March 2009

Dusty tossed

Can’t say I’ve ever seen this before, but Dusty Baker has been tossed from today’s Spring Training game. We’re not exactly sure what the cause of the argument was, but there was some definite going back and forth between Dusty and home plate umpire D.J. Reyburn. Perhaps the oddest thing: Baker didn’t go back to the clubhouse. The only way to do that would’ve been to walk down the right field line off the field. Instead, he went form his usual seat next to the dugout to inside the dugout. Strange happenings, indeed. I’ll follow up if/when we get details.

Matthews or Sheff, anyone?

Here’s my question of the day, based on some news/rumors:

First, the rumor. It’s been reported that, at least at some point, the Reds and Angels talked about a trade that would bring Gary Matthews Jr. to Cincinnati for either Aaron Harang or Bronson Arroyo. Not sure if that’s been discussed lately, but I’m efforting to find that out. It’d be a fairly even salary swap, for those wondering.

The news is that the Tigers released Gary Sheffield today. Another team can sign him for the  minimum as the Tigers still owe him his $14 million salary for the year.

So with this information, if you were the GM of the Reds, would you go after either of these players to bolster the outfield situation?  Leave your comments at the beep.

March 31: Yankees-Reds

Getting down to it here, folks. Three games left before the Reds leave Sarasota for good. Here’s today’s lineup:

Taveras  CF
Dickerson  LF
Votto  1B
Phillips  2B
Bruce  RF
Hernandez  C
Encarnacion  3B
Janish  SS
Owings  P

That’s right, Encarnacion is back in the lineup today at third base for the first time in a long time. He DHed a couple days back, then played in a Minor League game yesterday (the weather cleared up enough for that to happen) and went 3-for-6. The key, after missing time with a sore wrist and then a sore shoulder, is for him to get into a rhythm so he’s ready to go full bore on April 6. “We want him to get at-bats so he doesn’t get off to a slow start,” Dusty Baker said.

Alex Gonzalez isn’t playing on the Major League side yet, but he is going to play the field in a Minor League game for the second straight day. There’s still hope he’ll be ready to go on Opening Day, but just in case, they’re waiting to see how he does before allowing him to playi in a big-league game. If he’s not ready and hasn’t played on the big-league side, they can back-date any DL move to his last big-league appearance, which was March 23.

That’s it for now.. enjoy the day.  — Jonathan Mayo

Bradenton: March 30

Here’s today’s lineup:

Taveras  CF
Dickerson  LF
Votto  1B
Phillips  2B
Bruce  RF
Keppinger  3B
Janish  SS
Hanigan  C
Cueto  P

With Jacque Jones (and Norris Hopper) now out of the outfield picture, it’s interesting to try and figure out who will be in the outfield on Opening Day. I was talking with esteemed Reds beat writer Hal McCoy and we were trying to figure it out. You’ve got Bruce in right, Taveras in center and Dickerson in left (not saying he’s the starter for the opener, but clearly he’s on the team). Gomes is a lock to be outfielder No. 4. So here’s the issue. With Jerry Hairston Jr. on the roster, it gives you the flexibility since he can move back and forth between the infield and the outfield. That leaves perhaps one spot for a 5th outfielder, unless there’s a reason to only go with 4 and count Hairston as the fifth. Laynce Nix would provide a left-handed bat off the bench if they go that route. The other choice would be Darnell McDonald, the one-time first-round draft pick who has played over 1200 games in the Minors. He’s had the better camp and Dusty Baker has mentioned him several times in praising him for his performance this spring. Is that a hint? Only time will tell, but I’ll pose this question to all of you: Which of those two would you put on the Reds bench, or would you carry an extra infielder or pitcher instead and just go with the four outfielders pus Hairston?  — Jonathan Mayo

Jones leads list of three cuts

The Reds have whittled down the list of players in big-league camp to 33, with Jacque Jones being the biggest name to be sent down.

Jones, 33, has spent parts of 10 seasons in the big leagues with the Twins, Cubs, Tigers and Marlins. He was a non-roster invitee to Reds camp and officially was reassigned today.

“The bottom line is I didn’t hit,” said Jones, who was hitting .091 this spring in 44 at-bats. “You want to do well to try to justify a slot on the team. Dusty [Baker] was great, giving me the opportunity to play. I got at-bats, I just didn’t do anything with them.”

