The Reds play their first spring training game on Tuesday, against Cleveland. Here are items from their camp in Goodyear, AZ:
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Homer Bailey has been approved to throw off a mound. He may or may not miss a start or two in April. (Rosecrans).
Homer Bailey is expected to throw off of a mound for the first time this spring, Reds manager Bryan Price said, adding the right-hander shouldn’t miss much time after undergoing surgery to repair the torn flexor tendon in his right forearm last September.
Here’s the AP Report that discusses Bailey’s situation.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢Ã‚Â Marlon Byrd, new Reds outfielder, talks about the importance of leadership in winning. (Sheldon)
Whether he’s the lone leader, or one among many, Byrd placed high value on leadership.Ã‚Â “That’s very important,” he said. “You talk about the teams that win every single year, the Red Sox, the Yankees, and how they had a culture change down in Tampa [Bay]. You talk about the Orioles now with what they’re doing. You talk about what they did in Seattle, Kansas City, what the Dodgers do every year, what the Giants do. The one thing is everything is right in the clubhouse.Ã‚Â “You can’t have disruption in the clubhouse and expect a team to win. There is no cohesiveness. It starts in here and then it flows onto the field. Any team that wins knows it’s important. Any team that hasn’t won that has started to win, like the Pirates, knows it’s important. You need that on every single team to win.”
Byrd has suited up for major league baseball teams since 2002.Ã‚Â Only one of the 13 teams he’s played for has reached the postseason, and that was the 2013 Pirates, a team he was on for only 30 games. In 13 years, he’s played for 8 different teams. He was released or allowed to become a free agent four times. Not a single team has negotiated a contract extension with him. The veteran clubhouse he was part of in Philadelphia last year was criticized by manager Ryne Sandberg for lacking leadership. Can we tap the brakes on the rush to anoint him the team’s new leader?
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Joey Votto, who has played for a couple teams that have reached the postseason, says that the current club leadership fine. He points out that winning generates chemistry, not so much the other way around. (Rosecrans and Fay)
Votto: “The people who write and talk about it are not being very fair, I don’t think. I think it’s totally out of left field. I think, in my opinion, it’s just talk. We win this year, all of a sudden there’s going to be a leader on the team or a group of leaders, and so and so did this or so and so did that, we win and all of a sudden everything changes. We have one unhealthy year last year Ã¢â‚¬â€ not a good year, let’s not forget about that, we did not have a good year last year Ã¢â‚¬â€ we need this and we need that. Leadership is one of the things people have been pointing out. I don’t think it’s objective.”
You have to wonder what Votto thinks when his general manager and manager belabor the issue of clubhouse leadership with every old-guy signing.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Votto sat for a 12 minute video interview yesterday afternoon. He discusses his health, his critics and help he’s received from Pete Rose. (Danneman) This is the interview you may have heard about where he says – tongue-in-cheek – “If you’ve got a problem with my hitting approach … man … well then maybe there’s something wrong with you.”
Votto: “I’m doing everything I can to be ready for the season. And I expect to be ready for the season. I expect to compete. I think, myself along with the other 24 guys and the coaching staff and front office expect to win.”
Votto: “I want the fans to know that what they are saying (about our leadership) are not true. I don’t want people to write negative things about our team and interrupt the support we should be getting from the fans with such a potentially fun and competitive team.”
Votto: “I’ve said in the past I’m a disciple of Pete Rose. I mean that. I’ve taken the advice he’s given me. It’s impacted the game. I’ve helped the team win. They’re something to that.”
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Former Cubs closer Kevin Gregg is in camp on a minor league deal. (Fay)
It’s your typical low-risk, potential-high-reward signing.Ã‚Â “That type of a signing, sometimes proves to pay the biggest dividends with the bullpen pieces,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “A lot of times, those relievers are sitting out there late in the offseason.”
Gregg is 36 years old and missed almost all of 2014 due to surgery on his throwing elbow. He had a solid first half of 2013 for the Cubs, who tried without success to trade him at the deadline. They must have known what was ahead. In the second half of 2013, Gregg’s FIP, xFIP and SIERA were all above 5.00. His ERA was 4.93. His K%-BB% collapsed to less than 2 percent.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ The Reds signed Burke Badenhop and Gregg with the hope of avoiding using young prospects as relievers. (Fay) Because, you know, an irresistible force may prevent you from taking them out of the bullpen once you do that.
“Every team does it,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “Sometimes, you’re forced to use your younger, less-prepared players. We talked a lot about Donald Lutz over the last year or two, the fact that we had him on the team, but he hasn’t gotten a lot of playing time. That probably hasn’t helped his development in any way. We also brought up (Aroldis) Chapman, who we thought was going to be a good starter. But he was so good in relief we didn’t put him in the rotation.”
Doug Gray’s expressed his thoughts on that subject.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Pitcher Raisel Iglesias is the Reds nominee for one list of rookies to watch for all 30 teams. (Sports Xchange)
RHP Raisel Iglesias was signed by the Reds on June 27 to a seven-year, $27 million contract, and the Cuban defector wowed observers during his stint in the Arizona Fall League. He showed solid command of his breaking ball, changeup and fastball, which consistently was at 93-94 mph. The offseason trades of RHP Mat Latos and RHP Alfredo Simon created a void in the rotation, and Iglesias appears to be on the fast track to filling one of those spots.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ An Arizona news organization published a handy preview of Goodyear Ballpark. (Arizona Central).
Ohio fans, rejoice. You’ll find the Skyline Chili dog for $4. The ballpark also stocks Bertman Ball Park Mustard. It’s rumored to be such a hit that managers have reported mysterious disappearances of the economy-size tubs of mustard. Souvenir cups are available for $5.25 with refills for just $1. Brunch at the Ballpark is new for 2015, and will take place before the games on March 8 and 15. Happy Hour at the Ballpark includes food and drink specials and takes place before all night games (March 20, 24, 25 and 27), with gates opening at 5 p.m.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ I wrote a short season preview for a Cubs blog that published today.
The Reds can win if they can put the best parts of 2013 and 2014 on the field. They have to combine the 2013 Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Homer Bailey with the 2014 Johnny Cueto and Devin Mesoraco. TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll win if they get decent pitching out of their #4 and #5 rotation candidates. TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll win if the bullpen can even be average setting up Chapman. TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll win if Marlon Byrd and Brandon Phillips can cheat Father Time one more year. TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll win if they continue to get Gold Glove caliber defense up the middle from Hamilton, Cozart and Phillips.
If you want to read 28,900 words previewing the Reds, instead of a 1,000 word summary, spend the $12.95 and buy The Big Reds Preview.