April 2009

Frigid in Milwaukee

The thermostat is still turned way down in Milwaukee and we’re all thankful again for the Miller Park roof.

The aforementioned frigid output of Ramon Hernandez (2-for-19) and Alex Gonzalez (0-for-16) has prompted a lineup change. Ryan Hanigan is catching and Paul Janish is the shortstop. Here is the full Reds lineup:

Taveras, cf

Hairson, lf

Votto, 1b

Phillips, 2b

Bruce, rf

Encarnacion, 3b

Hanigan, c

Janish, ss

Arroyo, rhp

 

News you can use:

 

Gonzalez and Hernandez took extra BP this afternoon to work on their swings. Gonzalez found his session to be productive.

 

“Everybody wants to get a hit,” Gonzalez said. “When you’re in that situation, you try to get the first hit. I will keep working. I worked today and tried to fix what I saw in the video. I’m opening up too quick and that’s why I miss a lot of pitches. I will be ready for tomorrow. I will go out there and try to do what I did in BP.”

 

Dusty Baker said that starting pitcher Micah Owings would bat ninth on Wednesday, but unlike some comments Baker made last week, he seems open to batting Owings higher in the order down the road.

“Maybe,” Baker said. “He’s a pretty good ace in the hole in that ninth spot, too.”

Edinson Volquez will be working with pitching coach Dick Pole between starts to tighten his delivery and improve his command

 

“He couldn’t get to his secondary pitches because he couldn’t control his primary pitch – his fastball,” Baker said. “He didn’t throw hardly any changeups. He threw a few breaking balls. It’s hard to throw your changeup if you’re not locating your fastball.”

  

In Minor League news from Jamie Ramsey, Adam Rosales hit another homer (a 435-foot two-run shot) for Triple-A Louisville Monday to extend his hitting streak to five games. Rosales has opened the season batting .412 (7-for-17) with two homers and seven RBIs.

 

Double-A Carolina’s Todd Frazier had three hits last night at Mississippi and raised average to a team-best .455 (10-for-22, 5rbi).

 

Carolina OF Chris Heisey is hitting .412 (7-for-17, 2hr, 4rbi, 2 2B, 6r, 6bb, .583obp)

Late update — Homer Bailey was ejected from tonight’s game vs. Toledo in the top of the third inning when he hit a batter immediately after allowing a home run. Bailey’s line was: 2.2ip, 3h, 3r-2er, 3bb-3k, 2hr. He threw 53 pitches, 30 strikes.

Fox Sports Ohio apology

Just got an email with a statement of apology from Fox Sports Ohio. Sometime around 11:30 pm ET last night, the game abruptly switched to the start of “The Best Damn Sports Show.” By the time the glitch was fixed and coverage returned, the Reds-Brewers game was over and FS Ohio was in its post-game show. 

It doesn’t give you last night’s ninth inning back but here is the statement in full:

“FOX Sports Ohio would like to sincerely apologize to the viewers, as well as to the Reds, for the technical mishap that resulted in our transmission being interrupted just prior to the end of the last night’s game.  The network experienced a very unfortunate switching error, which occurred at our transmission center in New York.

FOX Sports Ohio produces as many as 145 Reds games each season, and we take great pride in the production quality and expertise that we bring to each telecast, which makes this situation very disappointing. 

We will review the telecast circumstances to minimize the possibility of a reoccurrence.”

3-3 record.

The Reds scored seven runs on just three hits and had six hits overall for a 7-6 win over the Brewers.

The highlights:

  • Edwin Encarnacion sucked all the noise out Miller Park with a big grand slam in the six-run Reds’ third inning after Milwaukee had taken a 5-1 lead after two innings.

“It hit the perfect spot on my bat. I knew right away the ball was gone,” Encarnacion said.

  • All of the Reds third-inning runs came after having two outs and nobody on.
  • As mentioned in the earlier post, Jay Bruce has grappled lately with his timing. Bruce hit a high fastball for a solo homer in the second inning.

“I found something I was doing last year that I’m doing a little different this year,” Bruce said. “I think I have to get back to my game, myself. Doing what I was doing really helps. It had to do with timing. It wasn’t necessarily gone but not as consistent as I wanted it to be.”

