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.”

3/22: Reds at Cubs

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Schumaker dislocates shoulder

More bad news for the Reds. Utility player Skip Schumaker suffered a dislocated left shoulder during Friday’s game vs. the Royals. As the left fielder, Schumaker was diving for a ball in the seventh inning and did not get up. He said his glove caught on the grass and got stuck as his body kept moving.

Schumaker was relieved the injury test results weren’t worse.

“Hopefully I will rehab it and be out a month or so, maybe less, and go from there,” Schumaker said. “It is a pretty clean dislocation. The MRI was a positive thing. It wasn’t like the Ludwick situation, which was my fear. We’ll just rehab it and see where it goes.”

Trainer Paul Lessard was able to pop Schumaker’s shoulder back into place right after he came off of the field to give him so relief from the pain.

More to come later on MLB.com.

Roster considerations difficult

Injuries, injuries and more injuries. They have certainly stacked up on the Reds this spring. Several players going down, especially on the pitching staff, has been frustrating for the team. It has also thrown a lot of uncertainty over who might go north on the 25-man roster.

“People are realizing that there’s a chance we could have some guys start the season on the DL and there are openings on this club,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “Some guys jump through that window of opportunity and others kind of fight against it, knowing there is opportunity. It’s going to be a real interesting last week, I can tell you that.”

Let’s take a look at the situation with less than a week before camp breaks.

Roster locks:

Catchers (2): Devin Mesoraco, Brayan Pena
Infield: (4) Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Todd Frazier, Zack Cozart
Outfield: (5) Jay Bruce, Billy Hamilton, Ryan Ludwick, Chris Heisey, Skip Schumaker

Starting pitchers (5): Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey, Mike Leake, Tony Cingrani, Alfredo Simon
Bullpen (4): Sam LeCure, J.J. Hoover, Manny Parra, Logan Ondrusek

Disabled list (most likely): Mat Latos, Aroldis Chapman, Jonathan Broxton, Sean Marshall, Jack Hannahan

On the bubble:

In the bullpen, Nick Christiani has pitched well and seems likely to earn a spot. Pedro Beato has pitched well also. Both are on the 40-man roster. If Jumbo Diaz and/or Trevor Bell make the team, openings on the 40-man roster would have to be created. Brett Marshall, who has been starting this spring, could be a fit as a long reliever if needed. He is also on the 40-man roster already.

For the backup infield spots, it’s down to Chris Nelson, Ramon Santiago, Neftali Soto and Kristopher Negron. Only Soto is on the 40-man roster. For any of the other three make the team, room must be made.

In the outfield, Roger Bernadina has had a strong showing but the club already has five outfielders and Bernadina is also a non-roster guy that would have to be added to the 40-man. He has a March 28 out-clause in his contract, if he won’t be on the 25-man roster.

I expect the team will go north with 13 position players and 12 pitchers.

Finding room on the 40-man roster for any new additions is going to be really, really difficult. It is highly unlikely that pitchers Carlos Contreras, Daniel Corcino, Ismael Guillon, David Holmberg or Chad Rogers would be designated for assignment. All are prospects to the club and for example, Rogers just pitched well in the Arizona Fall League — which makes it even more unlikely.

Among position players the club likely wouldn’t part with are Tucker Barnhart, Juan Duran, Donald Lutz or Yorman Rodriguez.

The two names on the 40-man I haven’t mentioned yet are RHP Curtis Partch and OF Ryan LaMarre. I’m not sure what would happen with them. Both were sent down in earlier cuts.

Putting someone on the 60-day DL would clear 40-man roster space but there are no clear-cut candidates that would need two months before being healthy.

Then there are uncertainties — Bailey and Cueto are still dealing with injuries. Schumaker hurt his left shoulder in today’s 9-3 win over the Royals. Mesoraco has an oblique strain. If non-roster catcher Corky Miller made the team as a result, that’s yet another 40-man roster spot that would need to open.

Click here to look at the 40-man roster.

Chapman posts pics from hosptial

There are photos from Aroldis Chapman’s Instagram account. They are from the hospital.

Click here to see them. One of them is rather graphic, however, but really says a lot about what’s been through.>

Four pitchers likely to start on DL

Injury news galore at Reds camp on Friday. I will have more on MLB.com/Reds.com later, but here’s a quick update…

It looking like four pitchers — Aroldis Chapman (fracture above left eye), Jonathan Broxton (right forearm), Sean Marshall (left shoulder) and Mat Latos (left knee) — are likely to begin the season on the disabled list.

“It’s quite possible. That’s very realistic,” manager Bryan Price said.

There could be a fifth pitcher as well. Homer Bailey has been bothered by a right groin strain. Bailey has a bullpen session this morning.

“Today is a pretty big day,” Price said of Bailey’s upcoming bullpen session. “We’d like him to pitch on Sunday. If he can pitch on Sunday, then he could come back and pitch again on Friday. Then he’s lined up for the season. He should be able to get his innings and his number of pitches to be ready to go.”

*As for the closer situation, Price was not ready to name someone. It could be one person or a committee situation. Will have much more on that in a story today.

*Price was feeling positive after Chapman had surgery to repair his fracture on Thursday evening. Chapman can begin working out and throwing in 10-14 days and could pitch in game conditions in 4-6 weeks.

“It certainly is better than expected,” Price said. “You always fear the worst case scenario in that situation. It was a very traumatic experience for Aroldis and the rest of us. We’re happy that our doctors are so optimistic the surgery went well and he should be back on the field relatively quickly considering.”

