Experience will weigh heavy in bench decisions

Experience will weigh heavy in bench decisions

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- In the battle for bench spots, two veterans -- utility player Ryan Raburn and outfielder Desmond Jennings -- have yet to get going offensively. But their spring numbers won't be the full weight in the final decision, especially in the case of Raburn.

"Ryan Raburn is exactly who he is," Reds manager Bryan Price said on Saturday. "I don't think spring numbers are going to be a barometer -- good or bad -- for the type of impact he has on a club. He's a kid that wouldn't probably carry a ton of starts over the course of a year. But he's going to give us an experienced bench player. He knows the role. He handles velocity and he's used to facing the better relief pitchers later in the game. That experience to me is important."

Raburn and Jennings are part of a battle for four open spots on could likely be a five-man bench. Hernan Iribarren, Arismendy Alcantara, Tony Renda, Patrick Kivlehan and Christian Walker are also in the mix.

"Getting a chance to see Iribarren and Renda last year gave me a taste of what they're capable of doing," Price said. "And I think that helps more than having a really good spring, for either one of them. It's that combination. But I think there has to be some semblance of experience.

"Hopefully with the Raburn, Jennings group of experience and even Iribarren with his background, you want to have at least one of those guys if not two of them on the club to lend that experience," Price said.

Of that group, only Alcantara is on the 40-man roster and is out of options.

"He has the skill set that we need," Price said. "Not somebody who can just play positions, but can thrive at multiple positions, and the switch-hitting ability and the power he has in the bat are very attractive."

Worth noting:

• Beginning with Friday, when Brandon Finnegan hit vs. the Indians, Price plans to have his pitchers hit the rest of spring. Even if clubs like Cleveland use the designated hitter, Price will still have the pitchers bat.

"The most important thing is I get my team ready," Price said. "If they have to do something different to get their team ready, that's just the way the game is going now."

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 and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.