03/23/2013 7:55 PM ET
Journeyman Miller commands respect of Reds
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- It's not every day that a player with a .188 career batting average in the big leagues and 15 years of Minor League experience has a bobblehead created in his likeness. But catcher Corky Miller commands respect inside the clubhouse and outside with the fans.
Triple-A Louisville is giving away 2,500 mustachioed Miller bobbleheads at its April 6 game against Toledo. Miller was also a popular draw in January when he was on a leg of the Reds Caravan that included a stop at Louisville Slugger Field.
"It meant a lot to me. It sure meant something to the people in Louisville," Miller said of the caravan stop. "They've been great to me. It's nothing new with those people. It's the kind of reception I get all the time from the people down there, whether the team is doing good or not, or whether I am doing good or not. They've always been real excited to see me and I'm always excited to see them."
Despite being 37 and in pro baseball since 1998 with several clubs, Miller has only 199 games logged in the Majors and none since 2010 with the Reds. For the fourth year in a row, he is in Reds camp as a non-roster invitee due to his skills as a catcher and keen ability to work with all pitchers.
While often quiet, Miller speaks with authority among teammates. A couple of springs ago when some younger players complained about having to go to a team function to sign autographs, Miller overheard and told them, "If you don't like it, play worse."
"Corky is a pro," manager Dusty Baker said. "I told Corky last year that I felt one day he would make a fine pitching coach. He knows pitchers. He calls an excellent game. He knows when they are doing something mechanically wrong. I told him to watch [catcher Devin] Mesoraco because Mesoraco really respects him. He's not a coach yet, but he's on the way. I want to try and keep him as long as I can. If something happens in the course of a season, Corky has done a good job when he comes up. Corky is a good team man."
Miller is not expected to make the Reds' 25-man roster, but he remains hopeful that he could eventually get another taste of the big leagues before retiring as a player.
"Obviously, I'm not playing to play in the Minor Leagues," Miller said. "I wanted to come to camp again and be ready in case something happens to somebody else. I want to help the club, get to know the guys and understand what they want to do. The big leagues are the goal everybody has."
Miller has never complained about going back to the Minors. For some players, experiencing the big leagues and going back down is harder than never going at all. And he's been back and forth several times since his big league debut during his first tenure with the Reds in 2001.
"I wouldn't know any other way," Miller said.
As for his future in coaching? Not just yet.
"We'll see," Miller said. "I'm sure we'll talk about it when the time comes. We've had conversations before. I still feel like I can play and they obviously do. That's why I'm here."
X-rays on Latos' left foot negative
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Right-hander Mat Latos left Saturday's game against the Rangers with a left foot injury after being struck by a ball hit toward the mound. He was later taken for X-rays that came back negative, according to a team spokesman.
In the top of the sixth inning with two outs and two runners on base, Geovany Soto smacked a one-hopper that bounced hard off of Latos' foot and skipped toward the first-base dugout. Soto reached safely with an RBI single.
Latos limped around the mound for a couple of moments before exiting the game.
After returning to the team's complex, Latos left on crutches and went to a local hospital.
Over his 5 2/3 innings, Latos allowed four runs and nine hits with one walk and six strikeouts. He is expected to be the Reds' No. 2 starter in the rotation and would be scheduled to make his regular-season debut on April 3 against the Angels.
Broxton values championship over closer's role
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Even though the Reds decided on Friday to have Aroldis Chapman remain their closer, Jonathan Broxton feels no differently than he did before.
Had Chapman become the fifth starter, Broxton would have become the new closer. Now, he will remain the right-handed setup man.
"It's still the same," Broxton said. "I've had my time closing. I just want to win a championship now. Whatever it takes to get to that level and win a championship, I'm going to do it."
The Reds acquired Broxton from the Royals on July 31 for two Minor League pitchers. He posted a 2.60 ERA and 27 saves in 60 games, including 4-for-4 in save chances for Cincinnati while filling in for Chapman. In November as a free agent, he was re-signed to a three-year, $21 million contract with the expectation he could step into the closer's role since he has 111 career saves.
Broxton, 28, was informed before signing his deal that Chapman could still remain in the closer's role even after the Reds explored converting him to a starter.
Now that the decision is done, Broxton felt nothing would be changed in preparing for the regular season.
"You still have to get three outs," Broxton said.
Broxton worked a scoreless seventh inning of Saturday's game against the Rangers, allowing two hits and recording two strikeouts. In his six appearances this spring, he has thrown six scoreless innings with one walk and 15 strikeouts.
Backup catcher, utility spot need resolving
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Now that Aroldis Chapman has been named the Reds' closer and Mike Leake is the fifth starter, the Reds only have a few roster battles remaining.
Still to be decided is the backup catcher spot between Devin Mesoraco and Miguel Olivo; the utility infielder spot among Jason Donald, Emmanuel Burriss and Cesar Izturis; and several contenders vying the last couple of bullpen spots.
The spring roster is currently at 36 players and must be at 25 players by Opening Day. Manager Dusty Baker did not know how soon the final decisions would be made.
"If I knew, it would be done already," Baker said. "That's why it's called tough cuts and last cuts."
• Reliever Alfredo Simon worked one scoreless inning in a Minor League game for Class A Bakersfield. Simon gave up one hit and walked one with two strikeouts while throwing 19 pitches.
• Former Reds player and MLB Network analyst Sean Casey visited camp Saturday morning as a guest instructor. Casey wore his familiar No. 21 Reds uniform.