The Reds kicked off Cactus League action today against the Cleveland Indians. The Reds will play six exhibition games, this Spring, against their Goodyear, Arizona neighbors. There were 6,340 spectators at Goodyear Ballpark, today, to enjoy the Arizona sunshine. The Reds and Indians will face off again Sunday and Monday.
Mike Leake started the game for the Reds. “Mike Leake is looking great,” said Dusty Baker during his pregame visit with Marty Brennaman. Normally, the Reds run their presumed Opening Day starter out to the mound for the Spring opener. I think everyone expects Johnny Cueto or Matt Latos will start Opening Day. Perhaps Dusty is simply breaking with tradition. Or, he’s seen something that would indicate Leake has a shot at starting Opening Day. John Fayman speculated on Twitter that the rotation will be Cueto, Latos, Arroyo, Leake, and Bailey. Time will tell………..
Ken Rosenthal reported that Sean Marshall’s contract contains financial incentives for games started and games finished. Marshall is expected to be the lefthanded setup man, however, he is capable of starting should lefthanded starters Jeff Francis and/or Aroldis Chapman fail to emerge this Spring. “Given the Reds’ defense and offense, Jeff Francis could easily win 12-15 games this season,” said Baseball America’s Tracy Ringolsby. Francis is a strike-thrower who induced more ground balls (47%) than fly balls (35%) for Kansas City in 2011. “Things can happen in spring. I’ve been to enough camps to know to not expect anything. I’ll just go out and do my job and see what happens,” said Francis.
Homer Bailey picked up eighteen pounds in the offseason. Jeff Brantley indicated that Bailey worked hard, this Winter, to strengthen his upper body, especially his back. “We’re looking for big things out of Homer Bailey,” said Dusty Baker. Bailey is slated to start tomorrow’s game. Aroldis Chapman will also get work in tomorrow’s matchup against the Indians.
Joel Zumaya, Scott Sizemore, and A.J. Burnett have already suffered serious injuries in Spring Training. If you recall, Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey started 2011 on the DL for the Reds. Fortunately, the Reds are relatively healthy so far this Spring. Juan Francisco is nursing a calf injury. Bill Bray has a sore groin. Otherwise, the Reds are healthy. Following his shoulder surgery, Scott Rolen “has more range of motion than he’s had in years,” said Marty Brennaman.
Ryan Ludwick batted cleanup between lefthanders Joey Votto and Jay Bruce today. Marty Brennaman and Jeff Brantley both expect Ludwick to rejuvenate his career in Great American Ballpark. Ludwick spent time in San Diego (101 gms) and Pittsburgh (38 gms) last season. As Dan Wade of Rotographs points out in his piece, Ludwick Returns to the Land of The Powerful, GAB has a 133 HR park factor for righthanded hitters. San Diego and Pittsburgh have HR park factors of 95 and 73, respectively.
Neftali Soto hit a long homerun to tie the game in the fifth inning for the Reds. He also made a nifty play at first base. Soto is the Reds’ eighth best prospect, according to Baseball America. Soto, 23, hit 21 homeruns for Lynchburg (HiA) in 2010. He hit 30 homeruns in 102 games for Carolina (AA) in 2011. Soto, a Puerto Rico native, was a third round draft pick in 2007. As Marty Brennaman mentioned during the broadcast, Soto would be a possibility to become the Reds firstbaseman if they do not resign Joey Votto. Soto was added to the 40-man roster in November. He will likely spend 2012 at AAA Louisville.
Leake worked two innings today, giving up two runs (one earned) on four hits. Ron Mahay, Nick Masset, Logan Ondrusek, Jose Arredondo, Jordan Smith, Clay Zavada, and Kanekoa Texiera each worked an inning. Chris Heisey and Jay Bruce each turned in outfield assists. Drew Stubbs and Scott Rolen produced a pair of hits. Brandon Phillips and Paul Janish made errors.
Todd Frazier hit a solo homerun in the ninth to tie the game. The game was called at the end of nine innings, despite the tie score.
Chris Welsh showed up to the ballpark with his goatee dyed red. “It was so weak,” said Marty Brennaman.
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Topics: Aroldis Chapman, Chris Heisey, Chris Welsh, Clay Zavada, Dan Wade, Dusty Baker, Homer Bailey, Jeff Brantley, Jeff Francis, Joey Votto, John Fayman, Jordan Smith, Jose Arredondo, Ken Rosenthal, Marty Brennaman, Mike Leake, Neftali Soto, Ron Mahay, Ryan Ludwick, Scott Rolen, Sean Marshall, Tracy Ringolsby