March 2011

Stunning win on Opening Day

That Reds penchant for the drama didn’t disappear after an off-season. Ramon Hernandez brought it all back, and then, some with a stunning three-run home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. It gave the Reds a 7-6 win.

Cincinnati came into the ninth down 6-3 against Brewers closer John Axford. A fun conclusion for the Reds and their 42,398 fans at GABP…but not a well-played game overall.

Highlights:

*The Reds were 1-for-10 RISP with 10 LOB. They were 0-for-9 before Hernandez came through.

*Edinson Volquez was rocked for three homers, including two in a row to start the game. Carlos Gomez hit the second one and it sailed 429 feet into the upper deck of right field. Not a cheapie by any stretch.

*Jonny Gomes made an error fielding Ryan Braun’s two-out single. It put Braun on 2B and a Jordan Smith balk later put runners on second and third. A possibly tough insurance run scored on Casey McGehee single.

*The Reds were resilent, give them credit. They did not pack it in on a freezing cold day.

*Brandon Phillips’ nifty slide step to avoid McGehee’s tag saved a rally. McGehee should have just thrown to first base and that game likely doesn’t end like it did. Scott Rolen hustled hard to beat the throw to first base, as well. Asked to describe his speed, Rolen dryly replied “Electric.”

*Credit the Reds bullpen, especially Sam LeCure and winning pitcher Logan Ondrusek for keeping Milwaukee in check.

*Gomes nearly won the game himself with a long screamer of a fly to center field. It went for a sac fly but put Hernandez in position to win the game.

*Check out this photo gallery from the game.

Notes:

*The last Reds walk-off home run on Opening Day came from the bat of Joe Randa on 4/7/2005 vs. the Mets in a 7-6 win.

*Hernandez is the fifth Reds player to collect four hits on Opening Day.

*The Reds are now 4-9-1 in their last 14 openers. The tie, incidentally came vs. MIL in 2000, after an official game was called because of rain.

*The last time a team hit two home runs to begin a season was the Reds on April 7, 1969 vs. the Dodgers. Pete Rose and Bobby Tolan each went deep against Don Drysdale at Riverfront Stadium. Crosley Field.

*Cincinnati hadn’t won an Opening Day game since 2007, so it was the first in the tenure of Dusty Baker and Walt Jocketty.

Quotes:

“We don’t want to win it like that. We got lucky enough we got the win today. To me, it’s amazing. This is one of the best opening days I’ve ever had in my career. I’m so happy that I helped my team and my team won a ballgame.” — Ramon Hernandez

“They were getting some hits with runners in scoring position and we weren’t. If you keep putting them out there, sooner or later something good is going to happen. The key is opporutunies. If you don’t have opportunities, you don’t have much of a chance.” — Dusty Baker

“We ended the season on a walk-off last year to clinch the division and start it that way this year. We kind of struggled to put together productive innings today. We got some base runners and weren’t able to capitalize and get them across. I think it’s a huge shot in the arm for us to start the year. It’s always great to win the first one and in that fashion, it’s even more special.” — Drew Stubbs, who hit a homer in the fourth inning.

“I think I was a little bit excited in the first inning. After that, I calmed down and threw my pitches.” — Edinson Volquez

“Obviously, my opinion doesn’t really matter. But if my first inclination was that he was not out of the baseline, I would have made sure I kept going towards him a little bit more than I did instead of also trying to make a throw. In hindsight, I wish I had just come through and made a thtow to first and not even worried about him.” — Brewers 3B Casey McGehee on the non-tag of Phillips in the ninth.

“I got away with one in the at-bat before with Gomes. This time I paid for it.” — John Axford, who gave up the game-ending homer to Hernandez.

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Some pre-game fodder

Several Reds players came through for pregame press conferences before Thursday’s game. Here is a quick sample:

“I can’t recall being anywhere where we’ve had a parade prior to the season. We’re just hoping we have two parades. One at the beginning of the season and one at the end of the season.” — manager Dusty Baker.

“There’s always a buzz for opening day in Cincinnati. Everybody is a little more excited to be here and ready for today. It’s not such a bitter taste in your mouth from last year or year’s past.” — RF Jay Bruce

“Last year, there was a lot of unknown whereas this year I feel like we’ve seen some of our potential and it’s going to push us to do a little more this year. Our goal isn’t to have a winning season or break a streak of sub .500 seasons. Our goal is to win the World Series this year.” — 1B Joey Votto

“The feeling you get on Opening Day is similar to the feeling you get with that first postseason game. It’s just a different level. Spring Training is – unless you’re a guy fighting for a job – it is just practice. You try to get your work in and feel good physically. Once they turn on the lights and it’s game one, every out, every strikeout, every walk, every hit – it stays on the back of your baseball card forever. It’s definitely a different vibe.” — RHP Bronson Arroyo

Burton placed on DL

RHP Jared Burton was added to the list of names placed on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday, retroactive to 3/29. Burton has right shoulder inflammation, and was diagnosed following an afternoon exam with Dr. Tim Kremchek.

