After all the questions about Bryan Price’s batting order, and his being coy about it since the offseason, the Reds manager came awfully close to what I projected before Spring Training. That included Joey Votto in the second spot, Todd Frazier in the third spot and Brandon Phillips batting seventh.
Phillips has started in the seventh spot only 70 times in his career, and 66 of those came in 2006 — his first year in Cincinnati. Price was asked about his lineup choices before Monday’s opener vs. the Pirates.
“I mentioned in the offseason, once we signed Marlon [Byrd], that we would have an impact bat hitting seventh,” Price said. “Joey is another high on-base, extra base hit type of guy setting the table in the middle for guys like Todd, Devin, Marlon and Jay, that will be power sources for us. That certainly leads itself to Brandon in the seventh hole. I wanted to create enough separation between Joey and Jay, where we don’t make it easy to matchup for a left-handed relief pitcher. There will be times we could see Jay move up towards that four or five spot periodically based on who’s pitching. I think there will be some flexibility in that middle of the order as far as having some movement based on who’s pitching. But I’m very, very satisfied, 1-8, with where we are. As I’ve said to our players, this will be fluid. If there’s a better way to line these guys up through the course of the year, then I will do that. I think this is the best way to get started and the best way to be the most productive.”
Price was asked if he had to speak with Phillips about batting lower in the order.
Well, we’ve talked about it, collectively, as a group,” Price said. “We talked about what our expectations are of each other and we pride ourselves on playing selfless baseball. Brandon is a guy that loves responsibility and not just offensively, but also defensively. He prides himself on being an outstanding player. I think he also realizes there’s going to be a lot of opportunities to drive in runs in that seven hole and he also understands and appreciates the need to be impactful offensively throughout the entirety of the lineup besides saying we’re really good one-through-four but then there’s a real drop-off. I think any way you dice it, we’re not going to be as vulnerable as a healthy ballclub when you have somebody of Brandon’s caliber hitting seventh and I certainly feel the way Zack’s swung the bat in spring training, and his approach, we’ll be strong one-through-eight.”
There are still some 40-man roster decisions to be made to get non-roster guys on there, but the Reds have essentially set their 25-man roster on Thursday. It won’t be “official” until all of the corresponding moves are done.
Here it is:
25 Badenhop, Burke……….RHP
54 Chapman, Aroldis……….LHP
52 Cingrani, Tony……………LHP
47 Cueto, Johnny……………RHP
28 DeSclafani, Anthony……RHP
70 Diaz, Jumbo………………RHP
37 Gregg, Kevin*…………….RHP
60 Hoover, J.J………………..RHP
26 Iglesias, Raisel…………..RHP
44 Leake, Mike……………….RHP
31 Marquis, Jason*…………RHP
43 Parra, Manny……………..LHP
39 Mesoraco, Devin
29 Pena, Brayan
2 Cozart, Zack
89 Dominguez, Chris*
21 Frazier, Todd
17 Negron, Kristopher
4 Phillips, Brandon
19 Votto, Joey
27 Boesch, Brennan*
32 Bruce, Jay
9 Byrd, Marlon
6 Hamilton, Billy
55 Schumaker, Skip
Homer Bailey, Sean Marshall, Jason Bourgeois.
Two more Reds cut as the 25-man roster has been set on Thursday, the final day in camp.
Michael Lorenzen is going to the Minor League camp, which makes Raisel Iglesias the fifth starter.
Sam LeCure cleared waivers and was sent outright to Triple-A Louisville. LeCure had options left but the club needed the 40-man roster space for players like Jason Marquis, Kevin Gregg, Brennan Boesch and Chris Dominguez.
Reds manager Bryan Price clearly had emotions about the LeCure move.
“The LeCure thing, I never could have seen that coming when we began Spring Training,” Price said. “I think it breaks all of our hearts that he’s not on this ball club right now. We anticipate him being back. I think we feel he’s not at his best where he needs to be to help us right now. We’ve got to get him back there. He should be a big part of our team this season. We’re all just a wreck about him not being with us at this point in time. I’m very confident that he will be back with us.”
LeCure, 30, is owed $1.85 million in 2015, the second year of his two-year contract. To collect that money, he would have to report to Louisville. He can choose free agency and forfeit it though.