  • The bullpen came up solid again. In the seventh, Arthur Rhodes gave up back-to-back one-out singles but escaped with a double play. David Weathers gave up a two-out triple and two walks to load the bases but also kept the Brewers down.
  • The Reds have won three of their last four to climb back to a 3-3 record. It was a good win to get on the first day of an 11-day, 10-game marathon road trip.
  • It overshadowed another shaky outing by Edinson Volquez, who threw 99 pitches over five innings and gave up six runs, seven hits and four walks with four strikeouts. Volquez has a 9.64 ERA and 13 hits allowed through 9 1/3 innings and two starts. His eight walks are tied for the National League lead and he’s already allowed three homers after giving up 14 all of last season.

“Edinson wasn’t sharp but he gave us all he had,” manager Dusty Baker said.

  • In the first inning, Volquez was late covering first base on a double play ball and it cost him the first run of the game.

“I’m going to get fined for that,” Volquez said.

  • Volquez gave up Corey Hart’s three-run homer in the second that made it 5-1, Brewers. But the pitcher worked out of a bases-loaded, no outs jam in the fourth.

“I was confident,” Volquez said. “I looked at them and [thought] ‘I’m going to get those guys outs.”

“Edinson has a way of getting into trouble and getting out of trouble,” Baker said. “That was huge because they could have blasted that game open.”

 “We knew we were behind but we never got our heads down,” Encarnacion said. “We have to keep our head up and keep going. We knew the game was early. That’s why we have to play aggressive every inning. You never know what can happen in this game.”

Thankful for roof, RIP Harry Kalas

As I walked through wet and blustery downtown Milwaukee for lunch with temperatures in the 30s and 40s, two thoughts were on my mind:

1. I’m thankful Miller Park has a roof. Otherwise, it would be a miserable night for fans and everyone involved and I’m not sure the game would be played.

2. I finally got around to watching the series finale to “Life on Mars” online and it left me in a considerable funk. Not a good ending to reward my faithful viewing.

But that all paled in comparsion to the news I heard when I returned to my hotel — Phillies iconic radio voice Harry Kalas died today. He was found passed out in the broadcast booth not long before the game at Nationals Park.

Kalas, 73, was to Philadelphia as what Marty Brennaman means to Cincinnati. To a generation, Kalas was the voice of NFL Films, especially when watching the weekly installments of HBO’s “Inside the NFL.” I feel for the Phillies and their fans for losing their voice. I can’t help but wonder how hard it is for Kalas’ broadcast partners to get through the game today without their friend.

Reds lineup:

Taveras, cf
Dickerson, lf
Votto, 1b
Phillips, 2b
Bruce, rf
Encarnacion, 3b
Hernandez, c
Gonzalez, ss
Volquez, rhp

Brewers lineup:

Weeks, 2b
Hart, rf
Braun, lf
Fielder, 1b
Hardy, ss
Cameron, cf
Hall, 3b
Kendall, c
Gallardo, rhp

News you can use:

  • Seventh hitter Ramon Hernandez is 1-for-15 this season entering the night and eighth hitter Alex Gonzalez came in 0-for-12. Obviously, Dusty Baker would like to see them get going at the plate.

“Hernandez is swinging a little better than Gonzalez,” Baker said. “He doesn’t have too many hits to show for it. We need them at the bottom of the order to roll the lineup around. They’re better than they’re hitting. I know that.”

  • Struggling Jay Bruce has been fouling off a lot of pitches lately and came in 4-for-20 (.200) in his five games.

“I don’t think he’s pressing as much as his timing is off,” Baker said.

  • As expected, Marty Brennaman was sad to hear about Kalas’ passing.

“It’s ironic we talked five days ago,” Brennaman said. “We had the kind of friendship where we didn’t talk every week. Sometimes, we’d go two months without talking. But we’d always stayed in touch. I don’t do that with too many guys, not that I don’t like them all, but we had a certain relationship that we really liked one another.”

Saturday matinee, it wasn't pretty

The sun is shining. Ball will be played. This is good.

Slightly different lineup vs. Pirates LHP Paul Maholm.

