Payback can be a good feeling and Will Benson may have been feeling pretty good as he crushed a long home run to put the Cincinnati Reds on top of the team that traded him away a year ago. The Cleveland Guardians offense never got going as Cincinnati picked up a victory in the spring training opener.

Game Recap: Reds 4 – Guardians 0

Will Benson got the scoring started with an absolute laser of a home run. Unknown at the time, but that single run would be enough to get the job done as the Cincinnati Reds seven pitchers combined for a shutout as the club’s offense tacked on three more runs – all coming off of the bat of prospect Tyler Callihan.

The Highlights

Carson Spiers looked good in the first two innings of the game as he struck out four batters without allowing a run before turning the game over to the bullpen.

After the third inning it seemed like half of each team left Goodyear Ballpark to head back to the complex (which is just a bit down the street). Players have to exit from the outfield, though, and the game was delayed slightly as the players worked their way through the door in the outfield wall.

Hopefully the players got out quickly because about five minutes later Will Benson hit a baseball at roughly light speed deep into the right-center tunnel. The bat drop was definitely in midseason form, too, as he put the Reds up 1-0.

The Reds added a run in the top of the 6th inning after Bubba Thompson led the inning off with a double and then came around to score on a fielders choice, giving Cincinnati a 2-0 lead. Two innings later they would add to their score once again when prospect Tyler Callihan obliterated a baseball for a 2-run homer that landed on the concourse in right-center. That made it a 4-0 game because the Reds pitching had been strong up to that point.

The pitching remained strong, too, as seven guys combined for a shutout. Carson Spiers had four of the club’s 10 strikeouts on the day in his two innings. Fernando Cruz, Buck Farmer, and Justin Bruihl all followed up with a shutout inning of their own. Brooks Kriske tossed a perfect inning with two strikeouts before giving way to Brett Kennedy who struck out three batters in two shutout innings. Alan Busenitz came out for the 9th inning to close things out with a perfect inning that included a strikeout.

Cincinnati did not walk a batter in the game. Their hitters had more walks than strikeouts (eight walks, six strikeouts).

Tyler Callihan drove in three of the four runs for Cincinnati. TJ Friedl went 1-1 with a walk and he was hit by a pitch. Bubba Thompson went 1-2 with a walk, double, steal, and a run scored. Josh Harrison went 1-2 with a double.

You can see the box score for the game here.

Sunday’s Game

Cincinnati will remain in Goodyear on Sunday, but this time around they will actually be the home team as they take on the Los Angeles Angels. Expect a light lineup for the Angels, who are playing a split squad and teams tend to keep their best guys for the home side of those. Hunter Greene will get the start for the Reds. No television broadcast. The radio broadcast will be on 700 WLW. First pitch is set for 3:05pm ET.

51 Responses

  1. Optimist

    “Cincinnati did not walk a batter in the game.”

    • DW

      Huge! Best news possible. Better than the two HRs.


    Callihan impressed me with that L O N G hr.

    • DaveCT

      Callihan has lost some time with injuries but could be right there in 24 ready to break out. He was bat first when drafted but has really come around defensively. Don’t sleep on this guy.

  3. Ahimsa

    Have a hunch Benson’s gonna have a big year.

    • Rednat

      I have the highest hopes for Benson and Steer. Both durable and strong git tool.

    • Harry Stoner

      I’m getting a vibe that Benson is going to be BP II, as in a long term sleeper acquisition from Cleveland.

      And also in his role on the team.

      As well as being the best #8 hitter in MLB. 😉

      • Jason Franklin

        Maybe Bell will promote him to #7! 🙂 I think he has earned at least that much credit.

      • Melvin

        “Maybe Bell will promote him to #7! ? I think he has earned at least that much credit.”

        One spot per year? 😉

      • Jason Franklin

        @ Melvin: Yes, but only if Benson agrees to switch hit and play 2nd and 3rd for Captain Utility Manager.

      • Earmbrister

        Perhaps Benson had the year he had, in part, because Bell took the pressure off of him by putting him in the eighth hole. He had a horrific start to the year before taking a break.

        Maybe just maybe Bell has a feel for his psyche by being around him more than we have been.

      • MK

        Benson was a first round draft pick for Cleveland which comes with alot of pressure on its own without any performance pressures. I remember him with Lake County where he was an AllStar mostly because he was a first round pick. He lost some of that pressure when Cleveland gave up on him and that first round talent began to shine.

        The difference with BP was he created his own pressure by his arrogance (his cleats had “The Franchise” printed on the which irritated his Indian teammates. He got rid of that stigma when he came to cincinnati.

      • Optimist

        I totally agree with Earmbrister, and said as much several times last season – Benson is excellent as the 2nd cleanup man, and perhaps the best #8 hitter in baseball. Leave him be, and perhaps move him up when others take a break.

        Learn from this, and if the lineup breaks a certain way, see if this pattern works for Barrero as well – regular playing time, and a lower pressure spot in the lineup.

      • TR

        I think Benson is a ‘come through when needed’ type of ballplayer, but he needs steady playing time for his talent to emerge over a season. I’m not sure this will happen as long as Manager Bell is substituting outfielders.

      • greenmtred

        According to the Cleveland broadcasters, their manager also switches lineups and has players cover multiple positions. And here I thought that Bell was unique…Who knew?

      • Justin T

        @greenmtred So Cleveland’s manager does it too? Remind me of their record last year? Whats Mr Bells record as a manager? Youre proving the point.

