The Reds make the spectacular plays seem routine. Second baseman Brandon Phillips, in particular, puts himself in contention for a SportsCenter Top 10 play just by rolling out of bed every day.
Through the first 15 games, Cincinnati had four errors. Only the Diamondbacks, Red Sox and Tigers had fewer, and Thursday’s opponent at Great American Ball Park, the Marlins, had three times as many.
Third baseman Todd Frazier had big cleats to fill, taking over the starting spot from Scott Rolen, an eight-time Gold Glove winner, but so far Frazier has kept the “E” out of defense. He has one error in his first 40 chances.
“Frazier works hard,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “Defense is work. Hitting is fun, but defense is work.
“This winter, he worked on his lateral quickness. He got some tips from Scott Rolen. It’s helped that he’s played one position for the first time in his life.”
Votto’s bat: Joey Votto has twice as many walks as anyone in baseball (22), and his on-base percentage (.521) leads the big leagues by a wide margin, too. Adrian Gonzalez, of the Dodgers, ranks second (.476).
But Votto has just three RBIs and three extra-base hits in 47 at-bats. The Reds had 15 hits Wednesday, and Votto was the only starter without a hit. He was 0-for-3, but he extended his streak of getting on base to 15 games by getting hit by a pitch.
“Joey did what I used to do,” Baker said. “We’d get 18 hits, and I’d get none — always. Then we’d get six hits, and I’d get four. It’s hard to explain. Everybody’s going to have their turn. Joey’s going to have his turn. Right now, we just feel fortunate we’ve got Brandon and some other guys swinging in that middle spot.”
Preparation: Devin Mesoraco caught Thursday’s starting pitcher, Tony Cingrani, five or six times in spring training, but he also prepared by calling Louisville catcher Corky Miller. Cingrani made three starts in Louisville this season before being called up to the Reds on Thursday for his first big league start.
Mesoraco said he would treat Cingrani differently than a veteran.
“You might want to slow him down a little more,” Mesoraco said. “Once things start to get going, everything goes real fast. Boom, boom, boom, they might get a couple hits. Calm him down, slow him down, make him breathe a little. He’ll be fine. He’s up here for a reason.”
Roster move: The Reds sent pitcher Justin Freeman back to Triple-A Louisville to make room for Cingrani. Freeman joined the Reds on Monday and made his major-league debut on Wednesday. He gave up a two-run home run in the eighth inning of the Reds’ 11-2 win.
“I’m glad we got him in the game last night,” Baker said. “I hate to have a kid come up here and go right back without pitching. He learned something. He thought with the score 11-0 the guy was just going to take one. He learned the hard way. That’s a good lesson for him. Anybody with a bat is dangerous.”
By the numbers: Entering Thursday’s game, the Reds ranked third in the big leagues in runs scored (81), fifth in hits (137) and tied for fourth in strikeouts (121). Their team ERA of 3.90 ranked 13th out of 30 teams.