Soaking up Chavez Ravine

I couldn’t see downtown Los Angeles all that well because of the smog, but I knew I was in the right place the minute I bore down on an In-N-Out burger and fries. Yeah, it’s fast food but there’s something about it I just like. It’s not as strong as Zip’s in Cincinnati or any Five Guys location but it is very, very good.

There’s nothing in the big leagues like walking into Dodger Stadium. They have you drive and park at the high end of Elysian Way and when you walk in, you’re literally at the “Top of the Park.” In the distance well beyond the outfield are the San Gabriel Mountains and it’s a rather stunning sight.

topofpark 072009.JPGThis park opened in 1962 and it’s amazing how they did it right just before the era of multi-purpose stadiums took off.

Just as I was getting settled in, Joey Votto was about to take early batting practice and yelled up to me “Hey Mark, tell everyone on Twitter I said hello. I’m enjoying Mannywood.” I asked if he was sure and since he was, I did. See — more incentive to follow me on Twitter.

A little while later, I could hear the unmistaken voice of legendary Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully in the broadcast booth next door. A few years ago, I got to meet him when he popped into the visitor’s clubhouse. He offered his hand a huge smile when I introduced myself and probably like he’s done to millions before me, gave the feeling he was geniunely glad to meet me.

Reds lineup:

Taveras 8
Hairston Jr. 6
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Nix 7
Encarnacion 5
Dickerson 9
Hanigan 2
Owings 1

RHP Edinson Volquez completed his first bullpen session since going on the DL with elbow tendinitis. He threw 30 pitches with no issues.

“He threw about 68 percent velocity,” pitching coach Dick Pole joked. “He had no problems. In fact, I was kind of surprised he located the ball as well as he did for as long as it’s been.”

Up next is another bullpen session on Wednesday for 35 pitches. Then some more pitches on Friday. However, a return to the Reds rotation is still pretty far in the distance. He’ll have to go through a rehab assignment first, which won’t be a speedy thing.

“We’ll see where he is when he goes out,” Pole said. “It’ll probably be like a Spring Training thing, three innings and maybe five innings. As long as he’s been off, it will take more than one or two [outings.]”

New backup catcher Craig Tatum, fresh from Triple-A Louisville, was soaking up his first big league exposure and was loving every second of it, even the $60 taxi ride he took with Homer Bailey from the hotel to Chavez Ravine.

“It’s still just so surreal. I never expectred anything like this,” Tatum said on Monday. He was called up Sunday afternoon when Ramon Hernandez went on the DL. “They were making fun of me last night because I was waiting for my bag when I got off the bus. I didn’t know anything.

“I’ve never seen a stadium this big. It’s my first time in L.A. too. There’s a lot more traffic than Hattiesburg, Mississippi.”

As much as I like Dodger Stadium, you can’t blame the Reds for hating it. Who cares how nice a park looks when you’re coming in 0-9 over the previous three seasons? This is obviously a big week for the Reds — a strong showing vs. L.A. and the Cubs and they’re still in the race. Drop a 1-5 week while the Cardinals take off and it could mean the selling season begins.

Any predictions for the series, and the trip?

mannyand cueto 072009.JPG

Above — that’s Mannywood himself on the left talking with Johnny Cueto.

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Great view of the park, Mark (heh, I rhymed). Hope you have fun. I’ve always wanted to visit Dodger Stadium. Also, let’s go Reds!

I hate the dodgers and dodger stadium. They will always be my arch rival. Sorry looking game for Owings so far. Reds jumped out with 3 in the first and Owings promptly gave it back by giving up 4 in the bottom. I wonder if the Reds have put in thought into converting this guy into a full time position player? Otherwise he will always be only a #5 or spot starter in the bigs.

Honestly, right now I don’t believe Owings would be good as an everyday player. He has plenty of pop, but his stance and swing isn’t the best. He pulls out of the box sooo much with his left leg. At least he usually does. And besides, he’s hitting .238 this year (which will lower after tonight’s game), so for him he’s having a down year.

One thing I do notice is Juan Pierre sitting over there on the bench not being used by the dodger blue. He is a starter on just about every other team out there and would look mighty good in left field for the Reds. I think that a David Weathers/Arthur Rhodes or one of those and either Dickerson/Nix or Gomes. As much as I like Gomes he’ll never be an every day player for Cincinnati as long as Dusty is manager… same for Nix. I assumed as much on Owings but I was curious if he had any past history of being an every day player.

Guys — there is NO CHANCE Owings will be an everyday position player for the Reds (barring an arm injury). He’d eventually get exposed as a hitter if he did it all the time. For some reasons, not enough pitchers game plan for him and offer him fastballs.

Pierre for Weathers/Gomes sounds like a deal to me. As much as I like Gomes he’ll never be an every day player for the Reds as long as Baker is manager same thing for Nix.

He was a pitcher/position player in college but they play 3-4 games per week in college baseball….much easier schedule and longer recovery time.

@Mark: EXACTLY! And, as I mentioned before, his stance and swing isn’t made for an everyday player at all. You’d have to get him to stop pulling out all the time, and that’s not an easy thing to do. There aren’t many pitchers who can become everyday players, and the ones that do usually don’t end up too great anyway.

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