July 2010

No need for LeCure, Matthews

*Pitcher Sam LeCure came all the way to Houston but did not set one toe on the mound at Minute Maid Park on Saturday. He was Plan B in case Johnny Cueto couldn’t start tonight becuase of the flu. Cueto is OK, so LeCure wasn’t needed.

“I’m just here, and not here,” LeCure said.

LeCure was told to sit tight this afternoon just in case. He sat at a locker without a number on it and chatted with several players.

“I just came out to watch a game,” said LeCure.

The Reds scratched LeCure from his start Friday for Triple-A Louisville at Gwinnett about three hours before their game. He flew into Houston late Friday night.

“He just got a free trip to Houston. He understands,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said.

*Baker said he tried to lobby Gary Matthews Jr. to stay in the organization before he opted out of his contract. Baker is close friends with both Matthews Jr. and Gary Matthews Sr.

“I talked to him this morning. I tried to convince him to wait,” Baker said. “He said after being in the big leagues this long, he just didn’t want to be in Triple-A anymore. He doesn’t have anywhere to go right now. He said thanks for the opportunity and he’ll see what happens.”

The decision not to bring up Matthews ultimately came down something basic. The Reds did not feel he was an improvement to what was already on the 25-man roster.

“Right now, Nix is doing a great job off the bench as a left-handed pinch-hitter. Nobody is doing better on the right side than Heisey. And Stubbs is doing better and getting better in center field. Sometimes, there’s not a fit.”

*Nix started and batted fourth vs. the Astros for one good reason. He is 7-for-15 (.467) with two homers lifetime vs. Roy Oswalt.

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Cueto a go, Rolen no go

It appears that Johnny Cueto is well enough to pitch tonight. He’s in the lineup. Scott Rolen is missing for the eighth-straight game.

Saturday lineup vs HOU

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

More later when I get to the ballpark.

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Matthews to opt out

Gary Matthews Jr. will opt out of his Minor League contract with the Reds, according to agent Scott Leventhal. The Reds and Walt Jocketty told Matthews today that they had no openings at the big league level.

“Everything was amicable,” Leventhal said Friday night. “It just didn’t work out. It’s wasn’t for lack of performance. They didn’t have the roster spot.”

The Reds had a Saturday deadline to call him up or the 35-year-old could opt out and become a free agent. Matthews will seek a big league job elsewhere.

“We’re not going to play Triple-A anywhere else,” Leventhal said. “He has nothing left to prove. He’s a 10-year veteran that spent the last 30 days in Louisville and putting up good numbers.”

Matthews started tonight for Louisville vs. Gwinnett and as I write this is 2-for-3.

On the clock with Matthews

General manager Walt Jocketty is not with the Reds this weekend in Houston and is back in Louisville watching the Triple-A club. Dayton watching the Class A club.

Jocketty has a decision to make about Gary Matthews Jr., who has a deadline looming on Saturday.

If the Reds don’t call him up by then, Matthews can opt out of his contract and become a free agent. Manager Dusty Baker did not have any answers when asked about Matthews’ status. Baker has a long time friendship with the Matthews family — both Gary Sr. and Gary Jr.

“It depends how he fits into things right now, if he’s better than who we have already or do we ask him to extend that or if he has somewhere else to go,” Baker said. “There are a lot of questions here. If it doesn’t fit right now, I’d prefer he’d play some more.

“I hope he stays even if it doesn’t fit right now. You never know if there’s an injury, or what’s going to happen down the stretch. This isn’t only a move for this year for him. It’s a continuing career move for him too – if not here than somewhere else. He hasn’t asked anything of me either.”

Matthews signed with the Reds on June 24. Baker said he stayed away from involvement in the process and has only talked to Matthews Jr. once since he joined Louisville.

Latest on Rolen–

*Scott Rolen is out for the seventh-straight day because of a sore right hamstring. Rolen was evaluated by the trainers this afternoon.But he has appeared to turn the corner somewhat.

“He hit really well in the cage,” head trainer Paul Lessard said on Friday. “The past couple of days, it bothered him just to pivot on his back foot. He’s making strides.”

While the Reds took their regular BP on the field, Rolen took groundballs.

The Reds have held out as long as possible to not DL Rolen and haven’t targeted a return date yet. If he can come within a day or two, it would beat missing him for almost another week on DL time. He can always be backdated if he had a setback before returning.

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Lineup vs. Astros

Friday lineup vs HOU

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

*In what was a procedural move, RHP Jose Arredondo’s contract was purchased and he was placed on the 60-day disabled list. Arredondo was a non-roster invitee to Spring Training and is rehabilitating from Tommy John surgery. He won’t pitch this season.

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Hello, Houston

Made it to Houston in what seemed like a smooth flight — until I overheard the conversation the woman in front of me was having with her friend as I walked toward baggage claim at Bush-InterContinental Airport. She was complaining about how awful the person seated next to her was on the flight and that this guy knew of no boundaries with the arm rest, shoulder placement, etc. Low and behold — the cranky passenger doing the complaining was none other than the woman I was seated next to.

I thought I was only reading a magazine, not sending ground troops into seat 14A. I guess the moral of the story is you might not want to fly next to me but hopefully you’ll want to keep coming back to read me. And if I do fly in a seat near me, dig a moat and set up the barbed wire.

This trip has a little extra importance after the flat ending to the homestand. A 4-2 trip would seem like a minimum standard to set here, especially with the Cardinals as hot as they are.

Roy Oswalt could be making his last start as an Astro on Saturday. If one of the top Reds killers is traded to the Cardinals, as some rumors indicate, the NL Central race gets really interesting doesn’t it? It also probably makes the Reds missing out on Cliff Lee an added nugget of frustration.

