May 2009

Bray out 10-12 months

From the Reds media relations dept:

LHP Bill Bray this morning had “Tommy John” surgery to repair the torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow (Dr. Timothy Kremchek)…he is expected to miss 10-12 months…Bray has been on Class AAA Louisville’s disabled list since 4/16.

Some medical updates

This email from the Reds came a short time ago:

LHP Bill Bray was examined today by Reds medical director Timothy Kremchek, who tomorrow will perform surgery on Bray’s left elbow. Bray has been on Louisville’s disabled list since April 16 with a strained left elbow.

Tomorrow the Reds are expected to disable RHP Nick Masset (strained left oblique muscle), retroactive to May 11, and recall from Triple-A Louisville RHP Ramon Ramirez.

Masset went 1-0, 1.23 in 11 relief apps for the Reds. Ramirez (#58) went 0-3, 5.08 in 7 starts for the Bats (39ip, 37h, 27r, 22er, 17bb, 28k, 4hr).

Reds 1B Joey Votto became light-headed following yesterday’s game at San Diego. Instead of flying home with the team, as a precautionary measure he was admitted for tests at Scripps Clinic at San Diego. He will be examined again in Cincinnati tomorrow. Votto missed 5 games last week with the flu and twice more left games with dizziness.

RHP Edinson Volquez today received treatment on his back without complaint. Volquez left Saturday’s start with mild spasms in his mid-back. He is not expected to miss a start.

I did some double checking on Bray and was told he isn’t neccesarily having Tommy John surgery on his elbow. Dr. Kremchek won’t know the extent of the injury until he has a closer look.

Want, need your questions

I wanted to let you know that I’m planning the first edition of the “Inbox” (formerly the Mailbag) on Monday. It’s been almost six months since I’ve answered any reader mail so obviously I will need some questions. Many of you already ask questions of me in the blog and some of them are perfect for the Inbox.

Here’s what you can do: feel free to ask your questions in the comment section of this posting. Or, send me an e-mail at mark.sheldon@mlb.com. Put Inbox in the subject space. Either way, please include your first name, last initial, city and state with the question.

Inbox won’t be a weekly feature but it will pop up from time to time when warranted.

Also as an FYI — I will be off for the San Diego series. No reason, just wasn’t scheduled.

The Inbox is open. Please have at it.

Three-way tie for first place

A 10-3 wallop of Arizona capped off a nice series for the Reds, who moved into a three-way tie for first place in the NL Central with the Cardinals and Brewers. Cincinnati scored 20 runs and had 38 hits in the series. It was the first sweep while on Pacific time since 2005 against the Padres.

The Reds are six games over .500 at 20-14. After 34 games, they haven’t been in first place this late into a season since they were 36-24 on June 8, 2006.

Each time after games in the clubhouse, the music is loud and the confidence is high. Not since 2006 have I seen the team on this kind of roll. But these younger players seem to be enjoying themselves more. Brandon Phillips, who drove in four RBIs, had a beauty of a quote tonight and it pretty much sums it up.

“Our swagger is real nice right now,” Phillips said. “We’re picking each other up. Our team chemistry is gorgeous. Everybody is rooting for everybody. When one person gets a hit, you see everybody in the dugout going crazy. This is the best team I’ve played. Guys on this team are great. They pick each other up.”

 

Lineups, no Votto

The Reds will go for the sweep without Joey Votto in the lineup. Chris Dickerson is also getting his first start in quite a while.

Reds lineup:

Taveras, 8
Hairston, 6
Bruce, 9
Phillips, 4
Hernandez, 3
Rosales, 5
Dickerson, 7
Hanigan, 2
Cueto, 1

D-Backs lineup:

Lopez, 4
Parra, 8
Upton, 9
Drew, 6
Byrnes, 7
Montero, 2
Tracy, 3
Ojeda, 5
Augenstein, 1

 

Votto was still feeling the effects of the flu today and went through a battery of tests after his dizzy episode during the fourth inning of Tuesday’s game. He expects to be back on Friday at San Diego. The issues started in the third inning when Votto charged on a bunt play with Dan Haren up.

