MESA, Ariz. (AP) Brandon Phillips hit his third home run in four games and Roger Bernadina added to his big spring for Cincinnati, belting a three-run shot and driving in four runs to help the Reds defeat the Chicago Cubs 8-3 on Saturday.
Bernadina, who went deep in the first inning off starter Edwin Jackson, is hitting .417 with three homers and 10 RBIs.
”He hasn’t been just the athletic guy … he’s been productive, for power, for speed,” manager Bryan Price said. ”He’s got some bunt hits, he’s driving in some runs, he’s grinded out some walks.
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”He’s just been very, very efficient,” Price added. ”There’s no doubt about it, when he’s getting a pitch to hit, he’s not missing it.”
Reds pitcher Tony Cingrani, a likely member of the rotation, gave up three runs and five hits in 4 1-3 innings. He struck out three and walked four.
”The most important thing is he showed arm strength again. He had a couple outings in a row where he just didn’t feel like his arm had any life in it,” Price said. ”Today, he had velocity and a better breaking pitch. He was just missing up in the zone a little bit.”
Jackson, slated to start the second game of the season in Pittsburgh, allowed four runs and eight hits in five innings. He struck out seven and walked one.
Anthony Rizzo went 3 for 3 for the Cubs, raising his batting average to .368.
BAEZ SENT TO MINORS
Javier Baez, the Chicago Cubs’ top shortstop prospect, was assigned to minor league camp. The move was expected. Baez is expected to play Triple-A Iowa.
Baez has generated much spring-training buzz by hitting .310 with five solo homers. He’s also made an occasional spectacular play at shortstop.
”He’s made a lot of progress,” manager Rick Renteria said. ”One of the things we talked about was to make sure he understands to continue to work on his defense and to put together some good at-bats, try to get on base a little bit more and just go out there and be a professional.”
Cubs: Chicago announced the pitching schedule for the first few games after Jeff Samardzija gets the ball on opening day, March 31 at Pittsburgh.
Based on matchups, Jackson will pitch the second game, April 2 at Pittsburgh, followed by Jason Hammel on April 3 at Pittsburgh. Travis Wood will pitch vs. Philadelphia in the home opener on April 4.
Reds: Aroldis Chapman, hit in the head by a line drive Wednesday, could begin throwing in 10 to 14 days and could pitch in game conditions in four to six weeks. … Utility player Skip Schumaker, who was hitting .467, dislocated his left shoulder Friday.
Cubs: Shortstop Starlin Castro, recovering from a hamstring injury took at-bats in the minor league camp. He is expected to do so again Sunday and is likely to play in Cactus League games in a few days. He should be ready for opening day, Renteria said.
An advantage for new manager Renteria is that he’s bilingual, the better to communicate with young Spanish-speaking players such as Castro.
Said Renteria: ”More than anything if there’s anything lost in translation, hopefully I’m able to cover it,” Renteria said. ”If I speak to them in English, which I do, then I reiterate it in Spanish. Maybe it just clarifies the context of the message. I think they understand the English, but I just want to make sure any messaging that is put forward hits the mark. I think it’s really important for them.”