Diaz struggling in bid to open season with Reds

Reds reliever Jumbo Diaz reacts after getting an out against the Indians on Sunday, July 19, 2015, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff
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Reds reliever Jumbo Diaz reacts after getting an out against the Indians on Sunday, July 19, 2015, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff

Reds relief pitcher Jumbo Diaz is competing for his baseball life again, and it’s not going well.

The 33-year-old Dominican has pitched in three games and allowed eight runs (three earned) and seven hits with one walk and no strikeouts this spring.

“So far, my outings, I haven’t done so well,” said Diaz, who is headed for Miami to join the Dominican team for the World Baseball Classic. “I’m throwing hard. I feel good right now. I’m doing everything I can to get ready for the season.”

Diaz knows the peaks and valleys of baseball. He has a little over two years of major-league service time but this is his 16th year in pro ball. He has never had a complete season in the majors since making his debut June 30, 2014 against the Blue Jays. He was 30 then and had 340 minor-league games under his belt since beginning his journey as an 18-year-old in the Dodgers system in 2002.

Diaz went 0-1 with a 2.67 ERA in 35 games in 2014. He made the opening-day roster the next two years but was sent to Louisville each time. After a good spring in 2015 when he allowed one earned run in seven innings (2.67 ERA), he struggled last spring, giving up seven runs in nine innings.

Pitching in the WBC will have little bearing on his chances of earning his third straight opening-day roster spot.

“I’m going to try to do the same thing there that I do here (in Goodyear),” Diaz said. “I will be working on my pitches, trying to be ahead of the hitter. Every time I go out I try to make good pitches and try to get better every day.”

Diaz will join former Reds ace Johnny Cueto on the Dominican team managed by Moises Alou. The Dominicans are in the same pool as Canada, Colombia and the U.S.

“His outings haven’t been great but he’s certainly better than he’s pitched so far in spring training,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “My only concern is that he gets regular work in the Classic. When he comes back I want him to be sharp from facing hitters.”

Results from Diaz in the Classic won’t be a big issue.

“If he really struggled and he comes back throwing well, I’d quickly forget about the Classic,” Price said. “But if anybody continues not to perform well when they come back, if they are competing for a spot on the team, that doesn’t bode well.”

• Jose Peraza continues to impress Price, and not just with his .563 batting average. “There’s a toughness that I really admire,” Price said. The second baseman also turned a double play with a runner bearing down on him the other day. “He had to take that throw with his back to the runner and still be able to make a quick turn and fire,” Price said. “That was really impressive.”

• Pitcher Anthony DeSclafani is tentatively scheduled for a side bullpen session Monday or Tuesday. DeSclafani has a tender right elbow. … Bronson Arroyo threw a bullpen session Saturday. Arroyo, who missed a few days with the flu, could pitch in a game early next week.