The Reds play the Colorado Rockies at Salt River Fields. The game starts at 3:10 p.m. ET. No TV. Radio and audio streaming on WSAI-1360. Here is Bryan Price’s starting lineup:

  1. Billy Hamilton CF
  2. Rosell Herrera RF
  3. Eugenio Suarez 3B
  4. Devin Mesoraco C
  5. Scooter Gennett 2B
  6. Phillip Ervin LF
  7. Jesse Winker DH
  8. Brandon Dixon 1B
  9. Cliff Pennington SS

The Reds starting pitcher is Luis Castillo. Other pitchers in line: Robert Stephenson, Jared Hughes, Kyle Crockett, Kevin Shackelford, Ariel Hernandez and Zack Weiss.

Position player backups: Alex Blandino, Phil Gosselin, Patrick Kivlehan, Shed Long, Aristides Aquino, Ben Revere and Mason Williams.

Reds 2B Scooter Gennett / Photo: Sam Greene, Cincinnati Enquirer

Bryan Price is experimenting with every player, having each one bat in different spots in the lineup. Except for one, so far.

Leading Off It’s way-past-dumb to use spring training statistics to make playing time and batting order decisions for the regular season. Competition is uneven, sample sizes are small. Price says Hamilton will have to earn the leadoff spot this year.

  • Billy Hamilton: .000/.222/.000, 4 BB, 5 K, 18 plate appearances
  • Jesse Winker:  .333/.350/.667, 1 BB, 0 K, 19 plate appearances

Most players have long enough track records you have a good sense of what they’ll do. But, aside from statistics, you can form an opinion about how players are performing by watching them pitch or hit.

Mesoraco C. Trent Rosecrans has an article about Devin Mesoraco behind the paywall at The Athletic. Mesoraco and Tucker Barnhart support each other. Bryan Price says that’s important. Mesoraco is taking it day by day:

“I want to have a good day today, have a good day tomorrow and I think that’ll turn into a good season at the end of the year. Things happen and it all played out the way it played out and we can’t change that, just continue to focus on having good days.”

This is the final season of Mesoraco’s contract. His four-year deal covered his three years of arbitration and this one year of his free agency. If the Reds catcher can prove he’s healthy and productive, the club might be able to trade him for something of value at the deadline this year. Chad also suggested that in that scenario there might be mutual interest in another short extension. The Reds have Stuart Turner as the third catcher in the organization.

Lorenzen Michael Lorenzen started a B game a couple days ago. C. Trent Rosecrans was briefly out of town. Neither of the other beat writers reported on the game. Rosecrans did track down a report and posted it on Twitter. Lorenzen had 2 IP, 1 H, 2 K, 28 pitches, 21 strikes. The AP has an article out characterizing his spring training performances as inconsistent. They quote Lorenzen:

“First, you figure out what it is, and then every time you throw a ball, you work on it. It comes from understanding what [it] is that’s causing you to be out of sync, then getting the habit out of you and retraining your nervous system to be in sync.”

Photo: Kareem Elgazzar, Cincinnati Enquirer

Senzel Rosecrans also had this to report about Nick Senzel’s [pictured above] defense at third base.

The Reds sure have a dilemma. It’s not all their fault. After watching Eugenio Suarez butcher shortstop for half a year and third base for a full season, who could have expected he’d turn in the terrific performance he did at 3B last year. And Senzel himself seems to have blossomed on defense.

Daily Votto Worship Eno Sarris has a great interview with Joey Votto about hitting. Votto discusses swinging more, how he intuits the strike zone, the importance of spin rates, the decline in fastball movement and more. It’s incredibly humbling and awe-inspiring to read this thoughts. It also makes me glad he’s on the team I cheer for. (By the way, Eno Sarris does a terrific job with the questions and providing relevant information/links). Here’s a sample:

Sarris: How do you square the fact that you’re swinging at more pitches in the strike zone with the fact that you know there are bad pitches in the strike zone?