RHP Jordan Smith was recalled from Triple-A Louisville.

Formally placed on DL were Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey, Jose Arredondo and Fred Lewis

Cueto is eligible to be reinstated on Wednesday, Bailey on 4/8, Arredondo on 4/9, Lewis on 4/11 and Burton on 4/13.
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Great day for ball??

Here is your Reds tentative Opening Day lineup for Thursday.

6 Drew Stubbs, cf
4 Brandon Phillips, 2b
19 Joey Votto, 1b
27 Scott Rolen, 3b
32 Jay Bruce, rf
31 Jonny Gomes, lf
55 Ramon Hernandez, c
6 Paul Janish, ss
36 Edinson Volquez, rhp

 This is the kind of weather that can fade an Arizona tan rather quick. It will be hard to tell from the pictures, but it’s currently snowing and sleeting at Great American Ball Park and temperatures are about 35 degrees.

The view from the home dugout

The teams worked out today but neither the Brewers, nor Reds hit on the field. The high temperature forecasted for Thursday is 48 degrees and cloudy.

“[Miguel] Cairo’s favorite saying is ‘it’s all mental,’” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “When you get hit by a pitch, it doesn’t hurt. Sometimes, it really is cold. Or it hurts.  You have to foolyourself. They have to deal with the elements too, you know?”

“One thing I’ve learned about Ohio. I don’t really believe [the weather] until I’ve talked to Marty.He swears he is the weather man.”

Marty, of course, is Marty Brennaman — the dean of Cincinnati weather forecasters.

The always intrepid Seg Dennison of WLW is prepared for any weather.

Some Opening Day preview links:

Edinson Volquez prepared to bolster staff

Ohio man to see 48th consecutive Reds Opening Day

Stowe prepares for opener behind the scenes

Reds bring confidence into the season  (includes the Reds Opening Day lineup)

The workout on the field didn’t last long, mostly playing catch.

Aroldis Chapman signs autographs after a brief workout on the field at GABP (courtesy Michael Anderson/Reds)

Heisey keeps hitting

 The Reds took a 9-6 win over the Diamondbacks and moved to 15-14-1 for spring with two games to go. It was the second-day in a row the opponent was held to single-digit runs scored.

The highlights:

*OF Chris Heisey extended his team lead with a fifth homer this spring in the seventh inning during his only at-bat. Other than Dave Sappelt, Heisey has been the Reds best hitter in camp. Heisey is batting .354 (17-for-48) and also leads the club with 13 RBIs. He came in with a .702 slugging percentage in the previous 22 games.

“Heisey is going to come up big before it’s over with,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “He’s going to play. Everybody plays on my team. We’ll get him in there. There aren’t many people like Heisey that can play all three outfield positions, play them well and hit and run.”

*Brandon Phillips went 2-for-3 with three RBIs. Phillips notched his first homer of the spring and it was no cheapie as it bounced hard off of the center field batters’ eye. It was a two-run shot on the first-pitch he saw from Aaron Heilman. Phillips has an eight-game hitting streak.

*The Reds leadoff hitter today, Drew Stubbs went 2-for-3 with three runs scored. Stubbs led off the first inning with a single to right field and doubled to center field in the second inning. Since going 1-for-5 with 3 Ks on Tuesday, Stubbs is 5-for-8 with four RBIs and is up to a .269 average for spring.

*Scott Rolen returned from a sore elbow that kept him out since Thursday. Rolen was 1-for-3 with a sharply hit RBI double in the second inning. From my untrained eye, he didn’t look to be favoring anything.

*Ramon Hernandez (right elbow) played for the first time since last Sunday and went 0-for-1 with a sac fly.

“They’re fine,” Baker said of Rolen and Rodriguez. “We have to watch Ramon a little closer than Scotty but he threw the ball great to second base. He was throwing balls super before.”

*Jared Burton pitched a perfect sixth inning.

*The next updates on this blog will be coming from Cincinnati. Keep checking back.

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Willis and Hermida cut

A little breaking news for you…

LHP Dontrelle Willis and OF Jeremy Hermida were re-assigned to the Minor League camp. Both came in as non-roster players.

