June 2010

Splendid day in Seattle

 


seattle 061810.jpgFri lineup vs. SEA

Cabrera 6
Phillips 4
Votto 3
Rolen 5
Gomes 7
Heisey 8
Bruce 9
Hernandez 2
Cairo DH

Cueto RHP

*Seattle is starting LHP Cliff Lee. Miguel Cairo is 5-for-9 (.556) lifetime vs. Lee. Scott Rolen is 7-for-13 (.538) with one homer. Brandon Phillips is 4-for-11 (.364) in his career vs. Lee.  

I am enjoying being in one of my favorite cities and at my absolute favorite ballpark in baseball. It should be a near-full house tonight because they have a dual-bobblehead giveaway of Ken Griffey Jr. and Ichiro.

The weather is fantastic here…probably the mid-60s and sunny. I’m guessing the roof will be open. In the photo below is a view of downtown from my hotel room. Off the distance is the Space Needle. Much further away are some mountains — I’m digging the snow at the tops.

  

seattle2 061810.jpgFollow me on Twitter at

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Trying to avoid sweep

Thurs lineup vs. LAD

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

*It was a relatively quiet morning in the clubhouse. I asked Jay Bruce a little about the meeting Dusty Baker held yesterday with the hitters. The Reds have been outscored, 25-5, in their last three games. Until a run scored in the sixth inning yesterday, there was one run scored in a span of 22 innings, including 14-straight scoreless. No one came of Baker’s meeting feeling a sense of panic.

“This is a game of failure, it’s tough. Panicking, it feeds itself,” Bruce said. “A little comes here and little more comes there when there’s more failure. It’s a downward spiral. You have to take a step back and realize it’s just been a few games. All it takes is a few games to turn it around. He reminded us of the fact that we are a good team. We are a winning team and this stuff doesn’t last.”

*OF Chris Dickerson, who has been on the DL since April 30 and had right hand/wrist surgeries, took fly balls this morning with coach Billy Hatcher and has been hitting soft tosses in the cage.

“It’s going pretty well,” Dickerson said of the hitting. “I don’t feel like the power is even close. But it’s getting close to where it’s pain free. It’s just a matter of time. Hopefully, by Sunday, I will be taking light batting practice. I might even try acupuncture to see if anything can loosen up the tightness in my forearm.”

*Edinson Volquez (Tommy John surgery rehab) pitches tonight for Class A Lynchburg vs. Kinston. It will be Volquez’s second rehab assignment start.

*Next up is a trip to the West Coast through Seattle and Oakland for more Interleague Play. This could be a big test since the Reds are 13-32 (.289) on the West Coast over the last four seasons. They were 2-4 on the previous swing through Seattle and Oakland in 2007 — with one win at each stop. The first two games vs. the Mariners should continue the run of solid pitching against the Reds — Cliff Lee starts Friday and Felix Hernandez is scheduled for Saturday.

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PGX: Ejected, not dejected

Wednesday’s 6-2 loss to the Dodgers have the Reds mired in their first three-game losing streak since they dropped five in a row from Apr. 14-18. As he often is, manager Dusty Baker kept things positive.

“I told my boys to stay together,” Baker said. “Nothing remains the same forever. Nothing. Not in good times. Not in bad times.”

*Baker held a meeting with his position players before the game.

On the ejections —

Both Scott Rolen and Dusty Baker were ejected in the sixth inning for arguing balls and strikes with home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt. With runners on first and second with no outs and Cincinnati trailing 5-0, Rolen looked a full-count pitch from Clayton Kershaw. Thinking it was ball four, Rolen took two steps towards first base until Wendelstedt signaled a called strike three.

The ball was very, very low and below the strike zone. Rolen was irate as he argued and was ejected for the only the third time in his career, and the first time since 2006.

“I felt that was a big at-bat,” Rolen said. “I felt that was a game-changing at-bat, possibly, whether I do anything or at least to fight to have a good at-bat and get on first base and we’re in business. The call we disagreed on, obviously, and I just felt that was a big spot in the game, and a big at-bat. I reacted to that.”

Baker was run moments later coming to Rolen’s defense. Rare is the time Baker is ejected too. That was his first ejection since April 25, 2009.

“Scott hardly says anything. I saw it the same way he saw it,” Baker said. “That was a big call of the game — bases loaded with nobody out. They’re human too but it doesn’t mean you have to like it.”

One thing I really like about Rolen is his sense of humor — even after what went down tonight. When we asked him about what happened with Wendelstedt, this was his reply:

“You guys missed it. He was saying ‘are you tired? Did you sleep well last night after a long night?’ I said ‘no, how about you?’ He said ‘why don’t you go in and sit in the cold tub and get ready for tomorrow’s day game.’ I said ‘that’d be great.’ That was it. I’m not sure what it looked like.”

