batting average (.276), runs scored (285) and RBIs (274). The Reds have also been opportunistic, and are second in the Majors in hitting with RISP, going 140-for-480 (.292).

"We've had a tendency to get up with runs, which helps a lot," manager Dusty Baker said. "When you score in the first and second inning, you feel a lot [better] about the situation."

The balance between the starting pitching and hitters has kept the Reds hovering around first place for the past month. Entering Sunday's game, Cincinnati trailed the first-place Cardinals by a game in the National League Central.

"Our pitching had a rough little beginning," Baker said. "When your ERA gets high, it's tough to bring it down. Our ERA will go down as our pitching gets better. I think we're gonna get better yet."