Votto: There’s a context to every “bad strike.” Two fastballs in the same location, they’re both not bad and they’re both not good just because they are in the same location. A different look could be the angle at which the guy throws the ball, the velocity, spin rate obviously, that’s something that most people talk about. I just think of it as a guy that has a fastball that’s a little bit more difficult to time and put a barrel on. Every pitch is not the same just because of location.

[I hate to keep recommending articles behind The Athletic’s paywall, but right now, that’s where many of the interesting, ambitious pieces are being written.]

More Votto Worship Votto finished second in the NL MVP voting last year. He lost to Marlins OF Giancarlo Stanton by one vote (302-300). Ever the perfectionist, Votto zeroed in on his base running as a negative to correct and he’s working on it in spring training. John Fay with the story:

“I thought I played very well last year. But there are certainly some things to get better at. I look forward to righting those wrongs.”

Great to read from a guy who’s at the top of the game and with a guaranteed contract for a couple hundred million dollars.

47 Responses

  1. big5ed

    The Athletic has been worth it to me.

    I know that it is strictly forbidden on this site to support Hamilton’s leading off in any way, but (1) it’s a spring game, and today is pretty much a B game, and (2) Hamilton as a switch-hitter needs ABs from both sides of the plate. The Rockies are going with a lefty, so Hamilton should get 2 ABs off a lefty today. And if he gets on, which I will grant is a big if, he will have a chance to study/steal off a lefty, which he needs to do as well, regardless of how one may think he needs to be used.

    I think the big story today will be Bob Steve’s performance.

    • doofus

      Whether those on this site chose to support or call for someone else to lead-off is all up to Mr. Hamilton.

    • Reaganspad

      Billy can hit 1, but he should no longer be switch hitting. He should see the ball from only one side of the plate.

      He is not a good switch hitter, and he has a horrible strike zone compounded by switching sides of the plate and all the jitters he creates for himself with fake bunts

      Short of those changes, he will be what he is and has been and therefore, should be relegated to batting 9th, PH late in the game and not facing left handed pitching.

      I would be really curious how he would do hitting lefties and a LH hitter. We know by now what he cannot do

      • lwblogger2

        I disagree. Billy Hamilton was a RH hitter his whole life up until the Reds converted him to a switch hitter. I’m speculating here that you are talking about him hitting strictly from the LH side. He’s probably never seen more than a handful of pitches as a LH hitter from a LHP and likely zero in an actual, competitive game. I don’t think it’s as easy as just giving up switch hitting. At this point, even going back to hitting as RH only, would be difficult.

    • Dave Roemerman

      Thank you! Winker is 7 and Dixon is 8. Both of them have hit this spring. Spring TRAINING is about just that, getting guys like Rosell Herrera (?!) ABs, as well as Hamilton, not to mention keeping him happy batting there for now. This lineup isn’t out there for a pennant race, which seems to be lost on some people somehow.

      Steve, the Athletic is another of my daily reads, along with here. No apologies necessary for recommending excellent journalism. I often recommend it and, to my fellow Reds fans, Redleg Nation. The commenters are also, like here, informed, passionate, and worth talking to – C. Trent Rosecrans even mentioned recently that it’s nice to see a site where people aren’t just “spewing venom” and I agree. It’s absolutely worth the price and the tagline fits – fall in love with the sports page again.

  2. Indy Red Man

    Dilson at 2nd and Devin catching…..someday maybe? I have zero expectations for either one so anything is a bonus!!

  3. JB WV

    Hard to see Mesoraco getting an extension here. Stuart is better defensively and if he shows any improvement offensively will be the backup next year. Big year for Stephenson and Okey to prove they’re legitimate prospects for 2020. I like Devon, just tough luck with the injuries. Can’t see him staying consistently healthy.

    • VaRedsFan

      Turner is just so woeful offensively, that he will need to improve exponentially as a hitter just to achieve backup status. Those 2 prospects are still in A ball. If Tucker goes down, they are in a world of hurt.

      • Reaganspad

        I would look at bringing Devin back if it could work for the team. He is great in the clubhouse

      • Aaron Bradley

        If he is willing to be a back up catcher and paid accordingly I am all for it. Would be a great pinch hitter on his off days.

