May 2009

That's one unique Reds lineup

I can imagine Monday afternoon’s lineup vs. HOU will have the masses a little perplexed. Here it is first:

Taveras CF
Hairston 2B
Dickerson LF
Gomes RF
Hernandez C
Gonzalez SS
Rosales 1B
Janish 3B
Harang P

“We have the shock troop lineup a little bit,” manager Dusty Baker said.

RF Jay Bruce is in a 0-for-13 skid and his average is down to .228. Although Bruce has come close to hitting a couple of long balls, he’s been chasing a lot of bad pitches lately.

I think he really needs it even though we can’t afford him to be off,” Baker said. “We can’t afford him not to be off either. I’m giving him a mental day off.”

Joey Votto pinch hit Sunday (drew a four-pitch walk) but is still not fully over his inner ear infection. Believe it or not, Brandon Phillips (fractured right thumb) , swung a bat already.

“He swung today off the tee,” Baker said. “A little sore, a little swollen but that’s pretty good though. Maybe he can be ready in a couple of days or ready by Milwaukee. Wow, is right.”

Catcher Ryan Hanigan is a little beat up from a bunch of foul tips lately and general catcher soreness. So he’s not in there. There is your Reds lineup for Monday. Savor the flavor.

More news:

3B Edwin Encarnacion (left wrist fracture, DL) was about to go hit off a tee Monday morning.

“It’s been a long time for me. I’ve never had to wait that long to swing,” Encarnacion said. “It’s feeling a lot better. It’s getting strong and I’m working hard to get it stronger.”

LHP Bill Bray visited the clubhouse for the first time since his Tommy John surgery on Tuesday. Bray was sporting the large metal brace and wrap over his left arm. Bray will be out 10-12 months and is aiming to pitching again in games by April 1, 2010.

Before the surgery, Bray had started long tossing and was working in his first bullpen session while coming back from what was originally deemed an elbow strain.

“I had gotten out to 120 feet with no problem,” Bray said. “Something wasn’t really wrong until I got into the bullpen two weeks ago. As soon as I got on the mound, I threw five pitches and each pitch after that started to hurt worse.”

Bray, who has been beset by numerous arm injuries the past couple of seasons, had a good attitude about his situation.

“The more I think about it, the more I’m thankful for our trainers and physical therapists and Doc Kremchek,” Bray said. “Thirty years ago, I would have been done. It’s a blessing we have the technology to keep me on the field even though I’ve been injury plagued. I would have been done so long ago.”

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Phillips thumb broken, roster move

X-rays on 2B Brandon Phillips revealed a fractured right thumb. He will rest for a couple of days and then see if he can play through it. He was wearing a splint on his thumb.

Phillips is trying to avoid the DL, especially after he missed the last three weeks of last season with a fractured right index finger.

“When I come back I will try my best to see if I can play with it,” Phillips said. “If I can’t, I will shut it down. I just told them to give me a chance to play with it first before they make a decision.”

As expected, Homer Bailey was optioned out this morning to Triple-A Louisville. The Reds didn’t need a fifth starter for a while. C/IF Wilkin Castillo was recalled from Louisville.

Bailey, who walked six and gave up six runs over 4 1/3 innings, took the news well.

“It’s not surprising. I had a feeling it was just for one start anyway,” he said.

Bailey was asked about his frequent shaking off of catcher Ramon Hernandez. They were out of sync last night throughout.

“Ramon has never caught me before, ever,” Bailey said. “That’s hard for him to be to put in that situation as well. For me if you have a catcher you’ve worked with in the past, there’s not really a whole lot of shaking.”

As for Castillo, his .207 average at Louisville doesn’t exactly scream for a promotion. However, he can be a third catcher and play shortstop, second base and third base. The Reds are strapped for depth.

“I can use him a lot of different ways,” Dusty Baker said. “With our need for bodies, he gives you a lot of players in one.”

And on top of everything else, 1B Joey Votto was scratched this morning from the lineup because he’s still feeling the effects from his inner ear infection. Votto could be available to pinch hit.

Reds lineup:

Taveras CF
Hairston 2B
Bruce RF
Gomes LF
Hernandez 1B
Rosales 3B
Gonzalez SS
Hanigan C
Cueto P

Some Minor League info:

RHP Justin Lehr is back for his third-stint in the organization since 2008. Lehr was acquired from Triple-A Lehigh Valley and will be assigned to Louisville.

The attempted conversion of former IF/OF Jerry Gil to a pitcher hasn’t been very smooth with his 1-6 record. But Gil has his best outing to date on Saturday for Class A Sarasota. He gave up two unearned runs over six innings with three walks, a hit batter and three strikeouts.


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Votto big, X-rays for Phillips

You couldn’t beat Joey Votto’s return: two homers.

