By HAL McCOY
Anybody with even a minuscule knowledge of baseball knows that preseason/exhibition results mean next-to-nothing.
Just ask the Cleveland Browns. After going undefeated in the preseason last season they went 0-and-16 when it counted in the regular season.
So it is not necessary to pull the alarm handle on the Cincinnati Reds so far this spring, even though their won-loss-tie record is 3-7-1 after Sunday’s 10-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals in Goodyear, Ariz.
There are, though, some elements for early concern.
Pitcher Rookie Davis already is on the 60-day disabled list and the Reds are holding breaths and crossing fingers that this isn’t the start of another litany of injuries to the pitching staff, something that has hung cement blocks around their necks the past few seasons.
And some of the guys who need to hit aren’t hitting among the regulars.
Both Joey Votto and Billy Hamilton were given Sunday off while the Reds took another shot to the chin.
Votto is 0 for 7 so far this spring, but those who have followed Votto know he seldom does well in spring training and even sometimes starts slowly when the season begins.
Hamilton is 0 for 12 and that, indeed, is a matter of concern. If he is going to be the Reds leadoff hitter, it is time for him to step it up, and that means a giant step up because time surely has to be running out, patience has to be short, over his inability to hit and get on base.
Tucker Barnhart and Eugenio Suarez, also given Sunday off, have started fast. Barnhart is hitting .440 and Suarez is hitting .385.
But Jose Peraza and Adam Duvall entered Sunday’s game each hitting .182, although Peraza had a hit Sunday and Duvall crushed a two-run home run during a three-run inning when the Reds were behind, 8-0.
Peraza also made an error at shortstop and dropped a pop fly after a long run that was ruled a hit.
Scooter Gennett, also given a rest Sunday, has been batting in the clean-up spot and is hitting .200.
Of course, it is a very small sampling for all concerned – those doing well and those doing not so well. At this early juncture, a couple of good days can push the average to a high level and a couple of bad days can lower the average drastically.
So these are early observations as to what is going on early in the exhibition season for a team that needs to give its fans something to dream about after three straight last place finishes.
The news wasn’t good Sunday concerning pitcher Anthony DeSclafani, trying to come back after missing all of last season and half of 2016.
He started Sunday’s game and the first five Kansas Royals reached base and they scored four runs on five hits.
DeSclafani gave up a triple, two singles, a runner reach on Peraza’s error and the fifth batter singled and it was 3-0 before an out was recorded. After DeSclafani got an out, he gave up another single and it was 4-0.
DeSclafani issued a one-out walk in the second but squirmed out of it with a double play ball.
Tyler Mahle pitched 2 2/3 innings and was unfortunate. He gave up four runs, three earned, but not a ball was hit hard off him.
His second inning began when Cliff Pennington dropped a wind-blow pop-up for an error. The runner took third on a deep fly to center and scored on a single by Jorge Bonafacio.
It turned real ugly in Mahle’s third inning when he gave up two pop-flare singles and issued a full count walk.
One run scored on a sacrifice fly and Mahle was replaced by minor leaguer Rafael De Paula and he permitted boy of Mahle’s base runners to score on a single and a wild pitch.
The Reds had only one productive offensive inning and it came in the sixth. They had only three hits entering the sixth, two by Phil Gosselin, trying to make the team as an extra player.
They scored all three runs in the sixth when Peraza singled and scored on Scott Schebler’s double. Adam Duvall then homered into the grassy knoll behind the center field wall.