By HAL McCOY
Winning spring exhibition games is not Priority A for any major league baseball team, especially one like the Cincinnati Reds, a team on a search mission for a 25-man roster.
But at some point it is important to establish a winning environment. Fortunately for the Reds, there are many games remaining to absorb some positive vibes because they are off to an ugly start.
They lost their third straight exhibition game of Spring Training 2017, Sunday afternoon, a 9-5 whacking by the San Francisco Giants.
IT WAS A LESS-THAN-MEMORABLE day for two pitchers trying to win one of two available starting rotation spots.
Tim Adleman started for the Reds and gave up two runs, four hits and one of the hits was a home run.
But the Reds scored four runs in the bottom of the first and turned a 4-2 lead over to Robert Stephenson, a No. 1 draft pick who has been less than impressive in his quest to show he deserved to be a No. 1 pick.
HIS PERFORMANCE SUNDAY was plug ugly — he faced nine batters in the third inning and gave up four runs, three hits, walked two and hit a batter. He walked the first batter and then was torched for a two-run home run by Joe Panik.
San Francisco’s Home Run Derby continued in the third inning, a two-run home run by Jarrett Parker against Nick Routt, a 28-year-old non-roster invitee who was 2-0 with a 0.89 earned run average and an All-Star appearance last season at Class AA Pensacola.
Michael Lorenzen made his spring debut and it was shaky. He walked the first batter on four pitches, retired the next two, then issued two more walks and a run-scoring single.
THERE WERE, THOUGH, a couple of positive pitching performances by Tony Cingrani and Luis Castillo.
Cingrani, the only certified left hander in the Reds’ bullpen for now, walked the first batter he faced, then went 1-2-3.
Castillo was outstanding — six up and six down in the seventh and eighth innings with a pair of strikeouts.
The 24-year-old Castillo, a starter most of last season, was acquired from the Miami Marlins, along with Austin Brice, in a trade for Dan Strailey. In 24 starts, 21 in Class A and three in Class AA, he was 8-and-6 and was listed in some quarters as the Marlins’ No. 2 pitching prospect.
Offensively, the Reds scored four runs in the second inning but only one more via nine hits. Jose Peraza had two hits, the only member of the Reds with more than one.