SARASOTA, Fla. -- Besides having experience and a roster spot locked up this season, reliever Todd Coffey has something else going for him that offers some extra comfort. Perspective. Only two years ago, Coffey was enduring his first big-league camp.
"I had a lot less confidence," Coffey said. "My first big-league camp, my first go-around, I thought I had to be perfect at everything, so I was tentative with a lot of things, a lot of pitches." There's been nothing tentative about Coffey's approach this spring. In his three games, the 26-year-old right-hander has worked three perfect innings and struck out five. "Coffey looks confident," Reds manager Jerry Narron said emphatically. "He looks like he knows he's a Major League pitcher that can get guys out, and rightly so. It's nice to see." Last season, Coffey worked a club-high 81 games while he went 6-7 with a 3.58 ERA. Although he's gotten consideration for the vacant closer's role, he'll likely work in the sixth, seventh or eighth innings this season. A still-in-development split-fingered fastball has the makings of giving Coffey another source of increased confidence. When he struck out the side on Sunday in his one inning against the Pirates, two of the outs came via the split-finger pitch. Coffey stopped using the split-finger while in Double-A in 2004, and lost the feel of the pitch. He's been tinkering with it since last season but has worked on it and his mechanics with pitching coach Dick Pole and bullpen coach Tom Hume. "It's another bullet for you," Coffey said. "It's another pitch you can throw at them, or you don't have to throw it, too. Because [hitters think] he has a split, that could be a way to lock them up with a fastball, or a slider." One of the downed batters, Brad Eldred, brought back some memories.
"I had a little incentive behind that one," Coffey said."I remember Eldred hit the ball about 600 feet off him two years ago," Narron recalled. "The wind was blowing out, and I think he hit it five parking lots over. I'm serious. It was a bomb." The game, played in Bradenton, was only Coffey's second appearance during that first big-league camp. "I gave up three straight homers in a Spring Training game, all on four pitches," Coffey said. "He was one of them. My first pitch was a homer to right. The second pitch was a homer to center, and the [fourth] pitch was a homer over the interstate to Eldred." Nice thing, that perspective. Coffey credits veterans like Eddie Guardado, Mike Stanton and David Weathers with helping him develop as a reliever. Like Eddie told me, 'Just grip it and rip it,'" Coffey said. Lohse update: On the back fields of the Reds' complex Monday morning, Kyle Lohse threw 74 pitches in a simulated game. It was the second simulated action for Lohse since he suffered a strained right hamstring in his first start. "Everything felt pretty good, but there are things I need to work on," Lohse said. "Five days from now, I'll be ready to go." Take that: Two of the hitters Lohse faced were Ken Griffey Jr. and 2005 first-round draft pick Jay Bruce. More than a dozen players from the Reds Minor League camp came over and watched. Griffey, who was trying to come back from a broken left hand, took his swings without any incident. His bat did not come through as lucky. Just like in Lohse's previous simulated game, Griffey broke his bat on a changeup. "You're the first person to break two of my bats," Griffey told Lohse. With new lumber during his later at-bats, Griffey sharply hit two balls back at Lohse on the mound. "I was happy with it," Lohse said of the performance. "I got another bat off of Griff." Injury report: Before his second at-bat against Toronto on Monday, outfielder Ryan Freel was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the second inning because of a tight right hamstring. Freel was listed as day-to-day. Reliever Gary Majewski (right shoulder) took Monday off from throwing after making 35 pitches in his latest bullpen session on Sunday. The Reds hope Majewski can begin facing hitters in live BP this weekend. First cuts: Before hitting the field Monday morning, the Reds made their first cuts of this year's camp. Left-hander Phil Dumatrait was optioned to Triple-A Louisville. Outfielder Chris Dickerson and pitcher Calvin Medlock were optioned to Double-A Chattanooga. Pitchers Jason Kershner and Tom Shearn were re-assigned to the Minor League camp. Cincinnati has 53 players remaining in camp, 50 active. (Guardado, Jeff Keppinger and Miguel Perez are out the rest of camp with injuries). Coming up: Josh Hamilton got the day off to rest on Monday, but is on Tuesday's travel roster when the Reds play the Yankees in Tampa on Tuesday at 7:15 p.m. ET. Aaron Harang will start for Cincinnati against New York's Mike Mussina.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.