*Latos is scheduled to pitch three innings in a Minor League game on Monday. Price would like him to get five starts in spring before he can begin the regular season.

*Catcher Devin Mesoraco has been out a couple of days with a strained left oblique. The severity isn’t entirely known but he’s been told to rest a couple of days.

*Marshall threw in the bullpen on Thursday and his shoulder felt good.

*Broxton is slated to throw an inning today vs. the Royals.

3/21 Reds vs. Royals

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Good day for Reds’ bullpen

It was an extra-inning win for the Reds on Thursday. They beat the Rangers, 5-4, in the bottom of the 10th on a walk-off bases loaded walk from Joey Votto. More on MLB.com/Reds.com, as usual.

Items of note:

*Sam LeCure gave up a Prince Fielder home run in the sixth inning but it was an otherwise banner day for the bullpen. Manny Parra, Logan Ondrusek and Nick Christiani combined for four scoreless and one hit allowed.

“The bullpen came in and did a real nice job,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “We know there are some opportunities in our bullpen right now. It was nice to see Christiani come in and throw two nice innings there.”

*Working for the first time in five days, J.J. Hoover pitched a perfect seventh with one strikeout. Price said there was no issue with Hoover having been idle. There was the off day on Tuesday and of course, Wednesday’s game was not completed. Hoover was working on some pitches vs. Texas.

“He’s good. He’s trying to get locked in,” Price said. “He was trying to throw a couple of curveballs for strikes right there. That’s kind of been the pitch that’s been giving him the most trouble this spring. He cracked off a few sliders. He started last year throwing that slider and it just wasn’t a great pitch the first part of the season so he stopped throwing it. He’s worked on it a lot this spring and it’s gotten better but the curveball kind of went away for while and today it was back.”

*For the first time, position players played the whole game — including Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Ramon Santiago and Chris Heisey. That’s part of the plan going forward.

“We’re starting to integrate to the nine-inning full game for some of the position players. Depending on how many games I have them playing in a row, we’ll incrementally build up some guys,” Price said.

*Catching up from Wednesday’s game, it wasn’t a good game vs. the Royals for Alfredo Simon before the Chapman injury. Simon gave up five runs (three earned) with eight hits over five innings with three walks and three strikeouts. In five starts, he has a 4.42 ERA as he tries to get a rotation spot in case one of the regular starters isn’t ready for the season.

“He’s thrown the ball really well. There’s been other times where he’s been erratic,” Price said. “He’s had two games where he’s been erratic with his command. I didn’t feel yesterday he had an off-speed pitch to go to. He wasn’t able to drop his curveball like he usually is. For a starter, it becomes challenging because they have a very good hitting lineup. If you don’t have a way to pitch backwards or a soft pitch to throw every now and again in a fastball count, that’s what they do. When he’s locked in with that sinker-cutter, he can do it.”

*In today’s Reds notebook, I wrote about how the club tried to move on today from what happened to Aroldis Chapman. Also there is news on Johnny Cueto being scratched from his start. Click here to read.

*Click here for today’s main news story on Chapman.

*Many teams were likely wincing at the video of Chapman being hit in the face by a line drive on Wednesday night. Courtesy of Cubs MLB.com writer, Carrie Muskat, some reaction from that clubhouse:

“You don’t really think about it,” Cubs pitcher James McDonald said. “When you see it, you’re like, ‘Oh, that could be anybody.’ when you see it, it turns your stomach a little bit. You don’t wish that on anybody because you don’t know how it could affect them afterword.”

Cubs pitcher Arrieta recalled being hit in the face when he was in high school, taking a fastball off the orbital bone on the left side of his face but he was batting.

“We realize we’re 60 feet from that hitter who can generate a lot of power,” Arrieta said. “Reacting to something like that is extremely hard to do. It’s a scary situation and something we have to deal with and prepare for as best we can.”

Chapman update; Perez talks

Most of the Aroldis Chapman updates will be on MLB.com but here’s a quick one — he is having surgery this afternoon to repair the fracture above his left eye. Chapman will have a metal plate inserted over the bone as well. Estimated recovery before he can resume pitching is 6-8 weeks.

When asked if Chapman would pitch for the Reds this season, team medical director Dr. Tim Kremchek replied “absolutely.”

“Right now he’s awake, he’s alert and knows what’s going on,” Kremchek said. “The idea is to get that fixed and hopefully within a couple of weeks, he can start exercises and start throwing and hopefully be back in 6-8 weeks with contact. The problem is you don’t want him to get back to contact or pitching too soon because just in case another accident or some type of collision happens or a baseball hits him again.”

Several players and people have visited Chapman at the hospital, including Reds catcher Brayan Pena and the batter who hit the ball that struck the pitcher — Salvador Perez.

“He was pretty doing pretty good. I saw him afterward, went to the hospital. I talked to him and there were a lot of players there,” Perez said. “He talked to everybody and knew who every person was. He was doing better.”

More quotes courtesy of my MLB.com colleague, Dick Kaegel.

Terrible feeling?

“For sure, I feel terrible. I didn’t want to hit anybody. It’s part of the game but I just felt real bad when that happened last night.”

You feeling better about it now?

“I feel a little bit better. He got an inflammation right there where the ball hit but I think that’s part of it so I think he’s going to be better.”

3/20 Reds vs. Rangers

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