The Reds played the San Diego Padres today at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, AZ. The PSC is home to the Padres and Seattle Mariners. It’s about 30 minutes north of Goodyear. On the drive, you pass the University of Phoenix Stadium that hosts the Fiesta Bowl, occasional Super Bowls and college football national championships. In a couple weeks, the NCAA basketball Final Four will be there.

Peoria Sports Complex from left field pavilion

The Peoria Sports Complex has more shaded seating available than Goodyear Ballpark, but sitting in the good close-up seats was still a sweltering experience. On the other hand, the PSC shows pitch speeds. Glorious.

Notes from Reds vs. Padres

On the pitching side, the Reds coaches have focused on auditions for the starting rotation. Yesterday Bronson Arroyo and Sal Romano pitched, today Amir Garrett and Robert Stephenson got all nine innings. The relievers are pitching in the minor league games. We’ll see tomorrow if that continues. The fact that Garrett got to pitch first, against the Padres starters says something. Not sure what. Maybe he won rock-paper-scissors. Maybe he’s ahead of Stephenson in the manager’s mind so far.

Reds dugout

• Amir Garrett pitched five innings and was hit hard by major league batters. Early in the game he struggled with pitches up in the zone. Uber-prospect Hunter Renfroe (#44 Baseball America, #75 FanGraphs) deposited a chest-high Garrett fastball far over the left field fence for a two-run homer. Garrett’s fastball was in the 90-94 mph range. He showed off his athleticism (remember his basketball background) fielding a bunt, looking a runner back to third and throwing to first.

Amir Garrett warming up before the game

• Robert Stephenson pitched the final four innings, mainly against minor league players. Stephenson’s fastball worked in the 94-96 mph range. He walked the first batter he faced (sigh) and added a wild pitch in his first inning. He struck out five, but you wouldn’t know any of the hitters except Erick Aybar. That’s Erick Aybar with a wRC+ of 65. Stephenson gave up a bomb to Hector Sanchez, a borderline major leaguer. Stephenson did single in his first at bat.

• Jesse Winker hit a long, opposite field home run. Who-hoo! But it was off a journeyman minor leaguer, so don’t code this data to your “Winker should be in the major leagues” bin. Instead, file it where the “evidence that Winker has power/Winker wrist OK” goes.

• Speaking of sock, Scott Schebler hit a 400-ft, 3-run homer off someone named Andre Rienzo. As a metric for Rienzo’s obscurity, the Padres scoreboard misspelled his name. In his first at bat, Schebler executed a perfect bunt single against an extreme defensive shift. It was bunted hard, to clear the mound, but the 3B playing SS had no play. The bunt paid off as Schebler scored on Desmond Jennings’ double to deep left-center.

Scott Schebler bunting

• The defensive play of the game for the Reds occurred on Amir Garrett’s first pitch. Travis Jankowski lined a Garrett fastball down the left field line. Adam Duvall charged and made a diving catch. Runner up for strong defense today goes to Eugenio Suarez, who made two outstanding plays fielding grounders at 3B. Suarez, Zack Cozart and Jose Peraza executed a base path rundown that resulted in two Padre outs.

• Desmond Jennings’ run-scoring double came off the one major league pitcher the Padres threw today, Jarred Cosart. Unless there’s significant change or an injury, it’s hard to imagine Jennings (30) not making the OD roster. He’s started to hit the ball well with gap power and is the second-best defensive CF after Billy Hamilton.

Desmond Jennings after doubling and scoring

• Jose Peraza continues to do at the plate what Jose Peraza does. He swings early in the count. He makes good contact. He sprays the ball around. He doesn’t hit with lift, so he doesn’t generate power. Unless Peraza figures out how to elevate his hit trajectory, his offensive value will hinge on a hit tool and speed. Peraza had a couple hits today.

The Reds won 9-4 and remain undefeated since I arrived to Goodyear. Notably, Joey Votto, Billy Hamilton and Devin Mesoraco had the day off. Tomorrow, the Reds play the Kansas City Royals at Surprise Stadium at 4:05 EDT.

Steve grew up in Cincinnati a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. Contemporary Reds thrills: witnessing Jay Bruce’s 2010 homer and Homer Bailey’s 2013 no-hitter in person. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 280 characters about the Reds is Redleg Nation, although you can follow his tweets @spmancuso.

20 Responses

    • Steve Mancuso

      The Virginia-Georgetown semi-final will be an instant classic.

  1. Old-school

    Who had more command and looked ready to start for the Reds in week 1. Garret or Stephenson. I just don’t see Arroyo or Adelman as credible pitchers or worth the exercise of futility

    • Steve Mancuso

      There isn’t a quick answer to this. I’m planning on writing about it at length at the end of my trip, depending how the rest of it goes. I agree that Arroyo and Adelman aren’t worth the futility. It’s really hard to compare Garrett and Stephenson based on today because Garrett was pitching against a few major league hitters and Stephenson wasn’t. They both had their bright spots and areas that need work. That’s what I’ll say for now.

      • Patrick Jeter

        I also feel like Garrett was the recipient of some unfortunate sequencing and luck on Sunday. I felt like he commanded the ball fairly well. At least, as much as I can tell from the horrible camera angle in these ST parks.

  2. bpbailey

    I really enjoy your “journal”, Steve. It makes me feel like I am right there at spring training with your “fan perspective”.

    • Steve Mancuso

      Thanks. I’m enjoying really catching up with the Reds. After 10 days of this it’ll feel like immersion learning.

      • Old-school

        Really good stuff Steve… Make it an annual event!!!!

      • Steve Mancuso

        Thanks. Would need to do a Go Fund Me to make this an annual event.

      • Old-school

        I think RLN would respond…Count me in!….You are doing a fantastic job.

      • redsfan4life

        Fine work. Really nice photos. Good to hear Winker went oppo.

  3. cfd3000

    It is so hard to follow spring training from box scores and even individual batted ball profiles. This information is so much more informative. Thanks for making this selfless trip on behalf of all of RLN Steve. It does sound like you’re having a blast. Two take aways from today. First, given Garrett’s line I’m glad to see he said he did. It have his best stuff and battled through. He’s young and some outings will be rough but hopefully he learns from them. Second, happy to see Winker go yard, especially to the opposite field. I don’t care who was pitching – if he is healthy and drives the ball in the gaps that will be plenty of power, especially at GABP. If his wrist is healthy enough to go out to left that’s a good sign. Thanks!

  4. Sliotar

    Regarding “Go Fund Me”….

    I am up for contributing, but I would suggest starting it soon for next season. Trying to start one around holidays can be a tough ask, not to mention being middle of baseball off-season.

    Also, aren’t there Western-based RLN people who write below the line regularly? Perhaps one of them might want in on going there and contributing.

    These dispatches are great.

    • Patrick Jeter

      I live in Colorado, which isn’t an unmanageable drive to Arizona. I was planning on going this year, but having a young child snuffed out those plans.

      In the next year or two, I will definitely be interested in going and perhaps doing something to help defray others costs.

  5. Jordan Barhorst

    I understand Winker took over for Duvall in RF. How’d he look out there?

    • Steve Mancuso

      I don’t remember him getting any plays other than turning to watch Hector Sanchez’s homer fly over his head. If Winker did get an attempt, it was nothing unusual.

  6. redsfan06

    Enjoying your reporting from spring training. It puts some definition to the numbers in the box score. Also, those are very nice photos.

  7. Matt WI

    Just saw Feldman named the Opening Day Starter. Hurry back, Disco.