“Getting him back on the roster won’t be an issue,” Price said. “It just made sense because we have so many guys to add with these non-roster players. With no risk, it made sense to do it. That was definitely the toughest of all the final decisions was having to do that with Sam. He just embodies everything we believe it here with the Reds.”
LeCure has the third-most appearances for the Reds from 2010-14 at 231 games. Last season wasn’t as strong a year as he went 1-4 with a 3.81 ERA in 62 games. He had a 2.66 ERA in 63 games in 2013. He’s debuted with the Reds in 2010 and has been at the big league level non-stop since 2011.
This spring in seven Cactus League games, LeCure had a 3.24 ERA but this was a case where he didn’t pitch as well as the numbers indicated.
“His velocity is down a little bit but the concern isn’t the velocity,” Price said. “The concern is fastball command. He’s a fastball pitcher with a lot of good accessory pitches –curveball, slider and changeup. His bread and butter we’ve seen over the last five years is being able to locate that fastball with that off the body comebacker on lefties and freeze down and away on the right-handers. It’s a signature pitch for him. He’s been a little erratic with that since the second half of last season. He’s a much better pitcher than he’s shown recently. We just need to get him back there, and I’m very confident he will be back to help us during the season I’m sure.”
Simultaneously on Wednesday afternoon, Homer Bailey and Raisel Iglesias started in Minor League games.
Here are their lines:
Bailey vs Triple-A White Sox: 5 ip, 6 H, 5 E, 1 BB, 8 K, 1 WP. 63 pitches.
In the first inning, Bailey gave up three-straight hits, including a three-run homer. He struck out the side in the second inning.
Iglesias vs. Double-A White Sox: 5 ip, 5 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, solo HR.
Pretty soon, the Reds will have their 25-man roster set and it seems to be close to be done. One of the thing holding up the transactions are corresponding moves to take people off of the 40-man roster.
At the moment — it would seem that non-roster players Jason Marquis, Kevin Gregg, Chris Dominguez, Brennan Boesch and perhaps, Michael Lorenzen need to be added. That means five have to go.
Players on the 60-day disabled list don’t count towards the 40-man roster. Sean Marshall and Jason Bourgeois will likely be put there. That leaves three more moves.
“We’re closing in on that, absolutely,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “We’re up against — for some of them — some deadlines. I’m guessing in the next short while we will have sat down with the guys who are on the club and let them know.
“To add guys, you also have to make corresponding moves to add those guys to the roster. That’s probably one of the reasons why we’re not a little more forthcoming in all the roster moves.
“It’s always tough for multiple reasons. First, because of the potential of losing a player that you like. Certainly we like them if they’re on our 40-man roster. No. 2, you hate to send that type of message to a player that’s been in the system for a while and has been a good representative of the Reds. It’s always hard. You always want hard work and professionalism rewarded. However, there’s also a portion of this that is performance-related. You can be a great guy and a great worker, but if you don’t perform to a certain level you become vulnerable at this time of year.”
I spoke with non-roster infielder Chris Dominguez Monday morning, before the latest cuts were made. One of the nice surprises to come out of this camp, Dominguez doesn’t know yet if he’s made the team. (although the latest moves suggest that it looks very good).
Dominguez leads the club this spring with seven doubles and is batting .458 (11-for-24) with three homers over his last 10 games. He is batting .340 in 21 games overall.
On Sunday vs. the Angels, Dominguez went 4-for-5 with a home run and four RBIs. He hit a three-run homer in the third inning to secure the victory. It’s been a good camp, but with it near the end, he is making a nice final impression.
“I try to go out there every day and do the best that I can,” Dominguez said. “Definitely, I can’t say it doesn’t help having good games here at the end.”
The latest Reds camp roster cuts were made:
Optioned to Louisville: RHP Pedro Villarreal.
Reassigned to minor league camp: RHP Nate Adock, IF Ivan De Jesus Jr., IF Irving Falu and C Kyle Skipworth.
Released: LHP Paul Maholm.
That leaves 30 players in big league camp.
Villarreal seemed to have a solid chance entering camp after his nice second half. But he posted a 12.38 ERA in his seven games this spring.
Maholm looked very good with a 2.19 ERA in five games but wanted to start. He was told a couple of weeks ago he would be in the bullpen if he made the team.
UPDATE: The club had until Tuesday morning to either put Maholm on the big league roster, release him, or pay him a $100,000 retention bonus and send him to the Minors for 60 days until he had an opt-out in his contract.