      • Aaron Bradley

        But the truth is he is probably a DH in the making.

  4. VaRedsFan

    I admire Votto’s drive to work on his baserunning, but I’d rather see him station to station and stay healthy. Most of his blunders seem to be trying to take that extra base.

  5. J

    The only lineup Price has never been willing to experiment with — in any game, anywhere, ever — is the one where his four best hitters occupy the top four spots. Doesn’t even want to know what might happen.

    • Patrick Jeter

      This exactly. He’s completely opposed to giving his best hitters the most at-bats. And the fact that everyone KNOWS it will carry over into the regular season is maddening.

  6. Shchi Cossack

    Looking at today’s lineup, I get the distinct impression that the Reds are focusing on the decisions regarding the utility IF and OF positions.

    Rosell Herrera (.200/.188/..733/.921) in 21 PA
    Phillip Ervin (.313/.421/.438/.859) in 16 PA
    Brandon Dixon (.300/.333/.750/1.038) in 19 PA
    Cliff Pennington (.222/.263/.222/.485) in 19 PA

    Unfortunately, this looks like a situation where the decisions are being made based on meaningless ST performances. Herrera and Dixon have not produced anything close to a .900 or even .800 OPS since 2015 in the minor leagues at low A and high A ball respectively. Pennington appears to be competing based on his veteranyness because he’s never hit anywhere over an extended period of time.

    • WVRedlegs

      I made a similar observation below. The battles for the bench will be fun to watch play out over the 2 weeks.

    • Aaron Bradley

      Really wish they would consider Gosselin, he can hit. I want guys on the bench that can drive in runs not “glove men”.

  7. Indy Red Man

    Joey’s hitting approach is so interesting! You can really see the wheels turning when he’s up at the plate! You could almost compare it to a top notch poker player. They’re patient and they’re looking for a weakness. A raise from 1 guy can mean something completely different then the same raise from someone else….depending on their playing style. Its all about being observant and taking advantage of their errors and you can’t control all the random possibilities, but just know that good decisions over enough time = success!

    • Shchi Cossack

      You mean we don’t have to expect Joey to slash .071/.333/.071 for the season?

  8. Shchi Cossack

    Castillo and Stephenson will be challenged by the AZ geography. That’s as much a test of character, perseverence and fortitude as physical talent and capability.

  9. WVRedlegs

    Wow. There is just a killer competition going on for the 5 bench spots. Only 2 guarantees at this juncture. A backup C and one of the 4 OF in the 4 man rotation.
    A look around the diamond and that gives us
    OF-Schebler (for arguments sake).

    That leaves 3 other bench spots open: INF, INF, OF. And a number of guys battling for those 3 spots. For the 2 INF spots:
    D. Herrera

    For the 1 5th OF spot:
    M. Williams

    Add to the mix 3 multi-position players that can play INF and OF:
    R. Herrera

    That is 10 guys busting a gut to win one of 3 spots for the bench. These are the battles that will be worth watching over the next 2 weeks while others are “getting their work in”. A nice bench can be constructed here with what the Reds have to work with.
    That doesn’t even count in Senzel, Long, Aquino, and Elizade.

    • lwblogger2

      Man I like Elizalde. The guy can flat out hit. He’s a so-so corner player defensively however and he doesn’t have the power to make him a legit prospect with that profile. I’d love to see him make it though, with somebody.

  10. Shchi Cossack

    So…the 1st time thru the lineup…

    Billy hamilton grounds out softly…
    Jesse Winker singles on a line drive…

    I guess we get to look forward to two more weeks of this nonsense.

    • Indy Red Man

      But Billy creates havoc!!! Havoc for the groundskeeper with all those high speed right turns by first base:)

      • greenmtred

        I noticed that they lost yesterday when BH wasn’t playing!! Has that ever happened before? For that matter, have they ever won when he did play? I think so, but will have to do more research…

  11. Shchi Cossack

    Could Castillo be the 1st starter to go 4.0 IP today? He went 2.2 last time out and thru 2.0 today, he has 1-H, 1-BB & 2-SO.

