The Cincinnati Reds held a full squad workout for the first time this spring Tuesday, and manager David Bell has a laundry list of lineup and roster decisions to make, especially in the outfield.
There are nine outfielders in camp. That number needs to be whittled to five in a newly expanded roster of 26 players, only 13 of which can be pitchers. That gives teams a minimum of five bench players per game.
Aristides Aquino and Phillip Ervin finished last season in the outfield. Nick Senzel and Jesse Winker remain on the roster but were injured at the end of last season. Senzel had a torn labrum in his right shoulder repaired in September. Winker went down for the the season on Aug. 22 with a cervical strain. He is fully recovered. Scott Schebler spent most of the year in Louisville. After playing in 30 games for the Reds, Schebler played in just 53 games for the Bats, hitting just .216 in a season full of nagging injuries.
“I always thought highly of Scheb,” Bell said. “I know it was a disappointing year for him. You go through stuff like that sometimes. It is usually related to health like it was last year for Scheb. I’m looking forward to seeing him healthy. He’s still young. There is absolutely a path for him.”
The Reds added Travis Jankowski from the San Diego Padres for international salary cap space. They signed Nick Castellanos and Shogo Akiyama to free agent contracts. They also claimed left-handed hitting, Mark Payton, in the Rule V draft from the Oakland Athletics. The Reds have to keep him on the roster all season or offer him back to the A’s for half the claiming price of $100,000.
“Mark Payton is going to get an opportunity,” Bell said. “He absolutely has a chance to be on this team. We selected him for a reason. He is a guy who had a bit of a breakthrough last year. You see that more and more. A player will make an adjustment and really take off.”
Payton hit .334 with 30 home runs for Triple-A Las Vegas last season.
Former Reds’ center fielder Eric Davis was working with a group of outfielders that included Akiyama on Tuesday. The 31-year old outfielder from Japan played a lot in center field, but is expected to play in right or left field.
Bell will give him time to settle in as he experiences his first spring in the major leagues.
“It is very important to keep it in perspective,” Bell said. “I try not to get real caught up in results. I’d rather take a deeper look. I’m just hoping to support Shogo. We are really fortunate he chose to be here. It is not easy what he’s doing. We have to allow him to from a comfort standpoint, that he’s been for a long time.”
Freddy Galvis will move back to his natural position at shortstop, replacing Jose Iglesias, who signed with the Baltimore Orioles. Galvis hit 23 home runs, had 70 RBIs and hit .260 last season, spending most of his time with the Blue Jays before the Reds picked him up on waivers in August.
“Freddy was a really great addition,” Bell said. “He is a really tough guy and winner. He fit in beautifully on our team. You look at what he’s done throughout his career as a shortstop and the consistency he provides. We need him. I believe offensively, he can continue to get better.”
Free-agent signee Mike Moustakas is expected to move to second base after making most of his big league starts at third base. The Reds are confident that Eugenio Suarez will be ready to go at third close to the start of the season after having loose cartilage removed from his right shoulder. If he is not ready, Moustakas can fill in until Suarez is ready.
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