Well, that was an ugly introduction to the Cactus League, huh? Is it too early to give up hope for 2010?*

Mike Lincoln got the start, and it wasn’t pretty. Lincoln says he expected to get six straight batters out to begin the game. Personally, I expected pretty much what we saw: 7 hits, 4 earned runs, only 1.1 innings.

Frankly, it was the same Mike Lincoln we’ve come to know and dread. He seems like a good guy, and he’s giving it everything he’s got…but at 34, after all the injuries, he just doesn’t have much. Hope I’m wrong and he contributes to the bullpen this season.

Another entrant in the race for the open fifth spot in the starting rotation, Justin Lehr, didn’t acquit himself very well either: 2 IP, 2 ER, 4 H.

Lefty Matt Maloney, on the other hand, came in during the second inning, mopped up the mess that was left by Lincoln, then pitched a nice third inning. Maloney struck out two and walked one. I think Maloney had the advantage for that last spot in the rotation — notwithstanding the chance that the Reds decide to hand it to Aroldis Chapman, which could happen — before today, and he certainly didn’t hurt his case.

The Reds take on NL Central rival Milwaukee the Indians again tomorrow. Tonight, we’re just happy that these games don’t count.

*Yes, I’m kidding.