SARASOTA, Fla. -- Micah Owings used his first opportunity to show Cincinnati he can pitch as well as he hits by working three scoreless innings Thursday in a 10-4 loss to the Minnesota Twins, the final opener at Ed Smith Stadium for the Reds.
The Reds signed a lease to move to Goodyear, Ariz., after voters rejected a tax increase to pay for an updated baseball complex in Sarasota. Local politicians also balked at upgrading the facility, which has been the Reds' spring training home since 1998.The opener drew 3,197 fans -- comparable to last year's opening crowd of 3,084. They've drawn fewer than 4,000 fans for the opener in five of the last six years.Owings was limited to pinch-hitting duties after being acquired by the Reds on Sept. 12 because of a sore shoulder. Regarded as one of the top hitting pitchers in the game, Owings is trying to win the fifth starter's spot after struggling in 2009. He gave up only two hits."It felt good to go out there and compete," Owings said. "Leading into spring training, after all the rehab, unsure thoughts are in your head. I was happy with the first time out."Brian Buscher hit a two-run homer off Reds closer Francisco Cordero, and replacement Brock Peterson added a grand slam for Minnesota.Buscher homered in the second inning off Cordero, who faced seven batters and gave up four hits and four runs in the one inning.Nick Blackburn, Matt Guerrier and Craig Breslow held the Reds without a hit over the first four innings. Blackburn, who made 33 starts as a rookie last season, pitched two perfect innings."We pitched the ball pretty well all the way through," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Blackie threw the ball great."The Reds closed to 5-4 on a double by career minor leaguer Kevin Barker off right-hander Phillip Humber, who is out of options and trying to win the last spot in the Twins bullpen."Humber couldn't finish anything off," Gardenhire said. "He couldn't get the ball down. We'll work on that."Peterson replaced Buscher at first base and hit a grand slam in the eighth off Ramon Ramirez.
Yonder Alonzo, the Reds' top pick last June, botched a groundball in the eighth that allowed the Twins to load the bases for Peterson's two-out homer. "Alonzo has been working hard every day and you can see improvement, but he was out of control on the groundball, being too aggressive," manager Dusty Baker said. ... Gardenhire's son, Toby, struck out in his first appearance.