June 2009

Lincoln DL'd, Roenicke recalled

RHP Mike Lincoln went on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday, a move that was retroactive to Saturday, because a bulging disc in his neck. Reliever Josh Roenicke was recalled from Triple-A Louisville.

In 19 games this season, Lincoln is 1-1 with an 8.29 ERA over 23 innings. He has struggled much of the season and unbeknownst to everyone, was pitching with the injury for a while.

“He didn’t want to say anything because he felt like he was letting the team down already,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “Actually, I told him ‘hey man, it’s making it worse. Let’s not play with disc problems, back problems and anything with the spine.’ He said he was going to try and fight through it.”

Lincoln was told to rest for five days while he undergoes rehab and takes medication. Last season after returning from a four-year layoff because of an elbow injury, he worked a career high 64 games and was solid from the bullpen.

“With all the years he spent on the DL, the last thing he wanted to do was go back on the DL,” Baker said. “I understand that but I told him it’s not quite hero time. It’s admirable when your guys want to play, pitch and contribute.”

In 23 games for Louisville, Roenicke was 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA and 11 saves. Over his 24 innings, he gave up 26 hits and three walks with 26 strikeouts. He hadn’t allowed a run over his last 11 appearances. The right-hander has converted his last 10 save chances in a row.

“The big concern is he hasn’t really gone back-to-back days or multiple innings,” Baker said. We’ll just have to break him in.”

Roenicke appeared in five games last season for the Reds as a September call-up.

Rain stinks, winning doesn't

In nine seasons of covering baseball, I’ve seen rain delays, rainouts, snow outs and delays from because of power failure and even for $1 hot dogs being pelted onto the Metrodome field at former Twin Chuck Knoblauch, but I’ve never seen anything like what went down on Tuesday night.

Heavy showers moved through and delayed the Reds and Braves in the top of the third inning for one hour, 54 minutes. Although it was still raining, but much lighter, umpire crew chief Joe West made the call to pull the tarp and play. First we were told it would be 20 minutes to resume, then 10 p.m. ET and then it was 9:50 p.m. Play actually restarted at 9:49 p.m. ET. The outfield warning track may have resembled the Ohio River, but it was game on anyway.

Pitchers were warmed up. Daniel Herrera took over for starter Aaron Harang and got three outs just as showers intensified. Play lasted all of six minutes before the tarp was back out and another delay was called. As soon as the tarp was spread out, the rain pretty much stopped.

Regardless of the outcome for the Reds, the stars of the game are head groundskeeper Doug Gallant and his crew. They had performed under less than savory conditions. Hopefully there was enough quickdry to get them through the game and some “cold ones” for after the game.

By the way, that was the 10th rain delay for the Reds this season — seven of them have been at GABP. This time they came out of the other side with a sorely needed victory — 7-2 over Atlanta. It snapped a four-game losing streak and was some nice tonic after the 2-4 debacle of a road trip.

Unfortunately, it was all for naught for Harang. He started threw two innings and had to pack it in because of the rain. In the first inning, he was dealing — 13 pitches, 13 strikes. He fanned Brian McCann with a 94 mph fastball to end the first.

“I felt good from the get-go,” Harang said. “I worked on some things in the bullpen between starts. Everything was clicking.”

“That’s the best Aaron has thrown this year,” manager Dusty Baker said. “With velocity, location everything, he was on his way to an excellent ballgame. I hope he remembers that and keeps that tempo and that rhythm and takes it out there next time. Boy that was a very good ballgame that turned for our sake.

Herrera pitched three scoreless innings and earned the win — and a shaving cream pie in the face from Harang.

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Updates on JV, EV and EE

It appears that 1B Joey Votto is closer to returning. How close? Not sure. Votto is here at Great American Ball Park today and was taking batting practice and throwing on the field.

“He’s been hitting. He’s looking pretty good, a lot better,” manager Dusty Baker said. “It’s good to see him around.”

Votto, who has been on the 15-day day DL since May 30 with stress issues, still isn’t speaking to the media about his situation.

Before he returns to the Reds, Votto will go on a Minor League rehab assignment.

“Sometime, relatively soon,” Baker said.

RHP Edinson Volquez has increased his distances for long tossing to 95 feet. On Wednesday, he will throw 110 feet and before he gets on a mound again, will eventually get to 125 feet.

“No pain,” Volquez said. “I was worried about it. Not anymore.”

Volquez, who is on the DL with elbow tendinits, has been doing his rehab daily at Dr. Tim Kremchek’s facility and at GABP. It doesn’t sound like his return is imminent.

“We have to rebuild him back up,” Baker said. “That’s not an around the corner thing. It’s around a couple of corners.”

