March 2009

First roster cuts, lineups vs. NYY

The first roster trim came down and there were no surprises. Most of the top prospects were sent to the Minor League camp. Here’s the list:

Optioned to Class AA Carolina  was 1B Yonder Alonso; reassigned to minor league camp were C Humberto Cota, C Chris Denove, INF Todd Frazier, C Devin Mesoraco, OF Drew Stubbs and INF Chris Valaika…the Reds have 56 players remaining in camp.

Reds lineup:

Dickerson CF, Gonzalez SS, Bruce RF, Phillips 2B, Barker 1B, Encarnacion 3B, Nix LF, Hanigan C, Bankston DH

Masset – P

Yankees lineup:

Gardner CF, Damon LF, Nady RF, Matsui DH, Ransom 3B, Molina C, Miranda 1B, Berroa SS,  Pena 2B

Chamberlain – P

Obviously, this will be a good test for Gonzalez’s knee to finally play the field. Look for a story postgame on that. More later once the Reds’ bus arrives at Steinbrenner Field.

6pm Update:

  • Dusty Baker said that Gonzalez would play four or five innings at shortstop tonight.
  • 3B Edwin Encarnacion said his left wrist felt better after he took BP on Monday. Encarnacion has been sore since a check swing the other day.

“But I tried to stay with a pitch inside, that’s what hurt me more,” Encarnacion said.

  • 1B Joey Votto is on a flight that should land in Sarasota tonight but Baker said he’s giving him Wednesday off. The team has a scheduled off day on Thursday, which gives Votto two days to regroup after the World Baseball Classic.

“With traveling and his family and Toronto, I’m sure he’s probably exhausted,” Baker said.

  • RHP Johnny Cueto is OK after twisting an ankle on Sunday. He did his running on Monday.

Here’s what Baker said about the roster moves. Three of the players (Alonso, Mesoraco and Stubbs) were the organization’s last three first round picks.

“They’re all good players. They’re good young men at the same time,” Baker said. “They worked hard, did what was asked of them. It was a matter of ABs getting tight. We’re going to get some guys back [from the World Baseball Classic]. They all got pretty good look-sees, especially for the first big league camp for most of them. Most guys don’t get that many ABs and innings.”

  • The decisions were all made before Monday’s game. Chris Valaika hit a grand slam vs. the Phillies and Yonder Alonso hit a homer to center field, his first of spring. A fan retrieved the ball and returned it to Alonso.

“You hate to send them out when they did something so spectacular. I was hoping Stubbs would hit one out,” Baker said. “I’d rather have them go out on a high note.”





Canada out, Votto returning

As you already know, Team Canada was eliminated by Italy in the World Baseball Classic last night. That means Joey Votto will be back in camp, likely within a couple of days.Votto did very well in his two games for Canada by batting .556 (5-for-9) with one homer and two RBIs.

Here’s a quote from Votto’s press conference after the game.

 Q.  Almost kind of a surreal moment right now?  Obviously no one expected this to happen tonight.

JOEY VOTTO:  “Yeah, no question.  I’m really devastated.  I mean, sure, it’s just a baseball game and everything, but when you do it for a living, and you are playing for your country.  And, you know, I was really excited for this tournament, and to leave in two games, you know, like I said, its going to take time to recover.”


Turf Day at GABP

Here are some photos, courtesy of Michael Anderson of the Reds. The grounds crew removed the grow blanket from the turf and started mowing for the first time. They call it “turf day.”

And another one:


One more…gets you in the mood for baseball, doesn’t it?


Arroyo's day vs. Phils

Bronson Arroyo’s numbers from his second start of spring, also his second start vs. the Phillies:

3 1/3 IN, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2K, 2 HR

The homers came from Geoff Jenkins’ solo shot to right field with a 1-0 count and two outs in the second inning. Ryan Howard went deep to right field on a full-count pitch leading off the fourth.

Here’s an unfiltered account what Arroyo had to say after he came out:

“I really didn’t feel nearly as good as I felt the last time. The mound here was bothering me a little bit. It was almost like a flat mound. It didn’t have much tilt to it. On top of that, I didn’t feel that strong. You feel little weak and try to throw on a flat mound, and you feel like you’re throwing uphill a little bit. My command and stuff was OK but everything felt very soft. I didn’t have much zip on anything. I just wanted to get through the day and not get killed.”

