It’s Amir’s Closer’s Job To Lose, So Says Amir (www.mlb.com)

February 18th, 2021

Fresh from taking his physical on Thursday, Reds reliever

finished his first Zoom session with the media with a loud roar.

“IT’S BASEBALL SEASON!!” Garrett boomed as he stood up from his seat at the team’s complex in Goodyear, Ariz.

Garrett, 28, has plenty to be excited about. The left-hander will be trying for the closer’s role that he covets, and he and his wife are expecting their first baby.

In 2020, Garrett was 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA in 21 games. Left-handed batters went 1-for-23 (.043) with 12 strikeouts, while right-handers were 9-for-39 (.231) with 14 strikeouts. He retired the first batter in 18 of his appearances.

Garrett has company with other candidates who are aiming to close. Last week, the Reds signed lefty and two-time All-Star Sean Doolittle to a one-year, $1.5 million contract to compete for the job. Right-hander Lucas Sims will also get consideration.

“I feel like it’s still mine,” Garrett said. “My teammates are going to do what they’re going to do. I’m going to elevate this team the best that I can. I’m going to challenge my team as much as I can, people in the bullpen as much as I can. But as for competing, I’m competing with myself, not competing with anybody out there, especially not my teammates. I want them to just be elevated to the level that I’m at. I’m going to push them, man.”

Reds manager David Bell hasn’t committed to roles for any of the club’s relievers. Bell is also potentially open to not having a dedicated closer.

“The roles, a lot of times, take care of themselves,” Bell said. “We feel really good that we have a lot of options at the back end. I said this before, the idea is to have a lot of options, and when you’re winning a lot of games, the availability changes from night to night. As we know, the seventh and eighth inning can, at times, be as important or more important than the ninth. You’re facing a different lineup, you’re facing different teams, so the more options we can have at the back end, the better.”

Sims, 26, was 3-0 with a 2.45 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP in 20 appearances during a breakout season in 2020. He and Garrett exchanged fun jabs at each other on social media about the closer’s job.

“There’s friendly competition, but there is also, we’re the best in the world at what we do. Any competition is going to be, yes, friendly, but also a little bit fierce,” Sims said. “I think we have a lot of guys who have a lot of ability. I can only speak for myself. I do feel like I’m in a really good place. I feel like last year, I was able to do some things well, kind of showcased what I was really capable of. I think I was able to get better this offseason, too. I am happy with where I’m at now. I’m confident that I can come in and finish ballgames for us.”

Garrett wants to see Sims to strut his stuff a little more.

“Lucas had a tremendous year last year. He should be on his high horse,” Garrett said. “He should feel himself a little bit. I encourage that, because I see a difference in the pitcher that he was last year and the pitcher that he was the year before. If you had a good season, you have to ride the wave, man.”

Reds add Naquin, Bedrosian
The Reds signed veteran outfielder Tyler Naquin on Thursday to a Minor League contract with an invitation to camp as a non-roster player.

Naquin, 29, spent parts of the past five seasons in the big leagues with Cleveland, batting .274/.323/.443 with 31 home runs in 325 games. He profiles mostly as a corner outfielder, and he has often battled injuries, including hip and knee surgeries. The 2020 season began with Naquin fracturing a toe on his left foot, and he batted .218 with four homers in 40 games.

On Tuesday, the Reds made another non-roster addition with the signing of reliever Cam Bedrosian to a Minor League deal. The 29-year-old Bedrosian spent all seven of his big league seasons with the Angels, recording a 3.70 ERA over 285 games.

Over 11 games in ’20, Bedrosian posted a 2.45 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP in 11 appearances and 14 2/3 innings.

Bell recently spoke with both players, whose additions gave the Reds 55 players in camp.

“I’m thrilled that they chose our situation,” Bell said. “I told them this: There’s no guarantees, but based on what they’ve been able to do in their careers, there’s a reason we’re trying to sign them. And not only do we think they have a really great opportunity to make the team, we believe they can contribute to our team. It’ll become my job to fit them into the lineup and give them the opportunity and see them as much as we can in Spring Training.”

Castillo not in camp yet
The Reds held their first workouts on Thursday for pitchers and catchers. Five players were missing, namely starting pitcher Luis Castillo. The club said that Castillo had travel issues departing from the Dominican Republic.

Castillo is expected to be in camp by this weekend.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook.

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