It wasn’t a good night in the Reds’ dealings with Wendelstedt. In the fifth, Ramon Hernandez was called out on a play at the plate trying to score on a Orlando Cabrera two-out single. Replays showed catcher Russell Martin missed the tag.

“From the angle I saw, I thought he missed it or else I wouldn’t have said anything,” Baker said. “Ramon certainly thought he missed it because you can feel somebody tag you.”

Quote –

“I’m not glad we lost but I’m glad I finally got my first loss so it’s out of the way and we can move on from there.” — Mike Leake on his first loss in the Majors. Leake allowed five earned runs and nine hits over six innings with three walks and four strikeouts. For Arizona State last season, his only loss came on March 10, 2009, against Kansas State.

 

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Reds lineup vs. Dodgers

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

*With Micah Owings working last night and giving up five runs in 1 1/3 innings, there isn’t any long guy in waiting should the need arise. Dusty Baker is prepared to mix and match — but obviously he was thinking more optimistic before Wednesday’s game.

“C’mon Leake,” Baker said.

*The blowout loss on Tuesday didn’t otherwise burn out the bullpen as much as it could have. Daniel Ray Herrera pitched out of his usual situational role and worked 1 2/3 innings in what was essentially mop-up relief.

“We used Daniel as long as we did to save Ondrusek. We saved Arthur. We saved Masset. Smith threw only one inning,” Baker said. “You hate to sacrifice anybody but sometimes you have to take one for the team.”

*I talked to Homer Bailey, who is pretty mellow these days despite enduring one of the things he loathes the most — inactivity. Bailey, who has been on the DL since May 24 with right shoulder inflammation — was originally pushing hard to get back but has since realized it’s not in his long-term best interests.

“You can mope and be angry about it or just be patient and do everything right,” Bailey said. “I’m trying to have the best attitude I can and get everything done right.”

*Baker usually has a goatee but was clean-shaven on Wednesday. He was also wearing a new pair of black wristbands. Apparently, he is not above superstition after a 12-0 loss.

“I’ve got different colors,” Baker said. “I remember one time when I was with the Giants, we had a three-game series with the Cubs and Billy Williams noticed it. He goes ‘man, you’re about to run out of colors, aren’t you?’ I think we had lost four or five in a row.”

*Batting practice started a little later than normal today. Position players held a closed-door meeting that lasted around 30 minutes. No word on what was discussed.

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Postgame, not much extra

It’s already nearing 2 a.m. ET and there really isn’t a whole of good or not-so-good to breakdown from a 12-0 beat down of the Reds by the Dodgers.

Here are some quotes:

“The main thing is we just have to forget this game. We need a good pitched game tomorrow, definitely. We used Micah for a lot of pitches from the bullpen tonight and used Daniel for a lot of pitches. Hopefully we can jump on Kershaw tomorrow.” — Dusty Baker

“I didn’t feel like I could get into a rhythm. I’d get two strikes on them and I couldn’t find that pitch to put them away. When you throw a lot of pitches in the first inning, it’s going to wear on you, especially when it’s as warm and muggy as it was.” — Aaron Harang

Harang threw 42 pitches and faced eight hitters during a three-run Dodgers first inning.

It was another bad night for the bullpen but Jordan Smith made his MLB debut in the ninth inning and did his part by not making the bad game any worse. Smith pitched a scoreless inning with only a two-out double allowed.

“He threw strikes and had good velocity and movement,” Baker said. “That’s what we remember of him from spring training. Hopefully, he can help us.”

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Smith up, Del Rosario down

In an effort to get bullpen help, the Reds reached down to Double-A Carolina and called up RHP Jordan Smith on Tuesday. Enerio Del Rosario was optioned to Triple-A Louisville.

At 1-3 with a 5.08 ERA in 27 games with 38 hits allowed over 28 1/3 innings, Smith’s numbers don’t look all that impressive but is a hot hand right now. In his last six appearances for Carolina, Smith posted a 1.13era (8ip, 1er). Dusty Baker also liked Smith in Spring Training.

Del Rosario had a 2.08 ERA in nine games but allowed seven of his nine inherited runners to score. Not good.

*Before this season, Smith had 74 Minor League games since he was drafted in 2006 — all were as a starting pitcher. The Reds told Smith he was becoming a reliever in Spring Training. Much of lofty numbers might reflect the adjustment.

Smith felt he was starting clicking once he improved his pitch selection and not just offering a first-pitch fastball.

“Since I’ve taken on the reliever role, I had to adjust my game just a little bit – different pitches at certain times,” Smith said. “I was trying to be too aggressive with my fastball at certain points. If you look at my hits, if you were there, probably half of those hits were infield hits, bloop hits that I was kind of getting unlucky. I started getting into a rhythm a couple of weeks ago and kept the ball down real good and it was moving. I feel better now.”

Smith got the good news of his first big league promotion from Carolina manager David Bell. He was napping and missed the call and had to call back.

“I called him back and he said ‘I have some good news but I can’t tell you over the phone. I have to tell you in person,'” Smith said. “I actually met him at a bank close to my apartment in Carolina. I got out of my truck and he said ‘you’re going to the big leagues.’ It was one of the most exciting feelings I’ve ever had. It was great.

“It’s starting to sink in now that I’m here. Yesterday, I couldn’t sit down. I was pacing so much. I couldn’t sleep. I finally fell asleep at six in the morning and woke up at seven to pack my stuff up in the clubhouse. I’m running on adrenaline right now.”

*Here’s what Dusty Baker said about Smith:

“We liked him at spring training. David Bell said he was throwing the ball real well, especially lately. We don’t know if this is temporary or permanent. It depends on him and depends on how we might revamp our rotation some in order to strengthen our bullpen some. We’re still at the drawing board on some of that stuff.”

My hunch is they’re considering either Sam LeCure or Homer Bailey for that spot. I asked Baker what options were on the table though.

“I can’t tell you that. We’ll see,” Baker said. “Some depends on how Smith fits in. Most of the pitchers are going six and a fraction. That seventh inning, it’s so very important. We’re looking for somebody to close that gap there. [Logan] Ondrusek has done a good job closing the gap but he can’t do it by himself.”

*Brandon Phillips was back in the lineup after being diagnosed on Monday with a mild strain of his right hamstring. Phillips came in during the off day for treatment and it didn’t take any great lobbying to get back in the lineup after being scratched Sunday.

“He came in with the trainer,” Baker said. “A lot of it depends on what the trainer says. He says he

was feeling a whole lot better. He was playing with this for a while. I told him to just play smart, that’s all.”

*Ryan Hanigan took batting practice with the pitchers today and had no trouble. But trying to catch has still been a problem.

“It’s getting better but it [the thumb] still rattles when I catch,” Hanigan said. He has not been able to fit a pad into the thumb of his mitt that works. He was hoping the pain would subside to in a few more days to where it only hurts when he catches a ball in the wrong spot.

 

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Bailey sore, LeCure for Sunday

 *Dusty Baker revealed that Sam LeCure will start on Sunday for the Reds. Homer Bailey was shut down because of he was sore. He will not even start on his rehab assignment at Triple-A Louisville.

“Homer is not pitching. He came out a little more sore than normal,” Baker said. “We kind of anticipated that a little bit. We decided to scratch him and wait a little more.”

Bailey has been on the DL since May 24 with right shoulder inflammation. Baker did not detail the nature of the soreness Bailey was feeling. He will be examined by medical director Dr. Tim Kremchek this afternoon.

UPDATE: Here’s what Bailey had to say after a meeting with head trainer Paul Lessard:

“I threw the other day and felt great,” he said. “The last couple of days, there’s been some soreness in places where I usually don’t get soreness. We’ll evaluate and go from there. I’ll know more later once I see Kremchek.”

Bailey started feeling sore when throwing on flat ground the other day. His side bullpen session scheduled for today, was called off.

“It was just alarming, nothing life threatening,” said Bailey, who said the soreness was still limited to his shoulder, without getting specific.

Bailey pitched 4 1/3 innings for Louisville on Tuesday and allowed five earned runs and six hits vs. Syracuse while throwing 86 pitches.  

“I threw Tuesday and everything felt great,” Bailey said. “If it was anything seriously wrong, I would have felt it then. I didn’t feel it then. We’re trying to take it slow because we can nip it in the bud now or we can maybe suffer later.”

*In other injury update news, catcher Ryan Hanigan tested his fractured left thumb by hitting in the cage today. Hanigan said he was only swinging at 75 percent. He is due to get another X-ray today and his timetable will be known more after.

“It feels pretty good,” Hanigan said of his thumb.

*OF Chris Dickerson (right hand/wrist surgery) did some “dry swings” in the cage for five minutes and reported no trouble.

*OF Ryan LaMarre, the Reds’ second round Draft pick out of the Univ. of Michigan, signed today and is headed to join Class A Dayton. He is attempting to meet the team in Appleton, Wisc.

