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Situational drill keeps players engaged

MLB.com @m_sheldon

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- There is usually predictability to Spring Training drills, where situations are called out and the action dictated is performed exactly to fit that description. That's what makes a new drill at Reds camp this year a little unique.

Called "27 outs," it simultaneously focuses on situational hitting, defense and baserunning. Instead of a coach hitting balls with a fungo bat, one will pitch to the hitter and wherever the ball is hit, players react accordingly.

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- There is usually predictability to Spring Training drills, where situations are called out and the action dictated is performed exactly to fit that description. That's what makes a new drill at Reds camp this year a little unique.

Called "27 outs," it simultaneously focuses on situational hitting, defense and baserunning. Instead of a coach hitting balls with a fungo bat, one will pitch to the hitter and wherever the ball is hit, players react accordingly.

"It really does cover the full gambit of situational play from all aspects," manager Bryan Price said. "It's a great drill. I just felt like we needed a lot more situational baseball with all of these young guys to get acclimated to the environment they will be in through the course of the year."

The drill was performed again on Sunday. While a pitcher takes the mound, coach Corky Miller threw to hitters from in front of the mound. When a situation is handled wrong on the fly, Price uses the opportunity to make it a talking point.

Price based the drill on one performed when he once was the pitching coach for the Mariners and then-manager Mike Hargrove. There is one big deviation from the current version, however. In the Seattle drill, the defense had to record 27 outs without a mistake.

"If there is any single thing that a defender did incorrectly, you go back to zero outs," Price said. "I remember one of them. We had a relief pitcher and a veteran and there was a runner at second base and a base hit to left field. The left fielder comes up and makes a great throw to the plate, catcher receives the ball as he should. The play should be over, a successful play. The pitcher, instead of going through the first-base line and back up the base, he went through the third-base line. The angle of his route was incorrect. He still got behind the plate, but just from talking about doing it as we drew it up, he took the wrong route. And it went from 23 outs to zero. It was my call. I had to say, 'We're going back to zero, guys, because this guy took the wrong route behind home plate.' That was an uncomfortable one."

Worth noting

Raisel Iglesias, who started slightly behind schedule after a shoulder conditioning program, is getting closer to facing hitters for the first time. Price thought Iglesias could throw in batting practice by the end of the week.

• Lefty John Lamb (back) could face hitters in BP in the next 10 days. Homer Bailey (elbow) is on track to face hitters for the first time in the middle of March.

• Price expected infielder Jose Peraza to get opportunities in center field this spring, when regular Billy Hamilton is not being used.

"He would be a guy if we had an injury to Billy, he'd be a consideration as a regular outfielder," Price said.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Cincinnati Reds