In fundamental sense, the Reds are allowing the good times to roll. Physically, things could not be further from positive.
As of this morning, manager Bryan Price announced that the oft injured Sean Marshall and Jonathan Broxton would both be beginning the season on the disabled list. Alongside the expensive back end of the bullpen, Mat Latos was also all but ruled out from pitching the opening week, with Alfredo Simon expected to make the start in his place.
If you’re waiting for some health news that isn’t all that negative, you’ll have to hold on just a bit longer. Both Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey are banged up, yet not expected to miss any regular season starts. Then again, as of last week, it was likely that Mat Latos would not miss any time. Those $120 tickets that you purchased for Opening Day? They may be featuring Tony Cingrani before all is said and done.
This afternoon, the Reds won their seventh of their last eight games, with the only loss coming on Wednesday evening after the cancellation of the game following Aroldis Chapman’s injury. The bats stayed hot as the club bludgeoned Royals’ ace James Shields over his six innings of action, en route to a 9-3 victory on a steamy Arizona Friday afternoon.
Offensive Side of the Diamond:
By the process of selective amnesia, I have neglected to fill you in on the fact that Chris Heisey has indeed returned to earth with his batting average. Of course, I bring this up in lieu of the fact that he might have sparked some of that flame again, MLB Slugfest style. (Those of you not from the video game era, MLB Slugfest was arcade baseball at its finest. Once a particular player got hot, his body actually burst into flames, as he was literally “on fire,” making him damn near impossible to stop.)
Roping a triple to center in the second was just the beginning; as he also went on to hammer his sixth home run of the spring in the bottom of the sixth to further his case for the imaginary Cactus League MVP. His 2-for-3 afternoon spiked his batting average back up to .356.
With the Arizona sun beaming down, Heisey was not the lone member of the Reds to connect on a round tripper this afternoon. Joining in on the fun was Kristopher Negron, who does not possess the most prototypical home run hitter traits, but he certainly ran into his two-run shot in the bottom of the second that propelled the Reds ahead 3-0.
Joining them was now likely roster member, Neftali Soto. With the club ahead by three in the bottom of the eighth, it was the proverbial “icing on the cake,” as Soto rocked a three-run homer to put the Reds up by a score of 9-3, which served as the final. Even with the home run, his average dropped to .385, showing off the impressive spring he has already had. Also of note was the fact that he played the entire game down at third base. The man once (and still kind of is) road blocked by Joey Votto down at first, showed his versatility and his likelihood of beginning the season as the Reds backup third baseman.
Driving in a run and staying red hot in his own right was the crafty veteran, Skip Schumaker. Unfortunately, it does not seem as if he will continue to be as he left the game early with what appeared to be a shoulder injury. With the way the injury bug has bitten the Reds, it may be worthwhile to sit on the sidelines and wait for Opening Day, as the omen of the moment does not bode well ahead of what should be a promising 2014.
Reds’ Toeing the Rubber:
Continuing his uber-impressive spring session was Brett Marshall, who now puts himself in the running for a potential long relief shot come March 31. Going for four innings and only allowing two hits and two earned runs to go along with his four strikeouts, Marshall improved his record to 3-0 with a 2.08 ERA thus far.
Only three hits were surrendered by the bullpen for the duration of the game, and the one run to slither across was unearned due to Neftali Soto’s error down at third.
In order, the appearances were from: Jonathan Broxton, J.J. Hoover, Pedro Beato, Jumbo Diaz and Trevor Bell.
It does seem curious that although Broxton is pitching in Spring Training games, he is still slated to be placed on the disabled list in just a week’s time.
The latter three men to appear (Beato, Diaz and Bell) all can make their individuals cases for why they should be making the club. Beato possesses the most Major League experience and has the ability to work multiple innings. Diaz has the type of velocity that can attempt to mirror that of the injured “Cuban Missile” in Aroldis Chapman’s absence. Bell on the other hand, has yet to allow a run of any kind in his 6.2 innings of work while posting nearly unhittable numbers of a .130 opponent batting average and a .75 WHIP (Walks/Hits per Inning Pitched).
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Should you find the strength to peel yourself away from the Madness of March that college basketball has created, you can tune to the Cubs broadcast of the game that is slated to begin at 4:05 PM tomorrow afternoon. Tony Cingrani gets the ball for the Reds as they take on Edwin Jackson of the Cubs, in what will be an exhibition contest, unlike the two games to be played by the Dodgers and Diamondbacks later today. The regular season is that close, folks. As of tomorrow, it is single digits until the greatest unofficial national holiday of them all.