    • Shchi Cossack

      Price gave him a shot at 4.0 IP, but Castillo started getting knocked around and his pitch count started elevating.

      3.2IP w/ 5-H, 2-BB, 4-SO, 2-ER, 66 pitches. Runner in 1B with 2 outs.

      • old-school

        I like Price as a pitching coach. He knows how to handle and coach elite guys- just not the younger guys who don’t have it figured out. Looking forward to the next phase of ST when guys get 4 at bats and pitchers go 5 innings and the regulars play against the regulars.

        Its amazing to look at Hamilton’s 2017 numbers compared to career numbers. Its exactly the same. Baseball being what it is….he will probably go 2-4 against Scherzer on Opening Day and get more hits in the first home stand than he will all of ST.
        Yet. When all is said and done , his slash line will be the same.
        Is there anyone who thinks he should hit leadoff? My sense is the discussion is really about him hitting 9th and playing CF and how much he should do THAT role.

      • Shchi Cossack

        As Woody Hayes proclaimed so eloquently, “You Win with People.” Does a great coach make great players or do great players make a great coach?

  12. Shchi Cossack

    Gameday is up with pitch tracking! 27 pitches for Castillo thru 2.0 IP.

    • Aaron Bradley

      How does Gameday know the difference between a 2 seam FB and a 4-seamer? That is pretty impressive…

      • Aaron Bradley

        Yea I just learned the other day that a 2 seamer has downward movement… I never knew that before. What’s the difference between a sinker and a 2 seamer, velocity or grip?

      • lwblogger2

        Grip and finger pressure. 4-seam fastball is held with the fingers across the seams. 2-seam fastball is held with the fingers along the seams and finger-pressure is applied to sink or ‘cut’ the ball some… Grip is what actually affects the velocity. Usually a 2-seamer is a tic or 3 slower.

        Position players, especially infielders are taught to grip the ball across the seams (a 4-seam grip) because the rotation through the air when the ball is gripped that way, gives the ball a truer path through the air. 2-seam grip will often make the ball dive, or slice as it cuts through the air. Rotation/spin is also obviously different.

  13. Shchi Cossack

    Jesse Winker played a full 0 innings today going 1-2 w. 1-BB & 1HBP. I don’t think anyone else has played a full 9 innings this spring.

    Crockett needed some time on the hill today, otherwise Stephenson would have been the first pitcher to go a full 4.0 IP. Stephenson threw 3.0 IP w/ 1-H, 0-BB & 3-SO and just 31 pitches (22 strikes).

    Nice game for Winker and Stephenson today.

    • Chad Dotson

      That’s pretty good production, considering Winker played a full 0 innings.

    • kmartin

      Winker had the kind of line that Choo used to have back in 2013.

  14. Carl Sayre

    I am and have always been a Votto fan I was even happy when he got that massive extension at least for a week or so thinking about it! The point is a huge fan of his God given talent!!!! The amount of work and studying the science of his craft is mot only a big reason for his success it is THE REASON TJAT I am such a huge fan!!!!!!

  15. Bill

    Does anyone know for sure wants to see BH batting leadoff, is BC, DW, Price or Long? Surely one of them has to say this is stupid.

  16. Patrick Jeter

    RLN has some pretty good writers. A lot of stuff Saris talks about in his pay-for-read article was pointed out last year on this very website.

    Chad… your’e leaving cash money on the table! 😉

    • Chad Dotson

      We do it for the love of the game here at the Nation, haha.

      • MrRed

        That’s what I think makes this site so extraordinary. It’s free and yet you have very talented writers who are doing this as a hobby and also intelligent, thoughtful and (by and large) civil exchanges from commenters. I haven’t found anything quite like it on the internets.

  17. wizeman

    Really like the Athletic. Great coverage of MLB and College Basketball. This site along with The Athletic works for an out of towner like me.

    Think the pitching is shaping up better than expected. Stephenson apparently pitched well yesterday. Bailey, Disco and Finnegan seem healthy.

    20 days.

  18. Abdul

    I’m guessing that when the dust settles we will have the same team as last year…..sad. Our front office and manager are as weak as any team in MLB