GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) – Johnny Cueto was scratched because of a sore back Thursday, giving Cincinnati another concern about its pitching staff, but the Reds rallied for a 5-4 victory over the Texas Rangers on Joey Votto’s bases-loaded walk in the 10th inning.
Cueto was skipped on the same day closer Aroldis Chapman was having surgery for fractures above his left eye and nose after he was struck by a batted ball Wednesday night. Two starters have been limited as well: Mat Latos is recovering from knee surgery at the start of camp and Homer Bailey was scratched from his last scheduled start because of a sore groin.
Reds manager Bryan Price expects Cueto to make his next start March 25 in a minor league game and pitch six innings.
Geovany Soto singled home a pair of runs in the first inning off Jeff Francis, who took Cueto’s place. Soto, slowed by injuries this spring, raised his batting average to .400.
Prince Fielder hit his second homer off Sam LeCure for a 4-1 Texas lead. Brandon Phillips homered for the Reds.
Rangers: Robbie Ross made his fourth appearance and second start of the spring. Ross last pitched in relief against Cincinnati on March 14 when he threw four scoreless innings, allowing five hits. He is competing for a spot in the Rangers’ rotation.
“He’s throwing the ball extremely well,” manager Ron Washington said. “He was getting ahead of batters and putting them away. He needs to keep pitching and we’ll decide.”
Reds: Francis was signed to provide depth for the rotation in case of injury. With Cueto, Latos and Bailey hampered, he has a chance to make the team if one of them isn’t ready.
“I’m here to fill a certain role for this team, whatever that is,” Francis said. “You never want to see someone get hurt.”
Rangers: Second baseman Brent Lillibridge left the game with a tight right hamstring. It will be examined on Friday. … Shortstop Elvis Andrus will be examined Friday for soreness in his right forearm, which has been bothering him this spring. … Shin-Soo Choo was the designated hitter, his sixth game in that role. Choo is bothered by soreness in his left elbow. … First baseman-outfielder Mitch Moreland is day to day with a strained left oblique, which forced him out of a game Monday. He’s hitting off a tee.
Reds: Chapman was having surgery to stabilize a fracture above his left eye. He was hit by a line drive Wednesday night in a game against the Kansas City Royals. Chapman is expected to miss six to eight weeks. … Bailey will throw in the bullpen Friday and is expected to pitch Sunday. … Latos pitched two innings in a minor league game Wednesday. He had some trouble with the mound, but his knee was no problem. “He came out of it totally fine,” Price said. Latos is expected to pitch again on March 24.
SPEED AND POWER
Reds leadoff hitter Billy Hamilton led off the game Wednesday with a home run against Jeremy Guthrie. Hamilton is known for his speed, so the home run was a bit of a surprise.
“It just happened,” Hamilton said. “I didn’t try to do that. I don’t consider myself a slap hitter. I can hit the ball into the gaps. It just happened one time. I still have to get back to my game.”
He had a pair of singles on Thursday.
LEWIS PITCHES FOR ROUND ROCK
Texas right-hander Colby Lewis pitched 4 2-3 innings for Triple-A Round Rock against Omaha on the Royals’ back fields. Lewis, who is trying to make the team as the fifth starter, allowed one run and three hits. He threw 57 pitches.
“We need to get him to 100 pitches,” Washington said. “He was supposed to throw 60 or 65 today. If he makes the team as the fifth starter, we have time. We won’t need him the first week.”
Rangers: Texas released RHP Michael Zouzalik, RHP Travis Dean and RHP Jose Samayoa.
Reds: RHP Drew Hayes, LHP Lee Hyde, RHP Chien-Ming Wang and INF Argenis Diaz were reassigned to minor league camp.
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