The Reds played the Kansas City Royals today at Surprise Stadium in Surprise, AZ. The Royals share the ballpark with the Texas Rangers. Surprise is a Phoenix exurb about 30 minutes north of Goodyear. Surprise Stadium offers considerably more shade than Goodyear. My third row seat behind the Reds dugout was without direct sun the entire game.

Surprise Stadium view from centerfield lawn

I’d rank Surprise as the most aesthetically pleasing of the three parks I’ve been to so far this year, although I remember Camelback Ranch (Dodgers and White Sox) as better from my trip there in 2010. Surprise Stadium also shows radar gun readings on the scoreboard and you know we love that. Goodyear Ballpark needs to add that. Several people sitting around me were commenting on pitch speeds. Hint, hint.

Friend of Redleg Nation, Chris Welsh, before the game

The final score, Reds win 10-6, is a perfect indication of what happens in spring training after the major league pitchers are finished. The Reds only had two hits (Mesoraco and Winker) off Royals starter Jason Hammel through five and were losing 1-0. The Reds remain undefeated since my arrival.

Notes from Reds vs. Royals

• Rookie Davis started for the Reds and pitched four innings. He faced a Royals lineup with several major league players, struck out three and walked one. Davis did get to full counts on a lot of Royals hitters, though. Davis gave up four hits, but three of those were infield singles. Overall, the Royals didn’t do much against him. Davis’ fastball was around 92-94 mph much of the day and he hit 96 mph a couple times. From my perspective,  Davis was as impressive as Amir Garrett and Robert Stephenson yesterday. Davis (23) was the headliner return in the Aroldis Chapman trade to the Yankees.

Lousy photo of Rookie Davis pitching to first batter

• Bryan Price brought Barrett Astin in to pitch the fifth inning. The reason good relievers get brought in early during spring training is the manager wants them to pitch while the other team’s major league hitters are still in the game. Astin, who never broke 90 mph, retired three major league batters in order. No strikeouts, no walks, one hard-hit ball. For Price to use Astin this way shows the Reds are giving him a serious look for the Opening Day roster. Astin (25) was part of the salary dump trade of Jonathan Broxton to Milwaukee.

• Another player used in a situational manner was Jesse Winker. Price had Winker pinch hit for Rookie Davis  in the 5th inning. Winker didn’t play after that but made the most of his appearance. With Devin Mesoraco on first base, Winker lined Hammel’s first pitch into CF for a single. If Price wanted to see how Winker did in a pinch hitting role against a top major league pitcher, Winker aced the test. Winker (23) was drafted in the supplemental round by the Reds in 2012.

• Devin Mesoraco caught for four innings. He’s had a lot of bad swings. He missed at least three breaking balls today by a foot or more. To be fair, Hammel is tough and several of the Reds looked bad against those pitches. On the other hand, Mesoraco lined an 0-2 pitch into CF for a single off Hammel, the first hit for the Reds. Noteworthy (maybe), Mesoraco batted 7th in the lineup. Perhaps the goal with him has shifted from batting him high in the lineup to get at bats to preparing the catcher for where he’s going to hit in April. Maybe him batting seventh didn’t mean anything. Mesoraco (28) was drafted by the Reds in the first round in 2007 – nearly 10 years ago.

Devin Mesoraco about to connect (ball in frame)

• Joey Votto smashed two balls into the gap off of Hammel. One was caught the other fell in for a double. After Votto was taken out of the game, two of his used batting gloves flew out of the Reds dugout into the lap of a guy in my row three seats from me. I asked politely if he’d be willing to let me have one, but he was in no mood to share his random good fortune. Votto (33) was a second round pick in 2002.

• Eugenio Suarez singled to CF and made a long, noisy out to deep LF. Yesterday, Suarez hit a ball 400+ feet down the left field line that was foul by not much. He’s made a lot of solid contact without the stats to show for it. Suarez also played SS today and looked sharp on the two plays he had. One was turning 3-6-1 double play after an on-target throw from Votto, the other was fielding a hard-hit ball in the hole and starting a 6-4 yes-siree 3.

• Patrick Kivlehan played 3B and made two nice grabs snagging line drives. He also had a hit in the 7th inning off of Kelvin Herrera, the Royals tough closer. Kivlehan hit a homer against a minor league pitcher yesterday. Some background: Kivlehan played 3B for Rutgers in college, where he hit for the Big East Triple Crown in 2012. He was drafted in the fourth round by the Mariners, who moved him to 1B and then the OF. He bounced around last year (Mariners-Rangers-Mariners-Padres) before the Reds picked him up off waivers in the last week of the season. I know you’re trying to forget the 2016 Reds, but Kivlehan played in three September games, going 0-5. I’m not suggesting he’ll make the OD roster, or that he won’t, but the Reds do need a backup 3B, don’t they? Another name on the pile. Reminder, his hit today was off Kelvin Herrera.

