Entering the game on Wednesday night Nick Castellanos seemed to be feeling well and hitting everything. Then he came up to the plate in the bottom of the first and made sure no one forgot about that fact as he hit a home run 400+ feet to dead center field off of Tristan McKenzie.

The Reds right fielder would single in his next at-bat and then he’d leave the game and be replaced by Mark Payton. Castellanos left the game sooner than all of the other starters did, but after the game manager David Bell noted that there’s nothing wrong with him, he was just finished for the day. When he did leave the game he was hitting .391/.417/.783 on the spring.

When Mark Payton took over in right field he simply picked up where Castellanos had left off at the plate. Or perhaps he just picked up where he had last left off at the plate, going 2-3 with a run and an RBI of his own. Before the night was over he would play all three outfield spots and finished the night with a .474 average, a .583 on-base percentage, and an .895 slugging percentage on the spring. He’s also walked more times than he’s struck out.

While spring training stats don’t matter much, if you’re going to look at them it’s always going to give you a better feeling when the stats are good. And for Mark Payton they are more than good. They’re great (if you didn’t read this in Tony the Tiger’s voice…..)! He could be playing himself into a spot on the opening day roster, especially with Shogo Akiyama expected to begin the season on the injured list and that opening up a spot that otherwise may not have been available.

“He’s been on fire, just really swinging the bat well,” said Bell after the game of Payton. “He can hit. He’s a good offensive player – he has a lot of confidence at the plate and in his ability, too. He knew he was a little off, maybe for the first week of camp and he knew he was just an adjustment away and he asked for some extra at-bats in a B-game and really since then he’s been locked in.”

27 Responses

  1. Roger Garrett

    Payton gets a spot because Shogo is hurt.As stated spring stats mean very little because most rosters are pretty well set but it is great to see a guy like him,who really had no shot in the beginning get one.You just have to admire him and others for busting their back side even when their is no hope to making the team.It must be even harder to look around and see players who are under contract for millions of dollars that are just getting ready for the season.Certainly these players are working just as hard but they already have a job so it doesn’t really matter how they perform.Props to Payton if he makes it and of course to Big Nick who is tearing it up.Nick seems to be ready to show last year wasn’t really him and I only hope others take notice and quickly join him.

  2. TR

    If the Reds come out of the gate hitting in two weeks along with their pitching strength, they will challenge the Cardinals for the NL Central.

    • John Pierce

      For the first week of the season no doubt ; )

    • Roger Garrett

      I agree TR but thats a big if right now.Big league guys feel and the back of their card says it that over a 162 game season the numbers will be there.However if we don’t have 3 or 4 guys hitting well at the start while the others catch up we may get in trouble in a hurry.The pitching staff will have to carry us early but right now unless Gary,Antone and Miley get right and back on the mound that may not happen

      • TR

        I agree but our beloved Reds have been a ‘big if’ in large measure since the great opportunity of 2010 to 2013 slipped away, not counting the short season of 2020. It won’t be long before we see what happens again.

  3. ClevelandRedsFan

    Can Payton play a solid CF? He may be a good candidate to give Senzel a day off. I do fear a Senzel/Payton platoon though.

    I want to see Senzel play everyday and stay healthy. Let’s see what he can do.

  4. Bred

    I guess my memory of Payton is faulty. I recall he had plenty of opportunities last year but failed miserably to hit. I could be wrong, but if not, will the real Payton please stand up.

  5. MK

    Those 18 at bats in 20 games isn’t my definition of plenty.

    • Matt WI

      I have zero memory of Payton at all, quite honestly, so he couldn’t have had a whole lot of opportunity. But, you know, a dozen and a half AB’s 🙂 But, 29 year old rookies are a rare bird.

      Now Jankowski, he I remember and not being impressed with.

  6. Kim Henry

    Play who is hitting. Find a place for Payton, Heinnaman, Bandino, and India. They are professionals: let Moose and Winker, work there way back into the lineup.

    • Matt WI

      It’s the easiest thing for we fans to say “play the hot hand.” If they make a roster based on Spring Training stats, then woe be to all of us following around.

