Fay: Devin Mesoraco confident he can return as everyday player

CINCINNATI -- When you go through what catcher Devin Mesoraco has the last two years, you take measure of yourself. He’s coming off right hip surgery in July and left shoulder surgery in May. He had left hip surgery in June of ’15.

Mesoraco was an All-Star in 2014. He hit .273 with a 25 home runs and 80 RBI that year. He’s barely played since. He’s 28, but he knows time running out.

“It’s been a long haul,” Mesoraco said. “I’ve been focused on the end -- getting back to being the player I know I can be. They’re not going to wait around forever. I’ve got to be out there playing. I realize this may the last time I have  an opportunity to be an everyday player and establish myself as one of better catchers in the game, the guy the organization invested in and knew they had.

“It just hasn’t turned out the way everybody hoped. That’s the player I think I am, and my expectation is to get back there.”

Mesoraco showed up at Redsfest Friday night very confident he will get there.

“Things are going as planned,” he said. “I’m lifting. I’ll start throwing and hitting next week. Things are going well. I’ll start catching drills in January, which is when I’d normally start. Everything is going good.

“Honestly, I feel better now than I did last year. I think at this time I didn’t have as much strength as I do now. I feel like my lower body strength is far greater than what it was. I feel some of that can attributed to where my hip was going into the surgery. It was definitely in a better spot. I don’t think it should a huge factor.”

The Reds are confident as well.

“I’m still hearing that everything’s on track,” general manager Dick Williams said. "We had a meeting with the coaching staff. We went through whole roster. We got updates on medical. I'm still hearing good things abut Devin. I still anticipate a break-in period in spring training and maybe into the season. I’m hearing all good things now. The next hurdle will be baseball activity.”

Billy ball

Billy Hamilton has already started full baseball activities -- something he didn’t do last year until spring training. Hamilton missed the last 27 games with an oblique injury. That’s fine now. That wasn’t the case last year after right shoulder surgery.

“Going into the offseason when you’re full-go is a big difference,” he said. “The main thing is to get my body right to stay healthy the whole year.”

The Reds are reportedly willing to listen to trade offers on Hamilton. He’s OK with that.

“Well, for me, if I get traded, I get traded,” he said. “I want what's best for everybody. If the Reds feel like they can be better without me, I'm all in for it. I'm not saying I don't want to be here, I'd love to be here. I love the Reds' organization, I love everyone here. I love the fans. If they trade me, that means they have a plan, it's not for me to do whatever about it and be mad about it.

Bronson back?

Reds manager Bryan Price would welcome a signing of former Red Bronson Arroyo.

“Speaking for myself, I’d be hugely in favor of it,” he said.

Arroyo, who will be 40 in February, missed all of the last two seasons with elbow and shoulder problems. He’ll have to show he’s reasonably healthy for the Reds to bring him in.

Winker's good

Top hitting prospect Jesse Winker is over his wrist problems.

“It’s good,” he said. “They put me in a splint. No surgery, thank God. I’m already hitting.”

Winker has new number: 33. He was 76.

“Larry Bird’s number,” he said.

Winker, 23, hit .303/.397/.384 at Triple-A Louisville. The Reds are hoping the wrist sapped some of his power.

Peraza's place

Price says Jose Peraza will get a lot of playing time in 2017.

Where? TBA.

“What my strategy is going forward building a roster is to sort of get away from eight everyday players and four bench guys,” general manager Dick Williams. “I think he fits very well into that model. So do some of these other guys like (Eugenio) Suarez and (Adam) Duvall. You’re talking about guys who can play multiple positions well. Duvall’s a Gold Glove left fielder, but he was a corner infielder before that. Suarez can play outfield. He’s been a shortstop. That gives you three spots.

Of course, the Reds move Brandon Phillips or Zack Cozart, both of whom are under control only for ’17. Either could be traded.

“I think there’s a chance. It depends on other teams and needs. Right now, it’s fairly quiet on that front. We feel like the middle infield is an area of depth. We’re fine with what we’ve got right now if that’s the hand we’re dealt.”

Peraza, 22, hit .324 with 21 steals in 241 at-bats last season.

Bailey report

After an injury-filled season or rehab, the reports are good on Homer Bailey.

“I just spoke with him recently,” Price said. “It’s more of a normal offseason. When you do surgery and rehab and that's all you're doing, it's like your body never really has an extended period of rest. I'm talking more of the throwing and the constant cranking on your shoulder, or in his case shoulder and elbow, just to be able to go home and say I don't have to do anything for a month or six weeks and then I can start doing some cardio and then I can get into the weight room and then I can begin my throwing program. That in and of itself will be a benefit to him.”

Multi multiples

Price says he plans to use Michael Lorenzen and Raisel Iglesias in multiple-inning roles -- as he did last year.

In fact, he’d like others to join them.

“What we’re also looking at going into spring training: Who are complements? Who might be able to serve us in a similar role eventually,” Price said.

Who’s in the running?

”To me, the candidates for that are virtually every other starter we feel confident in who doesn’t make our rotation,” Price said.

Price mention Cody Reed, Robert Stephenson, Sal Romano, Rookie Davis, Jackson Stephens, Tyler Mahle.

“There’s a lot of guys out there we want to see a lot in spring training,” Price said. “Some might be to support in the bullpen and pitch their way into a role of prominence like Iglesias and Lorenzen did.” 

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