It was another day of throwing, catching, hitting and fielding drills. But there was an important addition to the usual stuff on Sunday. Pitcher Mat Latos was able to participate in most of the activity with his fellow pitchers for the first time this spring.
Latos had Feb. 14 surgery to repair a partially torn meniscus in his left knee.
“All in all, today was the best day that I’ve had,” Latos said. I had been doing my exercises and strengthening stuff but I wasn’t able to actually get out and interact with the guys. This was a huge positive to be able to go out there and throw and run and the other stuff.”
Today, Latos stretched and played catch with the team, throwing with Jonathan Broxton. He also participated in backing up bases during the cutoff and relay drill. He also did some pitchers fielding practice (PFP)
“Nothing too serious where I was spinning or turning,” Latos said. “It was simple stuff, fielding and going in the same direction and making a throw. Nothing too crazy.
“I did box drills – four cones that are set up and you sprint to one, pivot on this leg, side shuffle one way. Backpedaling bothered me a little bit but that’s to be expected.”
Latos said his long tossing has reached distances of 100-120 feet. He does not know yet when he will be allowed to throw from a mound.
I will have more later on my notebook for MLB.com.
Reds camp was a rather normal experience on Saturday. There was no pitchers throwing live BP but plenty of drills and regular batting practice spread over the four main practice fields. I saw Ryan Ludwick and Brandon Phillips clear the fences a few times.
*Pitchers and infielders worked on shifts, bunt plays and situational plays. In the outfield, they practiced over-the-shoulder type catches.
*Skip Schumaker has been working with the outfielders in the early days thus far. On manager Bryan Price’s board, Schumaker is also listed in the outfield. He can also play second base and third base.
*One of the developments from Price came his plan to have the players run and steal more during camp. Click here for the notebook item. Price stressed that the players should seize the opportunities, especially when a pitcher is slow to the plate or not good at holding runners.
“We’re going to open things up in Spring Training,” Price said. “The one way to find out where we need to improve is giving these guys more responsibility and more freedom in Spring Training and see what they do with it. It creates more dialogue between the players and the staff – good times to run, situational base running, holding runners and taking on more of that responsibility. Until you give them the freedom to do it, you don’t know where you really need to put some focus, who needs extra work and maybe who is a little bit more adept than we’ve been giving them credit for.”
*Price lives in Scottsdale, Ariz. – which is on the opposite side of Phoenix from Goodyear. He continues to wake up early each day and commute to the other side of town.
“In the last four years when the games have started, there comes that time where you hit the wall of driving an hour home and getting up at 4:30 and leaving the house at 5,” Price said. “In the morning, it’s about 45-50 minutes. It’s not that bad. When the games start, and the days get longer. There will be times when we will be on the west side three or four days in a row and I’ll just get a hotel room for a night or two just for a reprieve.”
On Thursday and again on Friday, Reds pitchers have had their first chances this year to face hitters while on a mound. On the first day, several of the younger pitchers worked — like Tony Cingrani, Robert Stephenson and Michael Lorenzen.
“I saw a lot of good things,” manager Bryan Price said Friday morning. “I really enjoy watching the guys come out and throw their live BP. What I’ve also enjoyed is the approach of our hitters. Being able to see pitches, seeing guys go out there with a good approach, staying through the middle and the other way, I think for the most part, each pitcher got better the more he threw over the course of their live batting practice. We came out of it healthy. Those are all positives.”
Today — I saw Homer Bailey, Johnny Cueto, Aroldis Chapman, Sam LeCure, J.J. Hoover, Alfredo Simon, Chien-Ming Wang, Manny Parra and Jeff Francis. There were no earth shattering developments and I didn’t notice any pitcher in particular getting lit up. Chapman threw a couple of nice changeups and I heard catcher Brayan Pena really liking what Parra was pitching.
“That stuff was money,” Pena told him.
I’ve enjoyed listening to Pena chatter with the pitchers in general. The other day in the bullpen, he liked a pitch that RHP Brett Marshall located.
“Do that again, I’ll give you $20 … in a gift card,” Pena joked.
Here are some pictures from Friday’s live BP:
Good Friday morning. Sorry for no blogging on Thursday. It was a quasi-day off for me. I came in only for the Homer Bailey stuff and then left while Tyler Emerick took care of the rest. Tyler did a nice job and you should click here to read his notebook on Billy Hamilton, Mat Latos and Trevor Bell.
