Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Farmer eager to maximize opportunity with Reds

Roster moves; Winker plays in center field
@m_sheldon
March 23, 2019

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- It’s a new team and a new season, but a similar plot twist that has utility player Kyle Farmer breaking camp with the Reds on their 25-man roster. Farmer was one of the players sent to Minor League camp among Friday’s cuts. A few hours later, second

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- It’s a new team and a new season, but a similar plot twist that has utility player Kyle Farmer breaking camp with the Reds on their 25-man roster.

Farmer was one of the players sent to Minor League camp among Friday’s cuts. A few hours later, second baseman Scooter Gennett suffered a right groin injury that will keep him out 2-3 months. On Saturday, Farmer was brought back to the big league team to be their third catcher and an extra infielder.

“It’s awful what happened to Scooter. You never wish anything like that on a player,” Farmer said. “He’s the heart and soul of this team, a great second baseman and a great hitter. The same thing happened to me last year with Justin Turner going down. He broke his wrist and it opened a spot for me as well with the Dodgers.”

Farmer opened the 2018 season in Los Angeles, but batted .235/.312/.324 in 39 games over three big league stints.

“Hopefully I will take more advantage of it this year than I did last year,” Farmer said. “Losing Scooter will definitely hurt this team, but we have some great players in the locker room to where we can hopefully back him up and get some wins while he’s out.”

Because backup infielder Jose Iglesias will now be the regular shortstop, with Jose Peraza moving to second base, the Reds needed a versatile player for their four-man bench. Enter Farmer, who can catch and play all four infield spots.

“He can do all of those. He might even be able to play the outfield,” Reds manager David Bell said.

Sure enough, during Saturday’s workout, Farmer took some fly balls in left field for the first time this spring.

“I feel comfortable anywhere on the baseball field,” he said.

Farmer, who started at first base on Saturday for the Reds’ 8-5 loss to the Indians, is batting .348 with a 1.041 OPS, two homers, five doubles, two triples and eight RBIs in 15 games during a strong camp. The Reds have been pleased with his ability to play well in different spots, and it’s unique that one person can play both catcher and shortstop.

As an extra catcher, Farmer allows Bell to feel free to pinch hit with either him or No. 2 catcher Curt Casali, and still have depth behind regular Tucker Barnhart.

“I made the roster for the playoffs two years ago with the Dodgers in ’17 and got a lot of playing time as the third catcher,” Farmer said. “It helps in the chess match of the game and allows Tucker and Curt to get an at-bat and feel more comfortable with knowing I can catch later in the game.”

Two more cuts

The Reds' bullpen picture became clearer after two more cuts were made following Saturday’s game. Right-handed relief pitchers Matt Bowman and Anthony Bass were sent to the Minor League camp, leaving the camp roster at 29 players.

Cincinnati now has three relievers in lefty Wandy Peralta and righties Matt Wisler and Robert Stephenson. Both Wisler and Stephenson are out of options.

Bass was a non-roster invite and posted 3.38 ERA with 11 strikeouts over 10 2/3 innings. Bowman, whose camp was delayed by a lat strain, made three appearances. In one inning Saturday, he allowed two unearned runs.

Winker gets time in center field

During the game against Cleveland, Jesse Winker and Iglesias each went deep with home runs. It was a pretty timely long ball for Iglesias, hours after he learned he’d be Cincinnati’s shortstop.

“Pretty good power,” Bell said. “Great day for him, and really, Wink, too. He’s been getting closer, but it’s nice to have some results too before we leave here.”

Winker started the game in left field, but played the final two innings in center field. Scott Schebler started in center field, and moved to right field in the sixth when pitcher Michael Lorenzen took an inning in center.

“You look at our team and outside of Scheb, no one else can play there,” Bell said. “Wink has played there before. He can do it even though Scheb is going to get the majority of the playing time there, we need to know who can play it. That’s what that was about.”

Up next

The Cactus League schedule wraps up with the Reds playing a 3:05 p.m. ET finale vs. the Rockies at Goodyear Ballpark. No. 2 starter Sonny Gray will pitch against Colorado with bullpen contenders Wisler and Peralta expected to see action.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook.