April 2010

Miles released, Balentien outrighted

A couple of Reds transactions —

Infielder Aaron Miles cleared waivers and has been released. Outfielder Wladimir Balentien cleared waivers and has been outrighted to Class AAA Louisville.

Both players were designated for assignment on Opening Day but were told they wouldn’t make the team on April 2.
 
Having Balentien clear and remain in the organization is a plus and I know it was hoping he wouldn’t get claimed. He had a good spring and seemed to make improvements with his hitting.

Reds lineup:

Dickerson 8
Janish 6
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Rolen 5
Bruce 9
Gomes 7
Hernandez 2
Bailey 1

Some notes:

*Will Homer Bailey be the first Reds starting pitcher to get a ‘W’ next to his name this season? With the bullpen a little spent, Dusty Baker was hoping for a lengthy outing. Baker wasn’t sure if Francisco Cordero would be available after he’s worked six out of seven days. Logan Ondrusek has had three days in a row. Micah Owings had two innings last night.

“I might have to go with Homer a little longer,” Baker said. “Or maybe he’ll be super sharp tonight. A complete game would be great.”

*Cordero also had to warm up three different times during Tuesday’s game.

*Nick Masset said he is ready again after a break on Tuesday.

*Chris Dickerson is starting in CF because Drew Stubbs has a sore back.

“It’s nothing major but I think he’s giving me a day or two to get cleared up,” Stubbs said. “It’s something I could definitely try to play through. [Baker] said, this early in the season, there was no point in pushing anything.”

*The Reds haven’t won their first three road games of a season since 1996.

*At 5-3, the club is two games over .500 for the first time since June 19, 2009, when it was 34-32

*For Jackie Robinson Day on Thursday, all Reds players/coaches will wear No. 42. In an added twist, they will do likewise on Friday at Pittsburgh because the Pirates have an off day Thursday.

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Postgame extra – bullpen help?

The Reds got another last at-bat win with a 10-8, 11-inning victory over the Marlins on Tuesday. But it put their bullpen into a bigger bind after it was used for five innings for the second-straight night with the high pitch-count prone Homer Bailey starting Wednesday.

There were no plans to add an extra arm before the game.

“We won’t,” general manager Walt Jocketty said. “We’ll see how it goes tomorrow.”

“Hopefully, Homer can deal tomorrow. We need innings,” manager Dusty Baker said.

Nick Masset should be back after getting a break from three-straight days of work.

Logan Ondrusek pitched in Masset’s spot in the eighth tonight and got beat up for three runs and four hits in the two-thirds of an inning. That pushed his ERA to 16.20 in five outings, including two rough ones.

If you’re wondering about candidates at Triple-A Louisville, cross off Jared Burton. He’s on the disabled list because of “thyroid testng,” according to the Bats game notes. Enerio Del Rosario and Carlos Fisher are the only two 40-man roster relievers in Louisville. Jon Adkins would have to be added.

“We’re not sure what it is,” Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said of Burton. “He didn’t have a lot of strength or something. He’s had a lot of tests. We don’t know the results yet.”

Other notes:

*Bronson Arroyo’s bruised left calf from his last start didn’t play a part in his lackluster outcome. Arroyo had five earned runs and six hits with one walk allowed and three strikeouts in six innings. A four-run Marlins fifth inning came after Cincinnati had a 6-1 lead.

“It’s not feeling that good but it wasn’t really a factor in the game,” Arroyo said. “I just didn’t have a lot of zip on my fastball. The wind was straight in my face. I had a lot of movement on a lot of my pitches. Early on, I got a lot of outs on changeups and breaking balls. As I wore down a little bit, I didn’t have anywhere else to go but some places that would be obvious to the hitters. It hurt me a little bit.”

*With a 4-for-6, two-RBI game, Brandon Phillips raised his average from .185 entering the night to .273.

*Joey Votto was 3-for-5, and delivered the game winning hit in the 11th on a 2-2 pitch after being down 0-2 in the count. When asked about it being a matter of time before the offense came to life (16 runs, 24 hits last two games), Votto had a rather wry response.

“Ninety-nine percent of the time, it’s a matter of time,” Votto said. “It’s unfortunate they put the battng average up there so early in the season.”

