GOODYEAR, Arizona – Last week, Akaya Akiyama, the wife of Cincinnati Reds outfielder Shogo Akiyama, was walking in Sharon Woods in Cincinnati when a tree fell on top of her.
Akaya suffered serious injuries, and Shogo left Reds Spring Training, spending most of the week with his wife in the hospital in Cincinnati.
Shogo returned to Goodyear seven days later, and he said his wife is doing better.
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“I was in the hospital with her, I was spending time with (the) kids,” Akiyama said through team interpreter Luke Shinoda. “I think it was the inevitable time that I needed with this week away.”
Akiyama says he’s ready to play in games, but manager David Bell will likely give Akiyama until Sunday to get re-acclimated.
“To have that goal to play every day, I knew I was going to be late,” Akiyama said. “But I know with the time we have until Opening Day, I will be ready enough.”
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Akiyama received a warm welcome at the Reds complex, and relief pitcher Lucas Sims said everyone on the team was glad to hear that Akaya was doing better.
“That’s bigger than baseball,” Sims said. “Being able to see him today, it made us all happy and glad to know that she’s doing all right. Hopefully, everything gets back to normal.”
Jesse Winker returns to the lineup, Castellanos update
Outfielder Jesse Winker didn’t expect to be out of the lineup long after being scratched with a sore hip on Monday. It only ended up being a three-day break.
Winker returned to the lineup on Thursday, batting leadoff and playing left field against the Kansas City Royals.
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“He’s fine,” Bell said. “We’ll keep a little extra close watch on him, but we wouldn’t be playing him … I asked him several times and he felt really good about where he was.”
Outfielder Nick Castellanos (finger) is expected to be in the lineup on Friday. With Akiyama also back, the Reds outfield will be back to full strength by the end of the week.
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Lucas Sims ramping up toward return
Reds relief pitcher Lucas Sims (elbow tightness) said he anticipates pitching in a live game in about two weeks.
Sims, who doesn’t expect his injury to impact his start to the season, did a throwing program off the mound on Wednesday. As he continues his progression, Sims will throw bullpens, live batting practices and then spring training games.
“I'm trying not to have to play catch-up,” Sims said. “I'm taking my catch play and my throwing program very seriously, that way we can just pick up where we left off and hit the ground running.”
Tyler Stephenson takes another step forward
While pitcher Tejay Antone struck out five of the seven hitters he faced Wednesday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, catcher Tyler Stephenson was behind the plate proving why the Reds believed he could be a big part of their MLB roster this season.
Stephenson caught four innings from Jeff Hoffman and Antone, and he played well defensively.
“Just trying to execute some game-calling and some pitches with the pitchers, especially trying to fill in this road this upcoming year, just trying to learn,” Stephenson said. “This is the first time I’ve caught Hoffman. Just trying to be on the same page as him and just try to take control of the game.”
Stephenson’s biggest contribution came in his first at-bat of the game. Facing right-handed pitcher Corey Knebel, a former All-Star, Stephenson drove the ball over the center fielder’s head for a stand-up double.
“The ball that he hit, it sounded really good off the bat,” Bell said. “He made solid contact and the ball really jumped off his bat. So far, so good with Tyler. He’s having a good spring so far.”
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