July 2009

Big day for Reds news

I guess not much went on during Trade Deadline day, huh?

To recap — here is a summary of all the trade and non-trade news of the day on Friday.

1. 3B Scott Rolen was acquired from Toronto with cash for 3B Edwin Encarnacion, RHPs Josh Roenicke and Zach Stewart.

2. IF/OF Jerry Hairston Jr. traded to the Yankees for Minor League catcher Chase Weems.

3. Edinson Volquez had to shut down his simulated start after his arm tightened up. This could be a disastrous development pending on what the results are.

4. Bronson Arroyo confirmed his admission of using androstendione and amphetamines.

5. The Reds called up RHP Kip Wells to fill in the roster blanks in the bullpen.

6. Catcher Ryan Hanigan returned after he missed six games with a sore neck.

The Rolen post before should have everything you need know. Here is my story on MLB.com.

As for the Hairston deal, here is what GM Walt Jocketty had this to say about Weems.

“We got very good reports him. He’s actually a guy we were interested in for the draft a couple of years ago and didn’t get.”

Volquez was supposed to be taking the final step before a possible rehab assignment when he began what was to be an 80-pitch simulated game. He didn’t make many throws from the mound before he walked off the field with head trainer Mark Mann. It turned out to be tightness in the arm inside the forearm/elbow area.

“My trainer told me it was a 50-50 chance it could happen,” Dusty Baker said. “So now it’s back to the drawing board again. That’s something I wasn’t expecting or hoping for.”

If his throwing program is shut down again, that could likely finish any chance Volquez has for returning this season. There is no word on whether his issue will be surgical.

Arroyo inserted himself into controversy when he tried to defend former Red Sox teammates David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, who were identified by the New York Times as two of 104 players on a list of players the tested positive for PEDs in 2003. In Friday’s Boston Herald, Arroyo admitted to taking androstenedione and amphetamines himself before both performance-enhancing drugs were banned by baseball.

On Friday, Cincinnati reporters were gathered around Arroyo’s locker to get the rest of the story.

“From 1998-2003, I took androstendione,” Arroyo said. “1998 was a big year for Mark McGuire. That was when he had the stuff sitting in his locker,” Arroyo said. “Everyone was aware of the fact that he took that stuff and said he was taking it. So everybody went out and tried it. I tried it in the Arizona Fall League. I thought I could hit my head on the rim [playing basketball]. [pitcher] Mike Lincoln and I would go to 24-hour Fitness every night, shoot hoops and work out until midnight-1 am. I felt unbelievable on this stuff. I took it through 2003 until they told me that stuff would give me a positive test. So I didn’t take it anymore.”

As for amphetamines, which were commonly known as greenies, Arroyo had no problem admitting usage until they were banned before the 2006 season.

“Oh yeah, of course I took a greenie for a 12:35 p.m. game,” Arroyo said. “Pitching against Johan Santana, you don’t think I’m going to take a greenie if I could? C’mon.”

Since random drug testing became mandatory in 2004, Arroyo has never flunked. He still uses a variety of legal substances to get a physical edge, including creatine, proteins, vitamins, ginseng and caffeinated drinks.

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Rolen acquired from Toronto

The trade is official — Scott Rolen and cash going from Toronto to the Reds in exchange for 3B Edwin Encarnacion, RHP Josh Roenicke and minor lg RHP Zach Stewart.

The Reds will also receive an undisclosed amount of cash from Toronto to off-set some of Rolen’s salary. He is making $11 million this season and is due to make $11 million in 2010.

The 34-year-old Rolen was batting .320 in 88 games with the Blue Jays with eight home runs and 43 RBIs. He is a five-time All-Star and seven-time Gold Glove winner.

With the Reds 11 games under .500 and 9 1/2 games out of first place entering Friday, it was still a stunning move even though it had been rumored for weeks.

“We made ourselves better,” GM Walt Jocketty said. “That’s how I look at it. We made ourselves better for this year and next year. That’s what I said all along we’re trying to do.”

Rolen, a native of Jasper, Indiana, had to waive his no-trade clause before the deal could be finalized.

“I wanted Rolen,”  Jocketty said. “I just think the type of player he is, the character he brings, will be great for our organization. He’ll be a big part of this franchise. For him, it’s an opportunity to basically come home. He’s thrilled.”

The Reds had to give up a lot to get Rolen. Roenicke was deemed a top prospect and the hardest thrower in the organization.

“It was kind of the stumbling block,” Jocketty said. “We finally gave in and decided to give up the pitching. It was difficult to give up the young pitching. With Scott coming over, there wasn’t a place for Edwin.”

