Goodyear, Ariz. Cincinnati Reds third baseman Scott Rolen fouled off some tough pitches from Vin Mazzaro before hitting an RBI single on Friday.
“I will take at-bats like that all year long,” Rolen said.
All year long? The Reds would like that very much, too.
Rolen’s health is a big key for Cincinnati, which beat the Kansas City Royals, 5-1, on Friday. He played in only 65 games last season and had surgery on his left shoulder in July.
Rolen has five hits in nine at-bats this spring and appears to be mobile in the field.
“I’m not worried about my health or seeing the ball,” he said. “I didn’t go home tired last season. I felt like I didn’t contribute last season.”
Reds manager Dusty Baker is thrilled to have Rolen back. Cincinnati sorely missed his presence in the middle of the lineup last season, when it slipped from NL Central champions to 79-83.
“Scotty is getting ready,” Baker said. “He’s not there yet but almost.”
Royals left-hander Danny Duffy struck out five in two hitless innings in his first spring start. Duffy, who was selected by Kansas City in the third round of the 2007 draft, started 20 games last season after he was recalled May 18.
He had problems with the strike zone last year but made adjustments to his delivery.
“I dropped my glove a little so my motion is less violent,” Duffy said. “It was a good outing. There is a long way to go but so far the adjustments have worked.”
Reds right-hander Homer Bailey, who is competing with Aroldis Chapman for the fifth spot in the rotation, allowed a hit and a walk in three scoreless innings.
“Homer threw the ball well,” Baker said. “His velocity and location, everything was good today.”