      • BK

        @Justin, Cleveland had a different manager last year. So, their prior record really isn’t relevant. That said, even with last year, Terry Francona’s record in Cleveland was outstanding.

  4. Rednat

    With the health status of Indiand Mclain up un the air I have a feeling Josh Harrison will have a major impact with the reds in 2024. Important signing for the reds this year

    • Reaganspad

      Funny, I was thinking the same thing about Barrero…

    • Jason Franklin

      I wonder if the Reds signed Harrison just for the fact that they knew that India was still broken? Doesn’t make much sense why they signed him to that extension (India) but the Reds are wonky.

    • MK

      You could include Kemp in that thought as well.

    • greenmtred

      Justin, I didn’t use the sarcasm font in my comment and won’t in this one. My suspicion is that many managers use multiple lineup configurations and value positional flexibility in their players. The reasons for both should be obvious but apparently aren’t. As for managerial records, a number of universally acclaimed managers have had seasons–sometimes more than one–when their teams have had dismal records. Does that mean that, for instance, Sparky Anderson was a bad manager the year his Tigers lost 103 games? Or Lou Piniella the year he lost 99? Or Casey Stengel the year he lost 123? Or does it mean that they didn’t have players who were good enough? Again, the answer should be obvious. Managerial records are a nearly useless metric.

  5. Old-school

    Spiers and Cruz looked really good. Throwing strikes and attacking the zone. Read something that Benson is a potential back up CF but needs reps and tracking ball better and is a work in progress behind Friedl. But, if Benson could learn CF as a capable back up for Friedl and grow in year 2 and Steer becomes a competent corner OF, the outfield issues are over.

    • VaRedsFan

      It would be great news if their back up CF’er was Benson, because if TJ goes down, then they are stuck with Fairchild or Barrero.

      FWIW, Benson didn’t look like a very good outfielder last year. He certainly could improve. He seems to have a good work ethic, from my perspective.

  6. Mark Moore

    And the burgers were excellent as well. Overall, it was a great day.

    • Reaganspad

      What did you have on your burger?

      • Mark Moore

        Two patties (chuck/brisket blend) cooked on my flat-top, grilled onions, aged white cheddar cheese slices, mayo.

        Simple and tasty!

  7. Matt McWax

    Serious exit velocity on that Benson homer if my eyes and ears are to be believed.

  8. Jim Delaney

    I know Thompson has an option but I think he has a strong shot to get the last roster spot. Also think Spiers will make Reds decision hard to send him down.

    • Optimist

      If there are any starters on the IL, and Martinez is moved to a rotation spot, Spiers could be the first long reliever call up. It’s a role they haven’t had for a few years.

    • DaveCT

      Spiers has gone from college closer at Clemson to a legit staring candidate in three seasons. His stuff has improved and he’s durable. He can start or relieve. Watching him at AA last year, he really competes, much like Sonny Gray. He may or may not make it on the Reds given the high upside arms ahead of him, but I’m pretty convinced he’s a major league pitcher.

  9. Melvin

    “Cincinnati did not walk a batter in the game. Their hitters had more walks than strikeouts (eight walks, six strikeouts).”

    Always like our chances when those two things happen. Good job.

  10. Tom Reeves

    A really nice way to begin spring training

  11. Doc

    Whatever happened to small sample size warnings, and why is ST six weeks long when decisions about roster spots are so easy to make after one game and before 50+% of the players have even stepped onto the field?

  12. AMDG

    Benson sure seems like the real deal, as a guy who can be an everyday player.

    Meanwhile, the guy the Reds sent to Cleveland hit 0.140 as a 22 year old in high A ball last year.

    The PTBNL in that trade (Hajjar) looks like he could be the better piece in the trade, especially if he ever figures out how to stop walking people.

    • VaRedsFan

      Benson crushed it in Spring last year too, I believe.

  13. Jim t

    If Benson wants to play everyday he will need to hit lefthanders much better.

    • MBS

      Chicken or the egg imo. If we want him to hit LHP better, we need to give him more opportunities to do so. His last year in AAA he showed good splits, so maybe there’s a chance he can do it again.

    • VaRedsFan

      I agree. And Spring is the perfect time to at least give it a trial run.

      But then, you’re also asking the manager to change his stripes. Heck, it took him 4 months last year to realize that TJ Friedl could hit lefties as well, or better than righties.

      • Jim t

        He has never demonstrated the ability to hit lefties.

      • MBS

        Will Benson never hit much in the minors until 2022. His LHP in splits in 2022 were .250/.386/.375. Not much to go on, but at least there’s some hope.

  14. Old-school

    Cubs get Bellinger at $30 million with an opt out or 3/80. That strengthens them quite a bit

    • Brian Rutherford

      He is such a hit or miss player. Good contract from the Cubs perspective. He still has the opt outs if he has another big season and Cubs aren’t on the hook for a long multi year deal. I was hoping the Reds would have found a spot for him with the short porch in RF. Oh well.

    • Mark Moore

      Amusing that the much-ballyhooed 10-year deal never materialized. Here’s to hoping the Stupid Cubs regret every nickel they spent when he fails to perform and won’t exercise those opt out clauses. And laughs all the way to the bank.

  15. Jim Delaney

    I like the Bellinger trade for the Cubs far better than the Candelario contract for the Reds.. the Candelario contract has bad money spent all over it…..

    • TJ

      Until Johnathan India gets hurt. Wait what?

      • Justin T

        Does that mean the contract is good? There are alot of options if someone gets hurt and they dont have to pay 45 million dollars for them. India getting hurt means Candelario was a good signing? Absolutely false.