GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- There were multiple reasons the Reds signed free-agent utility player Skip Schumaker in the offseason. While there was a desire to improve the bench, they were also looking for a player who could improve the team's chemistry.
Through the early portion of Spring Training, manager Bryan Price has been impressed with Schumaker on both fronts.
"Watching Skip Schumaker play, I enjoy every minute of it -- from his defense, his defensive positioning, his talk and his movement in the outfield, his communication in the infield," Price said on Friday. "That base hit he had on [Dodgers reliever] Paco Rodriguez [Wednesday] -- hanging in on a tough lefty that creates an angle with his fastball and breaking ball -- he's just a tough kid."
Through six games this spring, Schumaker is batting .500 (6-for-12), with three RBIs. He was 0-for-2 with a walk in Friday's 4-3 loss to the White Sox.
Schumaker, 34, was signed to a two-year, $5 million contract with the Reds in November. Price was asked if there was a way to quantify the merits of having a player who brings intangibles to a team.
"This is where the debate of statistical analysis and defining somebody's character, and what their style of play brings to a club, might not show up in a statistical report," Price said. "I think both evaluation styles have value. What does his work ethic, what does his style of play tell the guys around him? It sets a tone on what selflessness looks like. He's that type of guy. He's talented.
"This isn't like a guy who doesn't have any skills who wills his way to be good. This is a guy who has skills, but he knows how to utilize them. He's very productive for a guy who doesn't have gaudy numbers."
Without gaudy numbers, how is a player like Schumaker measured?
"I think it's as far as moving outfielders, as far as a defensive standpoint, as far as advancing runners, as far as taking an inside pitch for an HBP, finding a way to hang in on that left-hander to lead off an inning with a base hit.
"I think he makes the people around him better. That's the best way to state it for a guy who most of his career has been a bench player or platoon player."
Leake efficient, healthy after first spring start
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Reds pitcher Mike Leake's first start of the spring was going so quickly, he almost wished for more adversity so he could work more against the White Sox on Friday.
"Luckily, I got into a couple of full counts so I could get more pitches," Leake said.
The most important outcome for Leake's two-inning debut was that he was healthy. His first scheduled start on Sunday was pushed back because of a minor abdomen strain as the club exercised caution.
"If this were in season, I'd probably be pitching through it," Leake said. "It would be stupid to try and work through it in this setting."
Leake gave up one run and two hits, with no walks and one strikeout, while throwing 27 pitches in the Reds' 4-3 loss.
"They were swinging early," Leake said. "I think it was 12 pitches in five batters [in the first inning]. I'd rather them be swinging than me throwing balls."
In the first inning, Leake gave up a leadoff double to Adam Eaton, and Adam Dunn sent Leake's first pitch screaming for a two-out, lined RBI single off third baseman Chris Nelson's glove. In the second, Chicago went down in order with a pair of routine groundouts and a fly out.
Leake said he was able to use his full assortment of pitches in the game.
"You can't really go based off two innings because you're not getting too deep and you're not facing guys multiple times," he said. "You kind of feel like a reliever for the first few outings. But it's in a positive direction. I'm glad to be back on the field."
Leake's next start is scheduled for Wednesday vs. the Rockies in Scottsdale. He did not believe he would be too far behind, if at all, in getting ready for the regular season.
"At some point, I'm sure we'll try to push an extra inning," Leake said. "It wouldn't make sense to try and push three on this one."
Reds reflect on Jobe's pioneering contribution
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Dr. Frank Jobe, who developed the elbow procedure that became known as Tommy John surgery, died on Thursday at the age of 88. Jobe's pioneering operation would go on to help hundreds of Major League pitchers with elbow injuries continue their careers, including current Reds like Alfredo Simon. Shortstop Zack Cozart had the operation on his left, non-throwing arm.
"I never dealt directly with Dr. Jobe, but I'm certainly aware of the impact that he had," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "You can look at any number of guys that had it and it's an All-Star team."
As a pitching coach, Price had pitchers Edinson Volquez and Rafael Soriano undergo Tommy John surgery and make full recoveries.
"It's a life-saver as a baseball player, a career-saver," Price said. "The thing is, the players coming back from it aren't having a recurrence. It's very rare to have a recurring need for a second Tommy John surgery. ... It was phenomenal what Volquez was able to do post-surgery when I saw him in 2010, the way he was throwing the ball so shortly after the surgery."