Reds Cruise in 1st Game

“Play ball” was the big news yesterday as teams open up their exhibition seasons. Cincinnati got off on the right foot with a blowout win. Meanwhile manager Bryan Price commenced shuffling players onto the field while he determines his opening day roster.

Okay, it’s only an exhibition game, but it’s the first action on the field since the end of last season. After it was over Cincinnati won over in-state rival Cleveland and their manager Bryan Price is probably hoping they will have a bunch more like this one. It’s hard to say which one impressed more, the offense cracked double digit runs while the pitching staff threw a shutout.

It’s uncertain what Jason Maquis’s chances are to get a job in the back end of the Reds rotation, but he didn’t hurt himself with a couple of scoreless innings to start the game. He did walk a couple, but he didn’t allow a hit and struck out three. Keyvius Sampson came into spring training as a candidate for a surprise off-season pickup and he still is after following up with two scoreless frames himself. J.J. Hoover had a rocky start when he allowed a couple of hits, but impressed after that by fanning the next three to end a threat. Pedro Villarreal, Nate Adcock, Daniel Corcino, and Matt Magill each added a scores inning to complete the shutout. Overall Cincinnati allowed only four hits/five walks while striking out five.

Offensively Devin Mesoraco got the party started early when he singled home the first run in the first inning. The Reds then blew the game open when they plated runs in each of their final five at-bats. Overall they used 27 players and Brennan Boesch helped his chances for landing a utility outfield spot by going 2-2 with an RBI. Chris Dominguez was the only other Red to have two hits as the team combined for fifteen, including six doubles.

Perhaps more noteworthy than anything happening on the field was what didn’t, 2010 MVP Joey Votto will wait a few more days before returning to the field after an injury limited him to only 62 games last season. Homer Bailey, who is coming off of an arm surgery, has been throwing bullpen sessions. His status for opening day is still uncertain, but if not available he should be ready soon after. Brandon Phillips was back on the field and contributed a double before scoring his team’s first run.

More doubtful is the status of Cincinnati’s set-up man Sean Marshall. The latest reports are that a setback has delayed him throwing off the mound. This isn’t a big surprise for the southpaw who is coming off a shoulder surgery after injuries have limited him to only 31 games over the past two seasons. Should the Reds get a nice contribution from the 32 year-old this season it might be a bonus, meanwhile it opens up competition for a lefty reliever spot. There are not many answers on the 40-man roster, especially if Tony Cingrani assumes a spot in the rotation as expected. Otherwise there is only Ryan Dennick who had injuries limit him to only eight unimpressive appearances last season and Rule 5 protection Amir Garrett. A more likely scenario would be a shot given to one of the non-roster invites, Jose Mijares or Paul Maholm. Another option may be to forego an extra left-hander and give the spot to Cuban refugee Raisel Inglesias.

The two teams will face each other today with some interesting pitching on tap. New Red and rotation hopeful Anthony DeSclafani is scheduled to make his first start and it’s also possible that Iglesias may see some action out of the bullpen. Cincinnati signed Iglesias to a seven year/$27 million deal last year, but visa problems have prevented him from pitching since save a handful of innings where he overpowered hitters in the Arizona Fall League. His experience in the Cuban league was as a reliever, but comments from the Reds indicate that he’s a candidate for a rotation spot. Many feel he’s MLB ready now and if he shows that in the Cactus League it will likely earn him a spot somewhere.

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