Created on Tuesday, 04 March 2014 Written by GARY SCHATZ, Associated Press
GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) — Billy Hamilton bunted for a single — the biggest focus of his offseason — and stole another base for Cincinnati on Monday before a split squad of Seattle Mariners rallied for a 6-5 victory over the Reds.
Hamilton worked on becoming a better bunter to prepare for his role as Cincinnati's new leadoff hitter. He started a four-run rally in the third with his bunt hit. The Mariners had two errors in the inning behind starter Erasmo Ramirez and made five errors in all.
Hamilton walked, stole and scored on Skip Schumaker's sacrifice fly in the fifth for a 5-1 lead.
Alfredo Simon pitched three hitless innings for Cincinnati. Closer Aroldis Chapman went two innings, giving up a run and three hits while fanning three.
Brad Miller hit a solo homer in the sixth off Cincinnati's Chad Rogers. Chris Taylor had a grand slam in the seventh off Rogers, a minor leaguer.
"It is a funky game," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "It's not often when the opposing team makes five errors and you lose."
Ramirez made his second start of the spring. A biceps injury forced him to start last season on the disabled list.
The right-hander pitched 2 2-3 innings and was charged with three runs, one earned, and four hits.
"I didn't walk anybody," Ramirez said. "No matter who is batting, I want to get the first-pitch strike. When runners got on base, I want to get a ground ball. I got them but they found holes."
Simon has pitched exclusively in relief for Cincinnati in the last two seasons. He's getting more innings this spring as the Reds get him ready to start in case Mat Latos is still recovering from knee surgery when the season begins.
"Even if we had all five starters healthy, the goal in the spring was to stretch Alfredo out as a starter about two-thirds of the way through spring training," Price said. "He has earned the right to have an opportunity to start, if there is an opportunity. He has been so good pitching out of the bullpen. He has a starter's background. He is big and durable."
Simon is excited to get the chance. He hasn't allowed a hit in five innings of two starts.
"I'm really happy. Let's see what happens," Simon said. "My breaking ball was really good today. I was a starter in Baltimore (in 2011). I put in my mind that I was going every five days. I am trying to think the same way now."
Seattle third baseman Kyle Seager has been sidelined for a couple days by a jammed finger on his right hand, but he is expected to play again on Tuesday.
Latos and Mike Leake are scheduled to throw on Wednesday. Latos had surgery on Feb. 14 to repair torn cartilage in his left knee. Leake suffered an abdominal strain during offseason workouts and missed his first scheduled start of the spring as a precaution. ... Left-hander Sean Marshall has a sore left shoulder. ... Outfielder Jason Bourgeois has an injured right hamstring.
Neftali Soto doubled twice. He has hit safely in five straight games. Soto has volunteered to catch to improve his chances of making the team. ... Schumaker was 2 for 2 and has hit safely in three of his four appearances. ... Zack Cozart singled twice. He has hit safely in all four of his appearances.
COAST TO COAST
Outfielder/first baseman Logan Morrison came to the Mariners in a trade with Miami. Morrison has impressed his new team by hitting in all three spring games, batting .625 (5 for 11).
Price is giving Chapman a chance to pitch more than one inning at a time during spring training, which is in line with what the Reds have done with him the last few years in exhibition games. The left-hander went two innings on Monday.
"It gives us a chance to work on his slider," Price said. "The repetition is good for him. He really enjoys it."