      A roster that is based on significant playing time for Payton, Heinnaman, Blandino, and India is very likely one that sponsors a one way trip to last place. It’s a wonderful theory, but no manager can know when Payton’s hot streak is bound to end, or when Blandino will start one.

      The most likely outcomes is that probably outside of India (whom we know nothing about, really), none of those guys exceeds even league average over the long haul. Meanwhile, guys with established histories of success are left to languish and not get enough reps to prove their way back to the field.

      Ask yourself if any of the teams competing for a legit shot at a crown would consider any of those guys getting regular playing time? Doubtful. It’s a real long shot any of them are more than the basic 25th man to move around and fill in for injuries. Moose and Winker are not flawless, I’m not making that argument, but we have a much better idea of what to expect out of them long term, not some silly spring stats.

      Unless the argument is tank for a high draft pick and just honestly fold the hand, then sure, let those guys play all they want. One of them might surprise us.

  7. Jimbo44CN

    Spring training does not define a hitter. Payton was not very good last year in the regular season and he’s a year older, so is Heinieman. Moose and Winker need to be in the lineup.

      • Jimbo44CN

        Moose and Winker are proven better big league players, that’s the difference.

  8. Tomn

    In my view, our OF when the season starts should be Winker/Senzel/Cast with Akayama and Payton as subs.

    IF: Moose/Suarez/India/Votto (if Votto is injured, pick a sub). Shrock? Stein???/Blandino Blandino for sure is a utility guy. Deserves some serious PT.

    • MK

      I keep reading Senzel as a sure fire starter, but what has he ever done offensively at the big league level after two years of starting that gives him such a pass? .256 and .186 batting averages. Maybe Someone else deserves a shot.

      • Roger Garrett

        People will say its the injuries and the short season that have kept us from seeing what he can do.For me its that when healthy he has more tools then anybody else on the team.On a team that has mostly one or two tool players he is by far our most complete player but has less then 500 at bats in the majors.This will be his year if he can stay on the field.

      • SteveLV

        Adding on to Roger’s comments, which I agree with – the difference between Senzel realizing his potential and flaming out makes a big difference to the Reds over the next 5 years. I think they need to give him every opportunity to succeed.

      • Redsvol

        that’s a bingo! He has done nothing to prove he should be given a position and given 500 at bats to figure it out. Other “can’t miss” rookies have figured it out in much less time. Reds need to get off to good start, if he can’t then send him down to AAA to work it out there. We need production from the outfield this year – not potential.

      • MK

        Part of being a big league regular is staying on the field. Each time there is an injury or a person loses a little. Austin Kearns was a can’t miss whose injuries early on sapped some of his skills. Can’t stay on field , can’t start.

  9. Redsfan4life

    What are India’s chances of making the opening day roster?

    • GaryO

      Josh VanMeter was fed at bats until he puked last year. I never understood it

    • Roger Garrett

      They should be really good but they take a hit if they keep Gordon which I feel they will.The Reds because its easy to say and hard to argue will send him down to get those regular at bats unless Eugenio plays short the rest of the spring and improves defensively.Time will tell.

  10. Roger Garrett

    I agree Redsvol other can’t miss rookies have figured it out earlier but its not unusual even for them to take a step backwards from time to time and even for extended periods.I agree with SteveLV that if there is anybody that needs to be given every chance its Senzel. I think he will become a very good player and quickly who was our last really good overall player?Not just a hitter or a defender or a guy with speed or a guy with power.I can’t even remember the last player we had that had all of those skills.Votto or Bruce maybe?Those days are gone and we need Senzel to step up?

    • Jim Miller

      Eric Davis !!!! Barry Larkin !!! Idk Votto never had the speed but would swipe bags every now & then but I agree Senzel needs everyday at bats and he’ll be the next !!!

  11. Stellavic

    On a side note, I cannot think of a better way to reduce your fan base than play your spring games in Arizona where the games start at 9pm. My who cares attitude carries over to May. Just saying….

  12. Richard Kramer

    Here’s an idea. When Senzel plays, why not bat him in the 5 hole followed by Votto. Let’s make him an RBI guy. Votto batting next can provide decent protection and keep the left right left right progression going.