UNSOLICTED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, writing baseball and watching some incredible conference tournament basketball and wondering which NBA team will stop the University of Kentucky.
It is a small sampling because the Cincinnati Reds have only played about a third of their spring training exhibition schedule, but here are some early observations from my three weeks in Arizona:
The most impressive player in camp so far has been outfield candidate Brennan Boesch, a left handed hitter with some nitroglycerin in his bat. He is 9 for his first 21 (.429) with two home runs, a double and five RBI.
Boesch could be the bat off the bench capable of providing a three-run home run late in a game, something the Reds haven’t had off the bench since Jonny Gomes.
THE MOST IMPRESSIVE pitcher so far has been veteran Jason Marquis, who came to camp and boldly said, “One of the rotation spots is mine to lose.” And he has done nothing to lose it. In three appearances he given up one run and three hits over nine innings, a 1.00 ERA.
The thinking by the Reds is that he might be the guy to fill in for a start or two until Homer Bailey is ready, but Marquis looks as if he is ready to take one of the two spots available in the rotation vacated by Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon.
Anthony DeStefani and Tony Cingrani were the early favorites for those two spots, but DeStafani has not been impressive in his first five innings — four runs, seven hits and a 5.40 ERA. Cingrani has been OK, five innings, one run, five hits.
BASED ONLY ON early returns, the bullpen remains a huge problem. They brought in Blake Badenhop with a lot of fanfare, but in two appearances over just 1 2/3 innings he has given up five runs and eight hits, a 27.00 earned run average.
J.J. Hoover continues to be perplexed by the home run ball, giving up two home runs, three runs and five hits in three innings.
And one begins to wonder if shoulder-plagued Sean Marshall is ever going to be able to contribute as a left handed situational guy out of the bullpen.
INFIELDER EUGENIO SUAREZ is hitting .333 (5 for 15) and made two incredible defensive plays in his first couple of games, but is no threat to take away Zack Cozart’s job at shortstop, according to manager Bryan Price. “We want Suarez to play every day, not sit on the bench, and Cozart is our shortstop,” said Price. And Cozart is hitting .308 (4 for 13).
The player that caught my eye quickly and pointedly was outfielder Marlon Byrd, who appears to be the clubhouse leader the Reds could use. He is one of the first arrivals every morning and he quickly dresses and goes to work, taking early batting practice nearly every day.
He is highly visible and vociferous in the clubhouse, talking with the other players, mostly offering advice and talking nothing but optimism.
As for leadership, he says, “I’ve done everything and seen about everything there is to do and see in my 14 years and I’d love to be a leader. But to be a leader, you have to have followers. The other guys have to want to be led.”
SOME DATES for book-signing appearances for my book, The Real McCoy, which will be released Monday but is already in the hands of some who ordered from Amazon.com.
MARCH 23, Dayton International Airport, front lobby atrium, 9 a.m.
MARCH 31, Books & Company, The Greene, 7 p.m.
April 9, Jo-Beth Booksellers, Hyde Park, Cincinnati, 7 p.m.
April 12, Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame & Museum, Great American Ball Park, 11 a.m.
April 18, New and Olde Pages Bookshop, Englewood, 2 p.m.
April 23, Mayflower Arts Center, Troy, 7 p.m.
May 7, Bush Auto Center, Wilmington, 5:30 p.m.
May 21, Vandalia Library, Vandalia, 6:30 p.m.
June 2, Kettering-Moraine Library, 6:30 p.m
August 13, Englewood Library, Englewood, 6:30 p.m.
And stay tuned for more events to be scheduled.
APRIL 2, Blue Jacket Books, Xenia, 5 p.m.