3B Edwin Encarnacion took 25 swings in early BP with coaches and reported no pain. After his last setback (left wrist), the club wants to make sure he has no lingering soreness before sending him out on a rehab assignment. 

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Draft picks signed so far

Just got home from KC a little while ago and saw an e-mail from the Reds. The following list are players signed by the club since the recently completed 2009 First-Year Player Draft. Shown are the name, position, round they were picked and where they are going to play.

Hamilton, Billy SS Rd 2 GCL 

Joseph, Donnie LHP Rd 3 Billings
Serrano, Mark RHP Rd 6 Dayton 
Walczak, James RHP Rd15 Billings 
Braun, Jason RHP Rd 29 Billings 
Carlson, Shane SS Rd 32 Billings 
Cannon, Forest RHP Rd 34 Billings 
Burleson, Chris SS Rd 36 GCL 
Wiley, Jake RHP Rd 41 GCL     

 

Back to an even .500

Considering that the Reds started 2-0 on this road trip through Washington and Kansas City, losing four straight for the 2-4 outcome is a disaster.

During Sunday’s 7-1 loss, the Reds had just five hits. They had just 13 hits for the series and 34 for the entire road trip. Washington has the worst record in the Majors and Kansas City was a last-place team in the AL Central until the Reds came to town.

Welcome back to even .500, everyone. The Reds are 31-31 and it’s the first time since April 28 they haven’t been had an above-.500 record.

“We didn’t hit but we did hit the ball,” manager Dusty Baker said. “The last four or five days, we hit line drives at everybody. It’s going to turn and things are going to fall. There are some guys that are starting to swing the bat well. We have a lot of pride in that room out there. The guys don’t like losing and they know how I hate losing. We’ll turn it around, hopefully have a great off day [Monday] and then come out smoking against the Braves.”

The Reds need some offensive help. There really isn’t a ton they can do with what they have in Louisville. They don’t know how much longer Joey Votto will be away.

And when they’re not hitting, defense can’t let them down like it did on Sunday. All five runs scored on Johnny Cueto were unearned because of two Jerry Hairston Jr. errors. Jay Bruce made a nice effort to have a chance to catch Alberto Callaspo’s drive to right field. But the ball popped out of Bruce’s glove as he hit the fence.

When things are going well, those are kind of plays that fall your way.

Monday is a good time for an off day. I’m sure you have suggestions for what the Reds should do to correct course — go ahead and make them.

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Baker and Phillips

We’ll never know exactly what Dusty Baker told Brandon Phillips about not taking on a 3-0 count when ordered. But we know it’s been handled.

“It’s the first time it’s happened to me since I’ve been managing and it’s the last time it’s going to happen,” Baker said on Sunday morning. “Simple. End of subject.”

Baker wouldn’t say but it’s likely Phillips was fined for the incident. He liked the desire, just not the execution.

“You wish everybody thought like that,” Baker said. “The thought process wasn’t wrong. You want everybody to think like that. I thought like that. If you’ve ever been in the military, you still have to follow orders. That’s what it boils down to. You don’t want to take that thought and desire away.”

Reds lineup:

Dickerson 8
Gonzalez 6
Phillips 4
Nix 7
Gomes DH
Bruce 9
Hernandez 3
Hanigan 2
Hairston 5
Cueto 1

Willy Taveras and his 0-for-32 skid were given the day off.

“I’m just going to work with him today, personally. When they’re on the field, I’ll be with him going over a few things,” Baker said. “It’s just a little different voice, probably saying the same thing.

“When we got Willy, everybody knew we got an unrefined product. Willy has a lot there. Just let us do our job to help refine him and make him better. If he wasn’t unrefined, then he wouldn’t have been in a lot of places in a short period of time.”

Swinging on 3-0?

Rarely does Dusty Baker call out a player for a mistake but he was livid after Saturday’s 7-4 loss to the Royals. In the fifth inning after wild Royals pitcher Kyle Davies had already walked two, Brandon Phillips swung on a 3-0 pitch and ended the inning and rally with a routine fly out to right field.

“Brandon was supposed to be taking on that 3-0,” Baker said. “That could have been the ballgame because we had him on the ropes at that time. He said he didn’t see the take but in that situation, you have to know you’re taking even if you don’t see the take. That’s a big play in the ballgame. “I know [third base coach] Mark [Berry] gave it to him. I saw him give it to him.”

Here is Phillips’ retort. Although he apologized, he wasn’t really too contrite.

“Honestly, in that situation, why wouldn’t I swing on 3-0?” Phillips said. “We only had two hits at the time. Our offense stinks right now. I respect my teammates and they know it too. They see what’s going on. We really haven’t faced anyone overmatching us. I can understand if we’re facing No. 1 pitchers but we’re not. Our team is too good to get out by the pitchers we’re facing. We should be undefeated on this road trip.

