PHOENIX (AP) - Chris Heisey hit his fifth spring homer and Cincinnati had 18 hits in a 16-4 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday after Reds starter Homer Bailey was scratched with a sore right groin.
Brett Marshall subbed for Bailey and allowed one run in three innings. The right-hander has allowed one run in nine spring innings with 11 strikeouts.
Heisey hit a two-run homer in the first inning and a double in the third. He is hitting .421 with 11 RBIs in 13 games this spring.
Heisey had four home runs last spring and hopes a new stance with his hands lowered will help him feel comfortable at the plate. He was hitting during the offseason with a friend, Mets minor leaguer Joey Tuschak, and noticed how relaxed he looked at the plate with his hands low.
“That’s a place I’ve been trying to get to,” said Heisey, who hit .237 with nine home runs in 87 games last season. “One day, I tried it and it felt really good and so far in the games I’ve felt really good. When I get tense, I speed things up and this has helped me slow the game down. Over the past four or five years, I’ve probably has 10 or more stances, so It would be great to stick with something.”
Neftali Soto had three hits, including a solo home run off Milwaukee reliever Francisco Rodriguez in the fifth. Roger Bernadina and Chris Nelson homered in the eighth for Cincinnati.
Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez had two hits apiece for the Brewers, and Mark Reynolds added a two-run single. Braun is now 10-for-17 (.588) in the spring, and Ramirez is hitting .538 (7-for-12).
Reds: Bailey, who signed a six-year, $105 million contract extension on Feb. 20, is listed as day-to-day. Reds manager Bryan Price said the strain was not significant and the decision to sit Bailey was a precaution.
Cincinnati’s rotation has had its share of problems this spring. Mat Latos had left knee surgery last month and has yet to pitch this spring, and Mike Leake missed his first start this spring with an abdominal strain.
Brett Marshall has had trouble with control this spring, but walked only one Saturday. He also allowed a single to Braun and an RBI double by Ramirez.
“It’s about being consistent and feeling good and I felt good today,” he said. “I found out last night that I was going to start and I felt like things were in sync.”
Brewers: Milwaukee’s Tyler Thornburg set the stage for a long day for Brewers pitching, allowing seven hits and four earned runs in 2 2/3 innings as the Reds took a 7-1 lead. With no rotations coming into focus both in Milwaukee and at Triple-A Nashville, Thornburg’s ERA is now 6.94 for the spring and a bullpen assignment is likely.
Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez backed up a two extra-base hits against Arizona on Friday with an RBI double in the first inning and a single in the fourth. But his adventures in the field also continued as his committed his third error in seven games, sailing a throw intended for second base into right field in the third inning.
“I feel good at the plate, but timing is also very important for defense,” Ramirez said. “Getting your footwork down is key. This is only my fifth game, so I have to keep working. I should have gone for that ball. I shouldn’t wait back for it. That’s why I have to keep working and that’s what spring training is for.”
Coming to camp late as he tried to escape the political unrest in Venezuela, and then missing time this week after stepping on a cactus in his backyard with his left heel, veteran relief pitcher Rodriguez finally made his Cactus League debut for Milwaukee, allowing a home run to Soto.
“He’s a really tough guy. He was limping all over the place, even this morning,” Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said. “I asked him if he wanted to pitch and I said, ‘I’m pitching.’ He will go out there and suck up the pain and I thought he threw the ball very well.
“He knows he needs to be out there to get innings in to get his command for the season. But there’s still a lot of cactus in his foot and hopefully those things work themselves out.”
Rodriguez got Heisey to foul out to the catcher and Brayan Pena to pop up to third. He appeared to be out of the fifth inning when he induced another foul popup by Soto, but neither Mark Reynolds nor Martin Maldonado was able to make the play. Two pitches later, Soto lined a shot to left field.
Asked about the pain level, Rodriguez said, “It’s up there. But once your focus is to make a pitch, you don’t think about it. We had two layers of a topical painkiller over it. It helped a little bit. But once that goes away . I’m going to feel it. Over my career, I’ve learned the difference between injury, pain and soreness. I’m not injured, so I’ve just got to go through it.”
Reds RHP Jonathan Broxton, recovering from forearm surgery last August, is scheduled to make his spring debut Monday with a one-inning stint against the Cleveland Indians in Goodyear.
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