Surprise!

It was my first time to the Arizona city of Surprise today and the drive up Rt. 303 from Goodyear was basically this: farm, farm, traffic light, prison, farm, farm, traffic light, farm, Surprise. The mountains were in the vista throughout.

On the sign welcoming visitors to the city limits, it said Surprise was founded in 1960. I found that particularly interesting since back in Ohio and especially in my original home state of New York, you don’t see many towns founded after the 1800s.

The 20-plus minute drive was a bountiful one for the Reds, which notched a 5-2 win over the Royals.

Some notes:

*Travis Wood was pleased with his outing — 3 ip, 5 H, 2 ER (on Billy Butler’s two-run homer), 2 BB, 2 K.

“I felt good. My pitches were working pretty well,” Wood said. “[Butler] was able to drop the head down on an inside pitch and put up two for them.”

*As has been chronicled in the past, Wood is an off-season workout partner of All-Star lefty Cliff Lee. They live five minutes apart in Arkansas. Someone asked Wood about the idea of facing Lee with the Phillies this season.

“I would absolutely love that,” Wood replied.

*Sam LeCure looked rather solid himself with two hits and four strikeouts over two scoreless innings.

*Dontrelle Willis probably had the most impressive pitching outing of the day with two scoreless innings and three strikeouts. Willis was a nimple fielder as well. In his second inning of work, he made nice play retrieving Manny Pina’s grounder towards third base.

“We were yelling, ‘let that one go foul’ and after he picked it up and threw it, said ‘oh yeah, great play,'” manager Dusty Baker said.

Willis also covered first base nicely to get an out on a bunt play to the right side.

“He’s an athlete. I didn’t think he had a chance on that bunt,” Baker said.

*Over at the ‘B’ game this morning vs. the Indians in Goodyear, the Reds lost 7-6. Dave Sappelt had another good game by going 2-for-3 with a double. In ‘A’ games, he’s batting .533 (8-for-15).

“He can hit. He hit last year,” Baker said. “There’s more to being ready for the big leagues than hitting. Not to slight the kid at all, he’s doing great. There are a few things he has to work on.”

*Zack Cozart also homered in the ‘B’ game. Several of the Reds top hitters this spring are prospects. That’s no accident, the manager said.

“Like I’ve told you, spring is for the young,” Baker said. “It’s for young hitters, off-speed pitchers, winter ball guys and fastball hitters.”

*I talked to Fred Lewis for a Reds beat item before Tuesday’s game. Lewis is not 100 percent satisfied with his performance at the plate and working to get better. He’s been doing some tinkering with his swing, not all to his satisfaction.

“Eventually, I will be where I want to be,” Lewis said. “In the outfield, I’m pretty comfortable with where I’m at. On the offensive side, I’m not happy with it. I’ve figured out that I’m frustrated with what I’m doing. I keep telling myself to go back to square one and do what I was doing before I got here. You can do a lot of stuff in the cages but it only matters what you do on the field.”

And in a late stunner from Brewers camp, Zack Greinke will miss Opening Day with a fractured rib. Greinke suffered the injury last month, playing basketball. He will start the season on the DL. It’s been a tough time for the Reds NL Central rivals. The Cardinals already lost Adam Wainwright (elbow) for the season and their other ace, Chris Carpenter, is bothered by a hamstring injury.

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3 Comments

Mark -The Reds are about 1/3 the way through the Spring games. To me, knowing and seeing nothing (the Sgt Schulz of Reds fans – honk if you’re too young to get that reference), it seems to be just what we expected: lots of talented players doing well, making it look like the Reds can’t fail to put a really good team on the field Opening Day. You’re there and you know lots – has anyone performed so well as to possibly change the pretty fixed ideas about the Opening Day position players? Has anyone so underperformed as to make his job uncertain? Can Juan Francisco play third? Can Alonso field anywhere? Is anyone hurt? Is it safe to assume there isn’t a single basketball court in the whole Goodyear complex?

Don’t need to honk…I know Hogan’s Heroes. As for your question, things have been stunningly going according to plan in this camp. And it’s been a mostly healthy camp.

Willis has certainly impressed and is becoming a better bet to make it than he might have been coming in. The problem with the question is it’s so early still. Yes they’re a third into the games, but most of them have no more than 10-15 ABs. Sappelt is playing great but had only 25 games at AAA and Dusty has mentioned he has non-hitting things to work on still. Cozart is showing some pop but would he fit behind both Janish and Renteria? Stay tuned…I am trying to find out these answers, believe me.

Here’s one for the sabermetricians: what’s the leading cause of baseball injuries? Basketball.

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