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I am a freelance writer. I've covered the Cincinnati Reds, Bengals and others since 1992. I have a background in sales as well. I've sold consumer electronics, advertising and consumer package goods for companies ranging from the now defunct Circuit City to Procter&Gamble. I have worked as a stats operator for Xavier University, the University of Cincinnati, the College of Mount St. Joe and Colerain High School.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Let The Games Begin Reds And Indians Open Cactus League

Time to put the monotonous drills and batting practice in the background.

After this Leap Year Day, those things will still be looming but there will be competition to test the players mental as well as physical skills.  The Reds play the first of three games with the Cleveland Indians at 3:00 pm Eastern time.  The game is televised by Fox Sports Ohio.

The competition will be external, facing another team, but also internal  For players who are established the competition is never about results.

As Indians manager Terry Francona put it, "The top five batting averages in the outfield, won't be the ones that make the team.  It is about finding out what position is best suited for each player."

It is the same with the batting order.

"We don't start thinking of the batting order until the end," Francona said.  "One guy gets hurt early and it affects the whole batting order.  We just use the batting order to get guys at bats.  Catchers are the hardest.  We gradually build their innings.  We put the four or five regulars at the top of the order to get them more at bats."

For the players competing to make the team, results are important.  They are going to play more innings and need to take advantage of them to show results, catch management's eye, turn some heads.

The Reds pitchers will pitch one inning each.  Josh Tomlin and T;J. House will pitch for Cleveland.

Reds pitchers tomorrow are:

Jon Moscot
Brandon Finnegan
Tony Cingrani
Blake Wood
Chris O'Grady
Zack Weiss
A.J. Morris
Drew Hayes

The Reds starters and batting order are:

Jake Cave CF
Eugenio Saurez 3B
Joey Votto 1B
Brandon Phillips 2B
Jay Bruce RF
Adam Duvall LF
Yorman Rodriguez DH
Ivan De Jesus Jr. SS
Tucker Barnhart C

Moscot started three games for the Reds last season before he hurt his non-throwing shoulder in a rundown.

Finnegan pitched for the Reds in September after coming from the Kansas City Royals in the trade for Johnny Cueto.

They are competing for jobs in the starting rotation.

The rest are slated for the bullpen.

Tony Cingrani, who has started for the Reds in the past.  The lack of a third pitch has him working from the bullpen....  Blake Wood pitched for Cleveland in 2014 but signed with the Pirates last season. He spent the entire season at Indianapolis where he saved 29 games....  Chris O'Grady was taken from the Angels system in the Rule V draft.  The Reds' claimed him for the $50,000 waiver fee but must stay on the Reds 25-man roster or be offered back to the Angels for half the fee.  O'Grady, a left-hander has 120 minor league relief appearances with a 3.21 ERA...Zack Weiss is a 23-year old right-hander saved 35 games for Pensacola last season.  The Reds' sixth round pick in 2013 has 100 minor league appeaances, five starts with a 2.54 ERA...A.J. Morris, 29, was a Rule V pick by the Indians off the Cubs roster in 2013 but spent the 2014 season on the disabled list.  He signed with the Reds as a free agent.  Morris, who played amatuer baseball with Jay Bruce, Has started 55 minor league games and pitched in relief in 122 other games.  The right-hander has a 26-19 minor league record with a 3.26 ERA....Drew Hayes is in his third Reds' big league camp.  The Reds' 11th round pick from Vanderbilt University, spent three years at Double A Pensacola before advancing to Louisville last season.  Hayes pitched in 43 games at Louisville all in relief.  He was 4-4 with three saves and a 3.35 ERA.

The Lineup

Jake Cave is another Rule V pick from the New York Yankees organization. The 23-year old was drafted by the Yankees in the sixth round in 2011.  Cave has to make the team and is competing for the open leftfield job.  He advanced to Triple A last season and finished with former Reds' manager Dave Miley.  Cave hit a combined .277 with two home runs and 39 RBI. He stole 17 bases in 20 attempts....Adam Duvall also has a chance to start in leftfield on opening day.  The Louisville native and U of L alumnus came to the Reds in the Mike Leake trade with the San Francisco Giants.  Duvall played 27 games with the Reds and hit five home runs in 64 at bats.  He hit .219 with Cincinnati. Duvall, who can also backup Joey Votto at firstbase hit .281 with Triple A Sacramento last year with 26 home runs and 80 RBI.  Including his brief stay in Louisville, Duvall belted 35 home runs for the season.

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