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'Depth' players make difference for Reds

@m_sheldon
July 22, 2020

CINCINNATI -- After rallying in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Reds earned a 2-1 victory over the Tigers in Wednesday’s exhibition at Great American Ball Park. Reserve outfielder Travis Jankowski provided the go-ahead run when his one-out RBI single to right field scored Josh VanMeter. The game was

CINCINNATI -- After rallying in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Reds earned a 2-1 victory over the Tigers in Wednesday’s exhibition at Great American Ball Park. Reserve outfielder Travis Jankowski provided the go-ahead run when his one-out RBI single to right field scored Josh VanMeter.

The game was scoreless until there were two outs in the bottom of the fourth. Facing Detroit lefty reliever Tyler Alexander, non-roster player Matt Davidson attacked a 3-1 pitch and lifted it to right-center field for a home run.

Box score

There appears to be one open roster spot left for Cincinnati’s bench, and Davidson has made a strong bid to be a backup at first and third base and the spot he held Wednesday -- designated hitter. During Friday’s scrimmage, he slugged two home runs to help his intrasquad side get a series win.

“We love our bench. I think it’s a great mix,” said Reds manager David Bell postgame. “A little bit of everything. I wouldn’t necessarily call it our bench, it’s our team. All of our guys are going to contribute.”

No. 2 prospect Greene added to pool

It was also a good night for the Reds’ pitching staff. José De León started it off with two hitless innings, two walks and three strikeouts. Though De León isn’t expected to be on the Opening Day roster, he has a chance to get into the rotation later this season if something happens to one of the starting five.

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“He provides depth for our starting rotation,” Bell said pregame. “We’re also really excited about him. He’s always had the talent. We were really happy to acquire him. He’s working hard with our pitching coaches to really polish off his pitching repertoire to go with some really elite pitches he has.

“We think he can be a bit of a sleeper and believe he is going to help us. He has the ability to become an outstanding pitcher in this league. We’ll continue to keep him on track and make sure he’s ready to go.”

Lefty Brooks Raley gave up two hits over his two scoreless innings. R.J. Alaniz, Matt Bowman, and Sal Romano each pitched an inning without giving up a hit. In the top of the eighth against Joel Kuhnel, the Tigers’ Willi Castro hit a single and advanced on a wild pitch. That enabled Castro to score when Jorge Bonafacio hit a two-out RBI single to right field.

In the Reds’ half of the frame, VanMeter hit a one-out single and advanced on reliever Anthony Castro’s error on a pick-off throw to first. Castro then hit Kyle Farmer with a pitch to set up Jankowski, who slashed the game-winning hit. Jankowski was informed on Tuesday that he has made the club as an extra outfielder for the bench.

Cincinnati swept the two-game exhibition series from the Tigers, who will be their first regular-season opponent on Opening Day on Friday.

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.