February 2013

Chapman sharp, Reds lose

Here is what you need to know from the split-squad Reds 4-3 loss to the Rockies on Thursday:

*Chapman watch: One fine first spring start does not a rotation spot make, but Aroldis Chapman looked very good as he retired all six batters faced with one strikeout. I sat behind the plate with the scouts for those two innings and saw a lot more off-speed stuff than I expected for a first outing. He split-fingered fastball and slider were moving and diving and hitters failed to make good contact. There were four groundouts, one pop up and final batter Ramon Hernandez struck out on a slider in the dirt during a solid nine-pitch at-bat. I will have much more on Chapman on a story for MLB.com.

“That was nice,” pitching coach Bryan Price said. “He was able to repeat some good pitches. He threw different pitches for strikes – the fastball, the slider and the split [fingered pitch]. He was pretty sharp for this early in camp.”

*Zack Cozart made a very nice diving stop to his left to rob D.J. LeMahieu of a hit in the third inning. Denver Post beat writer Troy Renck went so far as to to tweet that Cozart pounced “like a puma” on the play.

*Cozart did not fare as well, or like a puma, in the fifth when he grounded into a 5-4-3 triple play. It was the so-called “bang-bang” play as it was hit right to third baseman Nolan Arenado right near the bag. Second baseman Eric Young Jr. did a great job turning and firing to first base as Denis Phipps was bearing down on him. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first Spring Training triple play since 2010 when the Red Sox turned one.

No. 2 catcher battle: Miguel Olivo started the game and was 0-for-2. Devin Mesoraco replaced Olivo and was 1-for-2 with a two-out, two-run single to left field in the seventh.

*Billy Hamilton watch: Hamilton was 0-for-1 with a strikeout. He entered as a pinch-runner and scored on Brandon Phillips’ RBI double in the sixth.

*Finally, pre-game festivities at Salt River Fields had NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski doing a lap in his No. 2 car. Keselowski burned some rubber in the center field tunnel as he exited the park afterwards.

keselowski 022813

Split squad lineups

Reds vs. Diamondbacks (at Goodyear)

Choo 8
Burriss 6
Votto 3
Ludwick 7
Bruce 9
Frazier 5
Donald 4
Miller 2
Y. Rodriguez DH

Leake 1

Also pitching are Simon and Arredondo

Reds vs. Rockies (Scottsdale)

Paul 7
Phillips 4
Heisey 9
Soto 3
Hannahan 5
Phipps 8
Cozart 6
Olivo 2
Ashley DH

Chapman 1

Also pitching are Hoover, Parra and Ondrusek

Off today

My smiling face won’t be at Reds camp Wednesday, or at the game. I’ve got the day off. We have someone covering everything today for MLB.com/Reds.com. Please be sure to check it out.

Bailey’s outing ‘short and sweet’

Here’s the straight scoop from the day in Peoria that was a Reds 7-5 loss to the Padres:

*For the first time this spring, someone that will be in the Reds 2013 rotation started the game. However, Homer Bailey was scheduled to work only one inning. Bailey made it a scoreless one with one walk and one strikeout. He threw 15 pitches, seven for strikes.

“Short and sweet,” Bailey said. “That’s why I only threw one inning – we have that extra week of games. You can’t just sit idle and throwing bullpens or live BP after a while gets pretty monotonous.”

Bailey struck out Chris Denorfia with a 2-2 slider after missing with a slider a pitch earlier.

“You’re not going to have your command where you want it to be this early,” Bailey said. “It just doesn’t happen. Yes, it’s close. Some of the pitches we missed, we didn’t miss by much. You have to get that touch back and all the adrenaline that comes with when you’re back in competition.”

*Joey Votto watch: 0-for-1 with a routine fly to the deeper part of left field and a third-inning walk.

*Billy Hamilton watch: 0-for-2. He struck out and grounded out to third base after entering the game in the fifth inning.

*The Reds scored two runs in the third inning, including a RBI triple off of the left wall by Chris Heisey. During a three-run sixth, Henry Rodriguez smacked a RBI double to left field.

*Tough Padres fourth inning for Reds reliever Pedro Villarreal, who faced eight batters and only retired one while allowing six earned runs and seven hits. His first five batters reached safely on hits.

Frazier has strained calf

Reds third baseman Todd Frazier hasn’t been a game since Saturday. During that afternoon, he strained his left calf sliding into third base. Instead of playing, he’s been spending the time doing extra workouts inside the complex.

“We’re just being precautious about it, nothing serious,” Frazier said Tuesday morning. “I could play but they said I’m going to take a couple of days off just to heal it up.”

Frazier is slated to be the Reds’ Opening Day third baseman. The injury isn’t expected to change anything. Otherwise, it’s been a normal camp so far.

“Everything is good. We’re just taking it slow,” Frazier said. “I’d like to get out there but we got at least a month. I will get the at-bats.”

