Simon sharp; Cozart, Mesoraco improving

Published 2:00 am Wednesday, March 23, 2016

GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) — Anthony Rizzo hit his second home run of the spring and Jason Hammel pitched five solid innings Tuesday, sending the Chicago Cubs to a 9-6 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

Hammel allowed one earned run and three hits in his longest outing yet.

Ben Zobrist singled, walked and scored twice. Kris Bryant had an RBI single for the Cubs.

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Alfredo Simon, who recently re-signed with the Reds, pitched three perfect innings in his first outing and struck out four.

“That was as sharp as I’ve seen him,” said Reds manager Bryan Price, who was Simon’s pitching coach for two years. “Devin (Mesoraco) was saying, ‘Send him to Cincinnati. He’s ready.”’

Mesoraco is building up stamina following hip surgery. The catcher hit his second homer of the spring for Cincinnati.

Two other Reds who started slowly in spring training also contributed. Zack Cozart had two hits, including an RBI double, and Billy Hamilton walked, stole a base and scored a run.

“Zack hit two balls on the screws,” Price said. “We got Mes and Zack some extra at-bats in minor league games to catch them up, to a certain degree. It was great that they came out of the game feeling good, as did Billy.”

Tim Federowicz hit a two-run homer off Blake Wood to cap the Cubs’ three-run eighth.


Chicago manager Joe Maddon likes to break the monotony of spring training, a 42-day repetitive exercise with one day off. So he brought in a mime to amuse Cubs players while they stretched before the game.

“We like to keep it loose,” Hammel said. “We talk about embracing the target all the time. There is really no pressure. We have fun with it. It was hilarious. Everything is on the table. Who knows what’s going on with that tornado in his mind? I’m sure he’ll come up with something else that blows us away.”


Cubs: Hammel got help from catcher Kyle Schwarber to get deeper in the game. Schwarber picked off Jay Bruce and Ray Chang to save the right-hander some pitches.

“I felt all I had to do was get it to the plate and let him do whatever he wanted,” Hammel said. “I like him being aggressive and keeping my pitch count down.”

Hammel feels just about ready to go, with only minor adjustments still needed.

“I just need to get my pitch count up. Maybe get my glove-side changeup where I want. Some of them found the barrel of the bat,” he said.

Reds: Simon breezed through the Cubs’ lineup in his spring debut. He had been working out in the Dominican Republic at Bartolo Colon’s camp before signing with Cincinnati last week.

“I didn’t throw a lot of pitches,” said Simon, who sent the Reds video of his workouts in the Dominican. “I feel great. Everything was working, even my slow forkball.”


Cubs: LHP Jon Lester continues to pitch with bone chips in his left elbow. … LHP Zac Rosscup is on the 60-day disabled list.

Reds: 2B Brandon Phillips was scratched with a stiff neck. Ivan De Jesus Jr., plunked twice Monday night by Padres pitcher James Shields, took Phillips’ place in the lineup.


Cincinnati reassigned RHP A.J. Morris, RHP Layne Somsen, LHP Cody Reed and 1B Brandon Allen to minor league camp.


Cubs: RHP Kyle Kendricks is scheduled to start against Texas on Wednesday.

Reds: Off on Wednesday. RHP Anthony DeSclafani is slated to pitch against Texas on Thursday.