The Reds won a slugfest on Friday from the Milwaukee Brewers when Arismendy Alcantara solidified his chance to win a roster spot.
The Reds went into the ninth leading 9-8 but young Jake Ehret couldn’t throw strikes and the Brewers scored three times to take an 11-10 lead into the bottom of the inning.
The Reds pummeled Brewers’ starter Tommy Milone in the first inning. Zack Cozart hit his third home run of the spring, the first of his three hits. Devin Mesoraco hit a hard single. Eugenio Suarez followed with a single hit just as hard. Adam Duvall walked. Scott Schebler drove in two runs with a single. Patrick Kivlehan hit a sacrifice fly.
In five days, the Reds will be ending the Arizona segment of spring training. They play Cleveland at noon on Wednesday.
Manager Bryan Price hopes to have the Reds’ starting rotation and the bullpen chosen by the time the Reds play the Louisville Bats on Friday March 31 in Louisville. On Saturday the play a team consisting of and 20-somethings from the Dayton Dragons.
The choices will be difficult and will involve meetings with the Front Office.
On Friday the Reds outlasted the Brewers 12-11.
Only the starting eight is solid with the exception of Devin Mesoraco, who may not be ready by Opening Day. Leaving a choice between Rob Brantly and Stuart Turner to hold a place for Mesoraco until he builds his workload.
Price has to decide in the next couple of days whether he wants to put seven pitchers in the bullpen with a five-man bench. Or eight pitchers in the bullpen and seven in the bullpen and five in the bullpen and a four-man bench.
“We are kind of frozen on the front end of the season. After the day off on April 4, we play 12 straight,” Price said. “I don’t think it would be unusual to see an eight man bullpen and a four-man bench. I feel a lot better typically having that fifth bench player, especially when an extra catcher and an important utility player.”
Although the decision is not final, Arismendy Alcantara is at the top of Price’s mind. The 25-year old is out of options and provides versatility.
“He is a switch hitter. He is a guy I wouldn’t want to burn early in the game as a pinch hitter,” Price said. “He can play so many different positions He can do a lot of things later in the game to help us. He has speed. That group of components would serve us well. I’d like to see this kid play a full season in the big leagues. He has some untapped potential. However, he has to learn how to be a contributor as a bench player. For young guys used to playing every day at Triple A, its a challenge. I don’t think at 25 he’s that’s cornered himself as only being a bench player. He could someday be a regular.”
Alcantara hit a walk off bases loaded double to give the Reds the win over Milwaukee.
Desmond Jennings had a setback in his quest to win a job as an extra outfielder. He has been bothered a few days with stiffness in his right hip flexor. Ryan Raburn and Patrick Kivlehan are also in the running for outfield spots. Tony Renda and Hernan Iribarren have played the infield and corner outfield.
“Jennings was better recently,” Price said. “He got off to a slow start. He started to turn it on. He has been putting the ball in play with authority. He’s been playing a nice outfield, not just in center but he’s played in both corners as well and done a nice job. He has a lot to offer if he ends up making the team.”
Raburn has an out in his contract if he doesn’t make the Reds’ roster by the 28th.
“If Raburn makes the team, you hav a late inning big at bat type guy,” Price said. “Kivlehan’s had a great camp. He has great athleticism. In both the infield and outfield corners. He’s got that nice component of hitting for power. He runs the bases instinctively. He throws well and cut down on strikeouts.”
Kivlehan is hitting .381 with two home runs and six RBI. He has struck out six times in 42 at bats.
Raburn is hitting .207 with a team leading three home runs and five RBI.
Jenning is hitting .208 with a home run and eight RBI.
Sal Romano had his first bad outing against the Milwaukee He came into the game with 15 1/3, allowing two earned runs for a 1.17 ERA.
That took and upward swing on Friday.
Romano pitched 4 2/3 innings. allowing seven runs, five earned, on nine hits. He issued no walks and struck out six.
Romano started the game with three stikeouts in the first inning. Jesus Aguilar hit the first of his four singles. Manny Pina hit a ground ball to shortstop. Cozart turnded to second to start a double play but the ball got away from secondbaseman Brandon Dixon. That opened the floodgates. A triple, two doubles and a single followed and the Brewers had a five run second. Romano threw two scoreless innings, then Aguilar singled again and Pina hit a home run that ended Romano’s day.
“I gave up the leadoff hit in the second inning. I made the pitch to get the double play but not all plays are made,” Romano said. “I need to do my job and get the next guy out. I fell behind a lot of hitters today. A fastball is going to get hit no matter how hard it is if you don’t locate it. I wasn’t able to get the first pitch curve ball over the way I have been lately.”
The spring has been good for Romano overall.
“I thought Sal had really good stuff,” Price said. “I thought the combination the fastball was elevated a little bit and the ability to throw the breaking ball for a reliable strike were the biggest components to his struggle. If you stay out her long enough and make enough starts, you’re going to have a game or innings like that. He maintained his composure. I’m looking at more than the linescore. He competed throughout. Everyone gets beat up every now and again but how you deal with it. He fought to stay in the game.”
“By the time his spot comes around again, we’ll have a better idea who is going to be in the rotation, who is going to be in the bullpen and who will be in the minor leagues,” Price said. “Sal has had a wonderful spring for a guy who came into camp as a real longshot. He is a guy we are talking about making the team. This (outing) doesn’t change that.”
Schebler walked with two out in the third. A single by Kivlehan and doubles by Sebastian Elizalde and Brandon Dixon doubled to score three runs.
Dixon hit a two run double in the fifth, driving home Kivlehan and Elizarde.
Aguilar;s single and Trent Clark’s triple off Drew Storen was canceled by Nick Senzel’s RBI double.
Notes: Zack Cozart had three hits, including his third home run...Kivlehan had two hits...Nick Senzel, the Reds’ first pick in last year’s draft hit an RBI double in his first Cactus League at bat.