Spring training is over, Reds pitching a mess

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, huddled up and hiding from the strong winds rattling the windows and the garage door, wondering if this is what fans will get Opening Day in Cincinnati. Rain is predicted.

Gale force winds swept Victory Field in Indianapolis Saturday for the Cincinnati Reds-Pittsburgh Pirates exhibition game, but there may have been a different type of ill-wild blowing.

Catcher Devin Mesoraco, coming off hip surgery last year, was originally in the lineup but was removed before the game with stiffness in his hips.

That’s not a good thing for him or the injury-socked Reds.

BUT ON THIS DAY day it was a good thing for back-up catcher Tucker Barnhart. He got the start in the city of his birth and near the town where he grew up, Brownsburg, Ind.

And he took full advantage. He had three hits in his first three at-bats, scored two runs and drove in one during the cold, wind-assaulted afternoon. And hee threw out a base-runner trying to steal second.

The Reds poured it to the Pirates, 13-6 on 17 hits, in their final spring exhibition game. And by winning seven of their last eight, the Reds finished the exhibition season with a 16-16 record.

They scored seven runs in the third inning. The normally patient Joey Votto had two hits in the inning, both coming on the first pitch.

Alfredo Simon, one of three late spring pitching additions, started Saturday’s game and gave up three runs and four hits in four innings, including a two-run home run to David Freese. When he walked the first two batters in the fifth, giving him four walks for the game, he was removed.

MANAGER BRYAN PRICE made a late-spring decision by removing Billy Hamilton from the leadoff spot and dropping him to the bottom of the order. Zack Cozart is now batting leadoff and Saturday was not a good day for him. He batted in each of the first four innings and went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts and his average slipped below .200 at .194.

SO WHAT have we learned from spring training?

The pitching staff is a head-on train wreck involving two trains. The rotation is a work in progress, very slow progress. The bullpen is not a question mark, it is about four question marks stacked back-to-back

If looks as if when the season begins, the Reds will have pitchers Homer Bailey, Anthony DeSlafani, Michael Lorenzen, John Lamb and Jon Moscot on the disabled list, along with outfielder Yorman Rodriguez.

The rotation is such a mess the Reds signed Dan Strily after the San Diego Padres put him on waivers. The 27-year-old Strily started the spring with Houston but the Astros traded him to San Diego last Monday. The Padres quickly placed him on waivers.

He pitched mostly at Triple-A Fresno last year and appeared in four games (three starts) for the Astros last year and gave up 10 runs and 16 hits in 16 2/3 innings. His major league record is 13-13 with a 4.60 earned run average.

And he might be the Reds starter in Game 3 Thursday against Philadelphia.

In addition, to put a veteran in the bullpen, the Reds signed Ross Ohlendorf early this week after he was released by the Kansas City Royals when they wouldn’t guarantee him a spot on the 25-man roster.

HAMILTON AND COZART, both coming off injuries, are not hitting. Cozart is his defensive self at shortstop but Hamilton’s arm remains weak from his shoulder surgery. And the latest on Mesoraco is not encouraging.

ON THE POSITIVE side, Joey Votto is doing a more than passable imitation of his idol, Ted Williams and hit .455 this spring. Brandon Phillips hitting with a vengeance and finished at .375. Eugenio Suarez looks as if he can more than fill Todd Frazier’s vacancy at third base and hit .356. Jose Peraza looks as if he can play about anywhere the Reds want him to play and hit .290 this spring.

Adam Duvall and Scott Schebler probably will split time in left field and both have shown some pop with the bat this spring.

But beginning Monday everybody starts at .000 and 0.00.

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