The Cincinnati Reds practiced their home run swings Monday afternoon in Goodyear Ball Park against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. A strong wind blowing out helped immensely as Adam Duvall, Gordon Pacheco and Joey Votto all cleared the outfield fences.
But there were a couple of subtleties that stood out in this 8-5 win over the Angels. They were a couple of balls that traveled only about 25 feet.
They were bunts by Joey Votto and Jay Bruce. Both Votto and Bruce dropped down bunts against an overshifted defense for base hits.
THAT IS SOMETHING opposing teams dared them to do all last season with overshifts, but neither Votto nor Bruce took advantage of it by bunting down the third base line.
On Monday, they both did. Will they take that into the season? There is no doubt it would benefit them both greatly, especially Bruce because of his low batting averages the last couple of seasons. And it certainly will help the Reds.
There were two outs and nobody on in the first inning when Votto pushed his bunt for a hit. Brandon Phillips then walked and Votto scored on a single by Bruce — an easy run because Votto bunted for a hit.
In the third Bruce bunted for a hit and scored on a triple by Adam Duvall and Duvall scored on a double by Scott Schebler — two more runs that followed after Bruce bunted for a hit.
THE REDS DID MOST of their damage against Angels starter Matt Shoemaker — seven runs on seven hits and all three home runs in the first three innings. They had five extra base hits against Shoemaker.
On the other side, left hander Cody Reed pitched three scoreless innings for the Reds, giving up two hits and no walks.
THE REDS, of course, are looking for a left fielder and both Duvall and Schebler are making strong arguments to claim that real estate.
Duvall, playing left field, had the home runs and the triple in three at bats. Schebler, the designated hitter during this game, contributed a double and a single in two at bats. Duvall is hitting .462 and Schebler is hitting .308.
ROOKIE JOSE PERAZA played shortstop and after starting the spring 0 for 7 had a pair of hits. He stole a run for the Reds in the fourth when he singled, stole second, stole third and scored on Votto’s sacrifice fly.
And Votto, a notorious slow starters, had the bunt single, the home run and the sacrifice fly to go 2 for 3 with a pair of runs and a pair of RBI and is hitting .556 so far early in the exhibition season.
Gordon Pacheco played third base and chipped in a home run (he and Votto went back-to-back during a four-run third inning and Pacheco added a single to go 2 for 4 during the Reds’ 15-hit attack.
MY BOOK, ‘The Real McCoy,’ is in its third printing and still available. It will be available Thursday night at Yankee Trace golf club at a wine tasting from 6:30 to 8:30 and I will be there to autograph copies that are purchased.
THE ASK HAL column makes its 2016 debut in Sunday’s Dayton Daily News and questions are needed. Send questions about the Cincinnati Reds or baseball in general to firstname.lastname@example.org and please include your hometown.