Simon struggles in WBC tuneup


Pitcher Alfredo Simon wasn’t his sharpest during Saturday’s spring training debut, surrendering five hits and four runs in less than two innings as the Reds played the second of a three-game set against the Indians at Goodyear Ballpark. The Indians won, 13-10.

One of the runs against Simon was unearned — Cleveland’s Asdrubal Cabrera scored in the first after a botched rundown — but the Tribe roughed him up in the second with three solid hits and as many runs.

With Simon playing for his native Dominican Republic in the upcoming World Baseball Classic, Reds manager Dusty Baker was asked if he feels it necessary to ramp up the right-hander’s workload.

“We’d like him to be ready. I’m playing Brandon (Phillips) a lot to get him ready, but do you sacrifice all those names up there just to get Simon ready? How many pitchers do we got?” Baker said, looking at the roster on a white board in his office. “We’re trying to do the best we can.”

Following four seasons in Baltimore with inflated earned-run averages, Simon had a breakout year in 2012, posting a 2.66 mark in 36 appearances. He’s not expected to start again before the WBC.

Baker said he can’t manage what players do once they leave to play for their respective countries.

“Most teams that they’re playing for care more about the team they’re playing for than us. It’s just natural when you’ve got a chance to win your game at the Classic to advance,” Baker said.

Votto sharp: If Baker had a schedule for Joey Votto’s return to full strength, the slugger’s ahead of it. Votto was out of the starting lineup Saturday, but his two-hit performance on Friday had the manager confident he’ll be ready to go when the season kicks off.

“Joey will let me know. He’ll say, ‘I need some more at-bats’ or ‘I’m sore today and I need a day off,’ ” Baker said. “At this point, he knows how to get himself ready. I don’t want him ready right now. I was actually surprised at how ready he was (Friday).”

Baker said the extended spring because of the WBC allows players to slow their pace a bit, and he likened Votto’s self-awareness to another former slugger he once managed.

“You can do that when you know yourself. That’s how Barry Bonds was. Barry would get bored,” Baker said. “If he was getting bored I had to back off of him from playing.”

La Cucaracha: Shin-Soo Choo doesn’t look uncomfortable in his return to center field. In Friday’s opener, he cut off a ball in the first inning that Carlos Santana made good contact on. He did the same on Saturday, chugging deep into the right-center gap to snag a ball off the bat of Jason Giambi.

Baker said Choo’s lines to fly balls have looked good early.

“That’s the key, taking the correct routes. Because you can be out there looking like you’re doing the La Cucaracha. And everybody in the park knows you’re taking the wrong routes,” Baker said.

Choo reached base in both of his at-bats Saturday, scoring each time, before being replaced by speedster Billy Hamilton.

Notable: Reds outfielder Donald Lutz and Indians starting pitcher Brett Myers exchanged pleasantries after Lutz was hit by a pitch in the first inning. Lutz hit cleanup and added a single and a run scored in the third inning. … After Aaron Boone and Tim Kurkjian stopped out to camp on Monday, Buster Olney was the latest ESPN member to stop by as he spent time watching batting practice and talking with players. Olney chatted up Brandon Phillips, asking about his off-season workout routine, and later discussed bat choices with Jay Bruce.


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