February 2009

Masset struggles, Red Sox rout Reds

It was not a stellar Saturday night for the Reds, who were handed a 16-5 rout by the Red Sox.

Fifth starter candidate Nick Masset did not get out of the gate very well as Boston dropped a four-spot in the bottom of the first. The right-hander used 31 pitches (18 strikes).

The basic rundown of the inning:

Following Julio Lugo’s leadoff hit, Brad Wilkerson hit grounder back to the mound. In what should have been a routine double play, Masset’s throw to second base was wide for an E1. After bouncing a changeup for a wild pitch, he walked David Ortiz on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases. Second baseman Danny Richar saved a run with a nice diving stop to his left that went for a fielder’s choice. Jason Bay smoked a lined RBI single to left field and Jason Varitek followed with a two-run double to left-center field gap. Another gaffe came as Chris Carter was hit by a Masset 0-2 pitch and Nick Green singled to re-load the bases. Ninth batter Gil Velazquez 3-6-1 double play ended the first.

“It’s Northeastern all over again,” joked a Boston scribe. A split-squad Red Sox team beat Northeastern Univ., 14-0, in the afternoon.

Masset didn’t return for the second inning and was replaced by Robert Manuel.

Masset’s line: 1 IP, 4H 4R 3ER, 1 BB 0 K 1 HB 1 WP

Manuel didn’t fare any better and was on the hook for six earned runs, including Wilkerson’s two-run homer to right field. He was pulled with one out after facing nine batters. A total of 11 Red Sox batted in the second and the score was 10-0.

Here’s what Masset had to say. On the error throw, he said he actually threw it straight to Richar instead of Hairston at SS..

“That really started things off right there. I make those plays all day in practice. I’ve made them 100 times in games before. I think things were going just a little too fast for me. I picked up the wrong fielder right there and from there I really needed to slow things down. It got out of hand.”

 It was Masset’s first start since April 30, 2008 for the White Sox.

“I think nerves were going a little too fast today,” Masset said. “I needed to slow things down and I really didn’t. I just let the game take over. I really wasn’t making my pitches.

“First time out in Spring Training, first game of the season, my nerves were a little worked up.  I was trying to do more than I needed to do. I really was just throwing through my pitches and not letting them move and do the work themselves. When that happens, you get behind the count.”

Reds manager Dusty Baker on Masset:

“He might have been a little over amped today. He was throwing the ball hard. He was wound up. Hopefully, he will do better the next time out. I know he’s disappointed.”

And in an unrelated note, I’d like Reds fans that bombarded me with Andruw Jones emails all winter to please click on the story below from my colleague, T.R. Sullivan. In a nutshell, Jones is 1-for-9 this spring with eight strikeouts. I know you can’t put much stock in Spring Training stats but yeesh…

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090228&content_id=3899446&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb

 

Reds-Red Sox lineup, notes

Just got to City of Palms Park in Fort Myers moments after the Red Sox finished destroying Northeastern Univ., 14-0. That must have been fun for the college boys. For my money, City of Palms is one of the best ballparks in the Grapefruit League, up there with Clearwater. It’s just a nice place to watch a game. This is the first of three stops in Fort Myers in the next week. The Reds play the Red Sox again here on Tuesday and the Twins on Friday at the Lee County Complex.
20090228_bmo_cinvsbos_0748_mark.jpgAlso for Reds fans/Cincinnatians making the trips, there is a Skyline Chili in the city about 10-15 minutes from both the Red Sox and Twins ballparks. I frequented it a lot when I used to do Spring Training here and it’s solid. They do it right.

Your Reds lineup:

Stubbs CF, Taveras CF, Hairston SS, Votto 1B, Encarnacion 3B, Bruce RF, Gomes DH, Jones LF, Richar 2B, Hernandez C

Masset – P

(Stubbs was mistakenly put on the game notes)

Your Red Sox lineup:

Lugo SS, Wilkerson CF, Ortiz DH, Drew RF, Bay LF, Varitek C, Carter 1B, Green 3B, Velazquez 2B

Notes from the clubhouse:

  • The Reds agreed to one-year contracts with 1B Joey Votto and RHP Daryl Thompson. Four players on the 40-man roster remain unsigned.
  • LHP Pedro Viola was named as a late addition to the Dominican Republic team for the World Baseball Classic. Viola was at Class AA Chattanooga last season.
  • It’s the last game before the WBC for players like Votto, Hairston, Taveras and Hernandez.