Jones planned to stick around Sarasota for a while to wait and see if any opportunities arose with other teams. Another option might be to accept an assignment to Triple-A Louisville and continue working on re-finding his stroke, if there’s the chance for him to play there. Last year, Jerry Hairston Jr. got sent down and worked with Louisviile hitting coach Smokey Garrett. He came back up and hit .326 over 80 games for Cincinnati.

“We’re trying to see if there’s room,” Baker said. “So he can do what Jerry did last year and work with Garrett, who I respect a lot.”

In addition to Jones, outfielder Norris Hopper and pitcher Daryl Thompson were optioned to Triple-A Louisville. Hopper, who once was a possible candidate for a backup outfielder spot, hit .135 in camp, going 5-for-37 with three stolen bases. Thompson hadn’t really been able to get any innings in big-league games, appearing just once and throwing two scoreless innings.

Rays-Reds — update

It’s stopped raining. The Rays are here. Scott Kazmir just walked by me on his way to the cages to take some hacks. It’s looking like they’re going to play some baseball today.

One update on the Homer Bailey front. Looks like he’s going to get one more big-league start. He’ll have to take the long bus ride to Kissimmee to do it on Wednesday, but I’m betting he’s not complaining. The pitching lines up for the week as follows now: Johnny Cueto (Monday); Micah Owings (Tuesday); Homer Bailey (Wednesday); Edinson Volquez (Thursday); Bronson Arroyo (today and Friday); Cueto (Saturday). Friday and Saturday is vs. “Futures”… Looks like Aaron Harang begged off the trip to visit the Astros, which works to Bailey’s benefit.

Rays-Reds March 29… weather permitting

They say it’s going to stop raining about noon-ish and the hope is they’re going to get this game in. I hope so. I was kind of looking forward to seeing Rays lefty Scott Kazmir twirl. It’s coming down in buckets now, but hope springs eternal. The radar does look like there’s clearing right behind this mess. Take a look for yourself. If there is a game, here’s the lineup:

Taveras  CF
Hairston Jr. SS
Votto  1B
Phillips  2B
Bruce  RF
Rosales  3B
Dickerson  LF
Hernandez  C
Arroyo  P

Dusty Baker was hoping to get the game in, “sou our pitching doesn’t get backed up. This has been a blessed spring. I was thinking, ‘Let it rain all night because they need the water here, then let it dry out.'”

Originally, both Edwin Encarnacion and Alex Gonzalez were slated to DH in Minor League games today. Even if it does clear up, that’s not going to happen. The back fields don’t have the same kind of drainage as the big field does, so even if there’s baseball played in Sarasota today, there’s no way the Reds would risk having the left side of their infield slipping and sliding around in bad conditions.

Fifth starer update: I hinted at this yesterday, that Micah Owings is getting one more start and Homer Bailey is not. We asked Dusty if this was a done deal and he said, carefully, “It’s not official yet ,just because it’s lined up that way. But [Owings] has pitched great. Whatever the case, though, Homer’s in our plans. Big-time.” He raved about Bailey’s overall demeanor in camp, etc. My guess is he doesn’t want to announce anything yet, just in case something happens in the last week here. But assuming the unofficial becomes official, the question then is whether Bailey would make this team as a reliever or go down to Triple-A to start every fifth day. I vote for the latter, because he simply wouldn’t pitch enough as a long reliever here and his value is as a starter. All you folks who want to trade him need to slow down a bit. Keep in mind that he’s still only 22. How mature were any of you at that age? He’s starting to figure it out. Also, when was the last time a big-league staff only needed five starters all year? If Bailey is gone, who’s your replacement in case of injury or ineffectiveness? Maybe I’m in the minority here, but I’m for keeping Homer, sending him to Louisville and let him continue to figure it out as it appears he has started to do here in camp. But maybe that’s just me…

I’ll let you know if it stop sraining enough for there to be baseball today… is that an ark I just saw go by??? — Jonathan Mayo

Reds-Rays from Port Charlotte

Sorry to be a little tardy today. Just catching up on some stuff. No need to post the lineup since the game is already underway here, but a couple notes quickly.

