The Cincinnati Reds traveled a few miles from Goodyear to Scottsdale in Arizona Tuesday night to play the San Francisco Giants — minus Joey Votto, minus Jay Bruce, minus Billy Hamilton, minus Zack Cozart and minus Devin Mesoraco.
The only so-called regulars in the lineup were Brandon Phillips (second base) and Eugenio Suarez (third base).
That flies in the face of new commissioner Rob Manfred’s wishes that teams fill their lineups with regulars so that fans who pay hefty ticket prices get to see recognizable faces.
THE RESULT was plug ugly: San Francisco 16, Cincinnati 7.
THE REDS, THOUGH can claim innocence on two fronts. Hamilton is injured and Cozart and Mesoraco are coming off surgeries that require caution as to their return to the field.
And, who knows who the regulars really are at this point as the Reds retool and redesign their teams.
Former commissioner Bud Selig had the same kind of ‘suggested requirement.’ Former Minnesota Twins manager Tom Kelly once brought his team to Sarasota, Fla., to face the Reds with a roster that appeared to be filled with guys in the witness protection program. The Twins were rebuilding at the time.
WHEN IT WAS SUGGESTED to Kelly that the commissioner wouldn’t be happy with his lineup, Kelly said, “If the commissioner can tell me who my regulars are I’ll gladly let him fill out my lineup card.”
And that’s the situation right now with the Reds.
IN ADDITION, the young players and the new players on a roster are trying hard in these early spring games, trying to make an impression. The veterans, the guys with their positions solidified, are merely trying to work on their timing and their plate approaches.
AND TUESDAY NIGHT was a great example. The Reds’ lineup consisted of three guys in the mix for the vacant left field spot: Jake Cave, Jesse Winker and Scott Schebler.
So what happened in the first inning? Cave singled. Winker singled. Schebler hit his second home run of the spring to give the Reds a 3-0 lead against Madison Bumgarner. And who made the first two outs? Regulars Suarez and Phillips.
And in the bottom of the first Phillips dropped a relay throw on a possible inning-ending double play and a run scored as the Giants scored two in the bottom of the first.
Phillips is hitting .167. Welcome to spring training.
The left handed Winker singled in his next time up against lefty Bumgarner and Schebler also hits left handed.
IT WAS NOT a resourceful pitching night for the Reds after grabbing that 3-0 lead.
Anthony Desclafani, the projected Opening Day starter, loaded the bases on two hits and a walk in the bottom of the first with no outs and two runs scored. In three innings he gave up four runs, four hits that included a home run and walked one.
Jesus Sanchez followed Desclafani and had to be removed during his second inning and gave up four runs, five hits and four walks in only 1 2/3 innings.
The Reds pulled with 9-7 in the top of the seventh, but Chris O’Grady gave up five runs, three hits and two walks in one-third of an inning, the bottom of the seventh.