Mike Leake will start for Cincinnati Thursday

Mike Leake will start for Cincinnati Thursday

Published Apr. 19, 2011 5:00 p.m. ET

CINCINNATI — After considering all pros and cons on whether Mike Leake should make his scheduled start Thursday against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Cincinnati Reds came to a conclusion Tuesday afternoon.

Leake will make the start.

“He is still our guy,” said manager Dusty Baker.

Leake was arrested Monday and charged with misdemeanor theft after he was observed by security people at a downtown Macy’s department store taking tags off six shirts valued at $59.88 total and leaving the store.

Leake pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Tuesday morning and asked for a diversion program. It is believed, because he has no prior record, it will be granted. He will be asked to pay a fine, do community service, be a model citizen and the arrest could be expunged from his record in three or four months.

Baker said there was concern about whether the 23-year-old right-hander could stand up to the distractions.

“There was consideration over not starting him, and we talked about if he could handle the pressure,” said Baker.

Sometimes, in times of trouble, it is easier to go to work than not go to work.”

Baker said he often talked to Pete Rose about playing when he was embroiled in personal problems.

“Rose told me that three or four hours on the field was a sanctuary for me, a time to get away and not think about anything else that has transpired in his life,” said Baker.

On the day Rose’s first wife, Karolyn, fired for divorce, Rose went 5 for 5 in that night’s game.

And there is the concern about fan reaction from this conservative part of the country.

“Hey, fan reaction is going to happen sooner or later,” said Baker. “There should be less adverse reaction at home than there would be on the road, right?”

Leake was not available to the media, but said he would talk after he faced the Diamondbacks Thursday as he takes his 2-0 record to the mound.

And Baker indicated there is more to the story than what’s available right now.

“Sometime the story is going to come out about what exactly happened, but it just can’t come out now,” said Baker.