By Kevin Kelly
The Cincinnati Enquirer
CLEARWATER, Fla. - The swing feels fine. Jacob Cruz is more concerned about his surgically repaired right knee.
The veteran first baseman/outfielder tore the anterior cruciate ligament rounding first base in May while at Triple-A Louisville.
Ken Griffey, Jr. takes a break in the dugout after a workout.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
"It's feeling pretty good," he said after going 2-for-2 against the Phillies on Saturday at Bright House Networks Field. "I'm trying to take it easy the first couple of weeks, get a little confidence. It's mostly mental confidence that I need right now."
Cruz is slowly weaning himself off a bulky black brace that protects the knee.
"I'm doing little things, batting practice, taking ground balls without it," he said. "I'm working myself to get to where I can play a game without the brace."
The Reds signed Cruz, who has played in 203 major-league games with the Giants, Indians and Tigers, prior to last season. He hit .348 with seven homers and 29 RBI in 36 games with Louisville.
NICE DEBUT: Veteran pitcher Jesus Sanchez, who is in the mix for a spot in the starting rotation, was impressive in his spring debut.
The left-hander retired the first seven batters he faced, allowed three hits and struck out two in three scoreless innings.
"We've got a lot of games to go," Reds manager Dave Miley said. "He's going to get an opportunity to go out there. ... I thought he was very sharp with a real good changeup. We like what we saw."
Sanchez, a non-roster invitee, has a 23-32 record and 5.26 ERA in 159 major-league games.
MAKING PROGRESS: Starting pitcher Jimmy Haynes made it through his second eight-minute bullpen session without a problem.
Haynes, who was kept off the mound while he strengthened his core muscles, will throw to hitters Monday.
"Jimmy felt great," Miley said. "He had good stuff but was a little sharper the other day."
REPRESENTING: Shortstop Barry Larkin flew to Cincinnati and represented the team at Marge Schott's funeral.
Bob DuPuy, president and chief operating officer of Major League Baseball, also attended.
BEST MAN: Pulled from the lineup after his three at-bats, Sean Casey had left Bright House Networks Field before Saturday's game ended in the 10th inning.
The Reds first baseman was headed to a cookout at best friend Mark Budzinski's house.
Budzinski, a Phillies outfielder and best man at Casey's wedding, drove in the game-winning run with a single to right field in the 10th. He played in four games with the Reds last season.
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