“I felt a little off then,” Votto said. “Then during my at-bat, I felt my heart really racing and I felt really odd. After I flew out to finish the inning, I was on the field and I couldn’t center myself.”

Votto said there was “no question” that what happened had to do with the flu that he had last week and caused him to miss four starts.

“I wasn’t dehydrated,” Votto said. “I’ve been doing my best to eat really well and put a lot of fluids in because I realize how hot and dry it is here. It took way too long to recover after it happened.

That’s where my concern was. I didn’t feel regular the way I do now until maybe an hour or hour and a half after it happened. The game was over and I still felt odd. More than anything, it was frustrating. I’ve gotten dizzy before from heat when I was kid if I exercised and recovered quickly – 15-20 minutes at most.

“The last thing I want to do is go out there and be taken out of the game. I found it really embarrassing. Not that I did anything to justify being embarrassed. I just don’t like being taken out in the middle of the game, ever, out of respect to my teammates.”

In other news — SS Alex Gonzalez (oblique) will be back on Friday vs. the Padres after a few days of BP without issue.

“I’m looking for signs of wincing or holding back. I didn’t see any of that,” manager Dusty Baker said.

What will Gonzalez’s return (batting .176) after over a week out mean for hot-hitting Jerry Hairston Jr. (.260), whose played a lot of shortstop but can play third base or left field? Or Laynce Nix (.304)? or Adam Rosales (.298)?

“Gonzo is my shortstop,” Baker said. “We have to mix and match. Sometimes we’ll go with better defense-speed team one day and an offensive one the next day, depending on who’s pitching against us and who’s pitching for us and what kind of success someone has had against a guy.”

And for those wondering, Baker denies that Micah Owings intentionally plunked Ryan Roberts leading off the 8th inning last night. FS Arizona believed it was during their coverage.

“No way,” Baker said. “A 3-0 game in the eighth inning with their top of the lineup coming up and the way Felipe [Lopez] is hitting the ball and Miguel Montero and Justin Upton. That 3-0 could have been 4-3 quick. I didn’t think it was intentional.” 

Baker also said he didn’t think D-Backs reliever Jon Rauch was throwing at Brandon Phillips to cause Owings to go hard inside. 

Checking out Goodyear

This morning I made my second trek out to Goodyear to check out the new Reds Spring Training complex. The last time I was out there in September, the main stadium was a few months from completion, the finishing touches were being put on the Indians portion of the complex and the Reds portion was dirt and tumbleweeds. Hal McCoy from the Dayton Daily News came along with me and Kent Weaver from FSN Ohio brought the TV camera. He planned on posting some of his video on Reds.com at some point so you can see it.

Only for you, the loyal reader, would I ever don a bright pink safety helmet like I did today as I toured the construction site of the Reds complex. It’s is about 75 percent complete and should be ready by August. It will be able to host fall instructional league. It will be 43,000 sqaure feet over two floors and have everything the modern baseball player would ever need — spacious clubhouses for the Major and Minor League players, gigantic weight rooms, top-notch training and conditioning faciltities and a spacious “water room” for  hot/cold tubs and for players to do injury rehabilitation in the pool.

They will have a cafeteria and full kitchen. Inside and outside, it will look a lot like the Indians site that I toured last fall, but the Reds have learned from the Indians and took notes to improve upon the original.

Now for the stuff you’re really concerned about. The stadium, simply called Goodyear Ballpark, is quite nice. It seats about 8,000 with 2,000 more that go on the grassy hill in the outfield. The seating bowl is built into the ground so you’ll walk in and be at the top of the seats. Concessions include the usual hot dogs, pizza, Mexican food and there is a very large team gift shop.

The stadium lacks some of the personality that other newer places have — like the the Phillies ballpark in Clearwater — but baseball should be fun to watch there. There are several “party spots” — one in the outfield and a couple in the suites area. The biggest problem will be shade — there’s hardly any. Although it won’t 100 degrees during the spring, people will need lots of sunscreen and hats. I’d worry about little kids baking in the sun. I’m told there have been discussions about trying to remedy the shade situation.

