By Kevin Kelly and John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The sweat streamed down Jose Acevedo's face as he recapped the afternoon.
"You're not going to have your stuff right every day," the Reds' pitcher said Saturday. "Today was my day. I fought with myself to keep the ball in the ballpark and get more ground balls."
Acevedo, a right-hander who remains in contention for a spot in the starting rotation, allowed four earned runs on seven hits over 4 2/3 innings against the Devil Rays.
The runs came off two homers by Devil Rays outfielders Robert Fick and Carl Crawford in the second inning.
"He battled," Reds manager Dave Miley said. "These guys aren't going to be perfect every time out."
Acevedo finished his outing strong, retiring nine of the final 11 batters he faced. He is now 1-0 with a 4.02 ERA, with 12 strikeouts and no walks in 15 2/3 innings this spring.
"The pitching coach (Don Gullett) was watching all the way," Acevedo said. "He told me in the beginning of the game that I was going a little too fast. He told me to calm down just a little bit. It made sense. He's the man."
ONE INNING WOES: Jesus Sanchez was very good through four innings in Saturday's 6-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves in Orlando.
He had allowed a run on three hits and struck out four.
But it came apart quickly in the fifth.
"I started getting the ball up and you see what happens," Sanchez said.
Two of the hitters Sanchez made mistakes with were Chipper Jones and J.D. Drew. Jones hit a gapper for a two-run double. Drew laced a single to drive in another run.
Suddenly, a 1-1 game was 4-1.
"One bad inning," Sanchez said.
Saturday's start was the third of the spring for Sanchez, the 29-year-old left-hander. He had not allowed a run in the other two.
It was Sanchez's first appearance in a game in 10 days. He threw five innings and 71 pitches in a simulated game on Monday.
Sanchez's spring line - 12 innings pitched, 12 hits, four runs two walks, nine strikeouts - is still very good.
The Reds have used him as a starter, but he could be moved to the bullpen.
"That would be fine with me," Sanchez said. "I've done both. I know how to do it, no problem."
PACING HIMSELF: A veteran of 798 career major league games, Sean Casey has learned spring training is more about preparation than statistics.
"It's just a matter of getting consistency going into the season," Casey said. "I can't really remember too many spring stats over the last six years. But I can remember all my regular-season stats. It's about getting yourself ready to play."
In three at-bats against the Devil Rays on Saturday, Casey singled twice and doubled once with two RBI. The effort raised his spring batting average from .192 to .276.
"He swung the bat well," Miley said.
NEW ARRIVAL: Pitcher Jimmy Haynes, who is scheduled to start against the Pirates today at Ed Smith Stadium, was traveling back from Georgia on Saturday.
His wife, Mandi, gave birth to Brett William Haynes. It is the couple's third child.
TRAFFIC SNARL: The Reds' bus trip from Sarasota to Orlando took nearly three hours Saturday morning. Spring break has made Interstate 4, slow at the best of times, resemble a parking lot between Tampa and Orlando.
"The traffic was solid the last hour," Jacob Cruz said.
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