In the first inning against the Phillies, Freel made a magnificent run and diving catch at the left-center-field warning track on Aaron Rowand's long drive. The 31-year-old Freel crashed headfirst into the fence and spent several moments sprawled out on the ground while concerned teammates looked on. He finished the inning but left the game in the second.
"My shoulder hit, and then my head hit the pad," Freel explained. "I hit it pretty hard. I didn't slide on the gravel to slow me down. It was a catch, bang, hit."
Freel is known, and often respected, for his willingness to make a play at all costs. It's cost him playing time, too, with three stints on the disabled list over the past four seasons. There was also a season-ending thumb fracture from a diving attempt near the end of last season.
But, this was a Spring Training
"I told him to try to play these games at about 80 percent. Maybe he was," Reds manager Jerry Narron said. "Maybe he would have really gotten hurt if he was at 100 percent."
"I sit there and think about just taking it easy and getting out of here in one piece," Freel said. "But when I see an opportunity, I don't really think about that when I'm running for the ball. It all just flies out the window. I don't remember what I was thinking about. I just think about catching the ball."
Freel, who took over center field from Ken Griffey Jr. permanently this spring, did not start Wednesday's game vs. the Pirates. Josh Hamilton got the start and batted leadoff.
"It's nothing I couldn't get by and not play with," Freel said of his soreness.
Coutlangus keeps impressing Whether lefty reliever Jon Coutlangus makes the final roster or not, he's definitely left a great impression on the Reds this spring.
The latest memorable moment came in Tuesday's game. Coutlangus inherited a fifth-inning, bases-loaded jam from starter Kyle Lohse. He got two lefty-hitting All-Stars, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, with called strikeouts. And Howard's strikeout came after Coutlangus fell into a 3-0 count.
"I was going to throw three balls right down the middle and let him hit me or whatever," Coutlangus said. "I didn't want to walk in a run. I threw three fastballs and they ended up being not down the middle."
Narron doesn't believe Coutlangus' future is limited to left-handed situations.
"I think with the movement he's got on his fastball, he'll be able to get out right-handers also," Narron said. "I know it's Spring Training, but he's gotten some really good left-handed hitters out. When you bring him in with the bases loaded and face Utley and Howard, that's pretty strong."
Drafted as an outfielder by the Giants in 2003, Coutlangus was converted to a pitcher in 2005. The Reds claimed him off of waivers last spring. This spring, there appears to be one bullpen vacancy up for grabs -- especially with lefty Bill Bray still bothered by a bruised left index fingertip. All signs are pointing toward Bray beginning on the disabled list.
Coutlangus has a 3.52 ERA in 10 appearances, totaling 7 2/3 innings. He only had one bad outing, when he allowed five runs (three earned) in one-third of an inning last week vs. Tampa Bay. His experience as a position player has proved helpful
"I know that as a hitter, you go 0-for-3 with Ks, the next day you have to come right back out," Coutlangus said. "That's how the bullpen compares some with being a hitter. You can be right back out there the next night and you have to shake it off."
In his final spring start, Reds Opening Day starter Aaron Harang allowed three earned runs and 10 hits in five innings. Harang walked none and struck out two.
In six starts, Harang was 2-3 with a 6.66 ERA and allowed 46 hits in 25 2/3 innings.
"I'm not worried about it," Harang said. "Right now, it's making sure the timing is correct, and I want to make sure I'm in shape and ready to go for the season."
"He got through the spring healthy. We're looking forward to Monday," Narron said.
Reserve infielder Juan Castro (sore right elbow) was able to play the field for the first time in a week. Castro started at second base on Wednesday and went 0-for-3.
In his second spring outing back from a shoulder injury, Gary Majewski walked a batter in one scoreless inning of relief on Wednesday.
Ring 'em up:
Members of the Reds organization that played with the Arizona Fall League's Phoenix Desert Dogs received their championship rings on Wednesday morning. AFL executive director Steve Cobb gave rings to Coutlangus, infielder Drew Anderson, outfielder Cody Strait, pitchers Jared Burton, Phil Dumatrait, Calvin Medlock and Tyler Pelland and coach Jamie Dismuke
Bronson Arroyo will get his final spring start for the Reds against the Twins on Thursday at 7:05 p.m. ET in Sarasota. Carlos Silva is scheduled to start for Minnesota.