Redlegs Rundown

February 23, 2010 2:14 PM

Going to Spring Training




Goodyr1.jpgThe first-person is the implied subject of this headline. It's true. I'm not completely sure how it happened, but it comes at very little cost to yours truly and is being explained by leaders of all religions as divine intervention. By no means is this an extended visit--I'm seeing the Reds and Mariners on a Friday and heading home hideously early Sunday morning. It doesn't matter though, I'd walk home if I had to.


I obviously don't have access to the clubhouse or anything, so I won't be reporting anything all the real Reds journalists will be, but I do hope to have some good stuff about my experience there. I spilled a beverage on my laptop and now lots of the keys don't work the way they should, so I won't be bringing it on my trip. I will however, be that old-fashioned chump in the seats with a notebook and pen. Lots can change in less than a month (I'm seeing the March 19th game) so I'm not sure what to expect. Obviously it'd be great to see Cliff Lee and Aroldis Chapman pitch in this game, but there are other, seemingly lesser, spring training stories that I have my eye on as well.


The return of Bill Bray. Bray is the kind of guy you just like to pull for. He's a lanky left-handed relief pitcher coming back from Tommy John surgery. I want to see Bray with a spot on the club come April, but he may end up not bouncing back fully healthy or just getting lost in the mix of other left-handed relievers like Daniel Ray Herrera and maybe Chapman.


The clusterf--, er, plethora of bodies, in left field. If you are following the Reds this winter, you are tired of hearing about the left field battle. There are 100 people vying for this spot, and I can offer nothing as far as predictions for what is going to happen in left. The confusion even forced a Johnny Damon rumor to the forefront. Jonny Gomes, who re-signed with the Reds yesterday, only works in a platoon situation since he can only hit lefties. This problem in left doesn't even necessarily stem from great depth. None of the candidates have tons of major league experience and for some, standing in left field of Great American Ballpark on opening day would be their major league debut. The good news is that no matter who wins the spot, an extra outfielder will probably have to stay on the 25-man roster to fill in for Jay Bruce in right from time to time. As of now, there's a lot of young talent to watch in Goodyear and not a whole lot of time to do it.


The 5th spot. It is not going to be Mike Lincoln. Sorry Mike, it just isn't. I love your little tulip breaking ball, don't get me wrong, but it's just not going to happen in the starting five. As for who it is going to be, I'm as uncertain about that as I am certain that it won't be Lincoln. I don't think Chapman will be starting the season as a starter, or even in Cincinnati for that matter, but it seems he's already making great strides as far as command and he's certainly the organization's golden boy now, so he can't be ruled out. We need someone to bring people to the ballpark right? First-round pick Mike Leake is a long shot. Left-hander Matt Maloney has had some success at the big league level. There are other guys in the mix, such as Travis Wood, Justin Lehr, Kip Wells and Micah Owings. Lehr pitched well in limited time last year, and should be in better shape after not having pitched all year round like he usually does, no longer living the life of a perpetual minor leaguer. Kip Wells is Kip Wells, Wood is a rookie left-hander who pitched well in the minors, and Owings is a decent #5 with pinch-hitting ability. Owings won more games in the #5 spot last year than anyone in the #5 spot for the Reds in 2008. Nothing about any of these guys is dazzling, but I think all you can ask out of the #5 spot is a decent chance at winning every time they take the mound.


Some people have chosen the Reds as a sleeper Wild Card team this season. Great news of course, but we may be getting ahead of ourselves. The Cardinals have all but won the NL Central in February, leaving the rest of us to duke it out for the rest of the summer. If the Reds play better out west and at home this year, they will be contending in October even with the question marks in left and the fifth spot.

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