And for those asking or thinking it, I do not see the Reds taking on the roughly $25 million or so remaining on Oswalt’s deal to get him to Cincinnati. Lee would have been easier since he’s in the final year of his contract.

A couple of notes —

*Five games into his rehab assignment at Triple-A Louisville, OF Chris Dickerson is 6-for-12 (.500) with one homer, two RBIs, two doubles, two steals and four walks.

*Jonny Gomes next HR could create two milestones. Gomes is sitting on HR No. 99 and RBI No. 299.

*The Reds remained 1 1/2 games behind the Cardinals for the second-straight day Thursday. They haven’t had a deficit larger than that since May 11.

*Lineups and more when I get to Minute Maid Park.

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Roster moves — Izzy, Hernandez

*The Reds agreed to terms on a Minor League contract with RHP Jason Isringhausen. He will report to Triple-A Louisville.

Isringhausen, 37, threw a bullpen session for the Reds on Tuesday and impressed. Just how much he impressed was kept on the downlow.

“I thought he threw very well,” manager Dusty Baker said. “I didn’t say it that day because I didn’t want too many people on the outside to know. I was very pleasantly surprised.”

*Ramon Hernandez was activated from the disabled list. Catcher Corky Miller was designated for assignment. The Reds are hoping Miller can clear waivers so he can go outright to Louisville. Miller cleared waivers and was sent outright to Louisville.

Miller, 34, batted .246 in 24 games, well above his .188 career average. He also was excellent defensively and called good games.

“It was a very tough decision,” Baker said. “He played well. It’s a situation where you hope he’s not claimed on the selfish side but if he was claimed, you’re happy for him on the unselfish side. He’s valuable to our organization and to us and he’ll be back at some point in time.”

Thu lineup vs. WASH

Phillips 4
Cabrera 6
Bruce 9
Gomes 7
Hernandez 3
Stubbs 8
Cairo 5
Hanigan 2
Volquez 1

*As was made known yesterday, this is just an off day to rest Joey Votto.

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Postgame extra: Strasburg

Here are some quotes on what the Reds thought about Stephen Strasburg, following an 8-5 loss to the Nationals Wednesday.

“Yeah the guy he throws a very easy 98. Usually the guys who throw 98 have a lot of effort involved but he had very little effort and very good delivery, good breaking ball. And yeah you can tell this guy is going to be very good.” — Dusty Baker

“I saw a lot of good things out of him. One of the things you want to see out of a young guy is his composure. He got himself into some jams and went right to his best stuff and got out of it. When you got a guy who throws 100 mph, the majority of time his off-speed is to get you off his fastball. He’ll elevate it or bury it. He was throwing his curveball and changeup for strikes.” — Jonny Gomes.

Strasburg was far from flawless as he allowed three runs and seven hits over 5 2/3 innings. He walked one and struck out seven. The Reds had only one extra-base hit but weren’t overpowered by the 22-year-old flamethrower.

“I watched a lot of tape on Strasburg,” Gomes said. “I thought our guys did a real good job off of him. He had some opportunities to get guys chasing and get ourselves out. I didn’t see a whole lot of that. I saw a whole lot of good at-bats.”

Here’s what Strasburg said of performing in front of the crowd of 37,868 fans at GABP:

“It’s awesome. It’s  great atmosphere. I’ve been doing it over a year, especially coming out of college. It’s almost expected everytime. It’s a real blessing to be able to go out there and pitch in front of a lot of fans 

 

Isringhausen close to signing

*The Reds are going to sign free agent reliever Jason Isringhausen to a minor league deal soon after they watched him throw in the bullpen on Tuesday.

“I think we’ll get it done in the next day or so,” Reds GM Walt Jocketty said on Wednesday.

Isringhausen still has to complete his physical before signing. He’ll likely go to

*When Micah Owings pitched on Tuesday and allowed four runs in two-thirds of an inning in the sixth, it was his first action in 16 days. Owings was sent to Triple-A Louisville so he can start and get some more innings.

“It’s not his fault or anybody’s fault,” manager Dusty Baker said. “Our starters have been going so deep. There wasn’t really a need the last two weeks for a long man. And you have to hold him back for those close games and extra innings. There’s a handful of those or more.

“I remember Bob Quinn told me years ago that pitchers rust out before they wear out. That’s a prime example of that.”

*It looks like Ramon Hernandez will come off the DL tomorrow. The plan is to have him play first base so Joey Votto can get a rest. Ryan Hanigan will catch the series opener Friday at Houston and Hernandez is slated to catch on Saturday.

*Homer Bailey threw between 45-50 pitches over three innings during a simulated game Wednesday. Jocketty, Baker and pitching coach Bryan Price were watching. Paul Janish, Corky Miller and Laynce Nix were the hitters.

“It went pretty good,” Bailey said. “My curveball, split and fastball were pretty good. The slider was a little off. It’s kind of always the last one to come for me.”

*If Bailey still feels OK Thursday, the plan is for him to start a rehab assignment on Monday when he starts for Class A Dayton.

*Aaron Harang (back spasms) went to the chriropractor today for another adjustment and said “today is a really good day.” He’s been doing rehab and treatment and walking on a treadmill. He tried throwing a bullpen session during the All-Star break but shut it down because he didn’t feel right. There is no ETA on when he’ll resume throwing or return to the club.

*There is nothing new with Scott Rolen. The club is trying to wait out his sore right hamstring as long as possible.

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Who is pitching tonight?

Weds lineup vs. WAS

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

Some guy named Strasburg is pitching for the Nationals. Hearing an expected crowd of 30-35,000 is expected at GABP tonight.

*The Reds optioned RHP Micah Owings to Triple-A Louisville and recalled Carlos Fisher.

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