On the homers:

“The wind was blowing out. Both of those balls weren’t hit very good. Jenkins, I’m not sure but it sounded like he hit it off the end of the bat. I threw him a sinker. Howard’s just got enough of it and he hit it really high. Other than that, I was happy with how it turned out.”

Arroyo, who exited with a 3-2 lead,  has a 5.06 ERA through 5 1/3 innings of work and that doesn’t count his four scoreless innings vs. the Netherlands. Obviously, it’s too small of a sample size to gauge anything yet.

Just for fun, does anyone have a win total and innings prediction for Arroyo in 2009?

  • The Reds won the game, 8-4. The big hit of the day was Chris Valaika’s grand slam to left field in the top of the seventh. It snapped a 4-4 tie. For those of you scoring at home, that’s five grand slams by the Reds this spring. As Kenny Mayne would say “that must be some kind of record.” Not sure about that, but the total easily leads the Majors this spring for what that’s worth (not much).  The Cubs and Mets each had two grand slams entering the day.

    Visiting with Mackanin, notes/lineups

    Greetings from Clearwater and the Phillies’ spring home at Bright House Field, which is probably the finest stadium you’ll find in the Grapefruit League. (I’m also partial to the Red Sox place in Fort Myers). Sorry for the late morning post but sometimes that’s just how it goes.

    Former Reds interim manager Pete Mackanin is now the bench coach for the Phillies and it was nice to see him for a few minutes. Mackanin was great to work with from a media standpoint and more importantly, it was impressive that he led the 2007 team to an above .500 record (41-39) after he took over following a horrible start.

    “I’m wearing red again,” Mackanin said before breaking out some dry wit. “I look so good in blue and green but I can’t get away from red. Maybe next time.”

    Reds lineup:

    Jones CF, Keppinger SS, Bruce RF, Gomes LF, Ward 1B, Alonso DH, Francisco 3B, Hanigan C, Janish 2B

    Arroyo – P

    Phillies lineup:

    Bruntlett SS, Dobbs LF, Werth CF, Howard 1B, Ibanez DH, Jenkins RF, Donald 3B, Cairo 2B, Marson C

    Hamels – P

    • Edwin Encarnacion was given another day off to rest a sore left wrist.

    “It’s a matter of not having to rush,” manager Dusty Baker said. “It’s the same thing he had last year which you get from check swinging improperly.”

    • Alex Gonzalez is definitely going to make his debut at shortstop Tuesday vs. the Yankees. 
    • Baker isn’t worried about the slow starts by Jeff Keppinger (.105 in 7 games) or Jacque Jones (.133 in 8 games coming in).





    Cordero has X-rays, negative

    Reds closer Francisco Cordero had X-rays performed on his surgically repaired right ankle on Sunday morning. The results were negative.

    “Everything was fine,” manager Dusty Baker said.

    Cordero had reported some stiffness and hasn’t pitched well this spring. In Sunday’s 6-5, 10-inning win over the Blue Jays, he gave up three earned runs and three hits, including two home runs in his one inning of work.

    “Coco’s velocity was good, just his location wasn’t good today,” Baker said. “That’s a good sign. He started slow last year down here. We’ve got three weeks-plus as long as his ankle is feeling good.”

    Through three outings, totaling three innings, Cordero has allowed eight earned runs and 11 hits for a 24.00 ERA. And that doesn’t count a fourth rough outing vs. the Netherlands in an exhibition.

    Another good one for Owings

    Fifth starter hopeful Micah Owings had a very strong performance in his latest start on Sunday. Against the Blue Jays, Owings had the following line:

    4 IN, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K

    “Micah is sharp,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “He’s sharp with his off-speed stuff, especially this early. He had a good changeup going, a good sinker. And he threw the ball great. He had a great rhythm going.”

    Owings struck out three of his first four batters and five of the first seven. The one hit was well-placed double just inside the left field foul line. His pitches looked to moving well on both sides of the plate and all but one of his strikeouts were swinging. After his lone walk allowed with two outs in the third, he retired the side in order in the fourth.

    Spring Training or not, that was a strong performance and Owings didn’t discount it.