*Jay Bruce became the second Red to have a home run overturned by replay. His drive to right field in the second inning was ruled foul after a five-minute look at the video by umpires. Baker wasn’t surprised.

“There was no argument. From where we were, we all thought it was foul,” Baker said. “It would have been a gift if it were a home run. The ball was so high, it was a tough call for the umpire. It was over the foul pole. If they had given us a home run, I would have been the happiest man in the world. So would Jay Bruce.”

*The Marlins’ Jorge Cantu became the fourth player since 1920, according to Elias, to have at least one RBI in each of his team’s first eight games. The others are Tony Oliva (1970), Willie McCovey (1969) and George Kelly (1921).

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Lineup, Bruce apologizes

Reds Tuesday lineup vs. FLA.

Stubbs 8
Cabrera 6
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Rolen 5
Gomes 7
Bruce 9
Hanigan 2
Arroyo 1

Pre-game notes:

*Jay Bruce should have been happier about snapping a 0-for-17 skid on Monday but instead found himself apologizng. Bruce was caught on camera making an obscene gesture to teammates after his second-inning double. Deadspin.com published a still photo of the moment that was seen during the game telecast.

“It’s not a laughing matter, obviously,” Bruce said. “It’s one of the more stupid things I had ever done. It was an honest mistake. I wasn’t mad at anyone. It was a kidding around thing but nonetheless, it was a mistake. It shouldn’t happen. I have to be more professional than that. I want to apologize to the fans, my team, ownership, everyone who supports me. I forgot where I was for a second.”

*You can read more about Bruce on MLB.com/Reds.com.

*In the ninth inning on Monday, a Dan Uggla one-out grounder was hit to first base where Joey Votto looked to second base but did not make a toss to Nick Masset at the bag. That loaded the bases and it seemed like Votto got crossed up. Dusty Baker thought so too, at first.

“It looked like Joey wanted to throw it but Masset’s eyes were looking down at the base,” Baker said. “There was a good chance if Joey had thrown that ball, he would have thrown it by him and the winning run is on third base. It looked like Joey hesitated and didn’t know what to do but when the guy isn’t looking at you, you can’t throw the ball. At first I thought Joey messed up. I looked at the replay and Joey made the right play.”

*There is a giant picture in the clubhouse of the new Marlins ballpark being constructed for opening in 2012. During games, Marlins players are shown on the videoboard standing in front of a new ballpark image. When the Marlins do move to the new place, at the site of the old Orange Bowl, they will become the Miami Marlins.

*Other than Hanigan, the only other lineup change is Jonny Gomes batting ahead of Bruce.

*For those interested in making the drive to Louisville, Aroldis Chapman will pitch again on Friday against Columbus at Louisville Slugger Field. Gates will open at 6 p.m. ET and first pitch is scheduled for 7:05.

 

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Rolen-Masset, postgame extra

Scott Rolen got it done for the Reds in a big way Monday night. He was 3-for-5 with two homers but it was his soft liner to right field for an RBI single that scored Joey Votto in the top of the 10th that was his biggest hit.

“Joey made a good point in a postgame interview,” Rolen said. “He said that he felt my two home runs weren’t my two best at-bats of the game. That’s kind of exciting there at the end. I had a chance to try and move a guy over in the eighth and then got a chance to get a hit in the [10th.]“

Some other notes from Monday:

*Nick Masset got into trouble in the ninth and loaded the bases with two outs. But he made a huge 3-2, two-out pitch to Cody Ross. It resulted in a groundout. The pitch was a 97-mph sinker.

“The game was really tight,” Masset said. “My job was to go out there and put a zero on the board. I definitely made it interesting. We got out of it with a win. The team did a really good job.”

*That was Masset’s third-straight day of work.

“We were reluctant to use him tonight for the third day in a row. He was pressed into duty,” manager Dusty Baker said. “I’m sure he’s off tomorrow. He was good tonight. He got into trouble, got behind a couple of hitters and made some quality pitches. Those are some quality hitters over there.”

*Reds starter Johnny Cueto had an erratic evening as he pitched five innings and allowed four earned runs on nine hits with one walk and two strikeouts. A particularly rough 33-pitch bottom of the third spiked Cueto’s pitch count and he finished with 110.

