5 things to know as Reds start Cactus League play


The Cactus League opens Friday as the Reds and Indians meet to kick off the rust of winter.

Players compete for their baseball lives this time of year and now they have to do it in a bigger hurry. That’s because spring training is a few days shorter. Believe it or not, the Reds open the season against the Nationals on March, 29.

Meanwhile, Joe Torre is sweeping through all 30 spring training camps laying out some new rules to speed up the game.

MORE REDS COVERAGE

» Finnegan confident he’ll return to form

» Reds minor-leaguer suspended 50 games

» Barnhart treasures Gold Glove, seeks repeat

» Ex-Dragon Mahle ready for run at rotation

Here are five takeaways heading into Cactus League play:

1. Shorter spring

The Major League Baseball Players Association wanted a shorter spring training. Major League Baseball complied while keeping the same number of exhibition games.

Arizona cities have too much invested in stadiums and training facilities to allow for a shorter exhibition season. Position players reported Sunday. They had a full week last spring to get ready for games, as opposed to five days.

“We are playing 27 outs today, which we usually do later in spring,” Reds manager Bryan Price said, referring to a drill in which the full team works on situational plays.

2. Speed-up rule

After consultation with the union and team personnel, MLB will proceed with a rule change limiting visits to the mound to six — not six manager or pitching coach visits, but those by infielders and catchers as well:

A pitcher and fielder can speak to each other in the normal course of play as long as neither leaves his position, if there’s an injury or potential injury to the pitcher, or a visit during an offensive substitution (pinch hitter).

MORE REDS COVERAGE

»RELATED: Reds changing plans for top prospect?

»RELATED: Reds open spring training with hope for solid rotation

»RELATED: Reds give Castillo rotation spot, now it’s up to him

“Most umpires know the game situations and would give leeway in a tight game,” Price said.

MLB is also taking steps to expedite replay reviews. They are also cracking down on sign stealing with electronic equipment.

“They talked to us about this at the winter meetings,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “I understand what they’re trying to do — take out a lot of dead time without altering the way the game is played. There are going to be some adjustments. We will have to pay attention to things that we didn’t worry about before.”

3. Cactus extras

MLB requires teams to play a 10th inning this spring in hopes of avoiding ties.

This spring, the 10th inning will start with a man on second base. The rule was used in the World Baseball Classic to prevent teams with limited rosters from running out of pitchers. It is the same in spring training. Visiting teams bring a limited amount of pitchers to games in the Cactus League.

“Fans want a win or loss, an end result,” Price said.

Baseball has experimented with the rules with the minor leagues in mind.

“The concern is for minor-league games or special tournament events like the WBC,” Price said. “I’m not sure if that includes the All-Star Game. It’s factual. When you have one of the minor-league teams play one of those 15-inning games, an entire organization shifts. Players are moved to different rosters and people are flying all over the country to have players recover without risk of injury.”

4. DeSclafani live

Reds right-hander Anthony DeSclafani, who didn’t pitch at all last year, threw live batting practice Wednesday.

“I was absolutely thrilled to see Anthony DeSclafani on the mound,” Price said. “The ball came out beautifully. He commanded the fastball, slider, change-up. He threw a couple curveballs that were crisp. That was exciting.”

On the first day of camp, Price listed DeSclafani as one of his four definite starters. Last spring DeSclafani was expected to start on Opening Day but was scratched with a sore elbow. He never returned to form after several setbacks.

5. Exhibition starters

Price named Sal Romano to open the Cactus League season against the Indians, who counter with Mike Clevenger and Ryan Merritt.

Tyler Mahle will follow Romano along with Jackson Stephens, Kevin Schackelford, Keury Mella. Barrett Astin, Jesus Reyes and Jimmy Herget.

“Not all of them will pitch,” Price said. “A lot of these guys are scheduled for multiple innings.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

Recruiting giving Arkansas bright future at quarterback position
Recruiting giving Arkansas bright future at quarterback position

Welcome to SEC Country’s  daily Arkansas Razorbacks recruiting notebook . In this edition, we discuss the Hogs’ efforts recruiting quarterbacks and offensive linemen. Arkansas coach Chad Morris and his staff are in the midst of a tall task trying to rebuild the Razorbacks roster...
South Carolina recruiting: South Florida commitments return for camp
South Carolina recruiting: South Florida commitments return for camp

Whenever Will Muschamp lands a commitment, the South Carolina coach drops a #SpursUp on Twitter. Come to SEC Country for the latest news, notes and observations in South Carolina recruiting.  For previous editions of SpursUp Surveillance, check out the link. A couple...
North Carolina recruiting: Tar Heels getting ‘5-star player’ in power forward Day’Ron Sharpe
North Carolina recruiting: Tar Heels getting ‘5-star player’ in power forward Day’Ron Sharpe

Join us daily at ACC DieHards for the latest North Carolina recruiting news and notes on the next crop of Tar Heels. Don’t miss any coverage from Cody Pace and the DieHards.com team. Read his daily notebooks  here  at 7 p.m. ET Sunday through...
Report: Graduate transfer Ehab Amin set to visit Oregon this week
Report: Graduate transfer Ehab Amin set to visit Oregon this week

Transfers have been a vital part of Oregon’s basketball program under coach Dana Altman, with the 2017-18 squad featuring a pair of graduate transfers in the starting lineup in Elijah Brown and MiKyle McIntosh. The Ducks have yet to land such a player for 2018-19, though that could change very soon as one of the best available players...
Oklahoma football: Lincoln Riley, staff set to receive raises
Oklahoma football: Lincoln Riley, staff set to receive raises

NORMAN, Okla. — It’s been a little more than a year since Lincoln Riley became Oklahoma’s 22nd football coach. Signs of acrimony are nonexistent. Riley won a Big 12 Conference title in his first season, quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy and Oklahoma returned to the College Football Playoff for...
More Stories