July 2009

Another day, another lineup

Reds fans seem to complain a lot this season about Dusty Baker’s constantly changing lineup, which is something I really don’t understand. Obviously, running the same eight players out every day is preferred by most managers — when their team is 100 percent healthy.

Considering the Reds haven’t had their entire regular lineup healthy except for 10 games this year — mixing and matching has been pretty much a neccessity, especially when scoring runs hasn’t come easy.

By the way, today is Baker’s 60th different lineup in 77 games this season.

Taveras 8
Hairston 5
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Gomes 7
Hanigan 2
Dickerson 9
Janish 6
Harang 1

Several players got days off, notably Jay Bruce and Ramon Hernandez — although the manager had a different take on that.

“You can look at it as a couple of guys getting days on,” Baker said. “We’re trying to do the best we can down this stretch here trying to win every game.”

This marked Chris Dickerson’s first start in right field this season and it came against a left-handed starter in Doug Davis. At the beginning of the season, seeing Dickerson start vs. a lefty would have been more stunning. He’s batting .217 vs. lefties overall.

“Dickerson is hot and he’s been hitting lefties pretty good,” Baker said. “Janish has been playing a lot more than he has been. Gomes has been hot, especially against lefties (.417 vs. LHP). It gives me quite a few options off the bench. When you’re off, you’re not really off. You’re on call.”

Hernandez didn’t mind getting a break even though he came into today batting .421 (8-for-19) during a five-game hitting streak.

“It’s always good when you’re rested,” Hernandez said. “We have a really good catcher that can play and does his job very well. So definitely, when they give you a day like that, you know he’s going to do the best also.”

Hernandez hit a leadoff double in the fifth inning on Wednesday and didn’t slide into second base on a pretty close play. He runs slowly to begin with but he appeared to be really laboring on the bases.

“He hadn’t been catching much and all of sudden he’s bending down again,” Baker said. “He’s had a little nagging knee and wrist [injuries]. Ramon is going to give you all he’s got. It may not look like it but he is.”

There’s a reason Hernandez didn’t slide, and it didn’t involve any injury.

“I just tripped, it’s funny stuff,” Hernandez said. “I was cramping a little bit but that’s it.”

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Cueto an All-Star?

 The Reds could very well have just one or two All-Stars when rosters are announced on Sunday. Johnny Cueto made his final bid to be one of them with a gutsy six-inning performance in a 1-0 Reds victory.

Cueto was wild early because of a stiff back and had four walks through two innings. After being stretched out inside the clubhouse, he was unstoppable. He gave up just one infield hit to Felipe Lopez in the third and then retired his final 12 in a row. He struck out eight.

Arthur Rhodes hit some trouble but he, David Weathers and Francisco Cordero kept Arizona off the scoreboard for the staff’s seventh shutout of the season.

“Our bullpen came in and did the job but I felt like Johnny beat them singlehandedly today,” said Joey Votto, who was jammed but hit a bloop RBI single in the sixth for the win.

Is Cueto an All-Star? He is 8-4 with a 2.69 ERA in 16 starts. He doesn’t rank in strikeouts and is tied among a bunch of people for fourth in wins.

“Maybe, I don’t know. Yes,” Cueto said when asked about his chances. “I’m fighting to get into the All-Star game.”

“It’s something I haven’t thought about much,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “His ERA is certainly indicative of making the All-Star team. But there are a lot of good pitchers. If he doesn’t, he’ll have plenty of opportunities.”

Then there is Cordero, who has quietly notched 19 saves in 20 chances. He’s been right there with guys like Trevor Hoffman, Heath Bell and Francisco Rodriguez.

Which Reds will be in St. Louis for the All-Star game?

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Sutton up, Burton down

It was an unusual move. At 3:45 p.m. Wednesday, all 25 Reds players filed into manager Dusty Baker’s office for a very cozy team meeting. The contents of the 20-minute meeting were not revealed to those on the outside.

“Sometimes a crowded room brings togetherness,” Baker said. “We were just talking, that’s all.”

Baker isn’t usually a fan of meetings and said he’s only held a couple of them this year.

“You just feel it,” he said when asked why this was the time for one. “You can’t do too many because they lose effectiveness.”

How did the players respond?

“As long as they look and listened with their eyes and ears,” Baker said. “At least fool me that you’ve been paying attention. And sometimes you have to use your office more than just to chastise.”

The Reds called up infielder Drew Sutton from Triple-A Louisville on Wednesday. To make room for Sutton on the 25-man roster, reliever Jared Burton was optioned to Louisville.

Sutton, who was acquired in the March 31 trade that sent infielder Jeff Keppinger to the Astros, was batting .254 with five home runs and 19 RBIs in 38 games with Louisville.

“It was quite a quick turnaround,” said Sutton, in the Majors for the first time. “We played a day game at Gwinnett County at 2 p.m. and had a six-hour bus ride home. They told me when we got off the bus at 1 a.m. so I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night trying to let everybody know and get some people up here.”

The call-up comes one day after Sutton turned 26. 

Burton was 0-0 with a 4.81 ERA in 29 games this season for the Reds. Of his 18 inherited runners, 10 scored. However, he was much better since a one-day demotion to the Minors and quick return when Edinson Volquez went on the DL. After that, Burton had a 2.19 ERA in nine appearances.

After getting the news, a clearly unhappy Burton was in no mood to talk.

“I don’t want him to be happy,” Baker said. “I don’t expect him to be happy. If he’s mad at me or Dick or Walt, pitch like it. If he wasn’t mad, he doesn’t belong here. And he belongs here, big time.”

Reds lineup:

Dickerson 8
Hairston 6
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Nix 7
Hernandez 2
Bruce 9
Richar 5
Cueto 1

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