“How can you not want a guy like that?” said Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo when told about the deal before it was official. “It would be hard for us to find a better third baseman in the game defensively. Obviously, pitching against him – he’s not a guy I want to see at the plate with men on second and third and two outs. That tells me this organization isn’t remotely close to quitting.”

“We’re really excited about getting Rolen,” manager Dusty Baker said. “I think it was a great move for Edwin too. Sometime a change of scenery might be good for you. I think it’s a great opportunity for Edwin. And we’re just as happy to get Scott Rolen. A gold glove third baseman, an RBI producer, we’re excited to see him play. It’s going to help our team, out outlook, our attitude. I hate giving up Roenicke. But you have to give up something to get something.”

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Hairston dealt

Utility infielder/outfielder Jerry Hairston Jr. has been traded to the Yankees shortly before Friday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline. Coming over is Minor League catcher Chase Weems, who will be assigned to Class A Dayton.

Hairston is batting .254 with eight home runs and 27 RBIs this season. He was batting .353 (6-for-17) over his last seven games. He can play second base, shortstop, third base and all three outfield positions.

 

Justin Lehr to start Friday

This wasn’t a stunner because he was scheduled to start for Triple-A Louisville on Friday, but now Justin Lehr will be taking that turn for the Reds vs. the Rockies instead. The club made his call-up official after Thursday’s 7-4 loss.

Lehr, who turns 32 on Aug. 3, is 13-3 with a 3.31 ERA this season in Triple-A and was named earlier this week as the International League’s pitcher of the week. He began 2009 in the Phillies organization but was traded in May and began his third stint with the Reds organization in less than two years.

Since returning to Louisville, Lehr was 8-1 with a 2.51 ERA in 11 starts and one relief appearance.

The right-hander’s previous big league stops were with the A’s and Brewers. He has 66 career appearances, but not starts logged in the Major Leagues.

Lehr is not on the Reds’ 40-man or 25-man rosters yet and corresponding moves will likely be announced before Friday’s game.

As for Thursday’s game — not sure there is really much to talk about. Gripe about it if you want or make some Lehr predictions — up to you.

Jocketty manning the phone

Dusty Baker knew who his starting pitcher was for Friday but still wasn’t ready to say. Not until he confirmed with GM Walt Jocketty (my money is still on Justin Lehr).

Problem is, Jocketty is quite busy right now.

“Walt’s manning that phone today, big time. I haven’t seen Walt yet,” Baker said.

It will be interesting to see if any trades go down today, tonight or Friday. The deadline is at 4 p.m. ET. Reliever David Weathers walked through the clubhouse with a smile wondering if reporters had any latest gossip — but there was none.

“I’m counting on you guys to keep me informed,” Weathers joked.

The Reds had a lineup scratch this morning. CF Willy Taveras was removed from the leadoff spot with a sore left wrist. SS Alex Gonzalez was to get a day off but was put back in the lineup and Jerry Hairston Jr. was moved from shortstop to center field.

Reds lineup:

Hairston 8
Gonzalez 6
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Gomes 9
Encarnacion 5
Nix 7
Tatum 2
Cueto 1

The new acqusition, OF Wladimir Balentien, arrived first thing this morning after a redeye flight from Seattle.

“I got here and talked to Dusty and I know a couple of other guys,” Balentien said. “I’m happy to get another chance. I’m happy an organization like Cincinnati gave me an opportunity.”

Unless it’s an emergency, I don’t see Balentien playing today or Friday. He will get at-bats against Edinson Volquez on Friday in a simulated game.

“He hasn’t hit in a week,” Dusty Baker said. “He’s been working out but had nowhere to hit.”

Catcher Ryan Hanigan was out for the sixth-straight start with a sore neck.

“Hanigan is a little better,” Baker said. “He was better a couple of days ago and he might have tried to come back too soon. Hopefully we’ll see tomorrow. Boy, we are injured.”

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Baker: 'This is embarrassing'

Usually an optimist, Reds manager Dusty Baker fired on his own team in a manner that hadn’t previously been heard from him around here. You couldn’t really blame him after a 7-1  loss to the Padres on Wednesday where they were held to all of one hit by starting pitcher Mat Latos, who was making just his third big league start. That’s eight losses over the last nine games.

“This is totally unacceptable,” Baker said. “This is embarrassing. It’s like pitiful to watch. This is terrible.”