You could do without Homer Bailey’s return to the Majors: 6 walks in 4 1/3 innings.

You could definitely forgo the Reds stranding 10 men on base in the 7-6 loss, including 8 in the later innings.

The Reds hope they won’t have to do without Brandon Phillips, who jammed his right throwing thumb on Grady Sizemore’s sharp grounder in the eighth inning.

On television, it appeared that Phillips was bleeding from the thumb after he went back to the dugout.In the bottom of the eighth, backup catcher Ryan Hanigan pinch-hit for Phillips, who went for X-rays. Results were not immediately available.

“We’ll have to wait and see how he’s doing [Sunday],” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “Hopefully, it’s not too serious.”

Votto back in lineup

You’ll notice a familiar name back in the three-hole. Jonny Gomes also gets his first start for the Reds tonight.

Reds lineup:

Taveras CF
Hairston 3B
Votto 1B
Phillips 2B
Gomes LF
Bruce RF
Hernandez C
Gonzalez SS
Bailey P

Obviously, this is a big day for Joey Votto. He’s more than happy about being back in the lineup, but also a little concerned. He doesn’t want a repeat of the dizziness that forced him out twice during games.

“I felt great yesterday,” Votto said. “The toughest part is getting out there and playing the entire game. More than anything, it’s feeling confident. Both occasions were pretty scary for me.”

“Right now I am [worried]. The last game I played I was taken out of. Until I play a few games in a row and get through the whole nine innings and can completely forget about it, it will be in the back of my mind. When those games are done, I will concentrate on playing and winning.”

For Homer Bailey, nothing is promised beyond tonight.

“Right now our need is for Homer to pitch today,” manager Dusty Baker said. “That’s the only thing that’s in Homer’s control – today.”

Edinson Volquez, whom Bailey replaced in the rotation when Volquez went on the DL with back spasms, was his usual upbeat self. Volquez said he was at about “80 percent,” but hasn’t thrown in the bullpen since he felt soreness on Wednesday.

“I’m exercising and swimming a lot,” Volquez said. “I was just in the pool for 20 minutes. I think I will throw tomorrow for a little bit. I feel a lot better.”

Volquez is eligible to come off the DL on June 1 when the Reds at at St. Louis. The Reds might not need Bailey to start again…but you never know.

“It all depends on Volquez and what we need,” Baker said. “Volquez is coming along pretty good. In that 10-day period before Volquez can pitch again, we don’t need a fifth starter because of off days. We’ll see what we need and when. Homer is part of it. We also know we need Homer in the future at the same time.”

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Roster moves — Gomes and Fisher

Sorry for not blogging the roster moves earlier, but I was out with the family enjoying one of the area’s finest hamburgers at Zip’s. Our blog system has no mobile application. Good thing there was Twitter, which I was able to update. If you don’t follow me on that, I encourage you to do so for breaking news updates. It’s come in handy with all the news lately.

In case you missed the transaction, here it is:

The Reds purchased the contract of OF Jonny Gomes and recalled righty reliever Carlos Fisher from Triple-A Louisville. OF Darnell McDonald was designated for assignment. RHP Ramon Ramirez was optioned back to Louisville.

The Gomes-McDonald move was the one you were clamoring for and it’s definitely a good time for it. After a slow start, Gomes was hitting .282 and led the Bats with nine homers and 27 RBIs. He tore it up at the start of Spring Training before tailing off the second part.

One of the knocks about Gomes in Tampa Bay the past couple of years was that his type of swing suffered more with part-time play. He needs at-bats to stay sharp. I will be curious to see how his production here is affected by being a bench guy. Regardless, he will be a great clubhouse presence.

Fisher’s numbers have been great —  2-0, with a 2.00 ERA (18ip, 11h, 4bb, 21k, 0hr) in 13 relief appearances.

McDonald was the 25th man and didn’t do much with the limited chances he got. He batted .175 in 24 games, going 7-for-40 with one extra-base hit. He also struck out nine times and grounded into four double plays.

Reds lineup:

Taveras CF
Hairston 3B
Bruce RF
Phillips 2B
Nix LF
Hernandez C
Rosales 1B
Gonzalez SS
Arroyo P

Some quotes:

Gomes: “I started to get locked in towards the end. In the beginning, it was real cold out and I could run every excuse out there but it’s my responsibility to be professional and get off to a quick start, which didn’t happen. I mentally checked into Louisville, and got my swing going.”

Fisher: “I had just sat down at a theatre to watch “The Terminator” movie. The preview had just gotten done and I had a missed call. I had a funny feeling so I went outside. It was Rick Sweet. So I didn’t watch the movie.”

Homer Bailey, who starts Saturday: “I was little inconsistent, especially at the beginning. I had a terrible start. Since then, everything has gone fairly well. If you take out five innings out of everything I’ve thrown, then it looks very good.”

