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Romano faces Pujols: 'It was a pleasure'

Reds pitcher grew up following Angels veteran; Price looking for improvement from younger players
MLB.com @m_sheldon

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The baseball fan inside Reds pitcher Sal Romano couldn't help noting a special moment.

In a 7-5 loss to the Angels on Monday, Romano twice faced future Hall-of-Famer Albert Pujols -- who often pummeled Reds pitchers as a member of the rival Cardinals. In the first inning, Romano fielded a comebacker to the mound for the out. But in the third inning, Pujols reached on a broken-bat single with two outs. After the inning, the two spoke briefly by third base.

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GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The baseball fan inside Reds pitcher Sal Romano couldn't help noting a special moment.

In a 7-5 loss to the Angels on Monday, Romano twice faced future Hall-of-Famer Albert Pujols -- who often pummeled Reds pitchers as a member of the rival Cardinals. In the first inning, Romano fielded a comebacker to the mound for the out. But in the third inning, Pujols reached on a broken-bat single with two outs. After the inning, the two spoke briefly by third base.

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"He said he'll take it," Romano said Pujols told him of the hit. "Growing up a kid, I played against him in video games and all that kind of stuff. It was kind of cool to be able to face him like that. I just told him congratulations on such a good career and it was a pleasure facing him."

Overall, Romano gave up five runs (two earned) with five hits over 3 1/3 innings. Romano struck out three and did not walk anyone, but he hit a batter and had a wild pitch.

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Romano is vying for the fifth spot in Cincinnati's rotation.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

"Some good, some bad," Romano said of the outing. "I thought I made some really quality pitches there in the third inning, just tough luck with a couple of bloop hits and a broken bat hit. That stuff is going to happen."

Reds manager Bryan Price was pleased with Romano's outing and how he controlled the running game.

"He had good stuff," Price said. "I liked his velocity and command. His breaking ball, I thought was very good today. We weren't real sharp behind him defensively, and he made a mistake himself on the groundball to Joey [Votto in the fourth inning]. It created a couple of those runs."

Price disappointed in some performances

While Price has been pleased with the effort of some players and the team's overall health, he voiced his displeasure Monday morning about other issues.

Price did not specify which players aren't handling pressure well. Cincinnati has several young pitchers vying for the final spots in the rotation, bullpen and bench.

"Though we haven't swung the bats well to this point, I think our regulars have a really good understanding of how we do things here and they really set a good tone, but with the younger players, I'd like to see more," Price said.

Camp battle: Kivlehan seeks return to bench role

Infielder/outfielder Patrick Kivlehan led the Reds in 2017 with nine pinch-hits and 57 pinch-hit at-bats while hitting nine home runs overall. But Kivlehan was taken off of the 40-man roster after last season and is trying to earn a spot as a non-roster player this spring.

"It's definitely harder," Kivlehan said. "You see guys every year come into camp and earn their way onto the roster. That's what I have to do."

Video: CIN@MIL: Kivlehan clubs a towering homer to center

Despite the extra hurdle to clear, Kivlehan has shown himself to be comfortable in the bench role and playing sparingly.

"It's one of those roles where you kind of have to know what it is and can't go into it not wanting it or being a guy who complains and wants more," said Kivlehan, who started in right field vs. the Angels on Monday. "It is a role and if you can master that role, there is a spot like that for a guy on every team."

Injury update

Dilson Herrera, who is coming back from right shoulder surgery and missed a couple of days with soreness, returned to playing on Sunday with two at-bats as a designated hitter. Out of options, Herrera is trying to earn a bench spot.

"We're hoping to be able to see him regularly at second base on the infield and maybe some third base as we get deeper in camp," Price said. "It will be important that he's able to defend, obviously."

Up next

Brandon Finnegan will make his Cactus League debut Tuesday when the Reds face the Indians at 3:05 p.m. ET. In Surprise during a morning 'B' game, Michael Lorenzen is scheduled to start vs. the Rangers.

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 and listen to his podcast.

Cincinnati Reds, Patrick Kivlehan, Sal Romano