Reds first baseman Joey Votto turned in yet another all-world season at the plate last year, but that accompanied an uncharacteristically poor defensive campaign. After finishing with fewer than four Defensive Runs Saved in just one season from 2008-15, Votto logged a ghastly minus-14 DRS to finish worst among first basemen last year. In regards to his most recent output in the field, Votto told Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer: “I didn’t prepare properly. I had to do a lot of catching up during the season. The unfortunate thing of hitting versus defense is I’m probably a more natural hitter than I am a defensive player. When I don’t prepare to the utmost in one aspect of my game that’s not a strength, I’m way behind everybody else.” Votto wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice, so he spent the offseason doing unspecified work to improve his defense, relays Buchanan.
More on Cincinnati and two of its division rivals:
- Jumbo Diaz was among the few Reds relievers who prevented runs at a respectable rate in 2016, when he registered a 3.14 ERA in 43 innings (that did mask an unappealing 5.24 FIP, granted), yet he’s not a lock to make their bullpen this year, writes Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. Diaz is out of options, so his four-year tenure with the Cincy organization could be in jeopardy. Having yielded six earned runs on eight hits in three spring innings, the 33-year-old is cognizant of the fact that he’s not in an ideal situation. “I know I am fighting for a spot here,” he told Sheldon. “So far in my outings, I’m not doing so well. But I think I’m throwing hard and can get on track and be ready for the season. I feel good right now. I think I will do everything I can [to get] ready for my outings every time I go to the mound.” Diaz will join the Dominican Republic team in Miami on Sunday for this year’s World Baseball Classic, and manager Bryan Price wonders if the right-hander will see enough work in the tournament. “My only concern is [that] he gets regular work in the Classic, and if they’re playing for a long time that he’s being used on a regular basis,” Price said.
- After nearly three years as the Cardinals’ primary closer, right-hander Trevor Rosenthal is vying for a spot in the team’s rotation, though it’s unlikely he’ll end up a starter, suggests Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Redbirds “don’t really know” what Rosenthal’s role will be in 2017, per manager Mike Matheny, but given that they’re stretching him out, odds are he’ll end up as something between a starter and a closer, writes Goold. The hard-throwing 26-year-old could give the Cardinals their own version of Cleveland’s Andrew Miller – someone capable of handling high-leverage situations and tossing multiple innings in an appearance.
- The Brewers had six starters throw at least 100 innings last season. While all of them remain with the organization, only righties Junior Guerra and Zach Davies are locks to crack the major league rotation again this season, according to manager Craig Counsell (via Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com). The others – 2016 innings leader Jimmy Nelson (179 1/3), Matt Garza, Chase Anderson and Wily Peralta – are competing with newcomer Tommy Milone for the Brewers’ final three starting spots. “It’s the best way,” said Counsell, who’s “happy” with the rotation depth Milwaukee possesses.