BRADENTON, Fla. -- Reds reliever David Weathers certainly deserved better. His name could be added to the large volume of "Life isn't fair" stories, baseball edition.

As the 2007 closer, Weathers saved 33 games in 39 chances with 11 of the saves requiring more than one inning of work. He led the National League with 60 games finished. The right-hander was the lone beacon of a consistency from a bullpen that struggled all year.

What was Weathers' reward for his effort? Universal respect, some personal front office thank yous via telephone and a demotion to a setup role.

The latter fate was sealed in November when Cincinnati signed free agent closer Francisco Cordero to a four-year, $46 million contract.

"[Weathers] was one of the first guys I called," manager Dusty Baker said.

Where some pitchers might silently sulk or become clubhouse cancers over such a change, Weathers is the same. His personality is no different this spring than it was last season, or the season before that. Or before that. The 38-year-old remains one of the clubhouse good guys and leaders.

"It doesn't really bother me," Weathers said of the change. "I know it's the nature of the business. Anytime you can have a guy like [Cordero], you don't pass the chance up to sign him. At his age and what he's done, any team that doesn't sign him is ignorant. I don't blame the Reds at all. I don't feel bitter or anything."

The Reds' bullpen is expected be stronger having Cordero in the ninth with Weathers back in his more familiar role during the eighth. Getting from the starting pitcher to the ninth inning has been a quagmire for Cincinnati in recent years, especially when it was important to keep games close.

"Just adding Cordero alone makes us better," said Weathers, who had a 3.59 ERA in 77 2/3 innings last season.

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While the Reds were 62-1 when leading after eight innings, they were just 7-17 when tied after seven and 8-65 when they trailed after seven. They lost another eight games when leading after seven. The bullpen's 5.13 ERA was highest in the NL.

That's why Weathers' easygoing acceptance of his new role meant a lot to Baker.

"This guy wants to win, to me," Baker said. "Other than starting, he's done just about everything you can do. He seems like a tremendous team player to me. The rest of the guys, you can tell they kind of look up to him."

Weathers appeared in the eighth inning of Friday's 5-1 Reds win over the Pirates. In a stunt planned before the outing, he emulated teammate Todd Coffey by sprinting out from the bullpen to the mound.

It was a scoreless inning, but Weathers loaded the bases with a pair of two-out walks and a blooped single before escaping. In six appearances, totaling six innings this spring, he has a 3.00 ERA with six hits and two earned runs.

By accepting the eighth-inning job, it doesn't mean that Weathers won't miss the ninth inning a little bit. Before last season, he had 27 saves combined over 2005-06, often in a closer-by-committee situation. But last year, the closer's job was his alone.

"As the year went on last year, I really enjoyed that role," Weathers said. "This is a game that never stops changing. You've got to roll with the changes and put your best foot forward and do what you have to do to have a good year."