Dusty Baker said that Joey Votto is available to pinch-hit tonight and could start in Saturday’s game. The Reds will be seeing lefty starters the next three games in a row.

“I’d hate to bring him right back against those lefties but we need Joey in there,” Baker said. “It depends on how he feels today. The last thing we want to do is rush him back or put him under the pressure to rush back.”

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Volquez to DL, Bailey recalled

The Reds placed starting pitcher Edinson Volquez on the 15-day disabled list on Thursday because of back spasms and recalled pitcher Homer Bailey from Triple-A Louisville.

Bailey will take Volquez’s rotation spot and start on Saturday vs. the Indians.

Volquez underwent an MRI exam on Thursday morning, one day after persistent back soreness stopped his side bullpen session after a couple of pitches.

“It’s muscular. Nothing in his vertebrae or anything like that,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “That’s positive news. We just decided that instead of sending him out there 75-80 percent, we’ll get him well and skip one start and get him back to 100 percent.”

Volquez’s DL stint is retroactive to Sunday. That means he could return as soon as June 1 when the Reds play the Cardinals.

Brutal day at the yard for the Reds, who have dropped five of six now with a 12-5 loss to the dynamic Phillies.

The takeaway:

Micah Owings gave up five runs over only three innings. His two-out, two-strike walk of Joe Blanton in the second inning was inexcusable. It led to three runs. He threw 59 pitches through two innings.Owings probably lasted a third inning because his turn to hit was coming up. He delievered with a single but was lifted for Ramon Ramirez to start the fourth. Ramirez pitched 2 1/3 innings.

The Reds were trailing 6-0 when they scored five in the fifth inning. Continuing his hot month of May, Brandon Phillips had a huge three-run homer to left field.

That made it all the more deflating when the bullpen couldn’t hold it. The combo of Ramirez, Daniel Herrera, Jared Burton and Mike Lincoln gave up seven runs to return the game to its rout status. David Weathers worked a scoreless inning.

Pitching staff issues:

The Reds don’t have another off day until next Thursday and just used their bullpen for six innings. Ramirez was the likely spot starter on Saturday for Volquez. Obviously, that’s out now. Bailey last pitched on Monday at Triple-A Louisville (6ip, 6h, 2r, 90 pitches).

Your thoughts on the move and the day?

Votto has inner ear infection

The tests are back on Joey Votto and the diagnosis behind his dizziness was a left inner ear infection.

“I’m just glad they found what it was. I’m thankful and grateful,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said.

Team internist Dr. Stephen Cleves and medical director Dr. Tim Kremchek made the diagnosis on Thursday after results from an audiologist came back.

“All other testing was normal,” Reds head trainer Mark Mann said. “The only thing that came back irregular was the audiology tests that indicated he had an inner ear infection that was secondary to the upper respiratory infection he had 10 days ago, which I get from Dr. Cleves, is a common occurance.

“The last four days Joey has felt much better. He has not had any more symptoms since he got back to Cincinnati.”

Votto first came down with the flu on May 7 and missed four starts. Then he took a flight with the club from Cincinnati to Phoenix with the team on May 10 for a West Coast road trip.

“That’s probably what set things off or started the symptoms,” Mann said. “And then flying from Phoenix to San Diego. That’s why he ended up having the symptoms again on Saturday.”

Votto was resting Thursday morning and will made available to the media following today’s game. The Reds first baseman is listed as day to day. He did a light workout on Wednesday and was scheduled to do likewise Thursday, plus hit in the indoor cage.

“Our game plan at this point is if everything goes well today, he will participate in full activity tomorrow with his teammates before the game – stretch, throw, take groundballs, take batting practice on the field,” Mann said. “If all goes well, we’ll go from there. Right now, it’s just a day by day process.”

“I’m sure he hasn’t been sleeping or resting much,” Baker said. “You’re worrying about something that you don’t know what you’re worrying about. That’s real worry right there.”

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Volquez could miss a start

It looks like back spasms are still bothering Edinson Volquez. His side bullpen session was cut very short by more soreness on Wednesday. Afterwards, the Reds starter went into manager Dusty Baker’s office and told him he shouldn’t make his next start.

Volquez was to start on Friday but was moved back to Saturday today after Baker first heard Volquez was still sore. Bronson Arroyo will start on Friday against Cleveland.

“I was feeling it. I threw only a couple of pitches and still felt it on my left side,” Volquez said.

Volquez, who prematurely left his start on Saturday when mid-back spasms grabbed him in the sixth inning vs. San Diego, was asked if being moved back a day would be enough time to get better.

“I don’t think so,” Volquez said. “I told Dusty that it’d be better if I missed a start. I don’t want to go at like 70 percent. That’s no good for me or the team. He said he’d talk to [pitching coach] Dick Pole about it.”

