12/6/2013 9:39 P.M. ET
Local BBWAA chapter hands out Reds awards
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- The Reds announced their 2013 Major League and Minor League award winners for the organization during Redsfest.
The local chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America named center fielder Shin-Soo Choo the Ernie Lombardi Award winner as the team's Most Valuable Player. Choo batted .285 with 21 home runs, 54 RBIs, 20 steals and a .423 on-base percentage last season.
Starting pitcher Mat Latos earned the Johnny Vander Meer Award as most outstanding pitcher. Latos was 14-7 with a 3.16 ERA in 32 starts.
Right fielder Jay Bruce received the Joe Nuxhall Good Guy Award.
On the Minor League side, third baseman Seth Mejias-Brean received the Sheldon "Chief" Bender Award as the organization's Minor League player of the year. Mejias-Brean batted .305 with 11 homers and 82 RBIs for Class A Dayton and Bakersfield.
Dayton outfielder Jesse Winker was named hitter of the year after he batted .281 with 16 homers and 76 RBIs. Right-hander Robert Stephenson was the pitcher of the year after he went 7-7 with a 2.99 ERA in 22 games at Dayton, Bakersfield and Double-A Pensacola. Second baseman Brent Peterson, who reached Pensacola last season, received the Minor League community service award.
Amid trade rumors, Phillips appears at Redsfest
CINCINNATI -- With weeks of trade speculation likely delaying his commitment to attend, Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips appeared at Redsfest on Friday night after all.
Phillips declined to talk to reporters.
"I'm just here for Redsfest," he said.
Phillips, who was not on the list of attendees in the days leading up to the event, was greeted warmly by teammates with hugs and handshakes and several kids took pictures and got autographs. During the team introduction on the main stage, he received the loudest applause and a standing ovation.
On Tuesday, general manager Walt Jocketty tried to stem trade rumors when he called Phillips to personally tell him he actively wasn't trying to deal him. Jocketty did leave the door open however, saying that if something came along later, he might look at it. Rumors could start again now that the Yankees need a second baseman after Robinson Cano reportedly signed a 10-year, $240 million contract with the Mariners.
Phillips was wearing a black brace over his left forearm, the same spot where he was hit by a pitch on June 1 and missed four games. His offensive production in 2013 sagged after the injury.
While players gathered backstage before their main stage introduction, Phillips shook hands and spoke privately with Reds president/CEO Bob Castellini.
Castellini believed things were good with the club and Phillips.
"Brandon is part of the team, boys," Castellini said.
Castellini maintained that the Reds are doing anything as a franchise to improve.
"Walt was just exploring," Castellini said. "You have to understand what he's up against. He's got to look around. Brandon Phillips is an integral part of this franchise."
Leake happy to know he has spot in rotation
CINCINNATI -- Coming off of his strongest season in the big leagues, Reds starting pitcher Mike Leake won't have to wonder about his spot this offseason.
Leake was 14-7 with a 3.37 ERA in 31 starts and 192 1/3 innings -- all career bests.
"This might be the first year I haven't had to fight for something," Leake said. "I'm still going to have the same tone I bring in. I'll work on things for a few outings and get back into it. It will be nice to go in with a little more set in stone, and freedom."
Leake looked noticeably heavier and added about 10 pounds since the season ended. He says he now weighs 193 pounds.
"I've tried to put a little weight on," Leake said. "I'm trying to experiment with some extra weight, to see how it feels and if I like it or not. I can always go back down if I need to. I'm lifting, eating, anything. I've got 200 pounds in my head to see what it would be like to get to."
Redsfest carries on despite heavy snowfall
CINCINNATI -- As Redsfest 2013 opened on Friday inside the Duke Energy Convention Center, the city of Cincinnati had declared a snow emergency outside. The first snow storm of the year in the area closed most area schools and left roads a mess.
While there still was a decent turnout, the Reds expected lower-than-usual attendance because of the weather.
"The weather is going to affect turnout for Friday based on the timing of when the snow fell," said Reds senior vice president of business operations Karen Forgus. "And this is a regional event. It was not an isolated Cincinnati weather incident. It's been affecting people all around us for the last 24 hours."
Most of the Reds players from out of town were flown to Cincinnati on Thursday ahead of the storm. It's the first time in several years that weather has been a factor on Redsfest weekend. Postponing the annual event was not an option.
"The convention center is booked," Forgus said. "We always know we're going to do it, snow or no snow. We've been really fortunate."
Redsfest continues on Saturday from 11 a.m.- 6 p.m. ET. Snowfall is expected to be over by then.
"I'm guessing Saturday will be intensely busy," Forgus said.
The Reds unveiled two new jerseys at Redsfest. They had a new white and green look for St. Patrick's Day and debuted new camouflage uniforms for use on select games during the regular season.
On the floor at Redsfest, players were engaged in various skill competitions. Mejias-Brean won the celebrity wiffleball home run derby. Prospects Tucker Barnhart and Ryan LaMarre competed against each other to balance five Ding Dong unicorns on their heads. Leake, J.J. Hoover, Corky Miller and Tony Cingrani played Reds Feud, a team-version of the Family Feud game show.