3/4/2014 6:30 P.M. ET
Votto requests few more spring game at-bats
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Reds first baseman Joey Votto was not part of the travel roster for Tuesday's game against the Royals. Votto wasn't supposed to play in Monday's home game vs. the Mariners, but asked manager Bryan Price to start.
"He wanted a couple of more at-bats," Price said. "We've talked with the core of the veteran players about how we wanted to get out of the box here as far as playing time, and we were going on an every-other-day basis with some of the guys -- [Ryan] Ludwick, [Jay] Bruce, [Todd] Frazier, Joey and the catchers -- and [Votto] wanted to see some more pitches, he wanted a couple of at-bats. It was pretty easy to accommodate the request."
This spring, Votto is batting .200 (2-for-10) with two RBIs.
Ludwick says shoulder problems are in past
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Upon exiting Tuesday's game vs. the Royals after five innings, Reds left fielder Ryan Ludwick got ice for his left throwing shoulder like he usually does. His surgically-repaired right shoulder was not packed with even a single ice cube.
"I haven't iced it all spring. That's how good it feels," Ludwick said. "I haven't been in the training room, except for stretching it. I feel great. It's not aching. Let's knock on wood to keep it that way."
Ludwick tore the labrum in his right shoulder on Opening Day vs. the Angels last season and missed four months to rehab from surgery.
In the first inning on Tuesday came the evidence that Ludwick's shoulder is better. With two outs, he slugged a 2-1 pitch from Royals starter Danny Duffy for a two-run home run to left field that carried well over the bullpen and on to the berm of grass behind it. It was Ludwick's first homer of Spring Training.
"I hit it real good. It was on the line," said Ludwick, who is 3-for-10 (.300) in four games this spring. "It got out of here quickly. ... It was pretty loud, too."
"He ain't lying," interjected teammate Todd Frazier, sitting one locker over.
When a reporter noted that Ludwick had said he may not have had his power back after he returned from the disabled list in August, Ludwick interrupted and showed some irritation.
"I never said 'may not.' I did not have my power. I hit two home runs in  at-bats," Ludwick said. "You guys don't know. You guys aren't professional athletes. You've never had shoulder surgery or rehabbed for four months. If you don't lift a weight, how are you going to have power? All you had to do was add two-plus-two, you know? I was able to lift this offseason. I'm strong right now. It's a completely different body. You guys make what you want of it. I feel like it's a broken record right now. We keep talking about it."
Ludwick, 35, said he was motivated by people who doubted that he could return and be a productive power hitter again. He hit 26 home runs with 80 RBIs during his first season with Cincinnati in 2012.
"I've seen a lot of stuff that 'he's getting older," Ludwick said. "'He's coming off the shoulder surgery. People who have shoulder surgeries late in their career don't tend to come back from them.' Fortunately for me, it's my non-throwing arm. I've been through five other major surgeries. It's not like I haven't been through it before."
Latos among injured Reds' players on mend
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Some of the Reds' injured pitchers are showing optimistic signs in their efforts towards getting ready.
Starting pitcher Mat Latos (left knee meniscus tear) will throw from a mound for the first time since his Feb. 14 surgery.
"We're pretty optimistic he'll be able to toe the slab on Wednesday," manager Bryan Price said.
Reliever Jonathan Broxton (right forearm surgery) had his third bullpen session of spring and threw close to 30 pitches.
"He threw great. He looks like he's ready to go," Price said. "We have to follow a throwing protocol to get him ready for games -- throw live batting practice, facing hitters, throwing his breaking ball. There is a ways to go for that. His delivery looks good. His arm looks good. He's bouncing back really well. He doesn't have a lot of residual throwing soreness that is typical for this time of year in Spring Training."
Lefty reliever Sean Marshall (sore shoulder) has not yet resumed working from a mound.
"He's got a lot of tightness in his shoulder, just muscular stuff," Price said. "We've done all the tests and stuff on it and don't see any reason to be concerned."
The Reds were being careful not to rush any of their pitchers back.
"There is no reason to step on the gas pedal with these guys," Price said. "There is still plenty of time left in spring to have them all ready."
Among the position players, non-roster outfielder Jason Bourgeois has yet to appear in a game because of a strained right hamstring. Bourgeois, who is trying to earn a spot as a reserve outfielder, could get into a game as soon as this week.
Price looking for shift work on defense in '14
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Reds have shown this spring that they will be employing defensive shifts on opposing hitters this spring. It's something to expect to see during the regular season as well.
"I know at times pitchers get a little bit anxious if you have an over-shift on a hitter, but it's a game of percentages," manager Bryan Price said on Tuesday. "I think we're going to be a little bit more inclined to set our defense in the areas of the field where the highest percentage of balls are hit based on the hitter. It makes sense. There will definitely be times where the hitter beats the shift. But the data is pretty dramatic."
According to the Hardball Times, the Reds used a defensive shift 221 times in 2013 under former manager Dusty Baker, which was 14th most in the Majors. Opponents batting average on balls in play (BABIP) with a shift was .267 vs. a .283 BABIP without one.
A big proponent of the shift, besides Price, is new bench coach Jay Bell, who was on the Pirates' coaching staff last season. Pittsburgh used a shift the second-most in the National League last season, but did what they called "optimized defensive positioning" on every opponent's plate appearance.
"When we hired Jay, we talked a lot about the fact that they put an emphasis on their defensive alignments and it made a difference for their ball club," Price said. "I just think it simply makes sense. The data is going to suggest that there is reason for a dramatic shift, it's something we'll definitely look into."