“I will have to keep up with the guys that are gone, see how they do,” manager Dusty Baker said. “Hopefully, I will not get an injury updates.I will speak to them tomorrow and see them in the morning before they leave. They know what to do. They came into camp in shape so I expect them to stay in shape. I just hope they get enough work and they all play or pitch.”

  • Votto is off to a nice start through three games, batting .429 (3-for-7) entering Saturday. A nother good sign came when he hit a homer to left field Friday vs. the Phillies. His homer in the intrasquad game Tuesday was to center field.

“I do worry about that. I want to spread the ball around the field,” Votto said. “I’ve had the swings that I used during the season.”

Votto smartly points out that he doesn’t put much stock in Spring Training results.

“I could hit .500 or .200 and I will be the exact same person for Opening Day,” he said. “From that point on, it really matters to me.”

  • We learned today that the Reds have a new nutritionist named Michelle Macedonia. Before the bus left for Fort Myers, she held a meeting in the Sarasota clubhouse.

“I was very impressed,” Baker said. “It’s what Hank [Aaron] used to stress to us all the time – taking care of yourself and eating right. It’s the days where we have fast food kids. They have to learn. We’re not trying to take it all from them but if you eat better and take care of yourself better, your body will stay healthier, you’ll have a healthier life in the long run and hopefully stay healthier in the short run for us and their career.”

Reds over Phillies, 10-3

Some of the highlights from Friday’s 10-3 Reds win over the Phillies:

  • Bronson Arroyo didn’t have a smooth top of the first inning — giving up two doubles and a walk. Raul Ibanez’s double drove in the game’s first run. Arroyo appeared to be just trying to locate strikes in the first inning. In the second inning, Arroyo seemed to throw a little harder with some more movement.
  • Arroyo’s final line: 2 IP, 1 ER, 2H, 1 BB, 0 K 

“The first inning, you always feel like an alien out there for the first one – crazy,” Arroyo said. “Honestly, you don’t know where any pitches are going. You have no idea if you’ll bounce a changeup up there or paint it right on the black. In the second inning, I felt a little better. You start feeling like you’re in the pocket a little more.

“It was actually a good first inning. I will take that first inning over an eight-pitch inning based on the fact you need some pounding on the arm. It’s impossible to get it any other way than out there with the adrenaline going. I will be a little sore tomorrow, which is nice.”

“I was trying to throw strikes, that’s it,” Arroyo continued. “Regardless of where they hit it, you just try to get it over the dish. You don’t want to go out there, no matter how established you are in the game, and go 3-1 and walk a bunch of guys. If they’re hitting it around the yard, at least you’re throwing it over the plate. It might not be that way during the season.”

 

  • Lefty Matt Maloney followed Arroyo and I missed much of it. His line was two innings with two earned runs and three hits allowed. Maloney gave up Pablo Ozuna’s leadoff homer in the fourth.
  • Daryl Thompson followed and pitched two scoreless innings with one hit. Thompson, who is battling for the fifth spot, looked pretty sharp.

 

  • Offensively, the Reds jumped Phillies starter Andrew Carpenter, who faced six batters without recording an out in the first inning before getting yanked. Ten Reds batted in the inning. 
  • Joey Votto was 2-for-2 with a first-inning RBI single and a second-inning solo homer the opposite way to the left field corner.
  • It was also a good game for left field candidate Jonny Gomes, who was 2-for-3 with two doubles and a RBI.

 

  • Late left field replacement Darnell McDonald made a nice diving play towards the line to end the game. It was the play of the game.

 

  • It was a well-played game overall for the Reds, which collected 10 hits and made no errors.

“We got some good pitching today, really good pitching,” manager Dusty Baker said. “And we got some timely hitting and played good defense.”

 

Bray update, Fehr, Goodyear

  • Talked to reliever Bill Bray, who has not been on the game schedule to pitch because he’s catching up from a sore shoulder at the start of camp. Bray had a smooth live BP session on Thursday and is scheduled for two more of those on Saturday and Tuesday.

