Angels' Amarista hits 2-run homer in loss

March 11, 2012

GOODYEAR, Ariz (AP) -- Jay Bruce hopes a weight loss will help him get through a long season. The Cincinnati Reds hope it will make him a heavy hitter.

Bruce and Miguel Cairo hit RBI singles and the Reds beat a split squad of Los Angeles Angels 5-4 Sunday.

Bruce came into camp 16 pounds lighter than he ended last year. He has hit safely in all five of his spring appearances.

"He's swinging good," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "He's quick. He's going to have to learn to wait (on the ball). He can wait a lot longer now. Anytime you gain weight or lose weight there's always a period of adjustment.

Bruce was listed at 225 pounds last season but dropped to 209.

"I wanted to be a little quicker in the field and on the bases," Bruce said. "Sixteen pounds off will make it easier on my knees over 162 games."

Cairo, the veteran utility player who filled in for third baseman Scott Rolen most of last season, is hitting .417 in exhibition play.

Mat Latos pitched three innings for the Reds. He allowed a two-run homer to minor leaguer Alexi Amarista.

"It was fine today," Latos said. "I just want to continue to work on throwing strikes."

The Reds traded four players to San Diego for Latos, hoping that he could give them enough innings to take the pressure off the bullpen that was overworked last season. Both Latos and the team are pleased with the results so far.

"He threw the ball good except for one pitch," Baker said. "He threw some outstanding curveballs, especially for down here in Arizona. He located some fastballs well. We have quite a bit of depth at the starting position."

Left-hander Brad Mills pitched three scoreless innings for the Angels. The Angels traded catcher Jeff Mathis, a former first-round draft choice, to Toronto in the offseason to get him.

"I'm competing for a spot in the rotation," said Mills, who has split the last three seasons between the Blue Jays and Triple-A. "They gave up a number one pick for me so they think I have value."

NOTES: Former Reds SS Barry Larkin, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this July, is in camp working with minor leaguers... Reds lefty reliever Bill Bray is still out with a strained groin. Bray has had injuries early in spring training the last three years. "At least it is not in my arm this time," he said. ... The Reds have announced that former star Aaron Boone will be the grand marshal at the 93rd Findlay Market Parade that precedes their home opener.