Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Reds Fall to A's, 8-4

For the second day running, a minor league ballfield outshone the boys in red, as many were much more concerned with the health of Johnny Cueto.

The big league squad fell by a score of 8-4 at the hands of the Oakland Athletics, but it’s safe to say that we’ve all moved past the point of caring about wins and losses; if you even ever did. 

Offensive Side of the Diamond:

As last-ditch efforts are made by many to make the club, those in contention are virtually set in stone.  The real challenge at this point becomes avoiding injuries, and the Reds have found out the hard way, that is not always a simplistic task. 

Continuing his power surge, Brandon Phillips muscled up once again for his fifth home run of the spring, seemingly heating up at the right time.  For as much as Phillips has been maligned in these past five months, he could be do for his best single-season performance yet. 

The vastness of Billy Hamilton’s abilities continue to surprise.  While he did go 0-for-3, his stat line did not tell the whole story.  (Does it ever?)  In both the third and fourth inning, the speedster known for keeping the ball on the ground and utilizing his legs (Willie Mays Hayes style), knocked two sacrifice flies into the outfield, giving the Reds their final runs of the game.  Off on his California garden, Dusty Baker is smiling sinisterly.

You know it’s a positive afternoon when you can collect a hit in only three tries and watch your average drop; which is exactly what Roger Bernadina did.  With just a few days remaining until the 25-man Opening Day roster is announced, hedging your bets in his camp is as safe as they come.  Hitting to the tune of a monstrous slash line (.425/.540/.800), Bernadina has all but guaranteed himself a spot on a roster, just a few months after being dumped by the Philadelphia Phillies.

Reds’ Toeing the Rubber:

For the actual Cincinnati Reds, it was Jeff Francis toeing the slab, but where all eyes were diverted, was to Johnny Cueto at his minor league outing. 

The Oakland A’s certainly weren’t opposed to facing Francis this afternoon as they unleashed line drives all over the diamond, tagging him for five runs in just four innings of work.  Once thought of as extra pitching depth, Francis may have proven this spring that his bloated ERA was not in fact just a product of Coors Field.

It may have finally struck midnight on Trevor Bell’s spring Cinderella story as he not only allowed his first run of the spring, but as the season approaches, it appear less likely he will be added to the 40-man roster in favor of one of the younger prospects.  The home run that Josh Reddick clubbed in the bottom of the fifth has been the only run he has allowed this spring, “raising” his ERA to 1.04. 

Both Manny Parra and Logan Ondrusek seemed in fine form, as both went for scoreless innings of relief, but sandwiched in between them was the beatdown of Sam LeCure.  Incurring three hits in the inning, two of which scored runs, LeCure saw his ERA continue to hover higher and higher at 6.75.  No matter his ERA in exhibition games, LeCure will be an indispensable cog in the back end of the Reds bullpen.  Plus, you can’t go wrong with that ‘stache. 

If fright about the possibility of Mike Leake or Tony Cingrani pitching on Opening Day has not already gripped you, it may be time.  Mat Latos and Homer Bailey certainly won’t be up to the task, and after Johnny Cueto’s start, Bryan Price said, “he’ll definitely be on the Opening Day roster.”  Which, in theory, sounds like progress.  Cueto, on the other hand, wants the ball.  Just five days out from the St. Louis Cardinals, manager and ace seem to be on opposite sides of the fence.

In the long run, it’s one game of 162.  Although, fans did spend about 50x more money on this one particular game.  No matter if it’s Cueto, Leake, Cingrani, Marshall or Simon, the Reds will have 161 more to play after that.

* * *

With one last opportunity to prove his worth for a Major League start, Brett Marshall takes the hill tomorrow at 4:05 PM against the Chicago White Sox.  The White Sox folk will have the game broadcasted on their television network, so if you subscribe to MLB.tv, feel free to tune in.

Tags: Cincinnati Reds

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