Spring home of your Cincinnati Reds……
Disclaimer off the top: I’ve been here only since last Friday and there’ve been only four exhibition games so far but here are some observations about your boys of summer.
They have hit the ball well. Even the outs a loud outs. And while this time of the year hitting is usually ahead of pitching (pitchers are more interested in working on pitches and control, not necessarily getting outs), the Reds have made contact in most of their at bats. This could be a major growth point for a team that stirs up the air a lot. This morning, in his daily gathering with reporters, Reds manager Dusty Baker acknowledged that his team is a collecting of whiffers. He’s not overly concerned about that, he says, because his team scores runs. But even last year’s strike out king, Drew Stubbs, has looked a lot more disciplined at the plate. Baker says a player normally strikes out when he takes a good pitch and then swings at a bad one. Makes sense. Stubbs has done a lot less of that so far in this camp. Stubbs, incidentally, told me earlier this week he’s not only going to be more disciplined at the plate this year, he’ll also add the bunt to his arsenal. That’s been a major cry from you and me: Stubbs needs to bunt more. And while he says he won’t be consumed with becoming a bunt first batter, he did tell me it’s a part of his game he needs to improve on. He laid down a nice bunt base hit against the Indians on Monday.
The pitcher who’ll make up the starting rotation have, by and large, pitched well. Leake struggled a bit on Saturday, as did Homer Bailey Sunday. But both, along with Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos took away some things from those starts to build on. We’ll see Bronson Arroyo later today against the Padres. Arroyo told me this week he feels like he hasn’t pitched in five years. All he wants to see today, he told me, was what kind of velocity he’ll have on his fastball. Lack of velocity was a problem for Arroyo last season, who had trouble getting his speed pitch over 90 miles an hour.