Another issue for the players and we writers — the Reds complex is well over a half-mile from the main stadium. For players, they will have shuttle buses to and from during games. I don’t know what the writers will do. The Indians place is between the Reds and the stadium. They didn’t put a team on either side of the stadium because the city wanted one side for development.

However, when it comes to baseball watching, and especially playing, this should be just about as good or better as anything you’ll find at Spring Training in Arizona or Florida.

Goodyear is about 20 minutes west of downtown Phoenix and honestly, it’s a big-time work in progress. Homes and condos are sprouting all around but the complex is basically alone in the desert. About two miles away is Interstate 10 and an assortment of chain restaurants, fast food, and shopping. A couple of exits away is a place I will covet — In N’ Out Burger. There are no “mom n’ pop” places like Gus’s to eat at and I have no idea, from a personal standpoint, what I will do after 6 p.m. when my work day is complete. Obviously, there is no beach roam or Siesta Key or St. Armand’s Circle or any kind of downtown that I have found, yet. I’m told nearby Glendale (where the NFL’s Cardinals and NHL’s Coyotes) is where it’s at in the western suburbs of Phoenix. It’s a short distance from Goodyear. The awesome city of Scottsdale, which is where I’m staying during this road trip, is 40 minutes away in the East Valley.

My Indians MLB.com counterpart, Anthony Castrovince, spoke highly of his experience in Goodyear this past spring so I will be optimistic and prepare myself for my first Spring Training in Arizona come February.

I will have a more complete story on MLB.com during Thursday’s off day.

Below are some pictures I took with the camera on my phone. They’re rudimentary but you’ll get the idea. 

goodyear1.jpg

This is a sculpture and fountain that can be found at the main entrance of Goodyear Ballpark. 

 

goodyear5.jpg

This is the main entrance of Goodyear Ballpark. 

 

goodyear2.jpg

The seating area behind home plate, one of the few shaded areas. What you can’t see is beyond right field, a “graveyard” of jumbo jets at the Phoenix/Goodyear freight airport. There are dozens and dozens just sitting out there. 

goodyear3.jpg

At the main entrance of the still under construction Reds facility. One big difference from the Indians place will be the lack of forboding fencing that the Tribe uses. Their place is surrounded by fencing. The Reds will have less so fans can be closer and more easily watch players on the practice fields. 

goodyear4.jpg

I believe this was the Reds’ Major League clubhouse.

Follow updates on Twitter at:

http://twitter.com/m_sheldon

Votto leaves game, Reds win

Reds first baseman Joey Votto left Tuesday’s game vs. the Diamondbacks because of dizziness. The club said that Votto was day-to-day. Cincinnati went on to a nice 3-1 win.

In the bottom of the fourth inning after Arizona leadoff hitter Felipe Lopez drew a walk, Votto appeared to be struggling on the field while Miguel Montero was batting. He was walked off the field by manager Dusty Baker and head trainer Mark Mann.

In the top of the fourth after he flew out to center field, televsion cameras caught Votto on the bench looking uncomfortable.

Ramon Hernandez moved from catcher to first base and Ryan Hanigan took over behind the plate.Votto missed three-straight games last week with the flu and returned on Sunday. His first start back was on Monday.

“I looked down the field today, Joey was kind of wavering and [bench coach] Chris [Speier] said something was wrong with Joey,” Baker said. “I could see him batting his eyes and we got him off the field. He was just dizzy and hopefully he’ll be OK tomorrow.”

It was a nice start for former D-Back Micah Owings, who took a shutout into the eighth inning. Over his seven-plus innings, Owings gave up one earned run and four hits during his best outing of the season. He walked two, hit a batter and struck out four while throwing only 90 pitches.

“Nothing satisfies you more than to come back and beat your old team,” Baker said.

Brandon Phillips drove in two of the three runs. He had a blooped RBI single in the fourth and alertly went from first to third on Jay Bruce’s single when he saw outfielder Chris Young drop to a knee fielding the ball. It allowed him to score on Ramon Hernandez’s sac fly. Phillips also had a big blast for a solo homer in the sixth — 452 feet off the LED scoreboard on the face of the left field second deck.

The Reds, which claimed the three-game series with two wins already over Arizona, have won five of their last six and eight of 12. At 19-14, Cincinnati is five games over .500 since it was 67-62 in 2006.

