Cincinnati Reds Take Spring Opener From Cleveland Indians, 6-5

Mar 1, 2016; Goodyear, AZ, USA; Cincinnati Reds players and coaches look on before facing the Cleveland Indians at Goodyear Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 1, 2016; Goodyear, AZ, USA; Cincinnati Reds players and coaches look on before facing the Cleveland Indians at Goodyear Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

At long last, actual baseball is being played again, and for the Cincinnati Reds, the spring schedule began on a positive note.

After a nearly five-month hiatus, the Reds returned to the baseball field in fine fashion on Tuesday afternoon, defeating the Cleveland Indians, 6-5, under the sun in Goodyear, Arizona. It was our first chance to get a look at the 2016 squad, including a plethora of new players, so here are some observations from the spring-training opener.

Schebler steals the show

The star of the game was undeniably newcomer Scott Schebler, who the Reds acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Todd Frazier trade. After entering the game in the sixth inning, the 25-year-old made his presence immediately known, blasting a solo home run to the opposite field on the second pitch he saw in a Cincinnati uniform. He would walk in his other plate appearance. In the eighth inning, Schebler bailed out Reds pitcher A.J. Morris by making a leaping catch in front of the left-field wall with two outs and the bases loaded. Had the ball dropped, it would’ve been certain extra bases and allowed the Indians to take the lead.

The left-field competition is far from over, but Schebler certainly showed everyone a little glimpse of what he can do.

Suarez, Votto could make formidable 2-3 punch

While we have no idea what the Opening Day lineup will look like, the Reds’ first spring game showed that Eugenio Suarez and Joey Votto might make a dynamic duo in the second and third spots in the order. Suarez showed more of the offensive talent he displayed in his first season with the Reds, smacking two doubles and driving in a pair of runs, while Votto had a pair of singles and a walk. There are plenty of candidates to bat second in the lineup (Suarez, Brandon Phillips, Zack Cozart and even Votto), but this particular combination has to be an intriguing one for manager Bryan Price.

Rule 5 selections have impressive introductions

For the first time in eight years, the Reds made a pick in the major-league portion of the Rule 5 draft in December, selecting a pair of players in outfielder Jake Cave and lefty reliever Chris O’Grady. Both made their debut against the Indians and both acclimated themselves to their new club quite well. Cave got the starting nod in center field and batted leadoff, notching a pair of singles and scoring in three at-bats, while O’Grady picked up two strikeouts in a perfect sixth inning. Both players are required to spend the entire 2016 season with the Reds or they must be returned to their former teams (the Yankees for Cave and the Angels for O’Grady).

Next: A look at the Reds' potential bullpen x-factors

Two starting-rotation candidates get work

Jon Moscot got the start for the Reds and threw the ball well, allowing one run and two hits, while striking out one, in his two innings of work. His lone mistake came to Carlos Santana, who took him deep in the second inning. Brandon Finnegan took over for Moscot in the third inning and had a rougher time of things, though he did not allow a run in his lone inning on the mound. A single, an error by shortstop Ivan De Jesus Jr. and a hit batsman loaded the bases, but Finnegan escaped the jam by inducing a double play.

With the injuries to Homer Bailey and John Lamb, both guys have an inside track to the starting rotation and neither did anything to hurt their case on Tuesday.