Roster candidates big in win

It was an 8-3 win for the Reds over the Cubs on Saturday during a game that really highlighted some of the roster battles happening this final week of Spring Training. Some non-roster players really are fighting, especially with the extra chances presented because of injuries.

For example …

*Roger Bernadina continued his nice spring at the plate by going 2-for-5 with four RBIs, including a no-doubt three-run homer to right field off of Edwin Jackson in the first inning. Bernadina is batting .417 with three homers and 10 RBIs this spring. He could make the team as a non-roster player with Skip Schumaker going down with a shoulder injury.

*It wasn’t as smooth of a fielding day for Bernadina, who had some trouble on a couple of plays in right field. One of them came in the fifth inning when Justin Ruggiano hit a one-out drive to the right field wall off of Tony Cingrani. It wasn’t an easy play but a catchable ball that Bernadina couldn’t get and Ruggiano reached with a triple.

*Kristopher Negron had a 3-for-5 day with a RBI and two runs scored. He also grounded into two double plays. In his last seven games, Negron is 8-for-16 to raise his overall average to .314.

*Chris Nelson was 2-for-4 and is batting .375 this spring.

*RHP Jumbo Diaz, seeking one of the bullpen spots, replaced Cingrani with two outs in the fifth and runners on first and second base. Diaz struck out Wellington Castillo to escape the jam. Although it was only one batter, he was working on back-to-back days after a scoreless inning with two strikeouts vs. the Royals on Friday.

“Obviously, the negative thing has been the injuries and the positive is that there are other guys out there really trying to make the club and be able to help us,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “We’re getting really a good look at what we have in the system, guys are going out there and competing well and playing well. It looks like there could some opportunity come the end of the month for some guys in some roles.”

*Price also moved some of these players around during the game. After starting at third base, Negron moved to center field in the eighth inning. Chris Nelson started at first base and moved to third base.

“We’ve got to move guys all over,” Price said. “Negron has been all over the diamond. We’re going to get [Jason] Bourgeois, who has played all the outfield positions, play some second base tomorrow. Nelson has been all over the place. Soto has been at first and third and we know he can catch. There are some neat things going on in that regard.”

Other items:

*Billy Hamilton hit his first triple of the spring in the seventh when he lined a drive to the right field wall. The ball carried quickly and bounced cleanly off of the wall for the easy three-base hit. Any misplay or hesitation, and we might have seen an inside-the-park homer. Hamilton was 2-for-4 in the game.

*Brandon Phillips hit a solo homer to left field in the eighth. Phillips has three homers in his last four games and four overall this spring.

*Tony Cingrani’s line: 4 2/3 ip, 5 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 4 K

“He was OK,” Price said. “The most important thing is he showed arm strength again. He had a couple of outings in a row where he didn’t feel like his arm had any life in it. Today, he had velocity. He had a better breaking pitch. He didn’t use a changeup as much. He was just missing up in the zone a little bit. He had a couple of walks that came around to score. That’s something he’ll have to tighten up between now and Opening Day.”

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