Taveras CF, Hairston LF, Votto 1B, Phillips 2B, Encarnacion 3B, Bruce RF, Hernandez C, Gonzalez SS, Cueto.

Dusty Baker flip-flopped Jay Bruce with Edwin Encarnacion.

“Maholm is tough on lefties,” Baker said. “It will take a little pressure off of Jay. He’s struggling some. It just depends on who the left-hander is. It’s no slight on Jay.”

  • As mentioned last night, fifth starter Micah Owings (originally slated to pitch today) will work from the bullpen for a few days and will start on Wednesday at Milwaukee. But it will more challenging for Baker to use Owings as a pinch-hitter.

“Now I have to be more careful when I use him as a pinch-hitter now,” Baker said. “Unless I’m going to bring him into a game or something, then you have to figure out how to warm him up and then come in to pinch-hit. It’s much like what Milwaukee did with Brooks Kieschnick. I will call upon my memory on how they did it because I’ve never had that situation.”

  • Outfielder Chris Dickerson hasn’t had a fun week, despite turning 27 on Friday. Dickerson hasn’t played much because the Reds have faced three lefties, including Maholm on Saturday, and his Friday start was wiped out by the rain. On top of that, Dickerson got clocked in the head by a revolving glass door this morning at his hotel. He was sporting a bandage above his right eye.

“My ‘real’ story is I hit my head on the rim during a celebrity slam dunk contest,” Dickerson said.

“Don’t play. Birthday and then get beat up the door at the hotel. Three lefties and a rain out. As we would say, ‘hang with ‘em.'”

POSTGAME jottings from a 10-2 beating to the Pirates:

Baker was pretty livid after the game, especially with the ending. Jay Bruce got doubled off first base when he took off on contact with one out. Ramon Hernandez wound up flying out deep to center field.

some quotes from Baker:

“It’s hard to take when you make mental mistakes like that. You know when you have a young, young team, you know you’re going to make some mistakes. You just hope they’re not game costing or game ending mistakes. We constantly remind them how many outs there are. These are things you should know. Like in all sports, you run with your head up.”

quotes from Bruce:

“I don’t know what I was thinking. I wasn’t. There is absolutely no excuse for that. It was a lack of focus and I have to do a better job. Who knows if we would have won or not but that’s not even giving my team a chance.”

“One out down nine runs, my run doesn’t mean anything first of all. I just have to give us a chance and I didn’t. I have to have more focus and more concentration. I had nothing.”

“Off the bat I didn’t think he was going to catch it. That’s no reason to take off to the races like that. You’ve got to know the outs and be in position to do both. I just wasn’t paying attention. It was ridiculous and embarrassing. It can’t happen again, that’s for sure. I have to do a better job.”

More postgame news you can use:

  • Joey Votto said he was fine after Saturday’s game after a painful home plate collision in the fourth inning on Saturday. Votto was thrown out trying to score from second on Edwin Encarnacion’s single when his left knee crashed hard into catcher Ryan Doumit’s spikes. Votto, who ripped his pants, was hobbling for several moments but remained in the game.
  • Daniel Herrera was better his second time out but still paid for a walk. Herrera issued a one-out walk to Nyjer Morgan, who stole second and scored on Nate McLouth’s RBI blooped single. Herrera struck out the side, too, including Freddy Sanchez on a 62 mph screwball.
  • Mike Lincoln has three relief appearances in the books and two of them have been pretty lousy. While working the top of the ninth on Saturday, Lincoln gave up five runs and three hits, which included back-to-back homers — Ryan Doumit’s grand slam and Adam LaRoche’s homer. Lincoln also allowed three walks. In his 2 1/3 innings, Lincoln has a 34.71 ERA with nine earned runs allowed, six hits and six walks.
  • After 15 runs over the previous two game, the offense was on sabbatical with only three singles off Paul Maholm. Owings’ PH double in the eighth off John Grabow was the only Reds extra base hit.

Game called

Still raining at GABP — umpires and the ballpark operations didn’t wait until 8pm to see what they’d do. The game was postponed and a makeup date hasn’t been announced.

