For the first time all spring, more eyes may have been glued to the minor league fields, opposed to those suiting up at Goodyear Ballpark. With Homer Bailey, Mat Latos and Jonathan Broxton all pitching in “rehab” stints, fans held their breath and kept their ears open as to what had occurred.
Chances are that this was the first time you had a chance to take a glimpse at the 2014 version of the Reds. Not everyone is privileged enough to have access to the MLB Network, nor MLB.tv. Listening to Thom Brennaman and Chris Welsh call the game was undoubtedly sweet music to many longing ears, as their chatter signifies that baseball is finally upon us—never mind that the team took in a 8-3 defeat.
Offensive Side of the Diamond:
Running out a lineup that could ultimately mirror the one that will take the field in exactly a weeks’ time for Opening Day (minus Chris Heisey starting over Billy Hamilton), Bryan Price watched on as his team clubbed out eleven hits on the day.
On two separate occasions, the middle of the Reds order pounded out three consecutive hits to the tune of runners bounding for home. In both the fourth and sixth innings, Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Ryan Ludwick went for hits, as they all finished the day with multi-hit affairs. Finding their stride right before the team is ready to break camp and head north is as big of a story as any.
Going one-for-one in pinch-hit appearances this afternoon were the three men who may find themselves on the Reds Opening Day due to injuries. Roger Bernadina, Neftali Soto, and Ramon Santiago, all lashed themselves a single in their only at-bats.
Without over-hyping a meaningless spring game, the combination of Chris Heisey, Brandon Phillips, Todd Frazier, and Brayan Pena went a miserable 0-for-17 with six strikeouts on the afternoon. With all the men mentioned above expected to be key contributors, the Reds must hope that the offense does not begin to live and die by the bats of their two key lefthanders.
Reds’ Toeing the Rubber:
Since Alfredo Simon was the only Major Leaguer to appear during the game, we also get the opportunity to focus on those that pitched at the lower throngs.
As far as Simon is concerned, an interesting point was brought up on the broadcast. Where is he more valuable? He may only make one start in Mat Latos’ absence, but with the bullpen losing its three back-end members; maybe his role would be better suited there, where he can affect two or three games. Brett Marshall has been throwing the ball phenomenally and may make the better choice to start just one single game, as Simon can still have influence from the ‘pen.
The quirkiness of baseball never fails to astound me. Don’t get me wrong—I understand some pitchers being farther behind schedule than others, but if they are pitching in a game, they are seemingly healthy enough. Which is why Mat Latos and Jonathan Broxton pitching today, but entering the disabled list in a week, baffles me. Of course, the talent of hitter they are attempting to get out is drastically different, but it’s not as if they are impaired from completing the task of throwing a baseball.
All three men threw the ball well, with strong velocity in their outings. Homer is the only one expected to appear on the original home stand against the St. Louis Cardinals. Barring any setbacks, he is scheduled to take the ball on April 3, which is the conclusion of that three-game set. After processing that knowledge, the question begs to be; who gets the ball on the second day?
Presumably, Johnny Cueto will be getting the ball on Opening Day, barring a freak accident. From there, it seems either Mike Leake or Tony Cingrani will be slated to pitch Opening Night against the National League Central’s hardest-hitting bunch.
* * *
In the present, hope you enjoyed the Fox Sports Ohio coverage while it lasted, as the club goes back to the radio and the mercy of other media outlets. Tomorrow, they can be heard on WLW at 4:05 as Jeff Francis takes the ball against the Oakland Athletics.
Tags: Cincinnati Reds