    “Too many times, you sit in a chair here and you guys are coming up and I don’t know what to say,” Owings said. “I dread even going through it. But I enjoyed that one.”

    Through three starts, Owings has a 1.69 ERA (2ER over 10 2/3 IN) with 12 strikeouts.

    I projected before camp that Owings would be the fifth starter and he’s looking like the strongest contender. But Homer Bailey is making this a great battle in camp. Nick Masset has had one good start and one bad.

    “There are still some things I can keep working on – building up my arm strength so I can go deeper in the games,” Owings said. “That will be my focus. I threw a few pitches there where I got out of synch.”

    Also having a terrific camp is left field candidate Jonny Gomes, who hit a two-run home run to left field in the fourth inning. Gomes, a non-roster invite, is batting .429 (6-for-14) with two homers and nine RBIs in eight spring games.

    Because he’s not assured of a roster spot, Gomes felt it was important to get off to a hot start to keep him in favor with decision makers.

    “Most definitely,” Gomes said. “Not being on the 40-man roster, a Minor League invite, when it comes it down to cut time, I don’t think you have a good argument with ‘let me get 20 more at-bats.’ I had to come in here ready, physically, mentally and all of the above. I think I have. It’s paying off for me right now.”

    Springing forward stinks

    I have a life lesson to impart so please gather the kids, grandma and grandpa and the neighbors around the laptop….

    When you “spring forward,” be extra careful if you use your cellphone as the alarm clock.

    I learned that at 7:35am today when carpool partner Hal McCoy called me out of a deep slumper to wonder where I was. I was supppsed to pick him up at 7:30am so we could meet with Dusty Baker at the usual 8am. The alarm was set and the cellphone clock was at the correct time when I peeked at it. But I guess if you set your alarm before the actual daylight savings time change of 2am, the alarm time won’t adjust along with the clock. It happened to Hal too, but he woke up on his own.

    Because it’s Sunday, there was no traffic at least. And I’m proud to say that I went from wake-up to the ballpark in less than 30 minutes. (The park is about 20 minutes from Siesta Key). And because we weren’t the only ones to have clock issues, we were all still able to get to chat with the manager before the workout.

    So with that Regis and Kelly-like story out of the way, let’s get to notes and lineups:

    • Baker was pleased with Homer Bailey’s outing vs. Toronto on Saturday where the right-hander allowed one earned runs and six hits over four innings with a strikeout. Six of the outs came via groundballs.

    “He wasn’t sharp but that’s a sign of maturity when you can get by without your best stuff,” Baker said. “He wasn’t as sharp as he had been but he still got a key double-play groundball and a key line drive at the right time. You have to have a pitcher do something to get you out of trouble.”

    • Reliever Jared Burton gave up three runs in Saturday’s loss — the first runs he’s allowed in four outings this spring.

    “Burton threw the ball well but was a little too strong,” Baker said. “He’s a guy that needs work to have movement.”

    • Non-roster outfielder Laynce Nix came in with an outside shot at one of the Reds’ reserve outfield spots. He’s played well in camp. Once a promising star with the Rangers, he’s been mired in Triple-A for most of the past three seasons. In the Brewers organization since 2006, Nix hit 23 homers last season and 24 in 2007.

    “My particular situation the last couple of years was that way being with a  team that kind of had its roster set and didn’t have too much opportunity,” Nix said. “There wasn’t a lot I could do. I’m going to produce and do what I do on the field, no matter where I’m going to be. You have to exercise patience sometimes and that’s what I’ve done the last couple of years. I’ve tried to get better no matter where I was playing or what level.” 

    A 2004 shoulder injury with the Rangers put a big dent in Nix’s career. Now he’s trying to prove himself all over again at 28. He entered Sunday batting .286 with one homer and three RBIs for the Reds this spring.

    • Baker was pleased with how well Alex Gonzalez has been swinging the bat. Gonzalez went 1-for-2 Saturday as the DH and is doing that again today. He is on track to play shortstop vs. the Yankees on Tuesday.
    • No word yet on potential cuts, but Baker said waiting for players to return from the WBC wasn’t a factor.

    “That has nothing to do with it,” Baker said. “Most of the time, it has to do with pay day. That’s a cold, hard fact but it’s as truthful as you can say it. It happens at every job doesn’t it?”

