Cozart, Cave belt HRs to key Reds win
PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) — Zack Cozart and Jake Cave hit back-to-back home runs, leading the Cincinnati Reds to a 5-3 spring win over the Seattle Mariners on Sunday.
Cozart connected for a two-run shot against Nathan Karns with two out in the third inning. Cave followed with a drive to right-center.
Cozart is coming back from right knee surgery.
“Cozart, of course, was terrific to see,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “Cave crushed that ball to center. A lot of balls right on the screws.”
Seattle right fielder Nelson Cruz went 0 for 3 and is hitless in 13 Cactus League at-bats. Cruz was second in the American League last season with 44 home runs.
“He’s healthy, he’s fine,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “He’s just got to get his timing down. He’s not swinging at great pitches right now, either.”
Anthony DeSclafani pitched four innings for Cincinnati and was charged with two runs and three hits.
“I didn’t think I gave up hard hits, everything felt good,” DeSclafani said. “I felt like I was throwing everything for strikes and I’m pleased with it.”
Seattle left fielder Nori Aoki went 2 for 2 with a walk.
Reds: Price was pleased with DeSclafani’s outing, pointing out that Seattle wasn’t able to make hard contact against him.
“Can’t prevent soft contact, that’s really what you’re pitching to,” Price said. “Pitches for the most part were pretty sharp.”
When asked if DeSclafani would be the Reds’ opening-day starter, Price left the door open.
“We’re still not quite yet ready,” he said. “You can suggest whatever you want. Put it this way: He’s a strong consideration for that opportunity.”
Mariners: Karns, who is competing for a spot in the rotation, breezed through the first two innings. Then he ran into trouble in the third.
“I thought I was cruising through the third until I got back-to-back home runs hit off me,” he said. “That just shows you, you’ve got to execute your pitches throughout the whole inning. Until that third out is made you’ve got to really stay on top of it.”
Karns allowed three runs and four hits in four innings. He struck out one and walked one.
Mariners: Servais said he is concerned reliever Charlie Furbush might not be ready for opening day. Furbush, who is recovering from a shoulder injury, played catch for a brief period on Saturday before being shut down.
Reds: Right-hander Raisel Iglesias will make his spring debut when the Reds visit the Los Angeles Angels and left-hander Nate Smith on Monday. “I want to see him throwing strikes and feeling good after he’s done with his work, that’s all,” Price said. “There’s no reason to believe he’s not going to throw the ball fine.”
Mariners: Seattle will play a pair of split-squad games on Monday. In Peoria, ace Felix Hernandez will make his first Cactus League start, facing Tyler Chatwood and Colorado. On the road, right-hander Taijuan Walker goes up against Zack Greinke and Arizona.
Seattle released first baseman Gaby Sanchez and optioned outfielder Guillermo Heredia to Double-A Jackson.