The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
If someone had come up to you three weeks ago and suggested that converting Alfredo Simon from a reliever to a starter would be a good thought, you'd not only have told them it would be a terrible idea, you'd have also told them that there was no logical reason to find out. A knee surgery for Mat Latos and abdominal strain for Mike Leake later, it's not just a concept with plausible merit, it's actually happening and - dare I say - looking like a decent idea. Simon started his second game of the Spring today, and he held the Seattle Mariners scoreless over his 3 innings, his second consecutive start without allowing a run. The former starter for the Baltimore Orioles didn't allow a hit and walked just one Mariner while striking out 4, and given the now sudden need for starting pitching depth, that's good enough to take home today's JNMHSotG.
Honorable Mentions are due to: Billy Hamilton, who went 1 for 2 with a walk, a steal, and two more runs scored; Skip Schumaker, for adding to his nail collection with 2 hits, a run scored, and a scrappy sac-fly; Neftali Soto, who continued to crush the ball with his 3rd and 4th doubles of the Spring; and Ramon Santiago, for going 0 for 4 with 2 strikeouts in a clear-as-day attempt to show that he's not worth a spot on the 25 man roster.
- It appears that one of the key strategies in the Billy Hamilton Experiment will be challenging opposing infielders to sprint races. Hamilton adhered adeptly to said strategy in the Bottom of the 3rd when he dropped a bunt down the 3B line, and the Mariners infield was rendered helpless as Hamilton scooted to an infield single. Schumaker singled two batters later to move Hamilton to 3B, and Joey Votto singled off the 2B's glove to bring Hamilton in. A series of errors by the Mariners led to a trio of additional runs, as a pop up dropped next to Logan Morrison and Nate Tenbrink made a such a mess of a ball hit by Chris Heisey that he was credited with two errors on the play. Schumaker, Votto, and Phillips scored. Reds led, 4-0.
- The M's got on the board in the Top of the 5th when Tenbrink singled, stole 2B, and scored on a Mike Zunino double off Reds' RP Aroldis Chapman. Hamilton did what he could to equalize in the Bottom of the 5th, however, as he walked, stole 2B, and took 3B on the throw (a common refrain early in the Reds' pre-season). Hamilton then scored on a gritty Schumaker sac-fly. Reds led, 5-1.
- Chad Rogers took over on the mound for the Top of the 6th, and he ran into a heap of trouble. A heap, I tell you! SS Brad Miller smashed a solo HR off Sharkbait with one out in the 6th before Rogers got thoroughly walloped in the Top of the 7th. Tenbrink led off with a single, Carlos Triunfel was hit by a pitch with one out, James Jones singled to load the bases, and Chris Taylor hubba'd a grand slam over the LF wall. After that, the Reds' bats went quiet, and that was that. Reds lose, 6-5.
- Another day, another respectable pitching prospect beaten around. Today, it was Shark Rogers, who was tagged to the tune of 5 ER in just 1.1 IP. We've now seen Daniel Corcino rocked twice, David Holmberg tagged, and Rogers sent to the showers early; coupled with the issues facing Latos and Leake, and it's been a pretty scowl-inducing start of camp for the pitching staff. You know what, though? It's Spring Training, and none of this will mean much of anything in the near future.
- I'm gradually warming to the notion that Skip Schumaker is a member of the Reds. That doesn't mean he's not my 25th favorite player projected to make the 25 man roster, it just means that I might actually not-hate my least favorite player on the Reds. A few more games like today's and he won't even smell like a Cardinal anymore. Baby steps.
- Billy Hamilton might not get on base as much as we want him to, but I'm about to wager that he may score at a higher percentage once he does than any player in baseball this year. I can't wait to watch him go to work.