*A Marlins rally in the third started with a one-out single past Orlando Cabrera and was followed with Hanley Ramirez’s walk. A Cueto wild pitch moved both runners and Jorge Cantu added a two-run double to center field and went to third on a Cueto balk. Dan Uggla followed with a RBI double to left-center field that gave Florida a 4-2 lead. Cueto left the game leading by a 5-4 score on Cabrera’s two-run homer in the top of the fifth.

“He lost his rhythm and was flying open,” Baker said. “He got it back together, long enough to go five innings. We were hoping he could go more. We just have to find a way for him to stay away from that high pitch count inning, especially this early in the season.”

*Jay Bruce snapped his 0-for-17 skid with a second-inning double and followed it with a fourth inning single.

*Rolen had a two-homer game for the 20th time in his career. The last time he did was 9/15/06.

*The Reds have three come-from-behind wins this season. They’ve also won four of their last five games after starting 0-2.

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Lineup at FLA, some stats

Greetings from the ballpark now known as Sun Life Stadium in South Florida. It was raining when I landed in Fort Lauderdale and it’s pretty menacing-looking outside right now. But I doubt a passing shower or two will stop the game.

Reds lineup vs. FLA

Stubbs 8
Cabrera 6
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Rolen 5
Bruce 9
Nix 7
Hernandez 2
Cueto 1

Some notes:

*The Reds are batting .230 as a team, which is ranked 12th in the NL.

*The Reds rotation has a 3.11 ERA, which is ranked third in the NL.

*Drew Stubbs has eight strikeouts in 20 at-bats with two walks. Joey Votto, also has eight strikeouts in 23 at-bats, with two walks. Votto is batting .316 while Stubbs is at .250.

*Jay Bruce is hitless in his last 17 ABs and is batting .053. 

*Jonny Gomes has six strikeouts in 14 ABs.

When asked about the team’s offensive issues, Dusty Baker wasn’t worried.

“Worry doesn’t do any good,” Baker said Monday afternoon. “That’s what you all don’t understand. You just have to work through it. There are guys struggling all over for whatever reason that you don’t know. We gave our guys plenty of at-bats, we thought, [in spring] to try and alleviate this. Sometimes, there’s no explanation. Some guys aren’t seeing the ball well. Some guys are hitting the ball well and not getting hits. Some guys that were hitting in spring are still hitting. Some guys that weren’t hitting in spring are still not hitting.”

*I saw Stubbs watching his swing on video this afternoon before many guys were in the clubhouse. It’s not an uncommon thing for players to do that — in fact most do.

“The last couple of days, I haven’t felt great at the plate,” said Stubbs. “[Sunday], in particular, I saw that my head was moving a little bit when I was swinging and causing me to swing through some balls. You see that and want to get back to the basics and fundamentals of your swing and re-start.”

*The Reds’ mohhawk club has doubled its membership. Jonny Gomes came to Spring Training with one. For the first time today, I noticed Micah Owings sporting a pseudo-mohawk on his dome.

*The Reds are 80-61 vs. the Marlins, all-time, entering tonight. They were 3-3 last season and 9-5 over the last two seasons.

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Reds-Cubs postgame extra

Pretty nutty game for the Reds in a 5-4 win over the Cubs.

*Carlos Silva, who was 5-18 with a 6.81 ERA in his last two seasons, had the Reds completely shut down for six innings.

*Homer Bailey was laboring with a high pitch count (64 thru 3, 106 thru 5)

*Unsung hero of the night was Micah Owings, who pitched three scoreless innings of relief.

*Obvious hero of the night was Drew Stubbs, who hit the grand slam in the bottom of the eighth.

*A nailbiter in the ninth when Francisco Cordero gave up a Derrek Lee homer, followed by a single and two errors that loaded the bases. Cordero escaped and got his first save.

Some postgame quotes:

Dusty Baker —

on Bailey?

“The key is Homer kept us in the game. He struggled, big time. He threw a lot of pitches but kept it 3-1.”

on Owings?

