Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sunday's mixed bag of Reds news and notes

The Reds were on the road Saturday for a pair of split-squad games. They managed to squeak out a 7-6 victory in Scottsdale over the Giants, while settling for a 9-9 tie (yes, a tie) with the Brewers in Phoenix.

Aroldis Chapman started against San Francisco and allowed one run on two hits in four innings of work. Mike Leake started against Milwaukee and was knocked around for 10 hits and seven runs in 3.1 innings. The two continue to battle for the fifth spot in the starting rotation, or do they? More on that later.

Here is a mixed bag of Reds news and notes...

+ The United States suffered a disappointing exit from the World Baseball Classic Friday night as they were eliminated by Puerto Rico, a team they had previously beaten in the tournament, by a score of 4-3. Team USA has now failed to win the Classic, or even reach the final, in each of its first three tries (2006, 2009).

+ Said USA second basemen Brandon Phillips after the loss, "I didn't want to go back to Goodyear. I wanted to go to San Francisco so bad. It stinks, man." Phillips will rejoin the Reds in Arizona now that the Americans are out of WBC contention. He was 2-for-4 with a run scored in the contest against the Puerto Ricans.

+ FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal writes that the U.S. squad took a half-hearted approach to the tournament, while other teams, like those hailing from Latin America, went all in to win. Phillips even echoed this fact with a couple of supporting quotes.

+ Is there a controversy brewing in Reds camp? Chapman may have stirred up the pot after his outing Saturday by expressing his preference to close rather than start. As you already know, the team is adamant about using the southpaw as a starter this year.

+ Joey Votto, Zack Cozart, and Chris Heisey were all given planned days off on Friday. Dusty Baker told the three to take a breather away from the ballpark to help rest their minds and bodies. Votto told Baker he wasn't feeling well after playing all nine innings in the last two WBC games for Canada.

+ Baker says he wants to give his pitchers more at-bats from now on this spring to help prepare them for the regular season. Cincinnati chose to play a game without using a designated hitter for the first time Friday. That allowed Cueto to go 1-for-2 with a broken bat single against Colorado.

+ J.J. Hoover pitched quite well in his rookie campaign with the Reds in 2012. The Reds acquired the right-hander from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for Juan Francisco around this time last year. Count John Fay as one person who believes Hoover has all the makings of a future MLB closer.

+ Are you curious to know which Reds players are set to receive the biggest pay raises in 2013? The Business Courier has you covered. They have put together a slideshow of the Reds destined to see the biggest jump in pay this season. Mat Latos tops the list with a 672 percent salary increase.

+ The Pittsburgh Pirates haven't recorded a winning season since 1992. In fact, their streak of 20 consecutive losing years is the longest such streak of futility in North American professional sports history. But ESPN's Jayson Stark provides five reasons why this season may be different for the swash-buckling Buccos.

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