GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The first start of spring for Reds pitcher Mike Leake wasn't entirely smooth on Saturday. At the same time, it was far from poor.Leake, the likely No. 4 starter, pitched two innings and gave up two runs (one earned) with no walks and one strikeout. "It went fine," Leake said. "I wasn't getting the ball down as much as I would have liked to. Otherwise, it was pretty good. It's always a little foreign the first time out there. It was funny because [catcher Devin Mesoraco] in the first inning was like 'Holy cow, I forgot how to call signs.' He was calling so many fastballs and he was like 'What ... is going on?' It takes time to get back into it." Leake's game started when Cleveland leadoff hitter Michael Brantley doubled to right field. An error by second baseman Brandon Phillips on Asdrubal Cabrera's grounder moved Brantley to third base, setting up a run on a sacrifice fly from Carlos Santana.
In the second inning, Lonnie Chisenhall hit an RBI single to right field that scored Jason Kipnis."He wasn't as sharp as he usually was but that's OK," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "I'm not worried about Leakie. He had the ball, it wasn't up but it was kind of in the middle. Those guys, one thing they can do is hit that fastball."
Reds may bat Ludwick cleanup
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- For the first exhibition game on Saturday, manager Dusty Baker's lineup had left fielder Ryan Ludwick batting fourth behind Joey Votto. Ludwick has some experience batting in that spot behind a superstar, having done it in St. Louis behind Albert Pujols."We'll see if he is the same Ludwick," Baker said. "Or Ludwick revisited. He's done it. He's hit left-handers well, [it helps] especially on days I want to split up [Jay] Bruce and Votto." Ludwick has better power numbers lifetime in the fourth spot, but a much better average in the second spot. He's a .257 hitter in 258 starts batting fourth with 47 homers and 199 RBIs. In the two-hole, he's a .314 hitter with a .390 on-base percentage.
New pitcher Brackman impressing thus far
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Among the new pitchers in Reds camp, one of the more impressive sights has been Andrew Brackman. The 6-foot-10-inch right-hander pitched well in live batting practice sessions and fared well in Friday's intrasquad game.Brackman threw 10 pitches in the first scoreless inning of his two-inning outing. He lost first batter Drew Stubbs to a walk after having him down in a 0-2 count. But Brackman got Neftali Soto to end the inning on a first-pitch, 5-4-3 double play. "He's been working on his delivery and mechanics and stuff," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "When you're that tall, you have a lot of moving parts. He wasn't a high round draft choice for nothing -- not just because he is tall. You know it's in there."
Scheduled Opening Day starting pitcher Johnny Cueto will make his spring debut on Monday vs. the Indians. The rest of the Reds' starting assignments after Monday are listed as 'TBA.' Much has been made of right fielder Jay Bruce's 15 pounds of weight lost over the winter. Through a week of full-squad workouts, Baker has liked what he's seen from Bruce. "He's in great shape. He's in better shape than I've ever seen him," Baker said. "You can tell how hard he's worked this winter. I watch him in the workout room. He's light on his feet. You can tell he feels good about himself."