Bray is going to change his off-season program and do more to prevent recurring soreness, including throwing throughout the winter.

“I’m probably going to work a lot more closely with a physical therapist next year,” Bray said. “I did all my own stretching and arm program and I still had problems when I started throwing. I think it’s going to take more than just me. It’s going to take someone to stretch me out better than I can do on my own.”

Bray came down with sore shoulders in both 2007 and 2008.

“I’m tired of it,” he said. “Anything I can do to avoid this again, I will definitely do. It’s pretty annoying coming down here and getting behind.”

Last year, Bray still worked a career-high 63 games and posted a 2.87 ERA.

  • MLBPA executive director Don Fehr held a 90 minute meeting with the players inside the clubhouse. Fehr, as usual, used many words without describing the details of the meeting.

“We’re not in a bargaining year so the subjects you cover aren’t as expansive,” Fehr said. “There wasn’t as much detail. This meeting had one characteristic a lot of other meetings don’t. Usually if a meeting is supposed to start at 8:30, we close the door at 8:30 but we don’t start until 10 until nine. This one started right at 8:30. Dusty runs a tight ship. He wants to go work.”

As for Alex Rodriguez and the identity of the still-sealed 103 names of players that tested positive for PEDs in 2003, Fehr said it came up.

“In the meetings we have, it is a topic of current interest and obviously we go over it,” Fehr said. “We sent a long memo to players 10 days ago explaining what happened. But we go over it and explain it, especially to the younger players that weren’t here in 2003-04 and don’t remember that the testing program is different than what we have now.”

“I think there is generally a level of concern anyone has when you have matters — which by contract and at this point court order — are supposed to remain confidential that they should remain confidential. It’s hard to characterize it beyond that.”

  • Reds assistant GM Bob Miller was back in town after a trip to Goodyear, Ariz., to see the new Spring Training ballpark. The Indians opened it the other day and the reviews from Miller were very positive. The little of the stadium I could see on ESPN during some Indians-Giants highlights looked pretty cool.

I was out in Arizona in September and went to Goodyear to take a tour of the Indians site one morning. I was impressed and I know that the Reds’ half of the complex will look very similar. My MLB.com colleague and former Reds scribe, Anthony Castrovince, told me that the complex and stadium are awesome.

It’s a shame the Reds have to leave Sarasota but the baseball amenities in Goodyear can’t come close to being matched by what’s currently at Ed Smith Stadium. The travel time for games will also be much easier on everyone.

Question of the day: Would you go to Arizona to see the Reds at Spring Training?

Also from Fox Sports Ohio:
You won’t want to miss the special Reds Classic Rewind coming up this Monday, March 2 at 10:30 p.m. Tune in for the telecast of the October 12, 1976 NLCS Reds vs. Phillies game, which includes original video synced with Reds broadcast audio, featuring Marty Brennaman and Joe Nuxhall. The first and only version of the game to ever be broadcast will be hosted by Reds Live co-host, Jeff Piecoro. 

 

 

 

Friday's lineup, morning blend

Good morning. It’s a different one around here as the clubhouse is under lockdown for the annual union meeting with executive director Don Fehr and his crew. Hopefully after the meeting, I can get some more stuff flowing.

Here are your lineups for today, which are also a little different:

Reds:

Taveras CF, Hairston SS, Votto 1B, Francisco 3B, Gomes RF, Dickerson LF, Keppinger 2B, Hernandez C, Bankston DH

P Arroyo

Phillies:

Victorino CF, Donald 3B, Ibanez LF, Stairs DH, Dobbs 1B, Jenkins RF, Ozuna 2B, Chavez SS, Marson C

P Carpenter

Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce and Edwin Encarnacion got breaks today.

“We’ve only got 37 more to go,” manager Dusty Baker semi-joked. He was also doing some forward planning since there is a night road game on Saturday followed by a day game Sunday.

This will be the first chance many at the big league level get to see Juan Francisco, one of the promising sluggers in the system. The 21-year-old lefty hitter belted 23 homers at Class A Sarasota last season and another 18 homers in Dominican winter ball. Of course, there are a ton of strikeouts on the resume too — 123 last season but that’s not a chief concern right now.

