02/23/12 4:03 PM EST
So far, so good: Valaika's knee feels strong
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
Baker believes Cozart could thrive in No. 2 spot
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- With the exception of Brandon Phillips batting leadoff and the likelihood of Joey Votto batting third, not a lot is known yet about how manager Dusty Baker will configure the Reds' lineup."Everything right now is in theory," Baker said on Thursday. "It's subject to change. I will come up with something that will be a topic for discussion, I'm sure." When the subject of the No. 2 spot in the order -- between Phillips and Votto -- came up, Baker was asked if Zack Cozart could handle that job.
"Wasn't he hitting second last year?" Baker replied.Cozart, 26, made nine starts and batted second in eight of them. He batted seventh in the other game. His season was cut short by a July 23 elbow injury, and the rookie is a good bet to win the starting shortstop job this season, even if Baker didn't make any such statement. "Age is a very small factor," Baker said when asked about Cozart. "Skill, ability, aptitude, unselfishness -- that's where your most unselfish player in the lineup hits. And one of your smarter players in the lineup. They take a lot for the other guy to steal, a lot of stuff." Baker acknowledged that he has more batters that are suited for further down in the order than at the top. "Everybody can't hit down," Baker said. "You don't want double-play guys back-to-back. You don't want too many strikeout guys back-to-back. If you don't put the ball in play, you have no chance. We're still working on and addressing cutting down the strikeouts. Most of the guys that have been striking out have been striking out most of their lives." Former leadoff hitter Drew Stubbs comes to mind first, after he struck out a club-record 205 times last season. "Stubbs wasn't the only guy, you know," Baker said. "He just [struck out] the most. Imagine how good our offense could be if we put the ball in play a little more. We were still second in the league in runs scored."
Single-game tickets go on sale on Saturday
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Reds announced that single-game tickets for all 2012 home games, except for Opening Day, will go on sale on Saturday at 9 a.m. ET.Tickets can be purchased on Reds.com and also by phone at 513-381-REDS (7337). Fans can also visit ticket windows at Great American Ball Park, select Kroger stores with Ticketmaster retail outlets, and Reds.com kiosks on Crosley Terrace, Fountain Square and at the downtown Cincinnati Skyline Chili at 4th and Sycamore Streets. Among the special ballpark promotions revealed by the club are bobblehead dolls for Joey Votto, Sean Casey, Jay Bruce and Johnny Cueto. There will also be a Barry Larkin Cap Night on Aug. 18.
The Reds' 58-player full squad is due to report and work out on Friday after the position players take physicals. Joey Votto, Scott Rolen and Miguel Cairo were among the position players that had not been seen as of Thursday afternoon. Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo is among current and former Major League players that will perform on a bill with country music singers at Woodjock 2012 on March 15 in Mesa, Ariz. Proceeds from the show, to be held at Toby Keith's "I Love This Bar & Grill," benefit the Arizona RBI program.