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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.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Zack Cozart Homers In First Spring At Bat, Young Guns Smoking But Reds Lose

The Reds remain winless after a 3-2 loss to the Brewers.

Zack Cozart returned pain free to the Reds lineup, relaxed and not thinking about hands and knees.

Cozart’s right knee was surgically repaired the year before and and last year tendinitis in it caused the Reds to shut him down with 21 games left in the season.

Cozart worked with the trainers to “check off boxes”, running the bases, conditioning, batting practice to make sure he was in playing shape.

His timing was there. Cozart hit the second pitch from Milwaukee starter Chase Anderson onto the leftfield berm.

“I started to put the bat on my shoulder rather than worry about getting my hands up before a pitch,” Cozart said.  “I was nervous about that because I have never done it in a game.  Whenever, I struggled it was because I started worrying about getting my hands up.  I still get them where they always were when I start my swing.  But I took thinking about it out of the equation.”

Cozart didn’t worry about his knee either.

“I’m not even wearing a brace,” Cozart said.  “I’m not in baseball shape yet.  My legs started getting heavy in the fourth inning. I didn’t get any ground balls which I hate.  Then when I leave and Alcky (Arismendy Alcantara) took over he gets one.  Timing is everything in this game.”

The Reds gave Lisalverto Bonilla the ball against the Brewers.  The Reds claimed him off waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates to compete in the bullpen or to pitch in long relief.

Bonilla made three starts with the Rangers in 2014.  He made five appearances and had a 3-0 record with a 3.05 ERA.

Bonilla gave up two runs in the first inning, including a home run to Keon Broxton, leading off for the Brewers.  Jonathan Villar doubled and scored on a single by Scooter Gennett. Hernan Perez and Andrew Susac walked but Bonilla struck out the side.

“I felt good,” Bonilla said through interpreter Julio Morilla.  “I was missing my spots with my breaking ball.”

Rookie Davis pitched two hitless innings with a walk and two strikeouts.  Sal Romano allowed three hits in two scoreless innings with one strikeout.  Jackson Stephens allowed a hit and two walks in two scoreless frames.  He struck out two.  Keury Mella walked two and struck out one in a scoreless inning.

The Reds tied the score in the fourth off Neftali Feliz.  Scott Schebler walked and scored from first on a double by Eugenio Suarez.

The game was still 2-2 when Ariel Hernandez, who was selected in the Rule V draft off the Diamondbacks Double A roster in 2015.

Hernandez walked Maurcio Dubon, who moved to second on a wild pitch.  Ryan Cordell singled off the glove of Rob Brantly at firstbase..  Yadiel Rivera grounded back to the pitcher for the first out but Lucas Erseg singled through a draen in infield to give the Brewers the victory.

“Bonilla wasn’t sharp.  He finished strong but used up his pitch count,” Bryan Price said. “We had some really good arms.  We threw the ball pretty well today. We separated the first and the ninth with pretty well pitched baseball. Romano was very, very impressive with the way he threw the ball.  Jackson Stephens had to battle through some base runners and made some good pitches.  Just a lot of good things from a pitching perspective and just wasn’t able to shut it down with a young guy on the mound in the ninth.”

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