Reds tie, then beat Cleveland
The bats shook off winter's rust in Saturday's Spring Training opener, putting up six runs behind home runs from Todd Frazier and Neftali Soto. But you can tell it's early, because Brandon Phillips actually made an error. Mike Leake was also so-so, allowing two runs in two innings. He struck out one and didn't walk anybody. "I wasn't getting the ball down as much as I would have liked to. Otherwise, it was pretty good. It's always a little foreign the first time out there. It was funny because [catcher Devin Mesoraco] in the first inning was like 'Holy cow, I forgot how to call signs.'" But to be clear, Leake adds that "I like him. If I could choose my catcher, I would definitely choose him."
- Yesterday, the Reds put up eight runs on the strength of 13 hits to beat Cleveland. Homer Bailey allowed the three runs in two innings, walking one and struck out two. "I felt pretty good. I felt like the ball was coming out all right. Overall in general, I pretty happy with it." He even noted that the fastball hit by Shelly Duncan for a 3R-HR was "right where I wanted it." Aroldis Chapman followed, allowing two runs in two innings. He threw fastballs and sliders exclusively. He struck out three and walked one.
- Johnny Cueto makes his spring debut this afternoon against Cleveland. Following Cueto are Jeff Francis, LeCure, Chad Reineke and Josh Judy. The game will be Fox Sports Ohio's only broadcast of the spring. You can check out a complete TV and radio schedule over at Jamie Ramsey's blog.
The maturation of Devin Mesoraco
The Golem may have temporarily forgotten how to call for a breaking ball, but he's miles ahead in the overall development for a young Catcher. Comparing this year's camp to last spring: "I'm just a lot more comfortable. As far as interacting with all the pitchers, it's being here and being one of the guys instead of a newer guy like I was in the past. I can be somebody to help this team out throughout the year." Paul Daugherty talks more about Meso here, specifically about getting to know the staff: "Do they like a low target? Do they like to throw 0-1 changeups? Some guys, we click right from the beginning. Others, it might take half a year to figure out when they want to throw a certain pitch, how they like to attack a certain hitter."
The bullpen is suiting Sam LeCure just fine
LeCure enjoyed one of the better years out of the Reds' bullpen last year, striking out over 3 batters for every walk and allowing the lowest percent of inherited runners to score among Red relievers. But he's not taking anything for granted as far as his place on the team. "Actually, this year, I started throwing earlier than I did the previous year when I thought I had an opportunity to start. I knew the role I was going to be in (this year). I was going to need to be able to provide some length. I knew I was going to have to be able to throw two, three, potentially four innings - around 50 pitches - in camp." Hopefully the early throwing and devouring of marshmallows (check around the 0:35 mark) will boost LeCure to greater heights this season.
Ryan Madson has sat out the first two games with a minor elbow injury. Dr. Baker: "He has a little irritation in his arm. The doctor looked at him today. Hopefully, he will be all right in the next couple of days." Bill Bray is almost back from a strained left groin. He threw a bullpen session on Saturday.
- Frazier hoping versatility, bat punches his ticket
From a roster and options standpoint, Todd Frazier is a long-shot to make the team out of camp. But the org is at least paying lip service to his value. Baker: "He's looking good. We've got a lot of guys competing. That's what it's all about." Frazier valued his call-up last year and soaked in some of the finer points of major league hitting: "Not only do I understand hitting, I understand what they're trying to do pitching-wise. Coming from Triple-A to the big leagues, when I was struggling a little bit in Triple-A, I was swinging at everything.... I talked to guys like Scott Rolen, Miguel Cairo. I talked to Miguel a lot about pinch-hitting because I wasn't starting a lot. Miguel would say: ‘Todd, watch this guy. Watch his tendencies. Watch how many times he throws a fastball. Watch where he throws it. Understand what they're going to throw you."
- Lutz shuts up doubters with big bat
The big-hearted Bavarian was nearly 16 when he first swung a bat. Deciding that swinging right-handed felt awkward, Lutz switched to the other side: "I went over there, picked up a bat and started swinging it right-handed. I couldn't do anything, and it felt really awkward. So I tried left-handed because I played hockey lefty. I got up there and started smashing the ball all over the field. That was it, and it just got me." The Reds signed him two years later, before the tryouts at one of MLB's European camps. "We had guys like Barry Larkin out there. I met Rod Carew there. It runs for three weeks, and there are tryouts throughout Europe. They invite the best 60 players from Europe and Africa. I actually signed at the tryout before going to the camp. [The Reds] didn't want other teams to see what was going on." Lutz pounded 20 homeruns in Dayton last year, and could put up some silly numbers in Bakersfield this season.
- Bruce is in the top mental, physical shape of his life
And the player profiles keep on coming. I realize that pre-season stories of ambition and redemption are commonplace, but Jay Bruce really sounds (and looks) like someone determined to make The Leap this year. On his 2011 performance: "I wasn't satisfied, not at all. I had some achievements that were commendable I guess. But, no, I wasn't very happy with my year overall." In addition to dropping 15 pounds, Bruce spent more time in the cage this winter working on making his stroke more consistent. "I want to be the best.... I think if you don't expect to be better, you shouldn't be playing the game. If I can improve my game, it's going to help the team win more."
- Eric Davis - the ideal era
This is written from a Baltimore fan's perspective, but appreciation of Davis' talents is universal. The author suggests that Davis would have thrived even more playing in the 1960s. I disagree. The stolen base wasn't utilized as often back then, particularly for player's with Davis' power. Playing on grass would've certainly helped, but then again the medical care couldn't have been as good. Grass + better medical care = 2012 Reds, right?