Spring Training Week 1: Sappelt's Show?

If these trends continue, Dave Sappelt will be the first player since probably Ramon Herndandez to hit the sacred .400 mark in spring training.

Ed. note: Someone on this blog, not me, came up with the Chapelle pun and deserves the credit.

With only a week in the books - and less roster uncertainty than in past seasons - it's hard to pick up many spring training subplots and call them headline news. The first week of spring training is not unlike the first week back at college (or every week, depending on where you matriculated): there isn't a lot of homework, so everyone's just enjoying catching up with friends they haven't seen in months, while trying out some weird scheduling experiments. Just as I didn't like that Cultural Anthropology of Micronesian Music class, Edgar Renteria couldn't really get into playing third base.

No news is generally good news right now, telling us there have been no catastrophic injuries or cockamamie ideas like trying Cordero in the rotation. Still, if you're looking for something to hang your Reds hat on as the leading storyline so far, it might as well be Dave Sappelt.  He's played in 6 of 8 spring games (counting the split squad day as 1 game), logging the second-most at bats of any position player so far this spring . Anything can happen in 13 ABs, including the seldom-witnessed .462/.462/.692 line Sappelt put up this week. (Ch(K)rises Negron and Denove are the only two players that walked more than once). Statlines this week are mostly noise, but nonetheless fun. In the case of Sappelt, it seems at least a vote of confidence that Dusty has given him this much exposure. 

It should also be mentioned that Yonder Alonso, Zach Cozart, Chris Valaika and Devin Mesoraco have been similarly torrid at the plate this week, but I'll give the spotlight to Sappelt, as he has the most potential to be a riser this season at his position. The 5th OF/LF/back-up CF opening has less blockage than arguably any field position on the roster, save for short stop. So Zach Cozart deserves a little press too. The difference is that he wasn't the organizational standout Sappelt was in 2010.

There's plenty more spring to be sprung and a handful of important decisions not to make rashly.

This week's findings:

  • With the exception of Edinson Volquez (who hasn't pitched, but resolved his visa issue and should be in the mix starting next week) the Big 6 starters have done well, combining for only 4 ER in 13 IP and only 2 BB. No one is going to swoop in and steal a spot from the Six - and I'll be pretty surprised if Travis Wood isn't in the rotation on Opening Day. We haven't learned much about who will occupy the final two spots in the rotation - and we likely won't learn much until the very end of Spring. 
  • The competition is stiff (including Smith, Willis, LeCure, Thompson and possibly Leake) but I think Matt Maloney and Jared Burton have the best cases to grab the last bullpen spot. Or possibly the last two, if Ondrusek is cut. They've bolstered their resume by pitching better than anyone with multiple appearances thus far. 
  • We've learned that Jonny Gomes is probably going to be the primary starter in LF, regardless of match-ups. It seems likely that we'll be seeing him out there most of the time during the early stages of the season, but this is still evolving. Despite the fact that Dusty hasn't given Lewis much mention in either the LF or leadoff picture, he also hasn't observed him up close for very long.
  • Unless Phillips is injured, Edgar Renteria is going to be primarily a SS and PH. The breakdown in playing time between he and Janish is still very much up in the air.
  • Jay Bruce is being considered for the lead-off spot, but both last season and early spring lineups suggests were going to see a lot Stubbs, Phillips and some Renteria in the first two spots in the order. Could be worse.
  • Juan Duran's height is somewhere between 6'5" and 8'13"

Game Results (6-3 record):

  • Feb. 27: 7-6 W @ CLE
  • Feb. 28: 0-12 L vs. CLE
  • Mar. 1: 1-2 L @. LAD, 7-6 W @ OAK
  • Mar. 2: 7-6 W vs. CWS
  • Mar. 3: 3-1 W vs LAD
  • Mar. 4: 3-1 W @ SEA
  • Mar. 5: 0-2 L @ LAD
  • Mar. 6: 10-0 W vs. CHI

Top Performers (10 AB and 4 IP cutoffs so that half of roster does not appear below):

  • Dave Sappelt: 6-13, 1 HR, 3 RBI, SB
  • Chris Valaika: 5-13, 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI
  • Yonder Alosno: 5-12, 1 HR, 2 RBI
  • Edgar Renteria: 5-12
  • Zach Cozart: 5-11, 1 HR, 2 RBI
  • Jeremy Hermida: 4-10, 1 HR, 2 RBI
  • Matt Maloney: 5 IP, 1 ER, 5 K, 0 BB
  • Jared Burton: 4 IP, 0 ER, 5 K, 0 BB
  • Bronson Arroyo: 5 IP, 1 ER, 2 K, 0 BB
  • Sam LeCure: 4 IP, 0 ER, 4 K, 0 BB
  • Scott Carroll: 4 IP, 0 ER, 2 K, 1 BB
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