*Speaking of Latos, today was his third-straight day of throwing. He is up to 60-70 feet. Manager Bryan Price believes Latos is inching closer to being able to throw from a mound again, but not yet.
“I think we have to make sure the strength is there,” Price said Friday. “The good thing is he’s strong enough to go out there and not just be weight-bearing, but be able to be active and throw and keep his arm in shape.”
*RHP Jonathan Broxton has been throwing every day this week, alternating days of long tossing with a shorter distances. Having yet to experience any issues, Broxton is expecting to throw from a mound on Monday.
“We’ll see how it goes and see how I feel,” Broxton said. “Hopefully everything will feel normal.”
*During Thursday’s live batting practice, Price was impressed with RHP prospect Michael Lorenzen, and the deception he has while pitching.
“It’s not being able to see the ball and the pitcher being able to hide the ball well,” Price said. “It’s also that it looks like it’s going to come out easy and he’s going to pump it in there at 88. The next thing you know, it’s on you at 95-98. That’s real good deception.”
*High winds apparently made Thursday’s first pop-up drill more of a challenge than usual
“You have no idea what type of weather you’re going to get as far as the wind issue,” Price said. “We have our fundamentals set up weeks in advance on what days we’re going to do each fundamental. It would happen that the first gust of wind we’ve had out here in about six weeks would happen yesterday when we have our first fly ball communication drill. That’s why we’re here. I think we revisit this in another few days. I don’t think we’ll have the same issue.”
More later if anything comes up …
On Wednesday morning, a vice president of sales from Topps was in the Reds clubhouse signing players to their annual contracts — including Homer Bailey. Per every season, he came armed with fresh packs from series 1 of the 2014 Topps Baseball Cards set.
Reds pitcher Mike Leake was particularly pleased with his card. Instead of pitching, the card shows Leake hitting.
“They finally got it right,” Leake joked.
A source has told MLB.com that Reds pitcher Homer Bailey has agreed to a six-year, $105 million contract with the club on Wednesday to avoid arbitration. It comes with a mutual option for a seventh year worth $25 million with a $5 million buyout.
The Reds have not made an announcement of a deal.
More to come ….
UPDATE: Reds GM Walt Jocketty did not confirm that a deal was done. Click here for the full story on MLB.com.
The first of a few Spring Training transitions begins on Wednesday. After five days of just having pitchers and catchers engaged in workouts, the Reds’ full squad will report.
For those who haven’t had them already as early arrivals, position players will take physicals Wednesday morning. A team meeting is slated for 11 a.m. MT, followed by the first full-squad workout. Then the next hurdle to clear will be getting to the first spring game, which is Feb. 26 vs. the Indians.
Some quick nuggets from Tuesday:
*Jay Bruce was the latest early arrival to camp.
“My off-season was great. I am ready to go,” Bruce said. “It’s exciting to be back. Different look this year, that’s exciting as well. I look forward to the next month and a half, for everybody to get on the same page and we’ll get this train rolling in the right direction.”
*Bryan Price said that Devin Mesoraco is ready to assume the responsibilities of being the Reds’ regular catcher.
“It’s his time to run with the opportunity,” Price said. “He’s earned this opportunity. It’s not just based projection and potential. We feel that the growth that Devin made last year suggested he was ready to take on a more significant role. His ability to lead, his ability to prepare with our game reports, our scouting reports, and being able to transition that to our pitchers, has really improved.”
*On MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM Sunday, GM Walt Jocketty talked about Homer Bailey’s contract talks. But he was also asked about the chances of locking up closer Aroldis Chapman.
“That’s a possibility. We have talked about that,” Jocketty said. “We’re trying to take a couple steps at a time here before we move too far ahead but, yeah, our goal is to try to retain as many of our young players as we can. But we’re limited to how far we can go with that because of the market size we have.”
*Only one picture for you today. It’s RHP Chien-Ming Wang throwing during his bullpen session.
Talks to finalize a multi-year contract remain active between the Reds and RHP Homer Bailey.
“We’ve made progress,” Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. “There are still some outstanding issues. Hopefully they get resolved in the next 24 hours or else people are going to have to suit it up and go east.”
Bailey’s arbitration hearing is scheduled Thursday in Florida. He would have leave camp to attend. Assistant GM Bob Miller would represent for the Reds.
UPDATE: A close comparable to Bailey, Indians RHP Justin Masterson, signed a one-year, $9.72 million contract to avoid arbitration.
Also, click here for my story today on Bailey.