    Reds lineup:

    Jones LF, Gonzalez DH, Dickerson CF, Phillips 2B, Gomes 1B, Nix RF, Keppinger 3B, Cota C, Janish SS

    P – Owings

    Rhodes, Cordero and Weathers are also expected to pitch today from the bullpen.

    Blue Jays lineup:

    Inglett 2B, Coats CF, Lind LF, Overbay 1B, Rolen 3B, Snider RF, Barrett C, Arencibia DH, McDonald SS

    P – Purcey 

    Bailey's day

    I just watched Team Canada’s Joey Votto tattoo a third-inning homer on a 2-0 slider off of Team USA’s Jake Peavy.  It was a nice drive to right-center field and there was no doubt about it leaving the park.

    Meanwhile, here is a rundown of Homer Bailey’s afternoon vs. the Blue Jays in Dunedin. I obviously didn’t see the start myself but the line looks pretty decent. It should bode well for Bailey’s bid for the fifth starter’s spot.

    4 IN 6 H, 1ER, 0 BB, 1 K

    Here’s a recap of Bailey’s inning-by-inning.

    AB# Play String Play Play by Play
    5 .X 3/G Joe Inglett grounds out to first baseman Daryle Ward.
    6 .X 8/F Aaron Hill flies out to center fielder Norris Hopper.
    7 .X 13/G

    Adam Lind grounds out, pitcher Homer Bailey to first baseman Daryle Ward.

    AB# Play String Play Play by Play
    13 .X 63/G Kevin Millar grounds out, shortstop Jeff Keppinger to first baseman Daryle Ward.
    14 .D S8/L Jason Lane singles on a line drive to center fielder Norris Hopper.
    15 .X 7/F Scott Campbell flies out to left fielder Laynce Nix.
    16 .D S9/L.1-2 Travis Snider singles on a line drive to right fielder Jay Bruce. Jason Lane to 2nd.
    17 .X 8/F

    Curtis Thigpen flies out to center fielder Norris Hopper


    AB# Play String Play Play by Play
    22 .D D7/L Russ Adams doubles (1) on a line drive to left fielder Laynce Nix.
    23 .X 43/G.2-3 Joe Inglett grounds out, second baseman Brandon Phillips to first baseman Daryle Ward. Russ Adams to 3rd.
    24 .E S7/L-.3-H Aaron Hill singles on a soft line drive to left fielder Laynce Nix. Russ Adams scores.
    25 .D S7/L.1-2 Adam Lind singles on a line drive to left fielder Laynce Nix. Aaron Hill to 2nd.
    26 .X 6/LDP.2X2(64) Kevin Millar lines into double play, shortstop Jeff Keppinger to second baseman Brandon Phillips. Aaron Hill doubled off 2nd.


    AB# Play String Play Play by Play
    31 .D S7/L Jason Lane singles on a line drive to left fielder Laynce Nix.
    32 .X 64(1)3/GDP Scott Campbell grounds into double play, shortstop Jeff Keppinger to second baseman Brandon Phillips to first baseman Daryle Ward. Jason Lane out at 2nd.
    33 .SSS K Travis Snider strikes out swinging.

     Bailey left the game with the score tied, 1-1.

    Your thoughts so far?

    Good Saturday to everyone. For the first time this spring, I’m skipping a game and staying in Sarasota while the team is in Dunedin for the 1:05 p.m. ET game vs. the Blue Jays. My Toronto counterpart, Jordan Bastian, is on the case up there in case anything unexpected goes down.

    Here is today’s Reds lineup:

    Hopper CF, Keppinger SS, Bruce RF, Phillips 2B, Nix LF, Frazier 3B, Ward 1B, Gonzalez DH, Hanigan C

    P – Bailey

    Bill Bray is also expected to pitch today.

    Now 10 games into spring after today, what do you think of the Reds based on what you’ve read, or perhaps seen if you’re down here? Last night on WLW, all three Reds beat writers talked with host Paul Daugherty and we kicked a few things around.

    What’s been the best story of camp?

    What’s been a red flag or concern?

    Can anything significant be made of the different vibe that’s been sensed in camp?

    Who will the Reds need to have a strong year in order for the team to be contenders?

    All good questions that are seeking good answers…from you. Chime in, it won’t hurt. 




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