With the debate about the 2013 pitching status of closer Aroldis Chapman mercifully put to rest, to the tempest of some, the focus now moves to other positions.
Devin Mesoraco has earned his spot on the 25-man roster, as journeyman catcher Miguel Olivo was offered a retention bonus to start the season with Triple-A Louisville. Mesoraco has had an outstanding spring as he has posted a line of .361/.425/.611 with 2 HR and 11 RBI.
Olivo, 34, struck out 13 times in 36 AB and only batted .167 while trying to make Cincinnati his sixth home in (what would be) 13 years in MLB.
The infield is not so cut-and dried. Emmanuel Burriss, Jason Donald and Cesar Izturis are all battling for a single spot as the backup middle infielder. Although perhaps considered the “odd man out”, Izturis is making it extremely difficult for the Reds’ braintrust. He is leading the entire team in hits this spring collecting 17 while batting an amazing .347/.407/.510, including two hits in the ninth inning yesterday replacing Donald.
Even though he is clearly no spring chicken at 33, Izturis has shown that he still can rake, and everyone who claims to be a Reds’ fan is aware of Dusty Baker‘s propensity for favoring the veteran, whomever he may be.
The rub, as it were, comes in the form of Donald being out of options. That is a number that is not written on a baseball card or appears in a column on Baseball Reference.com. The fact is that Donald is on the 40-man roster and Izturis is at camp as an invitee.
Izturis is clearly leading the trio in numbers, albeit Donald has a higher OBP than the others. Donald’s resume shows a little more flexibility in that he has also played a few dozen games in all three outfield positions. That leads me to my next point.
Most, myself included, have conceded that Xavier Paul will make the 25-man roster as the fifth outfielder. With the exception of two home runs, he is not having as good a spring with the bat that Donald is. What to do. Well, the Reds could use only four outfielders since Chris Heisey will probably play whenever any of the starters need a break.
If a fifth outfielder were needed, Donald should be able to scrape by in a pinch. This of course would send Paul to Louisville, unless he is out of options as well, which I think he is not.
To say that Burriss, Donald or Paul has earned a spot over Izturis would have to be deemed disingenuous. With everything else (options, etc) being equal, the best choice would be Izturis and Donald to stay, and Paul be sent down.
What are your thoughts?
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