GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Scooter Gennett has helped out the grounds crew at his alma mater, Sarasota (Fla.) High School, so he has an appreciation of the difficulty of the job. So when the Reds second baseman saw the Goodyear Ballpark grounds crew struggling to get the tarp on the field
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Scooter Gennett has helped out the grounds crew at his alma mater, Sarasota (Fla.) High School, so he has an appreciation of the difficulty of the job. So when the Reds second baseman saw the Goodyear Ballpark grounds crew struggling to get the tarp on the field after the Reds and Padres players were called off just three pitches into their Cactus League tilt on Tuesday night, Gennett figured, “Why not?”
He bounded out of the dugout and hustled back to the field to help.
“I thought a couple of my teammates were going to join me,” Gennett said with a smile after the game was canceled due to rain. “But I think they were amused at me being out there by myself.”
It was a night that proved this is Spring Training for all parties, grounds crew included. Even with Gennett’s help -- and, as he pointed out, the leverage he had with his cleats -- the crew was not able to get the tarp spread across the entire infield. The game was called mere minutes after it had begun.
Even before the umpires had made the final decision, Gennett, having correctly assessed the unplayable condition of the infield thanks to the tarp fiasco, had already grabbed his gear bag and walked out the center-field door to board the bus back to the complex.
But even though the game wasn’t played, at least he got some work in.
“I was supposed to do a lower body lift today,” he said, “so I told our strength coach that that was it.”
Only in Spring Training.
Romano now a full-time reliever
Sal Romano made 25 starts for the Reds in 2018, but a slew of starting acquisitions in the offseason has raised the rotation bar for this club, and manager David Bell confirmed Tuesday what had been assumed: Romano’s role has shifted full-time to the bullpen.
“We wanted to simplify that for him, so he can see himself in that role,” Bell said. “We think he can be very effective as a reliever. For the time being anyway, that’s the way we’re seeing it.”
The Reds took the same route with Cody Reed, who is also confirmed as a full-time reliever now that the rotation has more depth of experience to it.
Of course, as demonstrated by Alex Wood’s back stiffness, which looks more and more likely to render him unavailable for the Opening Day rotation, starting sets are always subject to change and opportunities can arise at any time. But for now, Tyler Mahle, who started a split-squad game against the Cubs on Tuesday night in Mesa, appears to be the leading contender to replace Wood., and the small sample of stats from 2018 do lend credence to Bell’s point about Romano’s potential as a full-time reliever. In 41 big league starts covering 218 1/3 innings, Romano carries a 5.07 ERA with a .798 opponents’ OPS. In 14 appearances and 14 1/3 innings as a reliever, Romano has a 3.77 ERA and .669 opponents’ OPS.
12 players reassigned
Alfredo Rodriguez’s nameplate was being removed from above his locker by a clubhouse staffer, as teammates gave him hugs and Yasiel Puig gave him the sign of the cross. It’s the kind of scene playing out with increased frequency in Spring Training camps across the league, as the rosters begin to look a bit more real with just about two weeks remaining until Opening Day.
For the Reds on Tuesday, that meant a dozen cuts to a spring roster that now stands at 45 men. Rodriguez and fellow infielder Jordan Patterson, right-handed pitchers Tony Santillan and Odrisamer Despaigne, outfielders Taylor Trammell, Aristides Aquino, TJ Friedl, Brian O’Grady, Mason Williams and Kyle Wren and catchers Tyler Stephenson and Chris Okey were all reassigned to Minor League camp. None of the 12 are on the 40-man roster.
“They’re all guys that really made a good impression, did everything they could, and now it’s a matter of them going down and continuing to stay with it and not give up,” Bell said. “You create opportunities for yourself that way. That was the message to them.”
On Wednesday, the Reds will have their last Arizona off-day (they’ll have one more break in Cincinnati on March 27, the day before Opening Day). When the Cactus schedule resumes Thursday, right-hander Sonny Gray will make his second start opposite Hyun-Jin Ryu and the Dodgers at 4:05 p.m. ET at Camelback Ranch.
Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.