“That’s perfect. He gave us innings. He gave us some zeroes. He gave us a chance to come back. We were down 3-1 but it seemed like we were down a lot more because every time I looked up, they had the top of the lineup or middle of the lineup up again. You start counting during the game. We hadn’t batted around once yet, and they batted around twice. They were almost two innings ahead of us. Anytime you have to face their big hitters four or almost five times a game that early in the game, somebody is going to get you.”

Homer Bailey –

“I absolutely didn’t have good stuff today. No matter what was going on, there were times I felt like I couldn’t buy an out. I just tried to keep pushing forward and limit the damage the best I could. My pitch count skyrocketed by my own doing.”

Francisco Cordero on Phillips’ marvelous barehanded play in the ninth on Tyler Colvin’s grounder. It was close call at first base.

“We should give the save to Brandon Phillips on that play right there. He had a great play.”

“I think he was out. Obviously, I was pitching and wanted him to be called out. I wouldn’t have been mad if he was called safe. It was a tight play. we got the call, we got the W and I got the save.”

Micah Owings —

“When I got the ball, I did the best I could each pitch. That will be my approach from here on out.”

****

The Reds have a 2-2 record but have only led for three innings, total, if my math is correct. They had the 1-0 lead after Arroyo’s bottom of the fifth two-out single vs. STL on Thursday until the 7th on Holliday’s leadoff homer. They didn’t take the lead tonight until Stubbs’ slam in the eighth.

I’m off for the next two games. Catch you on Monday from South Florida.

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Friday – Reds vs Cubs

Reds lineup:

Stubbs 8
Cabrera 6
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Rolen 5
Bruce 9
Gomes 7
Hernandez 2
Bailey 1

*Bronson Arroyo, who was drilled in the leg by a Colby Rasmus line drive on Thursday, was doing much better Friday.

“Drugs are good. I walked out of here yesterday and could barely walk,” Arroyo said. “And about four hours later, the anti-inflammatories hit hard. I was feeling pretty good. It’s 80 percent already. I feel pretty good. It’s 80 percent already. I couldn’t believe it. I thought I was going to be hobbling in here today.”

Arroyo has never missed a start because of injury and didn’t think his next start on Tuesday would be affected.

“Oh I’m fine. I could pitch today if I had to,” he said.

*Someone tried to be funny by leaving Arroyo a “commemorative” ball for his 1,000th career strikeout, which came vs. Albert Pujols. Arroyo’s named was spelled with one ‘R’ and Pujols’ name was spelled “Alberto Poojols.”

*It likely happened a few times last season but someone pointed out that the Reds will have three first-round Draft picks in tonight’s lineup — Drew Stubbs (2006), Jay Bruce (2005) and Homer Bailey (2004). When Mike Leake (2009) is added to the team Sunday, there will be four of the Reds’ first-rounders on the 25-man roster.

*For those looking to see Aroldis Chapman’s Triple-A Louisville on Sunday at Toledo, the game will be streamed live on MLB.com/Reds.com/MiLB.com. First-pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET.

*Saw on MLBTraderumors that former Red Ryan Freel signed with the Somerset Patriots of the independent Atlantic League. After Freel bounced through four big league organizations last season, this does not surprise me at all.

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Rainy Thursday

There are showers around GABP but all signs point to a game being played here today.

Reds lineup vs. STL

Stubbs 8
Cabrera 6
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Rolen 5
Bruce 9
Gomes 7
Hanigan 2
Arroyo 1

Just from reading the story comments, tweets and blogs out there the last couple of days, it’s amazing to me how super-negative fans have gotten after only two games. I probably am not surprised but it’s still stunning how quick it happened.

Some people don’t like the move using Ondrusek in the seventh last night. This was a guy that had 10 scoreless innings in spring and perfect debut on Monday. Me? I was fine with the decision. Him throwing a four-pitch walk to Brendan Ryan certainly wasn’t in the plans. He got Pujols to break his bat on a cutter. Pujols is that good that he could still muscle it for a big hit.

The Reds are 0-2, so what? The season isn’t over. There are 159 games left after Thursday. In football last season, the Titans started something like 0-6 and still almost made the playoffs. The Broncos started 6-0 and didn’t make the playoffs. And that’s in a 16-game  NFL season.