Ramon Ramirez, a starter who was just called up from Triple-A Louisville on Tuesday to work from the bullpen, is an in-house candidate to take Volquez’s place in a spot start if needed.

In other medical news, first baseman Joey Votto had a doctor’s appointment Wednesday morning and was at another doctor in the afternoon. There is still no word on what has caused his dizziness. Votto is not an option off the bench as a pinch-hitter because of his condition. Plus, if he had to go on the disabled list, the Reds would not want to prolong his time out by sticking a less-than-healthy Votto into a game.

9:30 p.m. update on Votto: All tests have been completed, with results expected on Thursday. The club will provide an update then.

10:30 p.m. update on Volquez: He’s going for a MRI on Thursday. No determination was made about whether he will still start on Saturday.


Reds lineup:

Taveras CF
Hairston 3B
Phillips 2B
Bruce RF
Hernandez 1B
Gonzalez SS
McDonald LF
Hanigan C
Harang P

Alex Gonzalez is 4-for-6 lifetime with one homer, two doubles and four RBIs vs. Phillies starter Jamie Moyer. Willy Taveras is 2-for-5. Hairston is 3-for-17 (.176), For those wondering where Laynce Nix is today, he is 1-for-11 (.091) in his career vs. Moyer 

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Four-game losing streak

Suddenly, times have gotten tough for the Redlegs. A 4-3 loss extended the season-high losing streak to four games. Meanwhile the first-place Brewers have won seven in a row and pushed the Reds to 4 1/2 games out of first place.

The Reds were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. They had the tying run on second and winning run on first base and both were stranded in the final inning.

Willy Taveras is on a 0-for-19 skid since his 14-game hitting streak snapped.

“He was so hot. There’s no explanation,” manager Dusty Baker said.

And no one knows when Joey Votto is coming back from his dizziness issue.

“There’s no way around it. Joey is no question, our best hitter,” Jerry Hairston Jr. said.

Johnny Cueto gave up a second-inning homer but the inning the Reds could have really done without was the three-run top of the fifth. Cueto, who gave up four earned runs and seven hits with four strikeouts, retired the side in order in the other five innings. Again, Cueto showed good command and did not walk anyone.

Other quotes:

Baker on the losing streak:

“You know it’s going to happen sooner or later. You don’t like it when you’re in the middle of it. We certainly have to bounce back tomorrow. We have no choice.”

Hairston, who flied out to end the game:

“Obviously, you want to get that big hit there. I took a pretty good pass at it, squared up and just got underneath the ball. It’s just one of those things. The last four games obviously haven’t gone our way. We have to turn the page. This team is pretty good at bouncing back so hopefully tomorrow, it will be our day.”

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Why Ramirez and not Viola?

RHP Ramon Ramirez arrived today to take Nick Masset’s place on the 25-man roster. Some people were wondering why Ramirez, who was 0-3 with a 5.08 ERA, was promoted when a guy like lefty Pedro Viola wasn’t. Viola is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA but he wasn’t on the 40-man roster and Ramirez was.

“We threw around Viola,” manager Dusty Baker said. “He’s doing pretty good. He’s a little inconsistent. He’s coming fast but we would have had to take a chance on losing someone by taking them off [the 40-man roster] in order to get Viola on. There were no names we could come up with.

“Then we said if it’s not Viola, which righties get lefties out best right now? So it was Ramon. Plus, he’s had a taste of the big leagues. He’s relieved, started, gone long and done lots of things. And he pitched well for us last year.”

Viola probably didn’t help himself by allowing four earned runs and three walks over a third of an inning during his last outing on May 15. Ramirez, who will be a swing man out of the Reds bullpen, has allowed three runs on eight hits over his last 15 innings. He threw a career-high eight innings on May 10.

Here is the adjusted rotation, which puts several guys back on their fifth day after the havoc in San Diego.

Weds: Harang
Thu:  Owings
Fri: Volquez
Sat. Arroyo
Sun: Cueto

Edinson Volquez, who had back spasms on Saturday, isn’t a lock yet. But he seemed to be doing OK today.

“We’ll see. I hope so,” Baker said.

1B Joey Votto (dizziness) is still out of the lineup. Votto and head trainer Mark Mann were still at a 2 p.m. doctor appointment. I will update later when I know something.

LATE UPDATE: No real news on Votto. He has more doctor appointments scheduled and he wasn’t talking. Here is the link to the story:

3B Edwin Encarnacion (left wrist chip fracture) has started swinging with one hand. No timetable yet on a return.

Monday’s Reds lineup:

Taveras CF
Hairston 3B
Phillips 2B
Bruce RF
Hernandez C
Rosales 1B
McDonald LF
Gonzalez SS
Cueto P

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