Results tagged ‘ Zack Cozart ’

Surprise!

It was my first time to the Arizona city of Surprise today and the drive up Rt. 303 from Goodyear was basically this: farm, farm, traffic light, prison, farm, farm, traffic light, farm, Surprise. The mountains were in the vista throughout.

On the sign welcoming visitors to the city limits, it said Surprise was founded in 1960. I found that particularly interesting since back in Ohio and especially in my original home state of New York, you don’t see many towns founded after the 1800s.

The 20-plus minute drive was a bountiful one for the Reds, which notched a 5-2 win over the Royals.

Some notes:

*Travis Wood was pleased with his outing — 3 ip, 5 H, 2 ER (on Billy Butler’s two-run homer), 2 BB, 2 K.

“I felt good. My pitches were working pretty well,” Wood said. “[Butler] was able to drop the head down on an inside pitch and put up two for them.”

*As has been chronicled in the past, Wood is an off-season workout partner of All-Star lefty Cliff Lee. They live five minutes apart in Arkansas. Someone asked Wood about the idea of facing Lee with the Phillies this season.

“I would absolutely love that,” Wood replied.

*Sam LeCure looked rather solid himself with two hits and four strikeouts over two scoreless innings.

*Dontrelle Willis probably had the most impressive pitching outing of the day with two scoreless innings and three strikeouts. Willis was a nimple fielder as well. In his second inning of work, he made nice play retrieving Manny Pina’s grounder towards third base.

“We were yelling, ‘let that one go foul’ and after he picked it up and threw it, said ‘oh yeah, great play,'” manager Dusty Baker said.

Willis also covered first base nicely to get an out on a bunt play to the right side.

“He’s an athlete. I didn’t think he had a chance on that bunt,” Baker said.

*Over at the ‘B’ game this morning vs. the Indians in Goodyear, the Reds lost 7-6. Dave Sappelt had another good game by going 2-for-3 with a double. In ‘A’ games, he’s batting .533 (8-for-15).

“He can hit. He hit last year,” Baker said. “There’s more to being ready for the big leagues than hitting. Not to slight the kid at all, he’s doing great. There are a few things he has to work on.”

*Zack Cozart also homered in the ‘B’ game. Several of the Reds top hitters this spring are prospects. That’s no accident, the manager said.

“Like I’ve told you, spring is for the young,” Baker said. “It’s for young hitters, off-speed pitchers, winter ball guys and fastball hitters.”

*I talked to Fred Lewis for a Reds beat item before Tuesday’s game. Lewis is not 100 percent satisfied with his performance at the plate and working to get better. He’s been doing some tinkering with his swing, not all to his satisfaction.

“Eventually, I will be where I want to be,” Lewis said. “In the outfield, I’m pretty comfortable with where I’m at. On the offensive side, I’m not happy with it. I’ve figured out that I’m frustrated with what I’m doing. I keep telling myself to go back to square one and do what I was doing before I got here. You can do a lot of stuff in the cages but it only matters what you do on the field.”

And in a late stunner from Brewers camp, Zack Greinke will miss Opening Day with a fractured rib. Greinke suffered the injury last month, playing basketball. He will start the season on the DL. It’s been a tough time for the Reds NL Central rivals. The Cardinals already lost Adam Wainwright (elbow) for the season and their other ace, Chris Carpenter, is bothered by a hamstring injury.

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Sunday afternoon items

The Reds have won four of their last five games now after a convincing 10-1 win over the Cubs on Sunday. Although it was a split-squad roster for Chicago, several of their regulars made the trip over to Goodyear — including Tyler Colvin and Starlin Castro, who played the entire game.

There was plenty to like today if you are a Reds fan. Some of the highlights:

*Johnny Cueto pitched three scoreless innings with one hit, one walk and one strikeout.

*Edgar Renteria had two hits and scored two runs but also did well defensively at second base. He made a nice pick to his left on Carlos Pena’s second-inning groundout.

*Francisco Cordero pitched a perfect fourth inning with two Ks.

*Zack Cozart led off the fifth inning as a pinch-hitter and smacked a homer to left field — his first of spring.

*From two outs in the second inning until the start of the eighth, Reds pitchers retired 16 batters in a row. The Cubs were held to just two hits.

“It was solid all around,” manager Dusty Baker said. “No errors again and good pitching. We had a couple of hits and a couple of walks and some timely hitting.”

Other notes and items:

*My main story of the day will be on Cueto. With a new four-year, $27 million contract, he will have to both stay hungry but not put too much pressure on himself to live up to what he signed for.

“I feel like I’m the same guy,” Cueto said. “I just worry about throwing the ball and doing my job. My mental approach is like I’m looking for a big contract. I’m thinking like I’ve gotten nothing yet. That’s how I feel like.”

*RHP Matt Klinker will start the ‘B’ game that’s been scheduled against the Indians on Tuesday. Klinker is the West Chester native and Lakota West graduate and is going through his first big league camp.

“It’d be an honor to be in a big league camp anywhere, but with my hometown team, it’s just icing on the cake,” Klinker said.

*Baker was asked about all of the prospects the team has and the situation where the organization could have an elite prospect at nearly every position in Triple-A Louisville.

“It’s been like that the last couple of years,” Baker said. “It’s more so this year because it backs up every year. It’s like backing up a dam. You’re going to have more water if you get a rainy season two years in a row or three years in a row. This is what it’s like when you’ve got talent and a good team at the big leagues. It stacks up. Sooner or later, you can’t keep everybody. Eventually you can make trades for what you really need, or want.”

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Friday afternoon notes

Dusty Baker was a rather pleased manager following the Reds’ 3-1 win over the Mariners. Besides winning, there were no walks allowed and no errors committed. In fact, neither side gave up a walk — which is pretty rare in a spring game.

“That was a very clean and well-played game,” Baker said. “Good pitching.”

Other news and notes out of the game today:

*There was a very strong nice outing from Dontrelle Willis today with two perfect innings. Willis was taking something off on a couple of pitches and crossed up some hitters. Of his 24 pitches, 19 were strikes. It was a much better performance than outing No. 1.

“Dontrelle threw strike after strike, especially when he got the 3-2 count on the guy,” Baker said. “You can’t say anything bad today.”

*I spoke with SS Zack Cozart before the game and he’s been having a good camp. After a 2-for-3 game, he is 4-for-10 (.400) over five games. This quote didn’t make it into my Reds beat item on him today.

“This year is a lot different for me,” Cozart said. “It was my first Spring Training. I was happy to be here and in awe of some of the guys. This year, I feel more part of the team. I am on the [40-man] roster. I’m more relaxed. Even Brook Jacoby and Dusty Baker said the same thing. I feel more at home. They can tell in my play out there. I’m not pressing. I’m trying to prove I can play.”

*I also did a pre-game interview for a feature story with OF Chris Heisey, who did not fare as well going 0-for-2 with two strikeouts today. Heisey, like Cozart, is more comfortable being in camp after going through last year. There is more at stake as Heisey is trying to retain his extra outfielder’s job amid competition from Fred Lewis and Jeremy Hemrida.

“I still have to make the team and I still can’t coast through. It is a new season,” Heisey said. “Last year I helped the team off the bench but it’s a new year and we have to win this year. No guarantrees  I need to prove I can be the same guy this year and help the team off the bench and hopefully be that pinch-hitter again.”

*OF Juan Duran is only 19 but cuts an imposing figure at 6-foot-7. Duran was 2-for-2 today and sliced a liner into right field and slid into second base for a double.

“That’s why we’ve got him over here,” Baker said. “We’re letting the young guys play and see what they can do.”

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