2/26 at SD

Reds lineup vs. Padres, at Peoria: 3:05 p.m. ET

Choo 8
Phillip 4
Votto 3
Mesoraco 2
Lutz 7
Donald 5
Cozart 6
Heisey 9
Olivo DH

Bailey 1

**Also on the trip will be Billy Hamilton, Cesar Izturis, Henry Rodriguez and Tony Cingrani.

First win of spring, Bruce update

Here are some things to know after the Reds notched their first victory of camp with a 5-2 win over the Brewers:

*Joey Votto watch: Votto was 1-for-3 with his first home run of spring and three RBIs. Votto drove in Shin-Soo Choo with a RBI groundout to second base in the first inning. In the third inning on a first pitch from Rob Wooten, Votto lifted a two-run homer that carried over the left field fence.

*Pitching roundup: Reds starter Armando Galarraga, a non-roster pitcher, pitched two scoreless innings with one hit allowed and two strikeouts. Reliever Sean Marshall followed with one scoreless inning with two hits and one strikeout. Jonathan Broxton was next with one perfect inning.

*The Reds have a 1-3 record through four Cactus League games.

“Votto got on the board,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “We got good pitching. That was big. Guys threw the ball well. We played good defense. I forgot how to shake hands [after a win]. It seems like it’s been a long time.”

*In three games he’s played as the leadoff hitter, Choo has reached base each time in his first plate appearance. Choo walked twice, including Monday. He’s scored all three times he’s reached in the first inning.

*Jay Bruce was scratched about 90 minutes before the game with a sore right heel.

“He’ll be all right in a couple of days,” Baker said. “It was more precautionary than anything. You don’t want it to linger. This time in spring, if they feel anything, we take them out.”

Morning item: Olivo or Mesoraco?

During a morning session with reporters on Monday, Reds manager Dusty Baker was asked about catcher Miguel Olivo. If it wasn’t already clear before camp, it certainly is now. Olivo is in the hunt for the No. 2 catcher’s job against Devin Mesoraco.

“You’re deciding on if we keep Mesoraco or if you keep a guy like Olivo,” Olivo said. “The guy has a lot of experience. The one drawback is he’s non-roster. You would really have to play your way on for you to take somebody else off and expose him. He’s super strong with a real good throwing arm. I’ve known him a long time. He brings a lot of energy to the game, to the ballpark.”

Olivo, who was signed on Feb. 1, is 1-for-2 with a homer and three RBIs in two games. He also has a sac fly and a walk with the bases loaded. In the opener one inning after Olivo’s long ball, Mesoraco crushed a ball to deep left-center field for his own homer.

Last season with Seattle, the 34-year-old Olivo batted .222 with 12 home runs and 29 RBIs in 87 games. Mesoraco, as you know, struggled offensively in his rookie year.

The question is — would a young 24-year-old like Mesoraco benefit more from everyday at-bats at Louisville or could he develop as the No. 2 catcher in the Majors and gradually get more playing time alongside Ryan Hanigan?

2/25 vs. MIL

Reds lineup vs. Brewers

Choo 8
Burriss 4
Votto 3
Heisey 7
Bruce 9 Phipps 9
Hannahan 5
Cozart 6
Olivo 2
Robinson DH

Galarraga 1

Game time: 3:05 p.m. ET.

*UPDATE: Jay Bruce was scratched from the lineup with a sore right heel.

Good pitching, no offense

The Reds are 0-3 after three games vs. Indians this spring. Here’s some of the lowdown following Sunday’s 3-0 defeat:

*After a barrage of offense from both sides the previous two games, the Reds and Indians had sharper pitching on a blustery afternoon. It was essentially a bullpen day for the Reds, which used several familar veterans after having virtually all young guys in the earlier pair of games.

“At least we had good pitching,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said.

*There were lots of wind gusts in the 25-30 mph range throughout the day.

*All three Indians runs came in the bottom of the seventh scored against Josh Ravin, including a windblown ground rule two-run double to right field by Omir Santos. Carlos Moncrief followed with a RBI single to end Ravin’s outing before the inning ended.

“We had that windblown double. You know [the wind] would rear its ugly head at some point. We were lucky it didn’t happen before then,” Baker said.

*Sam LeCure started and looked good with two scoreless innings, one hit and one strikeout.

“It’s always good to get out there and have some sort of a measuring stick early,” LeCure said. “You can throw a bunch of bullpens and even live BP doesn’t prepare you to go out there and face the hitters. The key today was obviously to try and keep the ball down. That’s something we’re all focusing on early in camp anyhow. I felt like I did OK. Honestly, I think the results were a little better than I felt like I threw the ball.”

*After LeCure was Manny Parra, who debuted with six up and six down with two strikeouts. Before the game, I did a feature on Parra. Click here to read it.

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