We are coming down the home stretch of spring training, folks. It's been a long, cold offseason, but the start of the regular season is a mere handful of days away.
The Reds will play host to the Padres at Goodyear Ballpark later this afternoon before welcoming the Royals to town on Thursday. They will wrap up their spring slate with a visit to Chase Field for a date with the Diamondbacks on Friday and a pair of split-squad games against the Indians and D'backs on Saturday. Sunday is an off day before Opening Day commences on Monday against the Angels.
Here is a mixed bag of news and notes to enjoy until then...
+ Mark Sheldon reports that Devin Mesoraco has won the backup catching duties. He beat out veteran Miguel Olivo, who appears to be heading to Triple-A Louisville.
+ How bad does Joey Votto want a World Series ring? Answer: pretty bad. He recently told the folks at Big League Stew that winning baseball's most coveted prize is the "most important thing in my career."
+ Speaking of Votto, is he poised to earn his second career MVP award this year?
+ Sure, the Reds finally addressed their leadoff spot by adding Shin-Soo Choo this winter, but might the cleanup spot now be a concern? This guy seems to think it's a possibility.
+ As if you haven't already been force-fed enough Reds previews by now, here is yet another via NBC Sports Hardball Talk.
+ Here is another preview, but this one is more detailed, and includes an overview of the entire National League Central. We can thank Jonah Keri of Grantland for the read.
+ Sports Illustrated provides plenty of predictions for the MLB season in this post, including World Series picks, MVP favoritess, and Rookie of the Year selections, among others.
+ In case you missed it, free agent pitcher Kyle Lohse finally found a team for the 2013 season. He will be pitching for the division rival Brewers after agreeing to a three-year deal worth around $33 million. Lohse has previously pitched for the Cardinals and yes, even the Reds.
+ Hey, remember Dave Sappelt? He came up with the Reds for a cup of coffee in the big show at the end of the 2011 season. Then, the Reds dealt him to the Cubs as part of the Sean Marshall trade the following offseason. Chicago Sun-Times writer Gordon Wittenmyer writes how that trade is currently looking from a Cubs perspective. You may remember that the deal also included southpaw Travis Wood.
+ On Monday, the Padres announced that Edinson Volquez will be their Opening Day starter. It will mark the third season in a row that Volquez has started the opener.
+ Opening Day is less than five days away, folks. There will be a steady stream of meaningful baseball games being played for the next seven months once Monday arrives.
+ Lastly, here's a bit of bathroom humor for you. The Lehigh Valley IronPigs are planning to install gaming systems above urinals located within their home stadium. Users control the game by literally using the force produced by the stream of their pee. I'm speechless.