“He can hit,” Baker said. “He’s what you want in young hitters – -he’s aggressive. You want a young hitter that you can tone down vs. tone up. You want guys to be selective and go deep in the count but that comes with more experience I think. Young hitters you want to see aggressive.”

In transactions: Johnny Cueto and Ramon Ramirez agreed to terms on one-year contracts. Only six platers remain unsigned for 2009. 

 

Final score: Twins 10, Reds 4

For starter Micah Owings, it was a decent first time on the mound for the Reds. Owings threw three scoreless innings with two hits, no walks and two strikeouts. Only two balls were solidly hit — Brendan Harris’ double to the center field wall in the first inning and a tailing liner to center field that Willy Taveras where made a nice diving catch in the third.

Owings mostly threw fastballs in the first two innings and kept the ball down pretty well. By the third, he started mixing it up. Considering it was the first game action he had seen since August when he was shut down with a sore shoulder, Owings was pleased.

“Initially warming up during pre-game stuff, you start thinking about how long it’s been since I’ve been out there,” Owings said. “It was nice to get back out there and compete. Everything felt pretty good. For the first time out, I was pretty happy. The arm felt good, most important.”

It wasn’t a smooth first outing for Francisco Cordero, who gave up two earned runs and four hits (including two infield singles) in the fourth inning. Brian Buscher’s two-run home run to right field was the big hit off Cordero. I happened to miss the whole inning because I was in the clubhouse talking to Owings.

After Cordero, David Weathers worked a perfect fifth inning. In the sixth, Arthur Rhodes gave up two earned runs on three hits with a walk and a strikeout in the sixth.

A four-run seventh got the Reds on the scoreboard. Danny Richar lined a single and scored on Juan Francisco’s RBI single to left field. Craig Tatum added a RBI single to left field and Kevin Barker hit a two-run double to right field.

For those itching to get Joey Votto moved to left field to make room for Yonder Alonso, it wasn’t an easy day for the kid at first base. Alonso missed a scoop in the dirt in the seventh and committed a run-scoring E3 on Luke Hughes’ slow, slow roller up the first base line in the eighth. That would have been the third out. The next batter, Brock Petersen, hit a grand slam to right field. So that was five unearned runs off pitcher Ramon Ramirez that inning.

“Yonder was a little out of control and too aggressive,” manager Dusty Baker said. “He comes in early every morning and works on his defense. He’s getting a lot better.”

 

 

 

Thursday's plethora of Reds stuff

First game of the last spring at Ed Smith Stadium. The nostalgia is rampant (not really). I will say that I’ve talked to several locals that are obviously disappointed the Reds are headed to Arizona next spring. It’s too bad they didn’t have voices on the county commission or city council who won’t know what they’ve lost until it’s gone.

Beautiful day in Sarasota — not a cloud in the sky and highs expected in the mid-to-high 70s.

On to the Reds detail:

I talked to Homer Bailey today to see how he liked his one inning. He made quick work of the Rays with two strikeouts and a total eight pitches.

“Six out of eight were fastballs,” said Bailey, who threw 25 more pitches in the bullpen. “They went pretty much where the glove was and I was glad to see that.

Is he confident since the start of camp?

“I came into spring more prepared than I ever have,” Bailey replied. “Any time you feel like you’re completely prepared, you have more confidence. It was the first game but we have a long spring to go and a long season ahead of us. I will try to go out and keep things on a roll.”

Bailey is scheduled to make his first start on Monday vs. the Pirates at Bradenton.

Fellow fifth spot candidate Daryl Thompson is feeling quite confident after his brief exposure in the Majors last season. Thompson is scheduled to pitch out of the bullpen after Bronson Arroyo in Friday’s game vs. the Phillies.

“Last year, doing as well as I did, my confidence has gone up so much,” Thompson said. “I maintained it all through the season and brought it with me into this season. Hopefully, I can make the club and help the team the whole season.”

“I know he’s not scared. He wants it,” manager Dusty Baker said. “He pays attention. He doesn’t talk too much when he should be listening. A lot of young guys like to talk when they should be listening and he’s not one of them. He’s very respectful and works hard. He’s gotten stronger from last winter.”

Thompson had what I think was an interesting off-season at home in Maryland too. Check the web site later today for a feature.