Wednesday – Johnny Cueto goes for the sweep. The Arizona starter, Bryan Augenstein, will be making his big league debut. How do you like the Reds chances?

Defense

No one can deny that third baseman Adam Rosales has impressed with his bat and hustle — going back to Spring Training, in fact. If there’s been a downside to this point, it was on clear display Monday night. His defense needs a lot of work, and Rosales knows it.

Although charged with his one and only error when Chris Snyder’s grounder skipped off his glove and into left field, Rosales was eaten up by several grounders Monday. On some plays, he was able to recover his bobble and use his strong arm to get the out. Last week, it cost the Reds a couple of double plays. As a whole, the team is stressing more and more about not giving away outs.

Bench coach Chris Speier, who also coaches the infielders, took Rosales aside after the game last night. Alex Gonzalez and Joey Votto also talked with him, Rosales said.

“I have to find a way to slow it down,” Rosales said. “One of my strengths has always been defense, coming up through the organization. I think I’m just hyped up a little bit. I’m not seeing the ball too well off the bat. I have to relax and gain my confidence back to its fullest.”

“Right now it seems he’s in a fielding slump where he’s allowing the ball to play him,” Speier said. “His setup is getting a little better. I told him we’re just interested in progress. We don’t expect complete change right away but this is what we want to work for.

“I relayed a story to him. I went to Dodger Stadium my first or second year and had 30 tickets for my family in the area. I went out there and made four errors in the game at shortstop. I was ashamed, embarrassed, you name it. You get the mentality where you don’t want to ball hit to you. And you’re afraid of failure. You have to overcome it.”

  • As for Gonzalez, he’s taking more batting practice today but there has been no oblique pain after Monday’s hitting. However because of the nagging nature of the injury, there doesn’t appear to be any rush to get him back.

“He came through really good,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “The trainer said so too. I have to talk to him first and watch him some more in BP today. I’d prefer to give him a couple of more days of BP so he’s sharper. We don’t lose anything as well.”

Gonzalez would prefer to get back, ASAP.

“I feel good. I’m ready to play,” Gonzalez said.

  • On Wednesday morning, I plan to take a trip to Goodyear and check out the Spring Training complex. I was out there in September when the Indians facility was nearly done. The main stadium was a few months from completion and the Reds’ portion was just tumbleweeds. I’m sure there’s a lot more to see than that now.

Anything you want to know or I should ask about?

Follow updates on Twitter at:

http://twitter.com/m_sheldon

CIN @ ARI 5-12-09

I’m out of interesting blog headline ideas for today. Feel free to offer your own. What I can offer you is today’s Reds lineup.  It’s the same 1-8 as last night.

Reds lineup:

Taveras, cf
Hairston, ss
Votto, 1b
Phillips, 2b
Bruce, rf
Hernandez, c
Nix, lf
Rosales, 3b
Owings, rhp

More later…

Lots 'o offense

The 13-5 win at Arizona was a good one to get after Sunday’s tough one in extra innings and a long flight.

The Reds notched a season-high in runs scored, hits (18) and extra base hits (8).

Willy Taveras tied a career best with a 5-for-5 game and four runs scored. He has hit safely in 12 straight games. Taveras is batting .408 (20-for-49) during the streak.

Jerry Hairston was 2-for-4 and improved to a seven-game hit streak. He’s batting .414 (12-for-29) over that stretch. The top 2 in the order are setting a good flow all the way through.

The Reds, winners of four of their last five games, have scored five runs or more runs in eight of 11 games in May. After having a Major League low .208 on April 18, the club has raised its average to .262, which is tied for fifth best in the National League.

“We have to stay after it,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “I knew these guys were going to hit because we work at it a lot. Our pitching carried us through that first month. Hopefully our hitting is here to stay and we can use both weapons – our pitching and our hitting. We have to tighten up our defense some, a lot actually. If we do that, we’ll really be rolling.”

Hairston:
“We knew that we have quality players here that could hit. Guys are starting to get their confidence. Having our pitchers continue to pitch well helps the hitters too. We just needed to score some runs – four, five and six runs and we have a chance to win a ballgame.”

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