“We’re struggling. We’re not getting anybody on base. We haven’t been hitting with people in scoring position. I had an opportunity. I swung on 3-0. To tell you the truth, I didn’t even look down there. I was trying to make something happen.”

“If I would have come through, it would have been the best play we’ve had all year,” Phillips said. “It would have been a tie game. I tried to make something happen because we don’t have anything going on right now. For future reference, I will not do it again. I apologized to everybody and said ‘my bad for the 3-0 swing.'”

Who was right in your opinion — Baker or Phillips?

My opinion: I get where Phillips was trying to make something happen but that wasn’t the right time to do that. Not when Davies was giving away bases with walks. I will be curious to see if Phillips is in the lineup Sunday, especially after admitting he didn’t look at Berry in the coach’s box.

Saturday in KC

I”ve been amazed by the large numbers of Reds fans I’ve seen in Kansas City the last couple of days. I’ve seen them here at the ballpark, at a local watering hole, walking around the Plaza district, at lunch today and at the Negro League Museum. If you’re ever in K.C., I highly recommend you checking out the museum — it’s fantastic. You’ll learn a lot about some great players and the $8 admission is reasonable.

Dusty Baker took several Reds players to the Negro League Museum today, including Jay Bruce, Ryan Hanigan, Chris Dickerson, Willy Taveras, Paul Janish and Carlos Fisher.

“It was good. The guys learned a lot like going to a library,” Baker said. “It’s the second time I’ve been there. Everywhere you go, you see something different. It’s something special. The guys liked it.”

It’s been four years since I had last been to K.C. so I couldn’t wait today to pay a lunch visit at my favorite local BBQ place — Fiorella’s Jackstack. Dare I say, Jackstack’s BBQ sauce is as good as Montgomery Inn’s (gasp!) and I will be bringing some home with me. Like M.I., Jackstack’s original sauce has a sweet flavor.

Reds lineup:

Taveras 8
Gonzalez 6
Phillips 4
Nix 7
Gomes DH
Bruce 9
Hernandez 3
Rosales 5
Hanigan 2
Arroyo 1

The people are the same — the order is slightly different than last night’s debacle. Gomes moved up from 7th to 5th and Rosales and Hanigan flip-flopped. Obviously, the person leadoff spot is the one that likely has you (choose one of the following:) unhappy, perplexed or irate. Put me down as perplexed.   

Here is the breakdown of offensive woe lately:

Jay Bruce……. 5-for-47
Chris Dickerson.. .296 in last 25g
Jonny Gomes…….. .462 in last 5g
Alex Gonzalez……….. .304 in last 6g
Jerry Hairston Jr….. 3-game hit streak
Ryan Hanigan…………… .286 in last 6g
Ramon Hernandez… 0-for-18, 2-for-29
Paul Janish………….. 3-for-19
Laynce Nix……………..3-for-22
Brandon Phillips…….. .318 since April
Adam Rosales………….  3-for-32
Willy Taveras……. 0-for-28, 1-for-33

Team…………… .175 in last 8g (49-280)

More on Taveras:

Baker was asked about Taveras, who besides not hitting well — isn’t running well. He’s been battling with a sore right hamstring, and was unable to beat out a bunt during the first inning on Friday.

“Speed men if they hurt something, you will be a little apprehensive,” Baker said. “He’s running better. He’s running smoother and getting out of the blocks a lot quicker.”

Taveras came into Saturday batting just .234 with a .288 on-base percentage. Baker doesn’t believe Taveras’ hamstring has an effect on his poor hitting.

“No, he wasn’t hitting before that,” Baker said. “We have to find a way to get him on base. He makes us go. Not to put it all on Willy, when our offense is clicking, Willy is getting on base a lot. He needs to get on base pretty soon or he’s about to go crazy. He holds a lot inside. He wants to do so well.”

As for why Hanigan was moved to ninth behind Adam Rosales, Baker wanted to take advantage of Hanigan’s ability to hit and run and go the opposite way and Rosales moves a little better ahead of Hanigan.

There is an off day on Monday but the Reds will stay on rotation and not skip anybody. Part of the reason is Bronson Arroyo hasn’t fared well the past couple of years vs. the Braves, who are in Cincinnati next week. Arroyo had one of his worst outings vs. Atlanta on April 25 — 9 ER, 9 H, over 5 2/3 innings.

