3/8/2014 3:39 P.M. ET
Pitchers start to get at-bats in spring games
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- For the first time this spring, Reds manager Bryan Price wrote out a lineup that did not include the use of the designated hitter. Starting pitcher Alfredo Simon batted ninth against the Cubs.
"We have to play the National League game. Simon could be in our Opening Day rotation," Price said. "We're still on the fence if [Mat Latos] will be able to start the season in our rotation. We wanted to see him get some at-bats."
The Reds will return to using the DH at times when they play games against American League clubs. As a first-time manager, Price also wanted a chance to manage and make changes under conditions similar to the regular season.
"It prepares our bench players, there are some pinch-hitting opportunities for guys on our bench, there are opportunities to double-switch and do some situational stuff that we don't do in the American League game with the DH," Price said.
Santiago brings versatility with bat, glove to Reds
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- During the offseason, free-agent utility infielder Ramon Santiago was asking his agent to find him a National League team to join. About two weeks before camp opened, the Reds became that team, signing Santiago to a Minor League contract and inviting him to Spring Training.
"I think my game is more of a National League style -- defense, bunting and pinch-hitting, double-switches," Santiago said. "It's a lot of opportunities to get into a game. In the American League, sometimes you can sit out for a week and not play."
For his 12 big league seasons, Santiago has been entirely in the AL -- 10 years with the Tigers and two with the Mariners. Reds manager Bryan Price was Seattle's pitching coach in 2004 when Santiago was traded from Detroit for Carlos Guillen, and likes the idea of having him around in Cincinnati.
"We always knew he could defend. But he's an excellent situational player," Price said. "Offensively, he can put the ball in play. He's a hit-and-run guy. He's an outstanding bunter. He can bunt for a hit. He's smart on the bases. And he's an outstanding defender at second, third and short. That's where we feel organizationally that we needed some experience and support."
"That's the thing I work really hard on -- situational hitting. I can help the team different ways," Santiago said.
The Reds could wind up starting the season without backup corner infielder Jack Hannahan, who is still rehabbing from offseason right shoulder surgery and has yet to get into a game. That could improve Santiago's chances of making the team. He also would be a true shortstop backup for Zack Cozart.
If Santiago does make the Reds' 25-man roster out of camp, he could earn $1.1 million this season. His spot would fill a role occupied last season by Edgar Renteria, Wilson Valdez and Cesar Izturis. All three struggled offensively.
Santiago, who returned to Detroit in 2006, batted .224/.288/.298 in 80 games there last season and is .243/.311/.330 lifetime. The 34-year-old played 33 games at second base, 27 games at shortstop and 27 at third base in 2013.
"Last year when Miguel [Cabrera] went down, I was playing a lot of third base," Santiago said. "When Jhonny [Peralta] was suspended, I played shortstop. When Omar [Infante] got hurt, I was playing second, too. I filled in for those guys. I have to be prepared for any situation and any moment. I never know when I might get into the game at those positions. That's why I work hard every day at each one."
Corcino struggling to find rhythm in Cactus League
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The spring struggles of Reds pitching prospect Daniel Corcino continued during Friday's split-squad game against the Mariners. Corcino, who was ranked by MLB.com as the No. 7 prospect in the organization last season, gave up five runs on three hits and two walks in only two-thirds of the sixth inning.
The sixth started well as Corcino retired his first two batters, but a D.J. Peterson home run came next, followed by more mayhem.
"The wheels kind of fell off," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "A walk, three more hits and a walk and we had to go get him. His velocity dropped down and he was trying to make pitches and just find his way through the inning. It just didn't happen. He is one of the most confident, best looking prospects in our system. The physical ability is still there, but we have to get him over the hump mentally to get back to being aggressive and attacking the zone with good stuff."
Through three outings, the 23-year-old Corcino has a 58.50 ERA with 13 runs allowed in two innings. Last season at Triple-A Louisville, he was 7-14 with a 5.86 ERA in 28 games, including 23 starts.
"The concern is he's not commanding the ball the same way in the games that he has in the bullpens and his live batting practice," Price said. "He was one of the most impressive early spring guys in the camp, especially coming off of last year which was kind of a step back in his progress. He came in and his velocity was there. [He had] command in the bullpen. There was good intensity. Live batting practice went well. We were optimistic that he would have a good spring. To this point, he hasn't."
Latos, who is working his way back from Feb. 14 surgery to repair torn meniscus cartilage in his left knee, threw in the bullpen Saturday for the second time this spring. Latos threw 30 pitches without any issues. A target date for his first Cactus League game is still not known.