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Gomes owns KC?

Fri vs. KC

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

In 22 career apps vs the Royals, Jonny Gomes is hitting .367 (22-for-60) with 10 home runs, his highest HR total vs any opponent.

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Postgame extra: another comeback

Mike Leake finally had a bad one but it was still all good in the end for the Reds, which took a 7-6 win over the Giants to earn a four-game series split. The Reds opened a 1 1/2 game lead on the Cardinals, which are idle Thursday.

The good —

*It was the Reds NL-leading 13th one-run victory and their 12th in the final at-bat. Also, the 21st come-from-behind win.

*Temporary leadoff hitter Brandon Phillips was 4-for-5. His two-run triple in the eighth tied the game at 6-6 and Phillps scored the winning run on Joey Votto’s roller up the middle through a drawn-in infield.

*Arthur Rhodes, again. His 1.2 IP were his highest since May 1, 2008. He earned the victory and extended his scoreless streak to 25 innings and 27 appearances.

*Defense. Paul Janish got a rare start at shortstop and made a splendid diving stop of Juan Uribe’s hot grounder to start a 643 double play with the bases loaded to end the fourth. Janish saved at least two runs, maybe three. Brandon Phillips started a 463 double play to end the fifth with a very fine play.

“Those are what saved the game for us,” manager Dusty Baker said. “You know how I am about defense. You play defense, especially up the middle defense, you save a lot of runs.”

*Francisco Cordero pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his 17th save. It was the only perfect inning a Reds pitcher had all day.

The not so good —

*In his worst start for the Reds, the rookie right-hander pitched a season-low 4 1/3 innings and allowed a season-high 11 hits while tying a season high with five earned runs. He also allowed two home runs. Three-straight inning-ending double plays with the bases loaded — including the two mentioned above, helped save his bacon.

*Scott Rolen made an uncharacteristic E5 on a ball between his legs in the fifth with Del Rosario on the mound that scored what was the Giants go-ahead run charged to Leake.

*Nick Masset entered in the sixth and got two quick outs to end the inning. But he labored in the seventh, allowing a run and two hits.

*The game was a slog that felt longer than three hours, 28 minutes. The Giants left 13 on base while the Reds stranded nine.

*There was a weird scene in the eighth after Joey Votto singled. While on first base, Votto appeared to think that pitcher Guillermo Mota was saying something to him and the two exchanged words. Baker said that Mota was actually talking to his first baseman, Buster Posey.

“It’s the heat of the summer,” Baker said. “Tempers are usually shortest about this time.”

More quotes —

“I think what was different about this game is their coaching staff had a pretty good plan for me. They punched me right off the bat and I couldn’t react fast enough. Sometimes games are going to be like that. They didn’t square every ball up. I did make more mistakes than I wanted to.” — Mike Leake

“He wasn’t struggling. They were flaring him to death. They found every hole. They had a bunch of one-hand hits, bloopers. We had a couple too but they had more than we had, especially early. That’s why we kept running him out there. We didn’t want to go to our bullpen in the third or fourth. You could tell by the way things were going, you had a feeling it was going to be a high-offensive day.” — Dusty Baker on Leake.

“You can’t count these guys out here, man. We go out and play hard for nine innings. We play hard until the game is over.” — Arthur Rhodes.

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A break for Cabrera

Thu lineup vs. SF

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

Dusty Baker said last night that Cabrera would get today off. It was decided even before Cabrera’s four hit game. He did not mind at all.

“I’m an old man,” Cabrera said. “We just want to keep everybody sharp. Janish is a big piece of this team. We have to keep him sharp too.”

*The last time Brandon Phillips led off a game was April 13, 2007. This is his 12th career appearance batting first (10-for-45, .222, 3 HR, five RBIs)

*No decision has been made about Sunday’s start between Homer Bailey and Sam LeCure. Bailey has a bullpen session scheduled for Friday. He said there has been no ill-effects from his rehab assignment start for Louisville on Tuesday.

“I was sore but in all the good places. Nothing struck me as out of the ordinary,” Bailey said.

Bailey’s line vs. Syracuse was 4 1/3 innings with five earned runs and six hits allowed while throwing 86 pitches. He and the club said the outing went better than the line reflected.

“It felt, not new, but I didn’t get off the mound for two weeks. To get out there like that, it felt good,” Bailey said. “There were a few balls hit in just the perfect places that allowed runners to move over and stuff like that.”

Meanwhile, LeCure was preparing himself to pitch Sunday — just in case.

“I’ll just go about it like I am,” LeCure said. “If they tell me I am, I will be ready. I’m not too worried about it.”

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