No doubleheader on Saturday. It’s too early in the season to start grinding up players and bullpens. Besides the Pirates come back to town twice more. In fact, both teams have Thursday Sept. 3 off right after a three-game series here. It seems like a ripe day for a make-up game.

Johnny Cueto will start on Saturday against Paul Maholm. Pittsburgh’s Jeff Karstens got his turn skipped. The Reds’ original starter for Saturday, Micah Owings, will work from the bullpen for a couple of days and make his first start on Wednesday at Milwaukee.

Rain be gone, please

I’d love to say it’s a perfect night for baseball here at Great American Ball Park but it’s raining — sometimes light and other times cats and dogs. The Reds are usually willing to hunker down all night to wait out the weather so there’s a belief here that the game vs. PIT could be played. But the forecast calls for more rain and there’s a 1:10 p.m. game just around the corner on Saturday. Let’s hope it clears up enough, and sooner than later.

News you can use:

For the first time after three games this season, Dusty Baker could make the lineup he expected to make against a right-handed pitcher.

Taveras CF, Dickerson LF, Votto 1B, Phillips 2B, Bruce RF, Encarnacion 3B, Hernandez C, Gonzalez SS, Cueto P

“It wouldn’t be new if everyone was healthy and fresh. We haven’t had it like that,” Baker said.

  • Jerry Hairston Jr. (tight left leg) says he could play tonight. Hairston wasn’t in the lineup, partially because Baker’s platoon has Chris Dickerson hitting vs. right-handed pitchers like Pittsburgh’s Jeff Karstens.

“It feels a lot better today,” Hairston said. “I could have played today but they wanted to give me an extra day.”

  • Entering tonight, Arthur Rhodes and David Weathers have combined to retire all 13 batters faced with a total of 42 pitches, 35 strikes. Rhodes has 31 pitches/27 strikes while Weathers has 11 pitches/8 strikes.
  • A closed door team meeting was called for about 10 minutes during the afternoon. Players were informed that the mother of pitching prospect Pedro Viola, Teresa Contreras, had surgery today to remove a tumor from her face. The surgery went without complications.
  • In the former Reds department, former pitcher Matt Belisle had his Minor League contract purchased by Rockies today. Belisle, who was 1-0 with a 2.61 ERA, seven strikeouts and two walks in Spring Training, will work from Colorado’s bullpen.

If Belisle does well for the Rockies, what is the over/under on how long it will take for comments and e-mails to flow about the Reds letting him go? Every year when an ex-Reds had a good week elsewhere (Justin Germano, Cody Ross, Brandon Harris come to mind), the inbox gets heavy. I don’t think these were guys the Reds have really missed in the big picture. I have no doubt Jeff Keppinger’s name will come up soon too.

  • In the get to know him department, Baker is a big fan of the Weather Channel and calls it his favorite stop on the dial.

“I watch it at home – the five day forecast to see how accurate the weather guy is,” Baker said. “It’s a tough job. I don’t second guess them. You’re trying to predict what God is making and creating and changing.” 

Rough first outing for Bailey

Homer Bailey started Triple-A Louisville’s opener vs. Columbus Thursday night and the line wasn’t too pretty. Bailey gave up nine runs (eight earned) and nine hits in 5 1/3 innings (1bb, 5k, 3hr). Bailey was also charged with 2 throwing errors. The Bats were defeated 12-4.

Adam Rosales played third base and had two hits, including a solo homer.

In Class A Sarasota’s first game, 1B Yonder Alonso went 1-for-3 with two walks and three runs scored.

 

Votto on fire, Reds off the schnide

You didn’t really think the Reds would go 0-162, did you? No one did of course, but Thursday’s 8-6 win a stress buster that was needed. I wrote about the need for a fast start yesterday by the Reds and a 0-3 record after the first series wouldn’t have been what they needed.

  • Joey Votto, who had another big game with a 3-for-5 day and three-run homer. Votto was 7-for-13 (.538) in the series and seems poised to have a big year. He had a great spring despite being known as a slow starter.
  • Bronson Arroyo got off to a slow start but his outing was still solid despite five runs allowed over six innings. I give Arroyo a pass because I’d imagine it’d be tough to pitch after getting a cortisone shot only a few days ago.
  • Paul Janish struck out three times but his rolling single up the middle scored two huge insurance runs in the fifth was big. He was strong defensively too and he will important on these days when Alex Gonzalez’s gets precautionary rests.