Baseball is 162 games, folks. I will reserve judgement on how the season will turn out for quite a while. Am I wrong to wait it out in this age of instant gratifacation, judgment and feedback?

Some quick notes:

Hanigan is catching, partially because it’s a day game after a night game and partially because Arroyo is pitching.

“Ramon hadn’t caught two nine-inning games in a row at Spring Training,” Dusty Baker said. “He’s looking pretty good. We’ve got to keep him healthy. Arroyo and Hanigan work well together, [it's] a day game after night. It’s perfect.”

*Baker said he had a meeting with Ondrusek this morning about the importance of the seventh inning role.

*If you haven’t noticed, MLB.com has brought back the notebook format with what we’re calling The Reds Beat. You’ll find it daily on game days. Hope you like it. It might impact the notes in this blog. Let me know what you think.

*Here are the Cubs probable pitchers for the next series:

Carlos Silva vs Bailey (Fri), Carlos Zambrano vs. Harang (Sat) and Tom Gorzellany vs. Leake (Sun). The Reds are still listing Sunday as TBA on the game notes. Leake arrived in the clubhouse on Wednesday night but is technically not allowed to be with the team until he’s added to the roster. That will happen before Sunday’s game.

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Game 2, Reds vs. Cardinals

Here is the Reds lineup for Wednesday night.

Stubbs 8
Cabrera 6
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Rolen 5
Bruce 9
Gomes 7
Hernandez 2
Cueto 1

Some notes:

There was some questions raised by Chris Carpenter after Monday’s opener about the slickness of the baseballs he pitched with. Like John Smoltz did last season with St. Louis, Carpenter did not like the way the mud was applied to the balls.

“I don’t know if they do it on purpose, intentionally or unintentionally,” Carpenter said. “It’s no big deal. I understand [Reds starter] Aaron Harang is throwing the same baseballs. If they’re not doing it intentionally, they need to take a look at it. If they are doing it intentionally, it’s unprofessional.”

When asked on Wednesday, Harang said this:

“I think more what it is – sometimes they have a little chalky feel to them,” Harang said. “The chalk will build up and sit on the ball if they’ve been sitting there for a little bit. You just wipe it off.”

“They’re the only ones [that complain]. It’s not like that for anybody else. Maybe it’s a bad batch.”

Balls are mudded up for both teams by the same person — the attendant in the umpire’s locker room. They are inspected before the game by the umpires.

*Johnny Cueto complained about a stiff back after his last spring start. It appears not be an issue anymore heading into Wednesday’s regular season debut.

“If the trainer doesn’t say anything and Johnny said nothing, it must be nothing,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said.

*The Reds are holding a game 2 “Opening Night” and have the TV broadcast team and grounds crew wearing tuxedos. There is also live music between innings, a meet and greet with players in the Fan Zone before the game and full team introductions and a F-16 flyover during pregame ceremonies. Hall of Famer Joe Morgan is throwing a ceremonial first pitch. Postgame, a fireworks shows was planned.

*The expected attendance was 28,000 before the game. From the Reds, here is a list of the past second games of the season. Usually there is a big drop off from the Opening Day sellout, which is a bummer. Game 2 counts the same as Game 1.

1997- 20,210 vs. Rockies
1998- 13,706 vs. Padres
1999- 17,310 vs. Giants
2000- 16,761 vs. Brewers
2001- 20,784 vs. Braves
2002- 19,745 vs. Cubs
2003- 26,096 vs. Pirates
2004- 26.204 vs. Cubs
2005- 22,301 vs. Mets
2006- 27,287 vs. Cubs
2007- 25,965 vs. Cubs
2008- 14,016 vs. Dbacks
2009- 13,568 vs. Mets

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Alonso to Carolina, play LF

The Reds have assigned their 2008 first-round Draft pick Yonder Alonso to Double-A Carolina, where he will primarily play left field, according to minor league director Terry Reynolds. Alonso will still get some time at first base.

Alonso was 2-for-16 (.125) in nine spring games and played either first base or DH. The Reds began exposing Alonso to left field in workouts and Reynolds told me on my last day in Goodyear that he was playing well there after he got sent out.

I will try to get more later…

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