The Reds will be holding their annual union meeting with Don Fehr on Friday morning. Clubhouse access will be very limited as a result, especially if it goes long. I’ve seen a few instances in the past where the meeting went right up to first pitch and there wasn’t even batting practice taken.

In environmental news, outfielder Chris Dickerson received his shipment of aluminum water bottles from the Sigg company. Wanting to cut down on the team’s consumption of plastic bottles, he’s trying to get his teammates to use them.

“I just passed them all out,” Dickerson said. Many of the bottles were in the players’ locker stalls.

Dickerson also got the Reds to put recycle bins in the clubhouse and is sometimes seen picking plastic bottles out of the garbage can.

“It’s a work in progress,” Dickerson said. 

 Check out Dickerson’s web site that details his environmental efforts:

http://www.weplaygreen.org/

 

Reds vs. Twins lineups

Cincinnati:

Taveras CF, Hairston SS, Votto 1B, Phillips 2B, Bruce RF, Encarnacion 3B, Nix LF, Hernandez C, Keppinger DH

P Owings

Bullpen: Weathers, Lincoln, Cordero, Rhodes, Ramirez and Roenicke

 

Minnesota:

Span LF, Gomez CF, Harris 3B, Buscher 1B, Matos RF, Martin DH, Tolbert 2B, Morales C, Plouffe SS

P Blackburn

It’s always personally fun for me when the Twins are around since I used to work that beat and still know most of the coaches and beat writers. In a sign of the times, it’s funny that only a small amount of players remain since I left Minnesota after 2005 – Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Joe Nathan, Nick Punto, Michael Cuddyer, Scott Baker, Matt Guerrier, Jason Kubel and Mike Redmond. None are left from my first year there in 2001.

 

No. 16, with a bullet

Apparently, there is a ranking of all the MLBlogs, based on web traffic. And I was pleased to notice that MMW was ranked 16th among the MLB.com pro blogs. In the period before that, it was ranked 20th. I’ve appreciated the feedback I’ve gotten with this blog and I’ve enjoyed doing it so far.

billboardchart.jpgNow let’s get the comments going so it can be really successful. I’ve learned the comments are easier to make now after a tweak to the system.

I must admit that I’m competitive and greedy…and I want the top 10 among pro blogs. You can get me there and obviously, I will have to give you more reasons to come back. After a couple of weeks of seeing this, what aren’t you getting that you’d like to see? What do you want more of? As for stories on the regular site, what haven’t I gotten to that you’d like to read about? There’s a good chance I’m working on it and I should get to a lot of players before camp is over.

 

Reds 1-0 in Grapefruit League play

It was a solid start for the Reds, which played a solid overall game for a 7-0 win over the Rays. A five-run fifth inning broke a scoreless tie as Jerry Hairston Jr. hit a grand slam and Darnell McDonald added an RBI single. In the ninth, Adam Rosales deposited a two-run homer into the left field bullpen.

It was a positive start for Edinson Volquez, who gave up two hits, a walk and a wild pitch with three strikeouts over three scoreless innings. Volquez had a challenge in the bottom of the third when he walked the leadoff batter, gave up a one-out single off his glove. A wild pitch put both runners in scoring position. With two outs and Evan Longoria up in a 2-0 count, Volquez used three changeups and Longoria was called out on strikes.

“I felt good today,” Volquez said. “I was a little bit wild but I made the adjustment and made good pitches. I was in trouble with my fastball command a little bit and went to my changeup.”

On getting Longoria? “That was a big inning with two men on base,” Volquez said. “I got him out with a changeup.”

Johnny Cueto threw three hitless innings with three strikeouts in relief on Volquez. Homer Bailey followed with a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh with two strikeouts.

“It was a real good day, any time you get a shutout,” manager Dusty Baker said. “We threw strikes and we played very good defense – no errors. Guys executed well and that’s what happens when you get that good pitching. All of a sudden, boom, you get  a big inning.

“Everybody threw the ball well – Cueto, Volquez, Homer, [Aaron] Fultz, [Jared] Burton, all of them.”

Here is your box score:

http://cincinnati.reds.mlb.com/news/boxscore.jsp?gid=2009_02_25_cinmlb_tbamlb_1

 

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