Willis was having a decent spring but struggled in last couple of outings with throwing strikes. Overall, he had a 9.31 ERA in seven games. Hermida batted .342 with three homers.

With the Reds 40-man roster full and few (if anyone) on it to jettison, Dusty Baker hinted in recent days it’d be tough for non-roster players to crack the team and make the cut. We will see the manager shortly. Stay tuned.

The spring roster is at 28 players now. Three more cuts to go.

The 25th-man job is down to Fred Lewis and Juan Francisco. The last bullpen spots are between Jared Burton, Logan Ondrusek, Jose Arredondo and Matt Maloney.

***Update: Baker said Willis would report to Triple-A Louisville and be stretched out for starting pitching because of the sudden hit the depth has taken. Hermida was told he could look around for a big league job and if there is one, the Reds won’t stand in his way and would let him go.

“Dontrelle was real close to making it until 10 days-two weeks ago when he regressed a little bit,” Baker said. “It was tough telling Hermida because he was having a good spring.”

*Lewis is going to get checked out by the doctor because of a sore side. It’s looking like Francisco will make the team, especially if Lewis has to go on the DL. But we’ll have to wait and see on that.

Sunday

Sorry for the lack of blog activity on Saturday. Just as I’m trying to get the hang of the new system, there was no working wireless at the ballpark in Scottsdale yesterday. I was fortunate just to be able to send my stories once I got connected at a restaurant later when I had dinner.

This is my last day in Goodyear and I will be heading home tonight. I hope you’ve gotten the information you’ve been seeking all spring and thank you for reading and your support. Tom Singer, one of our national writers, will be on site Monday and Tuesday.

Reds vs. Diamondbacks, 4:05 p.m. ET, WLW/MLB.com audio

Stubbs 8
Renteria 6
Phillips 3
Rolen 5
Bruce 9
Gomes 7
Francisco 3
Hernandez 2
Carroll 1

*Obviously, the biggest items out of this lineup are the return of Scott Rolen and Ramon Hernandez. If both are healthy, that could seem to affect the final outcome of the 25-man roster.

Hopefully, more to come later today…

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Three cut, including Sappelt

Three more roster moves came down today and one of them will really stand out to Reds fans. Re-assigned to the Minor League camp were INF Chris Valaika, C Devin Mesoraco and OF Dave Sappelt.

There was a lot of fan desire to see Sappelt make the team, especially after he batted .564 (22-for-38) this spring. But the club was pretty adamant at the start that they wanted him to get more time at Triple-A, where he only had 25 games last season. However, he went from big long shot to very good chance.

All three of these players should be up at some point this season. I will have more on the roster moves later when we talks to Dusty Baker.

Reds vs. Giants, 6:10 pm ET, MLB Network/WLW/Gameday audio

Lewis 9
Phillips 4
Votto 3
Gomes 7
Francisco 5
Stubbs 8
Hanigan 2
Janish 6
LeCure 1

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Testing…

Trying out new blog on Word press…

Blog adjustments soon

Welcome to what could likely be the  final blog entry – under the current format. Changes are coming to both the look of the blog, and the application for which I do the blogging. I am sure there will be some things to get used to, especially for me learning the new system, so please be patient and keep stopping by.

Friday’s Reds vs.Padres lineup, 4:05 p.m. ET WLW/MLB.com audio

Phillips 4
Renteria 6
Votto 3
Rolen 5 Bruce 9
Gomes 7
Bruce 9 Stubbs 8
Stubbs 8 Mesoraco 2
Hernandez 2 Valaika 5
Volquez 1

*As you can see, the lineup has been tweaked since the original post. Scott Rolen is still smarting from being hit on the left elbow Thursday. Rolen is day-to-day but isn’t expected to play on Saturday.

“He can’t extend,” manager Dusty Baker said.

*Since Juan Francisco is getting a look in RF during a Minor League game, Chris Valaika will play 3B today. Valaika is trying to earn one of the last spots on the roster.

*Ramon Hernandez is still dealing with the sore right elbow but we didn’t hear about any setbacks or anything.

*Bronson Arroyo feels better and is back online after throwing 87 pitches yesterday in a Minor League game. Arroyo also went for a chest X-ray and bloodwork yesterday to see it’s more than the flu that’s bothered him. The doctors wanted to rule out valley fever. Test results aren’t back yet.

“As long as that stuff comes back negative – even if it doesn’t – I will be good to go for the season,” Arroyo said. “If it is positive, we’ll get the right medicines so it’s not out of control.”

*And if one other note involving a former Red, OF Chris Dickerson was traded from the Brewers to the Yankees for RHP Sergio Mitre.

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