Greetings from Day 3 of Spring Training in warm Arizona. Because I had a bunch of stuff to write today, I wasn’t able to be outside for much of the workout — so I lack photographic evidence except for one shot below.
Here are some nuggets from Sunday:
*I did a feature on Bryan Price today (click here to read) and among the topics that surfaced was that he reached out various current and former managers. One of them you might be familiar with.
“I spoke with Pete Rose a few weeks ago, which was a real treat,” Price said this morning. “Rose, because he managed in Cincinnati. What’s it like to be the manager of the Cincinnati Reds? The one thing he really impressed upon me … how important it is to maintain the relationships that you have. And when you have an issue with a player, to deal with that situation with the player myself. It’s easy when something happens … to grab your coach and tell them to go explain to him why we don’t do that. [He also talked about] the importance of having players that love to come to the ballpark. … and prepare, talk baseball, to find a way to win that day.”
*Price also talked with Tony LaRussa, Bud Black, Joe Maddon and his former boss, Bob Melvin. Price was a pitching coach for the Mariners and D-backs when Melvin was the skipper.
“He has unbelievable communication and accountability,” Melvin said. “He treats everyone the same and has always gotten the respect of his staff. You know what you get from him. He’s face value right away.”
*For a story at a later date, I talked to RHP Jose “Jumbo” Diaz — who has spent 12 years in the Minors, including last year as the closer at Triple-A Louisville. I’ve often written “Player X has lost weight” camp stories but Diaz will be like no other because he lost 70 pounds in one off-season! It’s a pretty cool story and I look forward to writing it.
*I also met RHP Chien-Ming Wang and he could be an intriguing player in camp if a spot were to open. Wang is a former two-time 19-game winner who is still trying to come all the way back from shoulder surgery. A story on him is also forthcoming soon.
*Among the early arrivals I saw were Chris Heisey and Skip Schumaker.
*Back to the photo, courtesy of Jamie Ramsey. It’s my first “action” shot of camp taken as I asked a question of Price during this morning’s media session.
Now that the Reds are past the report date, physicals and the first meeting before the workout could begin, it was more of a normal day of Spring Training on Saturday morning.
Click here to read today’s notebook. There are items on Mat Latos talking about his knee, J.J. Hoover on the beard policy and Jeff Francis.
Here are some extra items of note:
*Bryan Price is not ready to name an Opening Day starter as of yet.
“I have an idea of what I want to do,” Price said. “I’d like to make sure our guys are healthy. We know Mat has been banged up. Johnny has been the man and continues to be but we want to make sure he is healthy. Homer has turned his corner I think. Me personally, I love Johnny at the top of our rotation. There are other guys I would be happy with at the top as well.”
*Aroldis Chapman, Sam LeCure, J.J. Hoover, Chien-Ming Wang, Sean Marshall, Alfredo Simon, Manny Parra, Homer Bailey and Mike Leake were among the pitchers that threw in the bullpen today. I watched Chapman for a little while and nothing looked out of whack from my untrained eye.
*Todd Frazier and non-roster invite Chris Nelson were the latest position players to report early on Saturday.
*3B Jack Hannahan told me he has been in Arizona for about a month. He spends his off-seasons in his hometown of St. Paul, Minn., where temperatures were particularly brutal. While Cincinnati had below zero temperatures, it got down to between 30-40 below zero in the Twin Cities. Yeesh.
*Before the workout, several Reds players were watching the Team USA-Russia Olympic hockey game on the clubhouse televisions. The USA won in a shootout. Ryan LaMarre and Donald Lutz are both former hockey players. LaMarre, a Michigan native, even pointed out that American T.J. Oshie from the St. Louis Blues was from the Univ. of North Dakota. Oshie scored the goals in the shootout that gave the U.S.A. the win.
*My (hopefully) final word on the enforced facial hair policy: It’s really not a big deal. No players are complaining and the (faux) controversy seems to be coming entirely on social media. Just because players are being told to trim their beards, it doesn’t mean they are not being given instructions on hitting or pitching or philosophies on forming a winning club. It’s part of the attention to detail and preparation Price promised to instill when he took the job. It’s not even a new rule. It’s just an enforcement of a rule that already existed. And it’s not even harkening back to the days when no facial hair of any type was allowed. Corky Miller still has his mustache and J.J. Hoover still has a beard. Let’s move on.
