In battle for spot, Negron finishing camp with a flourish

In battle for spot, Negron finishing camp with a flourish

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Utility player Kristopher Negron has come on strong the last couple of weeks of camp and has at least forced the Reds into a tough decision.

Over his last 10 games, Negron is 10-for-22 (.455) with one home run and six RBIs. On Wednesday against the White Sox, he was 2-for-4 with a ninth-inning double and two runs scored in a 9-5 loss to put his overall spring average at .317.

"I've been able to come out and take advantage of the opportunity I've been presented with," Negron said. "I'm really excited for these last few days to see what happens. I'm just going to keep my head down and keep grinding. I can only control what I do on the field."

One decision did not go in Negron's favor when veteran infielder Ramon Santiago was told Tuesday that he made the club. Negron, Chris Nelson and Neftali Soto are the likely candidates for the final infield spot.

Negron, 28, has played second base, shortstop, left field and center field this spring. He played four Major League games for the Reds in June 2012 only to sustain a catastrophic right knee injury with Triple-A Louisville a few weeks later while planting his leg to stop a ball hit into the gap in left field.

"It just bent in. Everything was gone -- the ACL and meniscus," Negron said. "It was a complete reconstruction. It was a grind. I was here from July 10 all the way through Spring Training -- seven months of a constant grind every day. It started with the little things like re-learning how to bend my knee and walking again. Last year, I played with a knee brace on all year. … This year, no knee brace. I feel just as fast if not faster than I used to be."

Negron batted .225/.295/.317 in 116 games last season for Louisville and is a .244 career hitter in the Minors. His biggest asset is versatility.

"I've become accustomed to playing a different position every day," said Negron, who started at second base on Wednesday and robbed Jose Abreu of a hit in the sixth inning. "I've gotten really comfortable at every position. I can go anywhere and it won't be a problem."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.