Some post-game quotes:

Dusty Baker:

“The main thing is we won. That first one is always the toughest to get it seems like. Hopefully we can start rolling from here.”

“It’s real important for your confidence, your mindset and your attitude. I don’t care who you are, as long as I’ve been in this game, every year you start thinking about the Chicago Cubs starting off 0-13. Every time you lose one, the pressure mounts until you get your first one.”

Votto:

“My mindset personally is more team oriented. Last year, I was concentrating on a lot of personal things trying to get myself established as a Major leaguer. This is totally different. I have a mindset of being a better Cincinnati red and a better team. We have to do better this year.”

“It’s such a huge challenge to make the team and stay worth the Major League team throughout the year. I did it successfully I thought. This year I want to play well because I know I’m an important part of the team. I want to help create wins.”

“Last night it was so frustrating because I had such a good game and it didn’t produce anything. It really reminds you of how humbling this game is. There are going to be times where we all don’t get any hits and somehow come out with a win.”

  • And for those who panicked about Francisco Cordero stinking it up in Spring Training, this should serve as a reminder about the meaning of spring performances. Cordero was nasty as he struck out the side for his first save.

“That’s the best I’ve seen him throw and that’s the best his ankle felt,” Baker said. “He was operating all of last year on a bad ankle. In Spring Training, everybody was worried about him because he wasn’t throwing well or hard. He’s getting stronger and better.”

It’s only three games in, but what are your thoughts about the Reds so far?

.

 

Quick turnaround.

After a nearly four-hour extravaganza Wednesday, it was naturally a 12:35 p.m start for the Reds and Mets on Thursday. I didn’t get home from work until 1am last night and getting into the driveway proved more of a challenge than usual since I was pulled over by local law enforcement right in front of my house. I guess I didn’t stop entirely at the four-way stop sign.

The officer asked me where I was going and for the first time ever in one of those situations, I could actually point to my house and say I was going right there. Fortunately, I was let off with a warning (thank you!). So as a PSA to all you drivers out there — make complete stops at stop signs, not rolling ones.

News you can use:

  • Dusty Baker ran out a somewhat different lineup today:

Taveras CF, McDonald LF, Votto 1B, Phillips 2B, Bruce RF, Encarnacion 3B, Hanigan C, Janish SS, Arroyo P

  • Jerry Hairston Jr. is available but was still sore after foul two pitches off his left leg. Baker didn’t want to send Chris Dickerson to play against tough lefty Oliver Perez. That pretty much meant Taveras has to play at less than 100 percent (flu). He struggled after his pinch-hit triple last night.

“I feel OK. But the breathing part wasn’t there,” Taveras said. “When I scored the run, I had to come in because I was coughing. Today, it will be warm and that might help.”

  • Dickerson will eventually get to face lefties.

“Some, depending on who they are,” Baker said. “The one today, the league is hitting .158 off him. Some lefties are better against righties than lefties. We’ve got a long way to go and we’re going to play everybody.”

  • Alex Gonzalez got the day game off after a long night game. Ditto for Hernandez as Hanigan went behind the plate.

“Some guys played a lot in Spring Training and all of a sudden the season starts, and they lose what they had. It’s a perfect time to play them,” Baker said.

  • Baker gave some insight to file away for later about Jonny Gomes, who accepted his Triple-A assignment yesterday.

“Like I explained to Jonny, there’s going to come a time when we’re going to need you. It probably won’t be that long but especially when we start playing American League clubs. Last year, our most success was against American League clubs because Griffey and Dunn were the DH. If we started against American League clubs right now, we really don’t have a true DH against them.”

  • Also something to think about for down the road — Baker hasn’t idenitfied an emergency third catcher behind Hernandez and Hanigan.

“Ooh..I don’t know that one,” Baker said.

Joey Votto was a catcher when he was drafted but isn’t likely to strap on the gear.

“He’s in no hurry to get back there. He was in a hurry to get away from there,” Baker said.

 

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