I will have some more on this later on MLB.com/Reds.com but the Reds’ new beard/mustache policy seems to have become a source of fan controversy after Day 1 of camp. To be clear, the team is not going back to the old days and strict rules of totally clean shaven players.
As the media session started Saturday morning, manager Bryan Price seemed aware this issue had become something.
“Should we talk about the beard?” Price said. “I think every year you reinvestigate some time in your policies. We’re going to spend some time with our core group of more established players and really talk about what we feel is important, not just from my perspective but from a team and organizational perspective. I don’t think you’re going to be terribly successful if you sit there and turn back the clock on the clubhouse too far. I believe in our initial policy that facial hair is fine but just keep it under control.”
Price said that owner/CEO Bob Castellini did not ask him to make this an enforced rule. Some players last season, including J.J. Hoover, Sam LeCure and Logan Ondrusek had burly beards that have become a facial hair fad in the Majors (think the Red Sox).
I talked to a couple of players and neither were upset by the enforcement of the rule.
Longer hair — like Johnny Cueto’s and what Bronson Arroyo had when he was with the team, is still permitted.
Someone asked the most important question about this issue — is Corky Miller’s mustache safe?
“Corky is going to be just fine,” Price said.
More blog, news and notes later after the workout. The players are taking the field soon.
It’s been a busy first day of Reds Spring Training and it was just the first workout of Reds pitchers and catchers. Click here for my story of camp on MLB.com.
Some of the other highlights:
*Johnny Cueto will be shortening his delivery at the request of manager Bryan Price. Cueto was told to cut down on the Luis Tiant twisting. It was much about being able to repeat his mechanics as to lessen risk of re-injuring his lat muscle.
*Both Jonathan Broxton (forearm surgery) and Sean Marshall (shoulder tendinitis) reported a smooth offseason of rehab and throwing programs. Marshall has had a couple of bullpen sessions and will have one on Saturday. Broxton is slated to work off of a mound for the first time next week. Broxton’s Opening Day status is not yet known.
*More on Cueto, Broxton and Marshall will be in the Reds notebook on MLB.com/Reds.com.
*Talks with Homer Bailey about a multi-year contract continue. His arbitration hearing is slated for Thursday.
“We are still negotiating,” Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. “We’ve got a week to get something resolved. He and I are still talking, that’s always a good sign.”
*LHP Tony Cingrani, who missed time last season with back trouble, says he’s doing fine. He believes his issues are behind him.
“It should be good to go,” Cingrani said. “I just made everything was strong with it. I added more stuff to my routines.”
*As part of his team meeting, Price let players know there was a new facial hair policy. Beards and mustaches are still allowed, but they have to be kept well-groomed. I will talk to players like J.J. Hoover on Saturday to see what they think. I heard about this after the workout ended.
*1B/3B prospect Neftali Soto wants to add catching to his resume. Soto will be in camp as a catcher, but missed the first day because his flight out of the east coast was canceled by bad weather.
“He’s caught in the past,” Jocketty said. “He wanted to come to camp and work on that to further his chances of helping out one day. It’s really an opportunity for him to come in and catch the bullpens and do some things like that. He’d be more of an emergency-type guy.”
Finally, some pictures:
Reds Spring Training is off to a tough start already. Starting pitcher Mat Latos had knee surgery on Friday to repair a tear in the meniscus of his left knee.
The surgery was performed in Goodyear by team medical director Dr. Timothy Kremchek. Latos is expected to return to his throwing program in 10 days.
Latos was injured a couple of days ago when he slipped while throwing. He also had off-season surgery in October to remove four bone chips from his right elbow and was progressing well.
More to come …. Walt Jocketty is talking to reporters soon here at the complex.
Today is the last day before Reds Spring Training starts and I’m making my way to Arizona. I’m currently in Chicago, connecting for a little bit.
*There were a couple of things I didn’t get to on Wednesday. Many readers are wondering about RHP Brett Marshall, who was claimed off of waivers from the Cubs. Marshall was with the Yankees organization until December. Reds GM Walt Jocketty said that Marshall is added depth at the Triple-A level.
“I talked to him and he sounded like a good kid,” Jocketty said. “We had good reports on him. He had one of the best changeups in the Yankees organization. He’s a sinkerballer with a good slider. He’s got a couple of [Minor League] options left.