Patrick Kivlehan #75 second from right, next to Joey Votto

• The fly ball Scott Schebler hit in the 6th inning off of Al Albuquerque looks like a sacrifice fly in the scorebook. It was a couple feet from a deep grand slam in person. Schebler (26) came to the Reds from the Dodgers in the Todd Frazier trade.

Scott Schebler at the plate

• Tim Adelman pitched three innings and got hit around pretty good. Adelman did contribute a two-run double in the Reds’ 8-run 8th inning. From a roster standpoint, Adelman might still be in the SP competition, but today felt more like “let’s see how Tim does in a swing role” appearance.

• Defensive play(s) of the day goes to Kivlehan with honorable mention to Suarez. Details above.

• Drove into Phoenix this morning for breakfast at Matt’s Big Breakfast. Went twice in 2010. Matt’s is my favorite breakfast place anywhere. Their home fries are the definitive breakfast potatoes. Large, well-griddled and mixed with rosemary and hefty pieces of caramelized onions. I promise a picture next time, soon. Matt’s breakfast should be on your list of reasons to travel here for Cactus League games.

42 Responses

  1. JB WV

    Guy should have given you a glove. I’m sure you would have bought him a beer.

  2. Patrick Jeter

    Matt’s Big Breakfast sounds legit.

  3. Patrick Jeter

    I’m optimistic about Schebler’s chances to be productive. He is a few Contact% points and a few FB% points away from being a .500 SLG sort of guy. Needs to hit fewer grounders into the shift.

    • VaRedsFan

      I liked that he put down a push bunt against the shift the other day

    • Reaganspad

      Loved his bunt single on Sunday.

      His swing will generate power returns. Keep taking the bunt single as long as they give it to you.

      If you have to hit 400 until they change the shift you do it

      I think Schebler is going to have a banner year

      • Patrick Jeter

        Sure hope so!

        Regarding the bunts, he probably needs to be able to maintain something like a 40% success rate (that would give him an .800 OPS on bunts) to make it reasonable to bunt instead of swing away. I think that is why a lot of guys don’t try it more. If they are only successful 30% of the time, that’s a .600 OPS, so why not just swing for the fences?

      • lwblogger2

        I think Schebler can get closer to that 40% success rate, especially against the shift. He runs quite well, much better than one might suspect from looking at him. His bunt can be a pretty bad one but as long as he gets it past the pitcher and to the left-side, he’s probably on 1B.

  4. DaytonRedLeg

    Matt’s Big Breakfast has been added to the list!…loving your detailed accounts of these games Steve. Thanks for taking the time to put these together. Can’t wait for April 3rd. Go reds

  5. Jim Walker

    These journal reports are good stuff.

    Seems like Schebler is making a lot of solid contact day in and day out.

    Perhaps Rookie Davis is the surprise rotation spot winner, if they decide they don’t want to go with three LH starters.

    • Chad Dotson

      Davis and Sal Romano have been outstanding. I’m as disappointed in the Bailey/Disco injuries as anyone, but the fact that Davis/Romano have kinda joined Reed/Garrett/Stephenson in the conversation is as exciting as anything else that’s happened this spring.

      And I think Schebler is almost guaranteed to be better than Duvall this season.

      • vegastypo

        I really wonder what the Reds will do with Winker. We’ve had good half-seasons from Duvall and Schebler, so the only way to tell what they’ve got is to play them. But how long should Winker stay in Louisville?

      • Chad Dotson

        That’s one of the big questions to be answered over the first couple of months of the season.

        These things tend to work themselves out, though. If Duvall or Schebler gets hurt, Winker gets his chance.

      • VaRedsFan

        Could be that they can platoon Scheb/Duval in right and let Winker play left? Winker needs to arrive soon.

      • Steve Mancuso

        In the little bit of ST I’ve seen, Schebler has been a lot better at the plate than Duvall.

      • redsfan4life

        I like Duvall but think he would fit better as a extra man down the road. Backup 1b/3b/LF/RF/ pop off the bench. Thoughts?
        Many thanks for these reports. Amazing photos.

      • lwblogger2

        That’s where I’m at on him. That said, with the stretch he had early last season, the Reds need to give him a continued look as a starter.

      • Jim Walker

        I think they are slotting Davis ahead of Romano right now. Davis has gotten the starting experience and seen more MLB hitters. Then there is the unavoidable “politics” of Davis being the top of the card return on Chapman.

  6. Chad Dotson

    I love the fact that the Reds are getting Suarez some innings at shortstop this spring. I didn’t see that coming.

    • Steve Mancuso

      I liked seeing this, too. One of the things left to sort out is the infield. Cozart at SS, then Herrera at 2B and move Peraza presumably to SS. What to do with Senzel and Suarez then? Lots of decisions.

      What if Dilson Herrera isn’t the Reds 2B of the future?

      • Chad Dotson

        Options. Lots of options.

        What about Suarez/Peraza/Senzel around the infield (in some combination)? I’m in love with Herrera’s bat (and work ethic, according to reports), but worried about the shoulder. I have no idea how that plays out.