The lone hit was a Jerry Hairston Jr. home run in the fourth, which came after Latos retired his first 10 in a row. There were only two other Reds on base the rest of the night — on walks. San Diego hadn’t won back-to-back games since June 27-28 vs. Texas. That was also the last time the Padres didn’t lose a series.

“They’re taking it to us. We’re not getting after it,” Baker said. “We certainly have to do a whole lot better than that. This is pitiful. They’re not a good club. And if they’re not a good club and they’re beating us like that, what does this make us?”

This is reality biting the Reds, hard.

They will wake up on Thursday, the day before the trade deadline, 10 games below .500. I would be stunned if at least one deal isn’t made before 4 p.m. ET on Friday…but who will be dealt away?

Aaron Harang has been periodically mentioned in rumors but here is another reality: he hasn’t won a game in over two months. In his last 12 starts, he is 0-8 with a 5.56 ERA. Overall he is 5-12 with a 4.50 ERA. That might be a tough sell to other GMs.

Harang was down 5-0 through just his first six batters on Wednesday. Adrian Gonzalez hit a changeup out over the plate for a two-run homer. Later in the first inning, Kyle Blanks absolutely blasted a three-run homer 451 feet to left field. After that, Harang had much better command. Overall, he allowed seven earned runs over seven-innings with nine hits, four walks and five strikeouts.

“We were operating from a 5-0 deficit right away,” Baker said. “Our offense isn’t such right now where we can come right back and score a lot of runs. After that, he settled down but the damage was done and it was too late.”

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It's a trade

Sorry I’m late with a post today. I had to come to the ballpark late. I guess the first Reds trade before the deadline wasn’t exactly Earth shattering.

I’d love to tell you I know lots of stuff about OF Wladimir Balentien, whom the Reds acquired in a trade Wednesday for Robert Manuel. But I can honestly say I never heard of him before I saw the transaction e-mail from the Reds.

“I got some calls from people in Seattle,” Dusty Baker told reporters before I arrived. “He’s real strong, has some tools. He’s a better corner [outfielder]. Strong arm. Average speed. He’s a bit rough.”

The rough Baker could have been referring to: Lifetime in the Majors, Balentien is a .209 hitter with 122 strikeouts in 401 at-bats.

Balentien will be here on Thursday or Friday. On Friday, he will step into the cage against Edinson Volquez during his scheduled simulated game. He appeared in 56 games this season for the Mariners and batted .213 with four home runs and 13 RBIs. Seattle designated him for assignment on Sunday.

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Not much offense

Craig Tatum, a veteran of five big league games was his starting catcher. The lineup was missing Chris Dickerson, Jay Bruce, Ramon Hernandez and Ryan Hanigan. Micah Owings was also on the DL and happens to be a key pinch-hitter.

Dusty Baker was a man without many moves to make during a 3-2 Reds loss to the Padres. His lineup struck out 12 times and collected only six hits. A Kevin Kouzmanoff sac fly in the seventh snapped a 2-2 tie and was the difference.

The Reds lineup did nothing the final three innings vs. the San Diego bullpen. It was nine up, nine down with seven strikeouts.

“I didn’t want to double-switch anybody,” Baker said of his late-inning limitations. “I couldn’t double switch Tatum because I didn’t have another catcher. I couldn’t take Gomes out, my hottest hitter or Nix. By then you get back to the top of the lineup and they’d come out right-handed like they did.”

Bronson Arroyo was charged with three earned runs allowed over 6 1/3 innings with nine hits, two walks and six strikeouts. It was another quality start without a winning outcome. He acknowledged his team was shorthanded but wasn’t letting his own team off the hook.

“It always hurts to have your usual guys out,” Arroyo said. “It’s really hard to put two or three new guys in the lineup on a steady basis and have everything click. That’s just the way it is. Obviously, their team is banged up just as much, if not more, than ours is. Really, we should be able to take three of four in this series regardless. It’s still going to take a good pitching performance. Any given day, a guy on their side can shut us down just as well as we can.”

The Reds haven’t won back-to-back games since July 1-2.

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Hanigan's neck, Harang on rumors

Catcher Ryan Hanigan was opening mail inside the Reds clubhouse and was able to turn his head about as far as needed to reach for the next letter. As far as putting the gear on and getting behind the plate, Hanigan’s sore neck wasn’t ready. He missed his fourth-straight start and Craig Tatum was in his place.

Hanigan, who is day-to-day, recently went for an adjustment at a chiropractor.

“My spine is a little out of whack and the inflammation left over from putting it into place is taking a while to go away,” Hanigan said. “It’s just impeding my range of motion. There’s nothing I can do until I can move my head. It’s definitely getting better but it’s slower than I hoped.”

