Two starts into his spring season, Reds pitcher Luis Castillo feels like he’s on pace to be ready for the regular season. During Wednesday’s Cactus League contest vs. Cleveland, Castillo worked three scoreless innings and allowed three hits with two walks and two strikeouts.
“Of course, it’s only the second start, but I do feel like we are in line to get up to that 100 percent point,” Castillo said via translator Jorge Merlos. “Right now, we’re like at an 80-85 percent, but as long as we stay the course and on line in Spring Training, I feel like we’ll be able to pitch six to eight innings by the time we get to Opening Day.”
Castillo threw two scoreless innings in his first start vs. Seattle on Friday and two scoreless innings in a “B” game on March 8.
Against Cleveland, Castillo appeared to have his great changeup working as he had a couple of swings and misses.
“I felt really good about it,” he said. “We’ve been practicing a lot through workouts and stuff. I felt really good going into it and it did really well out there today.”
Doolittle seeks success
Left-handed reliever Sean Doolittle is not off to a good start to his first Spring Training with the Reds. Through four appearances, Doolittle has a 24.75 ERA with 11 earned runs, 10 hits, seven walks and four home runs allowed in four innings of pitching.
Doolittle, who signed a one-year contract with Cincinnati last month, reworked his mechanics in the offseason and found velocity that he lost last season while with the Nationals. But the success hasn’t followed — yet.
“I think the one thing that we have to remember with him is he didn’t pitch very much at all last year, nor did he pitch too much in 2019, so you are talking about a guy that hasn’t been out on the mound a ton,” Reds pitching coach Derek Johnson said. “He’s got some new toys. He revamped himself this winter. I think the one thing you can take away: his velocity has climbed each and every single time out, which was a sticking point for him.
“He did get some swings and misses yesterday that he hadn’t gotten up to this point. He also had some balls hit hard. So each and every outing, I’m going to take something that I like and make sure that we’re going to emphasize that. We are going to take some stuff out that we need to do better. I think that’s just sort of a professional way to think of it.”
Lefty reliever Amir Garrett (forearm) and right-handed reliever Lucas Sims (elbow) both faced hitters Wednesday in live batting practice for the first time. If they feel OK from the outings, manager David Bell believed that it would be possible for Garrett and Sims to get into a game this weekend.
Right-handed pitcher Tejay Antone, who exited his last outing Saturday with a mild right groin strain, is still listed as day-to-day for his return. Bell said that Antone is expected to throw a side bullpen session this weekend.
Finnegan’s smooth spring stumbles
Lefty pitcher Brandon Finnegan has been the surprise of camp with his performance, having worked his way from Minor League camp to big league camp last week by allowing one unearned run over his first five innings.
But Finnegan had a rough outing during Tuesday’s 11-7 loss to the Rockies. In only two-thirds of an inning, he gave up four runs (three earned) and five hits — including a home run.
Finnegan is scheduled to appear in Thursday’s game vs. the Rangers.
“He came into this year and, really, up until maybe last night, he had thrown the ball really well,” Johnson said. “What I told him last night … I’m almost glad that he had a poor night because now we get to see what’s going to happen off of it. I think that’s always an interesting thing, especially when you’re talking about guys making the club is how they respond to failure.
“As far as I can tell, I doubt he’s going to go through the entire year and just be lights out and never have a poor performance. In my way of thinking, this will be a great test for him in terms of how he bounces back and what we see after last night.”