        But the Reds have other options. This is a good thing.

  7. vegastypo

    Garrett, Romano, Rookie Davis … those guys are giving me some reason for optimism. Am I nuts for wanting to see Stephenson in the rotation for a few months just to see if he can do it?

    It’s nice to see that the Reds might have received something useful for Broxton a few years ago. I figured at the time that the trade was a total salary dump and nothing more, so if Astin contributes, all the better.

    Really enjoy these updates, Steve. Thanks for doing it.

    • Reaganspad

      On this team for 2017, Stephenson needs to break in the rotations. I think he is turning a corner, he is in line for starts and it controls the clock legitimately for the others.

      Competition is a good thing

  8. CaliforniaRed

    My son and i will be there the next 3 days, Steve. Have you been to Wildflower Bread Company yet? Looks good.

  9. Simon Cowell

    It is good to here Suarez working out at SS. What if our 2018 is Senzel at 3B, Suarez at SS, and Peraza at 2B. Would anybody complain? Add in Joey Votto and we just might wind up with the highest OBP group of infielders in baseball.

    • Patrick Jeter

      I’d probably take Bryant, Rizzo, Russell, Baez over that group. Although you are probably right… Votto’s OBP will prop everyone else’s up so much they might be first!

      • MrRed

        But you’d still be correct, Patrick, if you chose that group. If only because of the OPS they will generate (even if their OBP were less than the Reds for argument’s sake).

  10. VaRedsFan

    I read where it’s not a lock that Mes will be with the club on Opening Day. He needs to be stretched out to catch 9 innings. Remember how awful he was last year BEFORE the injury? Lots of swings and misses. I’m mostly afraid that he will never be the hitter he used to be.

  11. sultanofswaff

    I like Suarez getting reps at SS. So why is Cozart the only infielder NOT getting reps at the other positions??? We need a backup 3b…………makes too much sense!

    The reports are great Steve!

    • Shchi Cossack

      Kivlehan has looked outstanding at 3B this spring. Of course he still needs to make the 25-man roster in order to be considered a backup 3B.

      • WVRedlegs

        He is good at 1B, LF and RF. He doesn’t lose much defensively at any of those spots. He is equally good at all 4 spots. His bat has kept up with his glove this spring. He has looked pretty good and has the inside track for a bench spot at this stage of spring.

  12. WVRedlegs

    Thanks Steve for these great updates and insights. Keep seeking out those shady spots.
    I didn’t realize Kivlehan was such a big dude. Standing next to Votto, he is bigger than Joey at 6″3″. And Kivlehan is the only one sporting Red legs. Still a ways to go, but I think Kivlehan has just about won a bench spot. He is a good, versatile player.

  13. larry

    Steve, your on cite reports are the best things written in spring training. It seems that we have much more depth in the infield, the outfield and even the pitching in the high minors. I, too, like using the infielders in different positions in s. t. I like Schebler a lot, the only negative thing I have to say about him is that he has a very weak throwing arm for a right fielder. He must play/platoon in left. If we don’t trade either Duvall or Schebler, it would make sense for them to platoon in left and have Winkler play right field. I realize that the reds won’t do this until Winkler gets past the super two date (early June?), but he has to play the remainder of the season to confirm what we have in Winkler. The pitching staff situation will be fun to watch, with all the promising arms currently in the high minors.

    • greenmtred

      My impression is that Winker’s arm is questionable, too.

      • lwblogger2

        It’s not bad. Winker has a fair arm. Schebler’s isn’t good at all. It’s almost Johnny Damon or Juan Pierre bad.

  14. CTRedsFan

    During the broadcast yesterday it was stated that Iglesias has a sore elbow and bad back, does anyone have any further information on Iggy?

  15. Brandon (@BSmitty25039)

    I agree with you guys on Schebler. He hit .290/.357/.461 after being recalled on August 2nd, and that included a 0-for-27 streak in the middle of August. Call me optimistic, but I could see him slashing .340 OBP/.485 SLG this season.

    I also share Chad’s optimism on Dilson Herrera. There’s a lot to like about his bat and work ethic. I have my fingers crossed the Reds can find a trade partner for Cozart fairly soon so Herrera can play second base everyday.

    • MrRed

      I hear Didi Gregorius is out indefinitely with a shoulder injury. Might the Yankees be interested in an insurance policy from Zack Cozart & Co.?

      • Shchi Cossack

        Didi’s injury doesn’t seem to be severe, but could possibly keep him out of action when the season starts. Even if Did goes on the shelf, the Yankees have plenty of internal options available for middle IF, even if Didi’s injury proves troublesome. I would be surprised if the Yankees had any interest in even picking up the phone to make an inquiry.

      • Old-school

        Starlin Castro and their utility backup can manage for a month. But…We are now essentially to the point in the season where Cozart’s value could skyrocket overnight depending g on the team and situation..He appears to be having a solid spring.