Obviously, Hanigan was moved up the depth chart when Ramon Hernandez went on the DL. For those wondering who would be the emergency catcher should Tatum go down — it’s shortstop Paul Janish.

“It’s the same guy that’s my emergency pitcher,” manager Dusty Baker said.

Starting pitcher Aaron Harang has figured prominently in trade rumors as July 31 nears. Harang said he has a partial no-trade clause but was hazy on the details about which teams.

“I don’t know which teams I put,” Harang said. “I put them down a couple of years back.”

Harang, who is starting on Wednesday, has one guaranteed year left on his contract beyond this season. He’s making $11 million this year and $12.5 million in 2010 with a $12.75 million option for 2011.

“You can’t let it bother you, especially being a veteran guy, your name is going to come up more times than not,” Harang said of the rumors. “You just can’t let it affect how you go out and play every day. I’m going to show up at my locker each day. You really don’t know. I will know if they ever call me into the office and tell me. I’m not worried about it.”

Reds lineup:

Taveras 8
Gonzalez 6
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Encarnacion 5
Nix 7
Gomes 9
Tatum 2
Arroyo 1

RF Jay Bruce, on the DL with a fractured right wrist, had his full-length cast cut below the elbow on Monday. He will wear that cast on his non-throwing arm for another 10 days before he is evaluated again.

“I’m pretty much back to normal activity as far as physical stuff – throwing, running, lifting,” Bruce said on Tuesday. “I’m just getting ready so when I do get the cast off, the only thing I’d have to do is get my arm ready and not anything else.”

1B Joey Votto enters today batting .350 but remains 29 plate appearances shy of qualifying for the National League lead. The current NL leader in the Marlins’ Hanley Ramirez at .348.

IF Danny Richar had season-ending left shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum. Dr. Tim Kremchek performed the procedure today. Richar is expected to be ready by Spring Training 2010.

So much for that Pete Rose reinstatement stuff. The same columnist who “broke” the story yesterday that Rose’s exile might end followed up with a story that’s a total 180.

Reliever Daniel Herrera was parked in a chair on Tuesday that kind of small, even for him. It was a toddler-sized chair from the movie “Cars” and it had replaced his regular folding chair. It wasn’t even a prank — Herrera spotted the chair in a storage area at GABP on Monday.

“We’re 1-0 with the chair,” Herrera said. “I’m the only one that can fit in it.”

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A starter wins, Burton's asthma

Monday was exactly the stress-buster the Reds needed during a 6-4 win over the Padres. Homer Bailey set the tone with 7 1/3 innings and he was boosted by four homers — including two by Jonny Gomes. Brandon Phillips had a big three-run shot in the first.

It was just the third win by a Reds starter in 19 games since July 4. The other two were by Bronson Arroyo. Bailey extended himself well, especially near the end when he threw only eight pitches over his final four batters.

“This is a big game for us,” Gomes said. “Coming home, winning at home, getting a good outing from our starting pitcher, pretty much everything we needed and everything we’ve been lacking happened today, which means we can do it. That means there is an upside. We just have to build off of today.”

For the second time this month, Joey Votto was ejected from a game for arguing balls and strikes. In the bottom of the first with two strikes, Votto tried to check swing and was punched out by third base umpire Jerry Crawford on appeal. Votto was enraged and very animated as he barked at Crawford, who tossed him.

“He gestured, twice,” manager Dusty Baker said. “Jerry said he gave him a chance after the first one. It was a matter of frustration because he’s been called out on some questionable pitches lately.”

At a time the Reds have few healthy and productive hitters, Votto can’t be getting ejected like that. They need him too much. He was fortunate the Reds had other avenues of offense tonight.

Willy Taveras had a nice night in the field with two outfield assists. Taveras threw out Kyle Blanks at the plate with a one-hop throw in the second and Adrian Gonzalez on a throw to third base on a double play that ended the fourth.

“That’s the Willy I remember,” Baker said. “When I was with the Cubs, he threw us out three days in a row at the plate. I was kind of cussing Willy at that time. Now I’m loving him.”

Reliever Jared Burton got some positive news from some blood work done regarding his shortness of breath and shoulder injury. Burton was diagnosed with asthma. His shoulder is already feeling better, he said, after some rest.

“It was problem at the start of the season,” Burton said of the asthma after the game. “I thought it was a phase and continued to push it back and push it back. It finally caught up with me and I continued to wear my body down. Once it started bothering my shoulder, I came forward with it. luckily the blood work turned out OK.”

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