I took a walk around the lower concourse of the remodel Kauffman Stadium before going back to the press box from the clubhouse. Out beyond the fountains in the outfield was the usual kids fare, like a mini baseball field, batting and pitching cages and a playground. One thing found that I’ve never seen before at a big league ballpark — a miniature golf course. 

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KC, the DH and Volquez news

Greetings from Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City — one of the few ballparks from the 1960s and 70s that was built right (actually opened in 1973). During my American League days, this was one of my preferred places to visit. The sightlines are great, the field always looks good and of course, there are the fountains. When the weather is pleasant, it’s a nice way to watch baseball.

“It was big but it was pretty,” said Reds manager Dusty Baker, who last visited here in 1986.

The Reds last played here in 1999, and a power outage during the series opener forced a doubleheader.

 

kauffman stadium.jpgThe ‘K’ as it’s known, underwent a major $220 million renovation that was finished before this season. Although the grassy knolls in the outfield are gone — it looks fantastic. The video scoreboard is massive and they have the LED scoreboard in the fences also. The only complaint is they moved the press box a few floors up but it’s really nice.

“This field is way ahead of its time,” said Jonny Gomes, who played here often as a member of the Rays. “They just did that stuff in the outfield and guys think this park is brand new. A lot of guys that come here for the first time don’t realize it’s old.”

Gomes is the Reds’ first designated hitter of the season in Friday’s game and Baker said he would DH again Saturday.

“There’s nothing better than having a good day at the yard DHing,” said Gomes. “You work about three minutes and 30 seconds in the whole thing. On the flip side, you go crazy. There’s nothing worse than a bad day at the yard DHing when you’re just sitting on all your at-bats. It goes both ways and evens itself out.”

Gomes had 229 games logged as a DH over his previous six seasons. He batted .219 (174-for-794) as a DH but hit 33 of his 66 career home runs and drove in 108 runs in that spot.

Reds lineup:

Taveras 8
Gonzalez 6
Phillips 4
Nix 7
Hernandez 3
Bruce 9
Gomes DH
Hanigan 2
Rosales 5
Maloney 1

Willy Taveras, in a career high 0-for-24 slump, was back in the leadoff spot again. Baker said it was because Taveras had experience playing the Royals in past years during Interleague play. However, Taveras was 0-for-4 in his previous meeting against KC starter Luke Hochevar.

Injury updates:

RHP Edinson Volquez (elbow tendintis) threw for the first time on Thursday back in Cincinnati since he went back on the DL on June 1. Volquez long tossed, throwing 25 balls at a distance of 60 feet. Volquez, who saw medical director Dr. Tim Kremchek on Wednesday, was scheduled to throw again on Friday.

“He’ll probably take a couple of days and when we get back, we’ll see where we are as far as getting him on a mound,” pitching coach Dick Pole said. “We’ll see how he feels when we get back. He said he’s had no problem with his elbow, his forearm – nothing. He felt fine.”

3B Edwin Encarnacion (left wrist chip fracture) was slated to take batting practice on Friday. It was to be his first hitting since having a setback with soreness last weekend.

Hello, Bad Boy:

As expected, there was a Steve Stewart sighting here. Stewart, the Reds’ former radio voice, now does Royals games. Stewart is going to join Marty Brennaman in the booth for the second inning tonight. No doubt, Marty will light up his old partner a few times for

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Progress of Reds No. 1 picks

While I was dutifully following the MLB Draft Tracker today for later round Reds picks, Jamie Ramsey of the Reds sent an email detailing the progress of the past five Reds first-round picks (not counting 2009 selection RHP Mike Leake)

2008: 1B Yonder Alonso, 22, (AA-Carolina) overall this season is batting .285 with 7 HR and 41 RBI in 56 games with AA-Carolina and A-Sarasota…this is his first full pro season.

2007: C Devin Mesoraco, 20, (A-Sarasota) batting .211 with 4 HR and 18 RBI in 46 games this season with A-Sarasota.

2006: OF Drew Stubbs, 24, (AAA-Louisville) batting .291 with 2 HR, 19 RBI, 21 R and 19 SB this season with Louisville.

2005: OF Jay Bruce, 23, is the Reds starting right fielder.

2004: RHP Homer Bailey, 23, (AAA-Louisville) twice this season was named International League Pitcher of the Week…has made 18 Major League starts.

Are you happy with the Reds recent string of Reds first-round picks? Taking Jamie’s work a step further, here are some of the other previous Reds first-rounders that were flops:

2003: RHP Ryan Wagner (retired a few weeks ago)

2002: RHP Chris Gruler (injured and out of baseball without reaching MLB)

2001: LHP Jeremy Sowers (did not sign, re-drafted by Indians in 2004)

2000: SS David Espinosa (never reached MLB, in independent ball in 2008)

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