Bradenton: March 30

Here’s today’s lineup:

Taveras  CF
Dickerson  LF
Votto  1B
Phillips  2B
Bruce  RF
Keppinger  3B
Janish  SS
Hanigan  C
Cueto  P

With Jacque Jones (and Norris Hopper) now out of the outfield picture, it’s interesting to try and figure out who will be in the outfield on Opening Day. I was talking with esteemed Reds beat writer Hal McCoy and we were trying to figure it out. You’ve got Bruce in right, Taveras in center and Dickerson in left (not saying he’s the starter for the opener, but clearly he’s on the team). Gomes is a lock to be outfielder No. 4. So here’s the issue. With Jerry Hairston Jr. on the roster, it gives you the flexibility since he can move back and forth between the infield and the outfield. That leaves perhaps one spot for a 5th outfielder, unless there’s a reason to only go with 4 and count Hairston as the fifth. Laynce Nix would provide a left-handed bat off the bench if they go that route. The other choice would be Darnell McDonald, the one-time first-round draft pick who has played over 1200 games in the Minors. He’s had the better camp and Dusty Baker has mentioned him several times in praising him for his performance this spring. Is that a hint? Only time will tell, but I’ll pose this question to all of you: Which of those two would you put on the Reds bench, or would you carry an extra infielder or pitcher instead and just go with the four outfielders pus Hairston?  — Jonathan Mayo


I would have the outfield be as you stated for the top four spots, and have Hairston as a combo man. I would then add Adam Rosales to the bench.

Are the SP ready to go 100 pitches? If so, keep an extra fielder. If Hairston bats like last year, then he is the 5th outfielder. Off the bench, I would like a guy who can put the ball in play and won’t strike out a lot. That sounds like McDonald, but the Reds will already have Kepp on the bench, so maybe it is Nix to have a LH bat on the bench.

I will say, Kepp and Hairston fill the same role for the infield since neither are going to be the starting guy.

I’ve heard recently that the Reds may get Javy Valentin back after being cut by the Nats. I liked his bat fine, but I’d rather have McDonald to start the season (I agree with Gomes, Hairston, Keppinger). I like Castillo’s versatility, but I assume Hanigan is a lock.

One of your best hitters is Owings. You have to figure out how to get him as many ABs as possible while still pitching him in the rotation. A pitcher who can really pitch and hit is worth his weight in gold in the rotatation and he is a good all-around guy with a good attitude and hits in the clutch. You are lucky to have him.

I agree there are many options on the current roster but the cuts are starting to be made and there is one that intrigues me. The talk of the whole off season was the need for a power hitting right handed outfielder. Sheffield is now available. Any chance the Reds expore this option? I know his age and health are factors but he always seems to do very well for a year or two after changing teams. He could be a good stop-gap until we get someone else out there in left.

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