Turns out I didn’t make it to Arizona for spring training. My back didn’t feel like driving 600 miles per day to get there. I’ve been watching lots of Reds and Padres games on TV and have been in touch with many folks at the training camps almost 2000 miles away.
Last fall our Cincinnati Reds signaled that they would rebuild and not pursue the playoffs in 2022 when they gave away lefty starter Wade Miley to the Cubs for nothing other than payment of his salary on the final year of his contract. Several subsequent moves confirmed this trend.
What’s left has been mostly fun to watch but reality should set in during the regular season. Former Fairfield baseball coach and good friend Gary Yeatts annually works at the Reds camp and has access to manager David Bell who takes some comfort with his greatly revised roster. “I have a bunch of quiet hard working guys who are more in my image,” says the fourth year skipper who was a journeyman major leaguer.
One of the top prospects in camp will begin the season in Dayton, three levels down from the big time. Switch hitting 6’4” Dominican shortstop Elly De La Cruz is worth watching. The 20 year old bombed a left handed grand slam in a televised spring encounter and may not be in Dayton very long.
Versailles area product Craig Stammen is back for his sixth season as a reliable right handed piece in the San Diego Padres bullpen. His team should be quite strong but it also resides in the same division as the powerful Dodgers and Giants.
The Designated Hitter rule is now universal in the major leagues. Stammen enjoyed his infrequent trips to the plate but those have now ended. He will no longer swing the large lumber he first secured from slugger Adam Dunn when both played for the Washington Nationals. Craig ends his offensive career with 22 hits and 10 RBI but never bagged the elusive home run he would have cherished.
Stammen has a positive opinion on former Padre outfielder Tommy Pham who was recently signed by the Reds. “He’s a very hard worker, a no excuses type of guy. We will miss him on the Padres.”
It’s worth noting that Pham has hit .366 in 33 games at Cincy’s Great American Ballpark. We’ll see what’s left in his tank. He’s batted .265 with 97 homers with a trio of clubs. Pham turned 34 on March 8, the day before Stammen turned 38. Craig’s contract expires after this season while Pham has a “mutual option” for 2023.
Due to the lockout, the exhibition schedule was both delayed and reworked. Attendance has been poor throughout the Cactus League despite great weather. The Reds recently had a Monday night game with the Cubs in the Reds Goodyear Ballpark that drew 4012 fans. This would normally be a sellout with three times that many.
Sports Extra appears each Friday. Next week Dave will reminisce about a pro wrestling show he promoted while still in high school back in 1972. Preview: The good guys won the main event.