By HAL McCOY
While most teams believe that six weeks for spring training is far too long, a task that becomes drudgery even under Arizona sunshine, the Cincinnati Reds might be an exception.
Is six weeks enough?
In this era of reconstruction and rebuilding, manager Bryan Price and his staff are facing a tough task trying to stitch together a 25-man roster from a camp full of a lot of strangers.
AS SPRING TRAINING BEGAN, only three starting roles were supposedly filled — Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan and newly acquired journeyman Scott Feldman. With Homer Bailey out of the picture for now, there are two spots to fill.
And there is that leaky bullpen to build and a bench to build. The bullpen and the bench both were weaker last season than an 80-year-old man’s non-dominant arm.
“In this camp we have so many players that none of us on our major league staff have seen play much,” said Price.
“A lot of them we have only seen them throw a bullpen and a little live batting practice or take a few swings in batting practice,” he said. “We really haven’t seen much of them so we really want to sink our teeth into seeing a lot of these new guys. So I have no idea a week or so into spring training as to who is going to make this club.”
PRICE SAID IT IS LIKELY one or two non-roster players might be on the Opening Day roster — guys like outfielders Ryan Raburn or Desmond Jennings, players with some major league experience who are in camp on minor league contracts, guys who might be usable bench players.
And there is a player like Bronson Arroyo, a 39-year-old pitcher trying to resurrect his career after two years of injury problems, a possibility to grab one of the rotation spots.
“It will be very difficult not to have one or two non-roster players make this team because we have two spots open in the rotation and two spots in the bullpen and four bench spots and a second catcher,” said Price.
“We have guys like Tony Renda and Hernan Iribarren, non-roster guys who are going to compete. I can’t say that zero of those guys will make the club. That’s unlikely.”
SO THE SEARCH FOR usable parts and pieces continued Saturday afternoon when the Reds played their second spring exhibition game and lost for the second time, this time to the Cleveland Indians, 8-2, in Goodyear, Ariz.
Despite outhitting the Tribe, 14-11, it was not a good offensive day for the Reds. They left 13 on base and were 4 for 13 with runners in scoring position.
Amir Garrett, a tall lefthander and former St. John’s University basketball player, is one of the rotation candidates. He acquitted himself well. He gave up a run and two hits over 1 2/3 innings and the run in the first inning was aided by an error by shortstop Armendy Alcantara.
Garrett retired the first two in the second inning but was removed because of his heavy pitch count in the first inning.
RED THIRD BASEMAN Eugenio Suarez, who didn’t play Friday in the opener, ripped the second pitch he saw this spring over the right field wall in the top of the second to tie it, 1-1.
And the Reds took a 2-1 lead in the same inning when Jesse Winker, Dilson Herrera and Hernan Iribarren all singled.
That was it for the day as far as any member of the Reds finding home plate.
Jumbo Diaz pitched the third and loaded the bases on a walk, a single to former Reds third baseman Edwin Encarnacion and a hit-by-pitch of Yan Gomes.
The first run scored on a ground ball by Bradley Zimmer and the second on an infield hit by Daniel Robertson to make it 3-2.
Jumbo’s work sheet was one inning, two runs, two hits, a walk, no strikeouts and a hit batsman.
AUSTIN BRICE, THE YOUNG pitcher acquired from the Miami Marlins for pitcher Dan Straily, pitched the fifth and none of his first five pitches were in the strike zone. He walked the first batter on four pitches and hit the next batter with his next pitch.
After a strikeout, Brice gave up a run-scoring single to Bradley Zimmer to make it 4-2. Zimmer, trying to make the Tribe’s roster as an outfielder, had two hits in three at bats and drove in five runs.
The final three came in the seventh inning against Cincinnati’s Jackson Stephens, an 18th-round draft pick in the 2012. Zimmer ripped a three-run home run to make it 7-2.
Reds regulars Billy Hamilton and Joey Votto, neither of whom played Friday, were in Saturday’s lineup and both went 0 for 3. Suarez and Iribarren each had two hits.