There are two or nine of you that woke up this morning and said to yourselves "the gawdang Cincinnati Reds are 0 and 6 in Spring Training and I just can’t take it anymore, gawdangit." In a fluster, you put your boxer shorts on backwards, didn’t notice until you got into your car to go to work, and then proceeded to get stuck in morning I-471 traffic just as your check-engine light came on.
"I swear to freakin’ Homer Bailey, man. I picked this car up three years ago on a four year lease and then the front axle broke, the back axle broke, the power steering went out, and...speakin’ of which, has Devin Mesoraco even played yet? Gaw. Dang. It."
The start of Spring Training and Cactus League play hasn’t exactly maintained its new car smell after the first week, and if you were a Brandon Phillips lifer, it may have even started out on a sour note for you. It cannot be emphasized enough, however, that none of what’s happened on the field to date really matters, especially the team’s record through their first six games. Not only do these games not count, but we easily overlook the fact that Spring Training started early this year in the first place due to the presence of the World Baseball Classic - and most every Red of importance isn’t participating in that.
Last year, the team’s first spring game was on March 1st. Today is March 2nd.
Last year, the team’s first regular season game was on April 4th. This year, it’s on April 3rd.
What’s that mean? Well, in the world that is "organized March baseball practice," the Reds had an extra week of it, and while some arbitrary results in games where not everyone actually plays haven’t exactly gone their (read: your) way, the reality is it’s been an extra week for them to work out kinks that they didn’t have last year. That’s a positive, not a negative, and one that should beget good news going forward.
In fact, the good news floodgates opened just this morning. Dilson Herrera, who had been limited to hitting through the first week of camp, was cleared to resume throwing, as The Enquirer’s Zach Buchanan noted earlier. Considering he’s now not participating in the WBC and has swung one of the few hot bats in camp to date, this is another positive development for the prized return of the Jay Bruce deal.
Following that goodness came news that Anthony DeSclafani’s pitching elbow should be just fine, too, as MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon relayed. Disco missed his scheduled start this week with some elbow tenderness, but a routine examination from Dr. Poke M. Stick today revealed that he’s good to resume throwing. Referencing that one-monthish timeline from earlier about the number of days until the season starts reveals there’s still ample time for Disco to be completely ready to begin the season atop the Reds’ starting rotation, and that should also warm your cockles.
In other news, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick caught up with Joey Votto in camp this week, and their talks revealed a softer, fluffier Joey Votto than the one from previous years. Turns out Joey’s taking kindly these days to being the elder statesman in camp, and he’s much more open to talking shop with his pint-sized teammates than he was in previous years. Whether that’s by choice or by necessity - hell, it’s not like he’s got many other vets around to hoot and holler with - it’s a good thing, especially in the case of one Billy Hamilton. Crasnick highlighted their mid-season talks from last year and the confidence (and performance) boost it gave to Hamilton’s offensive game, and the though of Votto’s knowledge being as much of a catalyst to this team’s rebuild as his OBP is to their offense should be as invigorating as a polar plunge.
In other news, Adam Dorhauer is rolling through an interesting pre-WBC thought exercise for The Hardball Times: assemble the best All-World team from baseball history, albeit with the caveat that only one player per country can be added. Yesterday, he built his pitching staff and his bench bats, and today he backed it up by naming his starting eight position players. It’s a good read not just to see who he picked, but also because there’s a good amount of baseball history detailed within the piece, specifically around the relative chronicles each country can boast.
Finally, here’s this (again) because it just never gets old.