*Marshall was assigned No. 41.
*Many fans were dissatisfied about the Reds’ off-season. I can’t argue your feelings because the team did not address the holes it wanted to fix. But if there was one team that fared worse, it had to be the Pirates. Their winter worsened some more when rotation stabilizer A.J. Burnett decided to not retire or return to Pittsburgh and then agreed to terms on a one-year contract. with the Phillies worth $16 million. Ouch.
I will have something later, perhaps, from the Reds complex in Goodyear –if the rest of the trip is smooth. I never assume smooth, however.
The Reds made another roster move Wednesday just prior to Spring Training. Right-handed pitcher Brett Marshall was claimed off of waivers from the Cubs. To make room on the roster, infielder Henry Rodriguez was designated for assignment.
A starting pitcher in the Minors, Marshall never played for the Cubs, which claimed him off of waivers in December from the Yankees. Chicago needed a spot after it signed pitcher Jason Hammel.
A 23-year-old, Marshall appeared in three games for the Yankees last season and posted a 4.50 ERA in 12 innings. He allowed 13 hits and seven walks with seven strikeouts.
In 25 games, all starts, last season for Triple-A Wilkes Barre-Scranton, Marshall was 7-10 with a 5.12 ERA. In 138 2/3 innings, he allowed 144 hits and 68 walks while striking out 120.
The Reds still have 59 players in camp, but now will have 31 pitchers when they report on Friday.
Rodriguez batted .174 (4-for-23) in 21 games over parts of two seasons with the Reds. He batted .274/.319/.335 with four homers and 41 RBIs last season for Triple-A Louisville.
Earlier today, I had a conversation with former Reds manager Dusty Baker and we got to catch up for a few minutes on the phone. Click here for the story.
Since his dismissal in October, Baker has been traveling a lot and staying busy with numerous enterprises. He also has his home winery in Sacramento. Of course, he’d like to be back in baseball but was not successful in landing a managing job when the other vacancies came open in Detroit, Washington and Seattle. But he’s found other things to do to fill some of the void. This will be only the second time in 21 years he does not have a Spring Training to oversee as a manager.
“Hey, life goes on,” Baker said. “I’m spending time with my son [14-year-old Darren]. It’s been nice watching him play basketball and now he’s getting ready for baseball. I’ve had eight months worth of honey-dos to make up. I’m trying not to think about baseball. It still hurts some. You find other avenues for the time.”
This quote wasn’t in the story, but I also asked Baker if he had been keeping up with the Reds activities, or any their players, this winter.
“Somewhat. You follow the guys and some of the signings,” Baker said. “I’m not glued to the TV watching MLB [Network] like I’d be doing if I were still managing and it was the off-season or during the season. It doesn’t do much good now. You have to go on with your life.”
Since I did something last week when the Reds truck was loaded up in Cincinnati for Spring Training, I may as well make mention that it was unloaded in Goodyear.
In a few days, we will have more tangible Reds topics to discuss because there will be dozens of actual Reds to talk about topics with directly at Spring Training. Pitchers and catchers report on Friday and of course, I will be there.
Naturally with a miserable winter it’s been in Cincinnati, the thoughts of just being warm again supersede almost everything else. One look at the five-day forecast is exciting enough, and there will be baseball too. I’m actually stunned it will be in the high 80s and even touch 90 on Friday. In past years, it’s started off much cooler (50s and 60s) before zooming into the 80s and 90s closer to the end of camp.
*A few days after I get to Goodyear, I hope to update my annual Spring Training dining guide with a few new entries and the removal of some old ones. I’ve gotten good feedback each year from doing it and I hope it’s useful for those who make the trip. I know Florida was the preferred destination for many Reds fans, but has anybody given thought of heading out to Arizona? From year one out there in 2010, I’ve been a huge fan of Spring Training in the Cactus League. I believe if others try it out, they will see what I see.
*My 2014 Spring Training preview is on Reds.com. It provides a quick primer on the team and issues. The reporters for all 30 clubs have previews up as well. Be sure to check them out.
*Jamie Ramsey is an early arrival to Reds camp and he has already posted numerous pictures on his blog.
*In another good piece, Anthony Castrovince tackles the use of advanced stats in baseball, namely in regard to how Joey Votto is evaluated.