By HAL McCOY
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave after spending a weekend in Cary, N.C. with the University of Dayton baseball team — and it was colder in Carolina than it was in Dayton.
What did I miss? Oh, four straight spring exhibition victories by the Cincinnati Reds, including two over the world champion Chicago Cubs and an eight-run eighth inning to beat Kansas City, 9-7, after they lost their first six games.
REMEMBER THE MANTRA — it is ONLY spring training, where losses — and wins — mean zero, zip, nada.
Spring training isn’t about wins and losses. It is about seeing all the prospects and the players trying to win spots on the roster showing what they can do and what they can’t do. And it is for the veterans who are guaranteed roster spots to hone and sharpen their games for the regular season.
That being said, as manager Bryan Price likes to say, winning makes the fans happier than losing.
And the Reds made it five straight wins Tuesday afternoon in Goodyear, Ariz., a 7-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals.
Pitching was the word of the day for the Reds.
Sal Romano, in the mix for a slot in the starting rotation, started Tuesdays’ game after two eye-opening performances out of the bullpen.
The 6-5, 270-pound right hander who pitched last season at Class AA Pensacola, had a wobbly first inning, but turned the lights out on the Royals in the second and third.
He gave up a first-inning home run to Mike Moustakas, coming off a year in which he played only 23 games because of a torn Achilles tendon, and a single.
Then he pitched 1-2-3 in both the second and third and his three-inning line was one run, two hits, no walks and four strikeouts. He struck out two in both the second and third and is making a strong statement to be included on the roster, either in the rotation or out of the bullpen.
Michael Lorenzen was shaky in 1 2/3 innings, giving up two runs and three hits that included a home run to Billy Burns.
Blake Wood pitched a quick 1-2-3 inning and Tony Cingrani pitched a scoreless inning. He gave up an infield hit to Bubba Starling that probably should have been an error, but then startled Starling by picking him off first base. Cingrani probably has the best pickoff move in the National League and anybody wandering more than three or four feet off first base does so at great peril.
Offensively, Tucker Barnhart singled in the third and scored on Arismendy Alcantara’s triple. Alcantara, trying to win an infield bench job, was 3 for 20 at the time.
Ryan Raburn, trying to win a spot as a backup outfielder, homered in the fourth, his second spring home run.
The Reds broke a 3-3 tie in the fifth when Joey Votto singled for the second straight time and Eugenio Suarez homered.
Patrick Kivlehan continues to make an impression. Entering the game late he had another hit and a stolen and is hitting .556 this spring. Kivlehan can play third, second, first and the corner outfield spots, which would make him a valuable utility player.
After Kivlehan’s single and stolen base, Hernan Iribarren singled to continue his quest for a roster spot. He is hitting .421 this spring.
MEANWHILE, ON A PRACTICE field early Tuesday morning 39-year-old Bronson Arroyo pitched an inning of a ‘B’ game and gave up a run and two hits, struck out one and threw a wild pitch (15 pitches, 10 strikes. catcher Devin Mesoraco made his spring debut behind the plate, catching Arroyo, and struck out in his only at bat.
THE REDS, THOUGH, are not impressing the boys in the desert, as former broadcaster Brent Musburger would say. The Bovado sports book lists the Reds at 75 to 1 to win the National League pennant. They are at the bottom of the list at 75 to 1 with the Milwaukee Brewers. Both the Reds and Brewers are at 33 to 1 to win the National League Central. The Cubs are odds-on at 1 to 5, St. Louis is at 11 to 2 and Pittsburgh is 17 to 2.