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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.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Phillip Ervin Comes To Play In Reds Camp

The 23-year old from Leroy, Alabama sits quietly with his smart phone in hand while players get ready for the daily workouts.

Phillip Ervin sits quietly, already dressed and ready.

The Reds drafted Ervin with the first pick in the 2013 draft from Samford University in Birmingham where he majored in sociology.

“I’m enjoying this a lot,” said Ervin of his first big league camp. “I’m getting to know the guys and learning some things in drills and hitting approaches and stuff like that.”

The quiet 5‘10“ 207 lb. outfielder, who was born in the same hometown, Mobile, as Hank Aaron, comes to work everyday with his eyes open.

“Everybody that I’ve heard from guys that have had him (in the minor league system) say he’s a guy that just shows up and plays,” manager Bryan Price said.  “He doesn’t complain. I know he’s had some issues with his wrist but still comes to play. He doesn’t make excuses. I think there is an element of toughness there.”

Ervin had a very good first year.  He .326 with eight home runs and 29 RBI in 34 games at Billings, stealing 12 bases without getting caught.  Ervin was promoted to Dayton f12 games of the 2013 season. He continued to hit with a .349 average, one home run and six RBI and stole two bases in three attempts. A wrist injury forced him to shutdown on August 14.

The 2014 season at Dayton was a rough one.  Ervin played 132 games but hit just ,237 with seven home runs and 68 RBI. He stole 30 bases in 35 attempts but struck out 110 times. A hamstring injury cost him some playing time.

Last year was a better year for Ervin.  He started at High A Daytona and was promoted to Double A Pensacola.

“He came out a bit in the (Arizona) Fall League last year,” Price said.  “I just want to get to see him. He’s a guy, who can not only play leftfield but we’ll play him in centerfield.  He can defend. He’s been a very successful base stealer. He’s shown some power and the ability to drive in some runs.  More than anything we want to see his maturity and growth so he can become a regular fixture in out outfield.”

Ervin pressed a little bit in his year at Dayton.  He decided to relax and let his ability take over.

“I stopped putting too much pressure on myself,” Ervin said.  “I tried to have fun and not over do it. I wanted good things to take care of themselves. I just want to have fun and enjoy spring training. I want to relax and learn from the other guys.”

Ervin had two hits in the 4-4 tie with Cleveland on Wednesday.

Not Pushing Stammen

Cleveland manager Terry Francona wants Versailles native, Craig Stammen, to let his arm dictate when he is ready.

“I don’t want to remotely push,” said Francona of the forme UD baseball star, who is recovering from elbow surgery.  “Opening day is not the finish line.  When his arm is 100 percent, he will pitch.  We would rather his arm dictate that.”

Francona is avoiding the temptation to rush the right-hander along, even when he is eager to see him pitch.

‘I just don’t want to put pressure on him by checking up every day,” Francona said.

DeSclafani On Schedule For Opening Day

There has been no announcement of the Opening Day starter but Anthony DeSclafani, who had more starts last season than anyone on the staff, is online for the honor.

If you count off every five days, it puts DeSclafani on schedule to be on the mound soon after the Findlay Parade ends on April 4.

DeSclafani retired all six Cleveland batters he faced on Thursday but wasn’t as sharp as his line.

Joey Butler was retired on a hard groundball to Alex Blandino at third.  Yan Gomes lined out to Brandon Phillips, who was shifted toward right.

“There were some hard hit balls. We were positioned well on defense,” DeSclafani said. “I need to work on my fastball command but I felt good.”

DeSclafani would like the honor of pitching on Opening Day.

“It means something to everybody. I want to continue to keep progressing and earn that right,” DeSclafani said.

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