GOODYEAR, Arizona – On Luis Castillo’s final pitch of the afternoon, he swung infielder Alex Blandino and missed. Then he pumped his fist, smiled, and walked off the field confidently over his first simulated spring training game.
Due to travel problems from the Dominican Republic in February, Castillo was the last Cincinnati Reds Starting jug to go to spring training and the last to appear in a game or simulated game. But after scoring three hits in two innings of an intrasquad scrimmage on Monday, Castillo said he was ready to play a spring training game this week.
“It was quite difficult to get here late, but we are making good progress,” said Castillo through translator Jorge Merlos. “We’re doing great timing and everything is (roughly) set up. We are all preparing for the season ahead. “
In Monday’s simulated game there were no runners or field players, but Castillo faced shortstop Jose Garcia, outfielder Scott Heineman, Blandino and catcher Rocky Gale. After leaving the Reds’ training field, Castillo said his first simulated game of the year went well.
“I worked on orders from my pitches,” said Castillo. “It was my first live (punch practice) so I just worked in the zone and made sure I got it all done.”
It’s Castillo’s turn on Friday when the Reds face the Seattle Mariners. Castillo could play three or four spring training games before opening day on April 1.
That year, Castillo said he didn’t care if he started the first or second game of the regular season.
“These are all management decisions,” said Castillo. “But whoever starts, whether Sonny (Gray) or me, I’ve done it before, I would be happy if one of us started the opening day.”
Noé Ramirez brings “the funk”: Although the relief pitcher Noé Ramirez had already played two games this spring, he did not feel that he had made a good move or a great slider.
But in Monday’s simulated game, Ramirez showed why these were two of his best spots. Ramirez knocked out three batters at the Goodyear Complex for an inning.
“It’s pretty much in tune with the year,” said Ramirez. “During this time, the first few trips are all about feeling, especially for me. I’m pretty unpredictable with my mechanics so it takes a little bit to really get me dialed back in. “
Of all the Reds’ pitchers in the camp, Ramirez stands out. Most Cincinnati pitchers throw fastballs in the mid or mid-1990s, but Ramirez’s average fastball last season was 88.7 mph.
Ramirez allowed four runs in his first two innings of spring training but felt like he was taking a step in the right direction on Monday as his off-speed spots looked better.
“I get the certainty from our hits across the league that I’m really funky,” said Ramirez. “I’m throwing 89 at you, but it actually comes out and looks like it’s almost the mid-90s. I use my pitching mechanics and my style. “
No train preparation for Barnhart and Akiyama: Last season catcher Tucker Barnhart and outfielder Shogo Akiyama mainly started against right-handers. But in this year’s spring training, a focus for both left-handers was to get more bats against left-handers.
Akiyama and Barnhart got extra reps in a simulated game on their day off. They faced left-handed Brandon Finnegan, who continued his strong start into the spring.
Finnegan hit three hits, including Barnhart and Akiyama, in 1⅓ innings.
Mike Moustakas is working on his glove: While many Reds players were on their way to a spring training game against the Colorado Rockies, Mike Moustakas did extensive training in the infield of the Goodyear complex.
Since Moustakas hadn’t traveled to the Rockies with most of the Reds starters, he spent time in a field working on his defense.
And a lot of those reps came on the third base.
Moustakas was a third baseman for the first nine seasons of his career before signing with the Reds, who have Eugenio Suarez in that position. Moustakas only played second base in the spring training games and played the position for most of 2020. On Monday, however, he stayed fresh in third place, where he played two of his 44 games last season.
Remembering Rheal Cormier: Former Reds pitcher Rheal Cormier, who played for the team in 2006 and 2007, died Monday of pancreatic cancer. Cormier played 27 games for the Reds and retired from Cincinnati.