  • Edwin Encarnacion was in the lineup today as the DH. He took full infield today and he said right after that he felt good. If he passes the tests of throwing and hitting today, with no problems after the fact, you’ll probably see him back at third very soon.
  • Alex Gonzalez was also DHing… in a Minor League game back in Sarasota. It’s the first time he’s really tested the hamstring that’s kept him out of action.
  • Forecasts call for rain in Sarasota tomorrow. Dusty Baker said he heard the weatherman say there was 100 percent chance of rain. “That’s pretty high,” Baker said.
  • Starting pitchers for the next few days, weather permitting: Bronson Arroyo (Sunday); Johnny Cueto (Monday); Micah Owings (Tuesday); Aaron Harang (Wednesday); Edinson Volquez (Thursday)… May not mean anything, but anyone else notice that Homer Bailey’s not getting another start?

Under the Lights: Twins-Reds early notes

Night tilt today, folks. Here’s the nitty-gritty. First the lineup:

Taveras  CF
Hairston SS (first game back)
Votto  1B
Phillips  2B (back from illness)
Bruce  RF
Keppinger 3B
Dickerson LF
Hernandez C
Owings P

A couple quick notes:

  • Reds starting pitchers haven’t allowed a run in 17 innings
  • While Owings got the night start, fifth starter competitor Homer Bailey threw in a Minor League game this afternoon. I’ll pass along info on that when I get it. Update:  Still don’t have the line on his outing, but Dusty Baker said, “He looked pretty good. He had trouble getting his secondary pitches over. He was out of sync a little bit.”
  • Arthur Rhodes and Jared Burton threw in a minor league game yesterday. Each threw an inning, with Rhodes giving up two hits, but no runs, while striking out a pair. Burton struck out two and gave up just one hit, but it was a solo homer.
  • Edwin Encarnacion‘s shoulder still wasn’t ready to today. He was going to try to swing a little today. The test will be how he throws after swinging. To that end, Baker said he had to see him do both before he’d be ready to put him back in the lineup. Friday is a possibility, but giving him an extra day to see how his shoulder responds to heightened activity might not be a bad thing. He had had his shoulder examined and there wasn’t any damage, just some inflammation
  • Alex Gonzalez was going to test his hamstring a little today. It was still unclear when he’d be ready to return to game action.
  • With Hairston and Phillips back in the lineup, the Reds are starting to look like, well, the Reds. Once they get the two aforementioned infielders back, they’ll be good to go. “We want to start the season healthy,” Baker said. “That’s one of the real keys.”

. — Jonathan Mayo

Notes of note pre-game Red Sox-Reds

I need to work on my headline writing. That will not entice people to read, will it? But here we go…

  • Edwin Encarnacion remained out of the lineup with his sore shoulder, but Dusty Baker said he was feeling better and they were hoping he’d be able to play on Friday.
  • Jerry Hairston Jr.  is going to DH in a Minor League game today. It’ll be one of those deals where he’ll lead off every inning so he can get a bunch of at-bats. He could see big-league action tomorrow, at least for a few innings. Look for a story about Hairston over on later today.
  • Baker was waiting to hear an update on Alex Gonzalez and his hamstring. He went home to Miami to see his therapist. Trainer Mark Mann said it was just a little spot and not too bad. He is the proverbial “day-to-day.” Baker: “More than anything, it scares him. He’s thinking, ‘Oh no, not again.’ (in terms of getting injured). I’m glad he stopped when he did.”
  • Brandon Phillips was back in camp today following his illness. He might play a few innings tomorrow.
  • Don’t pay attention to Bronson Arroyo’s line from his Minor League start yesterday (5 IP, 6 runs, 5 earned, 11 hits, 1 BB, 3 K). He threw only fastballs and changeups the entire 84-pitch outing. Here’s what Arroyo had to say about it:

“I told the catcher no signs. I just told him to set up inside and outside and I’d throw fastballs and changeups to either side. The hit the ball nice, but the wind was blowing out at hurricane speed. I threw a lot of fastballs, which I wanted to do, because I can lose command of that when I’m tired. I must have thrown 70 fastballs. My arm was sore an hour after, which was good. It’s better to be killed back there than on the big field on Sunday.” (Arroyo will start on Sunday against the Rays here in Sarasota.

  • The rotation goes as follows: Tomorrow vs. Twins: Micah Owings (Homer Bailey will pitch in a minor-league game; Aaron Harang starts Friday in Tampa against the Yankees; Edinson Volquez gets the start in Port Charlotte against the Rays, then Arroyo on Sunday.
  • Arthur Rhodes and Jared Burton will start in minor league games today. Daryl Thompson will pitch with Homer Bailey in that minor league game tomorrow.

That’s all I got for now. Have a great day, everyone…

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