GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Manager Bryan Price gave his strongest indication yet that the Reds will look hard at the young arms to help fill out the bullpen.
Price was asked if Amir Garrett, the 23-year-old left-hander who pitched in high A last year, would be consider for a spot in the bullpen. Price went beyond Garrett: He mentioned Sal Ramano, Nick Travieso, Robert Stephenson and Cody Reed as possibilities.
“To answer your question directly, yes," Price said. "I think go down the list of young pitchers — Ramano, Travieso, Stephenson, Reed. Any these of young guys we feel might be able to help us. If they’re not immediate starters at this level, they could help us in the bullpen. I’d like some of these young guys to at least get to Double-A before they’re jumping in the rotation or our bullpen."
Those pitchers are all on Baseball America’s Reds top 10 prospect list: 1. Stephenson, 2. Reed, 3. Garrett, 7. Travieso, 9. Ramano.
Travieso and Garrett haven’t pitched in Double-A yet.
“I don’t think it’s the worst thing in world to get these guys up here and pitch in middle relief to get their feet wet," Price said. "You get some of these big guys in here letting it going to two, three innings at a time -- it's a good transitional role.”
Price made it sound like the Reds would not go with veterans for middle relief.
“We all love experience,” he said. “In the same respect, guys who we don’t see as long term fits for our organization are taking innings away from guys that we do see as potential long-term fixtures on our pitching staff.”
Raisel Iglesias, John Lamb and Homer Bailey, the starting pitcher who are being held back, are getting close to throwing to live hitters.
“Nothing is written in stone, but Iglesias is very close," Price said. "He could be facing hitters at the end of the first week of March. He’ll be in a game shortly after that. Lamb should be facing in hitters in the next 10 days or so. And Homer going to be a little behind that, but he’s going to be throwing significant bullpens. Probably just after the middle of month, he’ll start to see live hitters.”
BACKUP IN CENTER?
José Peraza is one option to backup Billy Hamilton in center, but not the only one.
“Right now, Jake Cave is a Rule 5 guy. He has to make our club or be offered back,” Price said. “Tyler Holt is a true center fielder. Yorman is more of a corner guy, but he can play there. (Scott) Schebler can play center field. Absolutely, we know Peraza can play center. He would be guy if he had an injury to Billy, he’d be a consideration as a regular outfielder. He’ll play some center field this spring.”
NEW DRILL: 27 OUTS
The Reds using a new drill this spring called “27 Outs.” All nine defenders take their normal position. A batting practice pitcher throws to one of the regular hitters. Once he puts the ball in play, it’s live.
“We call it 27 outs, but it’s more of a situational drill -- 27 outs is typically a defensive drill,” Price said. “What we’re doing is making it a three-way drill in the sense that we work on offense execution, defensive execution and base running. Pitchers are working on their bunt defenses, things of that nature. It really does cover the full gambit of situational play from all aspects.
“I just felt like we needed a lot more situational baseball with all of these young guys to get acclimated to the environment they will be in through the course of the year," Price said.
It also spices the mundane of spring training.
“I think it’s a great drill," Price said. "It’s the first time I’ve seen it done this way and we just really wanted to get much more situational baseball involved in our Spring Training.”
Why the name 27 Outs?
“It’s called 27 Outs because how the drill originally initiated was that he goal was for the defense to record 27 outs without a mistake,” Price said. “And so the way we did it in Seattle with Mike Hargrove was every coach was responsible for their area on defense. If there is any single thing that a defender did incorrectly, you go back to zero outs.”
Starting back at zero can be brutal, Price said: He once had a pitcher who took the wrong route to back up home on the 23rd out, so they started over.