PHOENIX (AP) - Any young first baseman in the Cincinnati Reds' organization knows the path to the big leagues usually requires a detour.
With reigning MVP Joey Votto a fixture at first base in Cincinnati, Yonder Alonso has been spending time this spring learning to play the outfield. The Reds are eager to find any way to get Alonso into the majors because of swings like the one he took on Tuesday.
Alonso hit a two-run homer in the Reds' 7-6 victory over the Oakland Athletics. It was his first homer of the spring.
``He was sitting on the pitch middle-in, and he got his pitch and turned on it,' said Reds bench coach Chris Speier, who managed the split-squad team. ``That's a great thing to see.'
Alonso, 23, has been working out with Reds outfield coach Billy Hatcher to learn the new position. A former No. 1 pick, Alonso hasn't played the outfield in a game, but he is expected to do so later this spring.
Alonso's two-run homer, off A's lefty Brett Anderson, followed Jonny Gomes' two-run shot earlier in the fourth inning, giving the Reds a 4-1 lead.
The Reds did not have a batter reach base in the first three innings, striking out five times in the first two innings against A's lefty Gio Gonzalez.
``He was amazing,' Oakland manager Bob Geren said. ``He threw 95 and was hitting his spots. He had a great curve ball. Very impressive. A very nice first game.'
Gonzalez threw first-pitch strikes to all six batters he faced. He said that was a point of emphasis for him this spring. Last year, even though he had a 15-victory season, he still issued 4.1 walks per nine innings, highest among A's starters.
``That's a good hitting lineup,' Gonzalez said. ``You don't want to fall behind. You want to get ahead and put them away quickly before they start a rally.'
Reds starter Mike Leake, vying for Cincinnati's No. 5 starter job, gave up one run in two innings in his first start of the spring.
Oakland's two new free-agent relievers, Brian Fuentes and Grant Balfour, each made their debuts. Fuentes pitched a scoreless inning and Balfour gave up three runs.
A's designated hitter Chris Carter, one of the club's top hitting prospects, had two hits and an RBI.
Trailing 7-1, Oakland scored five runs in the final three innings to get within a run. The final two runs scored after the Reds made two errors, a bad throw by third baseman Junior Arias and a dropped fly ball by center fielder Felix Perez.
NOTES: A's OF David DeJesus (illness) is expected to return to the lineup on Wednesday. ... RHP Andrew Bailey, who is recovering from elbow surgery, threw a 40-pitch bullpen session with hitters standing in. Bailey is expected to make his spring debut next week. ... Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson will be in A's camp for a week, working with the players on baserunning, bunting and outfield play.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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