*One of the Reds pitching prospects that will be interesting to watch this spring is RHP Robert Stephenson. The 21-year-old was a first-round Draft pick in 2011. Currently in his first big league camp, he could be a factor in the Reds rotation as soon as 2015, if not sooner.
Manager Bryan Price likes what he has seen from and heard about Stephenson, who reached Double-A Pensacola last season.
“I did see him pitch in instructional league his first year, 2011,” Price said. “Certainly he was very impressive and he’s taken the game to a completely different level from the last time I saw him pitch in instructional league to the type of season he had last year and the types of bullpens he’s throwing now. It’s my first chance to see him do the PFP stuff and what kind of athlete he is. I have a lot of confidence in our player development group because they rave about it – not just his stuff but his work ethic and commitment to the craft.”
Some of the developments from Monday:
*RHP Michael Lorenzen, the 38th overall pick and a compensation round selection in last year’s Draft, got a helping hand from Tony Cingrani during Sunday’s workout as pitchers worked on fielding and covering first base.
“He got a little bit astray on the drill and it was great when I saw Tony Cingrani remind him ‘hey, on this play you want to stay on a straight line,” Price said. “‘You’re covering first base. Stay on the straight line and don’t deviate from the line to first base on this play.’ Then the next three or four of them was ‘boom, boom, boom,’ perfect. He’s an athlete learning to pitch who is making really quick adjustments. I’m really happy with him.”
*Price doesn’t expect the organization will let Lorenzen return to his roots as an outfielder and hitter. But that doesn’t mean he won’t get to handle a bat anymore.
“We don’t want to get too far removed and deprive him of his athleticism,” Price said. “We want him to do things that are athletic. We want him to stay in touch with that. We haven’t defined yet if he’s going to be a starting pitcher or a relief pitcher in the big leagues. But right now, he’s going to get a lot of innings. He’s going to have to handle the bat as he gets to the higher levels. We want him to maintain those skills, just like we’ve used [Mike] Leake in the past as a pinch-hitter and pinch-runner. Those are options that we could look to utilize when Michael gets to the big leagues.”
*LF Ryan Ludwick reported early to camp today and said his surgically-repaired right shoulder was 100 percent.
“I got cleared to lift upper body weights Nov. 6. It feels good to be strong again,” Ludwick said.
*Full squad workouts begin on Wednesday. Price expected pitchers to throw live BP to hitters on Thursday and Friday.
*One of the interesting, but probably not surprising things, to come from talking with Homer Bailey today: Not only does he not own a suit, Bailey doesn’t own a tie, either. Bailey was thinking about buying both to be ready for his arbitration hearing on Thursday. Of course, that probably won’t be needed now that he is close to signing a multi-year contract.
Reds starting pitcher Homer Bailey’s arbitration hearing is slated for Thursday, but it looks like he won’t need to go to Florida to have it. Bailey confirmed Monday morning that he is near to agreeing on a multi-year contract with the Reds.
“It feels like we’re really close,” Bailey said. “That’s all I can say. This whole process has been a long drawn out deal. That’s the way it goes. To say this as confident as I’ve been, yeah, I think so.”
As of last week, there was a large gap in the negotiations but that difference was bridged as a hearing loomed closer.
A report from the Cleveland Plain Dealer said the deal could be worth around $100 million over six years.
Bailey filed for $11.6 million while the Reds had countered at $8.7 million. One year ago, the Reds and Bailey avoided arbitration with a one-year, $5.35 million contract. He said that as the hearing draws closer, he hasn’t been getting more nervous or stressed.
“Not so much. There are a lot of things that we have in place, I think,” Bailey said. “I feel like a majority of it is fairly worked out. It’s some of the little details, I think, that we’re really close with. With us being here and everybody in different time zones, it puts a little bit of a damper on things.”
In 32 starts last season, Bailey was 11-12 with a career-best 3.49 ERA. He achieved career bests in innings (209) and strikeouts (199). On July 2 vs. the Giants at Great American Ball Park, he threw the second no-hitter of his career.
Improvement has come mainly over the last three seasons, as Bailey went a combined 33-29 with a 3.79 ERA. Over the 549 innings that span, he has a 3.40 strikeouts-to-walks, a 1.21 WHIP and 105 ERA+.
How confident is Bailey that a deal might get done soon? He has yet to buy a plane ticket to go to the hearing.
“Not yet. But I also don’t have a suit so I might have to go to Men’s Warehouse today,” Bailey said.