HOORAY, NO MORE SPRING TRAINING GAMES!
Of course, there are a pair of "exhibitions" the Cincinnati Reds will still have to wade through before the actual season starts, and those actually helped inhibit today's Cactus League finale against the Cleveland Indians as all the rostered regulars high-tailed it from the game beginning around the 5th inning. That left the minor leaguers to fill in for the final third of the game, but whatever, none of this really matters or counts anyway.
Adios, Goodyear and the Land of the Endless Strip Mall, and thanks for another year of making us wait painfully through the part of the season that seemingly never ends. Off the Reds go to take on the Toronto Blue Jays north of the border in the beautiful city of Montreal over the weekend, before Opening Day kicks us in the shins come Monday.
The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
The Reds couldn't have spread the wealth around much better if they'd tried (maybe they were trying), but I suppose Mike Leake's 6 IP of 2 ER ball should take the cake. Leake wrapped a very impressive spring with a 1.35 overall ERA, and despite being bonked for a solo dinger and bitten by having a stiff at 2B for most of his innings, he pitched quite well again today. With Homer Bailey on the shelf to start the season, Leake becomes the team's de facto #2 starter, and perhaps that's a challenge he's ready to meet head-on. Taking home another JNMHSotG in his final start of the spring is a pretty effective way of showing that, methinks.
Honorable Mentions are due to: Billy Hamilton, who smacked a pair of singles (but also got caught stealing, again); Ronald Bueno and Aristides Aquino, who each whacked doubles in their late-game cameos; and new Red Dan Johnson, who walked, scored, and made a nifty play at 1B.
- SMALL BALL ALERT! The Reds dinked and dunked their way to a run in the Top of the 1st, and it even included a failed bunt attempt. Said buntfail came from Billy Hamilton to lead things off, but both Zack Cozart and Joey Votto followed with singles - the second of which left runners on 1B & 3B - and a Jay Bruce sac fly pushed Cozart across the plate. Reds led, 1-0.
- The Indians equalized in the Top of the 4th after a Roberto Perez single eluded the foxy quickness of Skip Schumaker at 2B, and that allowed Michael Brantley to come around to score after he, too, had singled and moved to 2B on a productive grounder from Carlos Santana. Game tied, 1-1.
- In the Top of the 5th, whatever a "Ryan Rohlinger" is dingered off Leake down the LF line. Reds trailed, 2-1.
- In the Top of the 7th, All Star Michael Brantley mashed a 2-run dinger off still-on-the-40-man-roster Pedro Villareal, scoring All Name Team member Ollie Linton, Jr. as well. Bueno's RBI double in the Bottom of the 7th got one run back by plating Brian O'Grady, and Johnson scored on a productive grounder from Chris Berset in the Bottom of the 8th, but that was all the Reds could muster in their final Goodyear clash of 2015. Reds lose, 4-3.
- Before the game, the Reds announced that they'd outrighted Sam LeCure from the roster and that he'd accepted his assignment to Triple-A Louisville while also mentioning that they'd sent down Michael Lorenzen. That effectively guarantees that Kevin Gregg will be on the roster along with J.J. Hoover, both of which seem like rather odd decisions to me. Sam's velocity drop surely factored into the decision, as did the likelihood that he'd clear waivers due to his relatively high salary. It may well have just been a calculated way of keeping all three of those reliever in the system, since merely optioning Hoover wouldn't have created a spot on the 40-man roster for Gregg. Regardless, I have no doubt that Sam will be back in the Reds' bullpen at some point in the very near future. Unfortunately, I also have many doubts that Gregg will still be an effective reliever, but whatever.
- Brennan Boesch picked up another hit today, meaning he'll finish Cactus League play with a nifty .386 average. I do have some faith that he can be a right nice 4th OF who can both provide pop off the bench and play decently enough to keep Marlon Byrd's 2016 $8 million option from vesting.