Found February 22, 2012 on Three-Way Chili:

No news is good news for the Cincinnati Reds as they begin spring training.

No one on the roster suffered an injury during their offseason workouts (knock on wood), there have been no ailments that have popped up the first few days of spring training (keep knocking) and there have been no visa problems with players from the Dominican Republic and other foreign nations.

Every pitcher and catcher reported on time, and there hasn’t been one word about anyone being out of shape. In fact, pitcher Homer Bailey added 10-15 pounds of muscle this offseason after hitting the weights hard. (Get those HGH jokes ready.)

Also, projected starting shortstop Zack Cozart spent nearly the entire winter in Goodyear, Ariz., rehabbing the elbow injury that ended his promising 2011 season early. The 26-year-old Cozart will still be considered a rookie this year since he only amassed 37 at-bats for the Reds last season. However, he was impressive during his short 11-game stint as he batted .324 with two home runs and three RBIs. Cozart spent most of the 2011 campaign at Triple-A Louisville where he batted .310 with seven homers, 32 RBIs and nine stolen bases (OPS of .825). He is expected to be fully ready for Opening Day.

Cozart is a huge key to the Reds’ 2012 season. He doesn’t need to do anything special, just be steady. He won’t be a Gold Glove candidate at short, but he’s solid defensively. Offensively, he’ll likely begin the season batting in the two hole, and if he can keep his OPS over .750, he will do just fine.

Another key is the health of 36-year-old third baseman Scott Rolen, who was limited to 65 games and 252 at-bats last season due to injuries. All reports indicate Rolen is in excellent shape entering spring training. However, we all know he’s near the end of his career and that he’s very injury-prone due to the gritty brand of baseball he’s played since 1996 at the MLB level. If the Reds can get 100-plus games out of Rolen (he played 133 in 2010 when he was an All-Star for Cincinnati) that will be considered a victory.

The Reds also enter game with what I would consider seven legitimate starting pitchers. Obviously, only five will make the rotation, but these things have a way of working themselves out through injuries, or players just flat-out not performing.

I love the top-three of the rotation with Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos (who are interchangeable as the Reds’ No. 1 starter, although Cueto will get the Opening Day nod) and Mike Leake. Bailey is a solid No. 4 when healthy, but injuries and inconsistency have always been problems for him. Bronson Arroyo will also be in the rotation and I expect him to bounce back with a decent year following by far his worst season in a Reds uniform. Arroyo began the 2011 season battling a case of mono and was never quite right.

Left-handed flamethrower Aroldis Chapman will likely begin the season at Louisville, but it sure as hell will be interesting to see how he looks during spring training. I like that the Reds are committed to making him a starter. Make no mistake about it: Even if he doesn’t make the 25-man roster out of spring training, he will be needed at some point this season. Is this the year when the 24-year-old Chapman breaks out? Or is he merely an entertaining sideshow?

The final “legit” starting pitcher on the roster is lefty Jeff Francis, who is only 31. Francis was 17-9 with a 4.22 ERA for the Colorado Rockies in 2007, so he’s proven he can be more-than a capable pitcher on this level. And after battling injuries the last two years, Francis is finally healthy. If he doesn’t make the rotation out of spring training, the Reds could decide to use him out of the pen. He could be like the left-handed version of Sam LeCure: A guy that could start if needed, but can also be an effective long-reliever.

One final thing: Rookie catcher Devin Mesoraco is drawing rave reviews for his physical conditioning during the offseason, and general manager Walt Jocketty referred to the rookie as a “Man’s man.” Mesoraco – ranked as the 16th-best prospect in the game by Baseball America and the second-best catcher (behind Jesus Montero of the Mariners, which is highly debatable if you ask me) – will platoon with Ryan Hanigan this season, but Mesoraco is believed to be a future star. It’s going to be fun to watch him in his first full season of action at the Big League level. The 23-year-old Mesoraco batted .289 with 15 HRs and 71 RBIs in Triple-A last year (OPS of .855). He got called up in September and had a cup of coffee with the Reds, batting .180 with two homers and six RBIs in 18 games.

THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
RELATED ARTICLES

3 Reds named top 100 prospects

 Folks around Cincinnati are excited about no. 2 Baseball America released its list of the Top 100 Prospects for 2012 earlier this week. The 23rd annual publication is headlined by Nationals phenom Bryce Harper, but three Cincinnati Reds also made the cut. Here are the names of those players followed by the description BA gave them: #16 Devin Mesoraco C The Punxsutawney...

Former Reds minor leaguer named "player poised to erupt" in 2012

On Tuesday, ESPN Insider Jim Bowden published the names of seven players who he thinks are "poised to erupt" this season. One former member of the Cincinnati organization made the list. He was included in the trade that brought right-hander Mat Latos to the Queen City in exchange for three others. Who is it? It's none other than RHP Brad Boxberger. Here's...

Reds OF Bruce reports to camp 16 pounds slimmer

Cincinnati Reds fans will see less of Jay Bruce this season. The outfielder has reported to camp weighing 16 pounds less than at the end of last season. It's a noticeable change for the All-Star, who thinks the slimmer body will make him faster and help him get through the season better. Though he made the All-Star team last season, his batting average, slugging percentage...

Some spring training tidbits & notes

Can you believe March is a mere one week away? Leap year or not, February has flown by and it's almost time for the Reds to delve into their slate of Spring Training games. Here are some tidbits and notes from the past week to help you get caught up on things: * Outfielder Jay Bruce reported to camp weighing about 16 pounds less than he did last season. The All-Star hopes...

What could the opening day lineup look like?

It’s early, so early in fact that making a guess at the opening day lineup when only pitchers and catchers have reported is silly. But, I am going to do it anyway. I will start by making a couple of assumptions: Cueto is going to be the opening day starter. Cozart is going to come back, 100% to the form that we saw for a short period last season. So with those two assumptions...

Baker has high hopes for Mesoraco

Reds manager Dusty Baker wasn't ready to declare rookie Devin Mesoraco his No. 1 catcher as of Tuesday morning.

RLW Episode 01 – Spring is in the Air

Welcome to the debut episode of Redleg Weekly! Don’t forget to subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Zune Marketplace or download the Stitcher Smart Radio app. Also if you do subscribe and listen to us on iTunes we would certainly appreciate if you would leave a review! In this week’s show: We introduce ourselves and why we love the Reds We debate which Reds starting pitcher will...

Start or relieve? Reds must decide Aroldis Chapman’s role this spring

(source feed provided no summary content for this entry)

Slimmer Bruce to adjust hitting approach

With Jay Bruce 15 pounds lighter this year as he reported to camp, manager Dusty Baker expects the right fielder to make adjustments in his hitting approach.

Reds P Chapman prepares for starting rotation

GOODYEAR, ARIZ. (AP) - Aroldis Chapman will be tested as a starter this spring by the Cincinnati Reds.The 24-year old lefthander whose pitches have been clocked at 105 mph has a 6-3 record with a 3.27 ERA in 69 relief appearances over the last two seasons with Cincinnati.But the small-market ...

Reds All-Star Bruce reports 16 pounds slimmer

Cincinnati Reds fans will see less of Jay Bruce this season, as he reported to camp 16 pounds lighter.

Renteria may be leaning toward retirement

Edgar Renteria, who drove in the game-winning run in the 1997 World Series as a 20-year-old, and 13 years later was named World Series Most Valuable Player, is leaning toward retirement, his agent told FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal.
Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.