Things have been crazy since we woke up at 3:00 a.m. Thursday morning to catch our early flight for our Spring Training trip, courtesy of Brandon Phillips. Both our Dayton and Cleveland flights were delayed for deicing. The perfect context for a trip to sunny Arizona.
We made Thursday's game (1:00 local start) just in time for first pitch and had great seats right behind the dugout, albeit the Rangers dugout. We were initially excited that Dusty had every starter in, until we realized it was every starter but BP. (Don't worry, he texted us that he was working out in the clubhouse, watching the game on TV and that he'd meet up with us later. More on that to come.) One of the reasons we delayed our trip to late March was to see as many starters as we could and to see more of Phillips on the field.
Wood started, and the stat line did not look good. But he pitched to some really bad luck and a couple of weird errors that lead to a grand slam by Nelson Cruz. Wood could have been out of the inning unscathed, but it didn't come together. I guess that's spring training for you. Wood ended up going almost 6 innings. He also batted three times (the Reds didn't use the DH, although the Rangers did) and hit a two-rbi double. I wondered in what percentage of spring training games a pitcher gets three at bats.
The bullpen was erratic as well, but with the exception of Arredondo, most of the guys that gave up runs were not guys competing for major league roster spots.
But the bats were alive. The Reds scored 15 runs, with both Gomesy and Dave Sappelt homering. Sappelt's was half-way up the batter's eye in straight away center field; a monster shot. The centerfield spot (6th in the line-up) with Stubbs and Sappelt got on and scored every time but one, with 4 hits, a stolen base, and five runs.
Juan Francisco really looks good. He came in early for Rolen, who was hit by a pitch, and hit really well. Three hits including two doubles. He did miss a grounder down the line at third base. It was clearly a hit and not an error, but I kinda thought Rolen would have gotten it. If he makes the team, it will be on his offense. By contrast, the other left-handed power option of the bench, Jeremy Hermida, did not look that good, with a couple of strikeouts.
But the 13 runs wasn't enough as the Reds lost it 15-13 in a slugfest. Despite the loss, it was great being out there in the sun and watching baseball again.
We have another game today at 1:00, with a tour of the complex set for this morning. We're hoping to meet Dusty and a couple of players.
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