Tejay Antone had been dominating spring training this year, much like he was dominating in the Major Leagues in the 2020 season. The difference this spring was that he was preparing to be a starting pitcher – something he had always been in his career prior to the 2020 season. But he left his last start with an injury and then in a bullpen session on Saturday he felt something in his hip flexor that led to him being shut down after 15 pitches.
“I was trying to be really aggressive with it, see if I could trust it again,” said Antone on Tuesday afternoon. “It was going well for the first 15 pitches. Kind of felt it a little bit. They wanted to delay it a bit just so that I’m good to go in a game. I think I’m close, really close. Next bullpen is Thursday. Everything goes as planned on Thursday, then I’ll be in a game on Sunday, and hopefully I’ll make the Opening Day roster.”
For Tejay Antone it seems that Opening Day is still on the table. But the right-handed pitcher isn’t going to be ready to jump into the rotation out of the gate. With the injuries delaying his mound time in the last week-and-a-half he isn’t going to have enough time to have built up those innings to step back into the rotation immediately.
“Possibly,” Antone said when asked if his role could be altered because of his injury. “It’s going to put a delay on me building up innings wise. It doesn’t seem like I’ll be in the starting role to start off, but that’s still a goal of mine. Regardless I want to be on the team for opening day and be ready to help this team any way possible.”
He threw today from flat ground, up to 150 feet at max effort and things went well. The next step it to take it back to the mound and see how that goes.
“It felt good on a flat surface but the mound is a little different with a little slope, so your stride extends a little bit longer and you’re being a little more aggressive and you know you’ve got to make the pitches,” said Antone. “Hoping that it keeps progressing and I can trust it on Thursday, put it in the rear view mirror and move on.”
Lucas Sims returns to the mound
With just about a week remaining in spring training Lucas Sims took the mound in his first “A” game of the spring. He pitched over the weekend in a “B” game on the backfields, but today saw him step up as he faced a strong Padres lineup. Things went well to start his outing as he retired the first two hitters, but the gave up three straight hits that led to two runs before getting the final out of the inning on a pop up. Despite the two runs, Sims was happy with how things went today.
“I was around the zone a lot,” said Sims. “That’s always a plus, especially for the first outing. Around the zone and being able to expand it is a lot easier than spraying it all over the place and having to rein that back in. I was happy with the way that I attacked the zone. I think I could have probably picked the spots for a few different pitches, kind of left the fastball to Caratini a kind of over (the plate). But other than that, being around the zone, kind of being on the attack – it’s definitely a good place to be instead of searching.”
The timetable is short for Sims to get ready for the regular season, which is just over a week away when the Reds host the St. Louis Cardinals on April 1st. But with the first outing out of the way, Sims feels confident he won’t need many more appearances to be ready to go.
“After that one, probably not many,” said Sims of how many more games he’d need. “Like I said, being able to be around the zone – breaking ball was really good today. I know I gave up a hit or two on it, but those are easier adjustments – those are just location, maybe pitch selection – in season you have that information in your scouting reports and all that, but in spring training it’s just go compete. I’m in a good place. I plan on taking the ball whenever the phone rings. I’ll be ready. I don’t care, just give me the ball.”
Amir Garrett is feeling it
If you are of a certain age then you’ve watched Happy Gilmore five hundred times. While there are many quotable lines from the movie, Kevin Nealon’s character in the movie is quoted as saying that Gilmore is “Feeling the flow. Working it. Working it.” Those three lines describe exactly what Amir Garrett must be feeling right now. In his first outing of the spring on Saturday the left-handed reliever struck out all three batters that he faced. When he returned to the mound on Tuesday afternoon against the Padres he did exactly the same thing. He’s now faced six hitters and he’s sent all six of them back to the dugout with the bat in their hands.
Nick Castellanos remains on fire
Outfielder Nick Castellanos must feel like he’s seeing beach balls right now. The 29-year-old has been on a tear over the last week-and-a-half out in Arizona. On Tuesday afternoon he homered for the third time this spring. That raised his average to .406 (13-32) and he’s now slugging .781 thanks to those home runs, a double, and a triple.