What we learned at camp: Cactus League Week 1

Hello mudda, hello fadda. Here I am at Camp Zavada.

I showed them something out there to-day Al. We had a game between two teams. One team was made up of most of the regulars and the other was made up of recruts. I pitched three innings for the recruts and shut the old birds out. I held them to one hit and that was a ground ball that the recrut shortstop Johnson ought to of ate up. I struck Collins out and he is one of the best batters in the bunch. I used my fast ball most of the while but showed them a few spitters and they missed them a foot. I guess I must of got Walsh's goat with my spitter because him and I walked back to the hotel together and he talked like he was kind of jealous.

-- You Know Me Al, Ring Lardner

Much like sleepaway camp, sometimes we can't learn much more from Spring Training than how to complete a few low-rent craft projects. Still, it's hard not to get caught up the flood of new players' debuts and glimmers of career revivals that mark the first week, while trying block out the specter or injuries and regressions.

Here are a few lessons from this week in Goodyear:

  • Don't be a late innings reliever unless you want to be injured. Madson, Masset and Bray have all been on the shelf, with Masset the only one boasting a spring appearance. It's not clear how long the injuries will hold them back, but Bray's groin is thought to be the most serious (which is how any of us would hope our groins are thought about).
  • Juan Francisco's stock is dropping. Dusty was clearly annoyed that he came in overweight and suffering hang-over effects of an injury he reportedly did not rehab properly in the offseason. While it seems a little bit more likely that the option-less Francisco could be traded or DL'd to start the season than it did a week a go, there's no indication he's anything but next-in-line at third base. Despite the injury, he's near the top of the list in spring PAs.
  • The Reds may be ambivalent about Chapman's role, but not about his spring performance. He's gone four innings with 5 Ks, 1 BB and 2 hits. While almost anyone might luck into that stat line over 2 appearances, he seems to have better command and more consistent mechanics too. Hopefully he can continue to help his case to stay on the starter track - as opposed to Associate Professor of Bill Bray Replacement.
  • Rolen seems healthy. It's a knock-on-wood pronouncement, but everything Rolen is saying and doing suggests last year's surgery was a success. His swing looks good and he's spraying hits around the field like a man in his early 30s.
  • Didi Gregorius' only limitation is the autocorrect feature. Didi is getting on the map with Reds' fans, flashing leather and drawing raves from radio booth. He may have climbed a few rungs on the depth chart this week alone.
  • Denis Phipps and Donald Lutz could be factors this season. Though Gregorius and Lutz had more cache as "prospects," all three players caused some head-scratching when they were added to the 40-man. But so far, all of them have been validating the Reds's decision to throw them into the mix.
  • Position players have avoided the injury bug. Cozart had an issue with his throwing arm, but was still able to DH later in the week.

A look at position battles after the jump.

Position battle: Bullpen

7 spots

In (if healthy): Ryan Madson, Sean Marshall, Nick Masset, Bill Bray, Jose Arredondo

Likely/last in: Logan Ondrusek, Sam LeCure

Bubble:

  1. Clay Zavada (may replace Bray, if injured)
  2. Josh Judy
  3. Carlos Fisher
  4. Sean Gallagher
  5. Jordan Smith
  6. Andrew Brackman

Sleepers:

These two guys would probably jump any of the above if they were considered as relievers, but they're both still prepping as starters.

Position battle: Bench

4 spots (For accounting purposes, Ludwick, Hanigan and Mesoraco are starters)

In (if healthy): Miguel Cairo, Wilson Valdez, Chris Heisey

Likely/last in: Juan Francisco

Bubble:

  1. Todd Frazier
  2. Willie Harris
  3. Denis Phipps
  4. Donald Lutz
  5. Paul Janish & Didi Gregorius (replacing Cozart, if injured)
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