March 2011

Another crazy day at the yard

It’s been an amazing clip of high-scoring affairs involving the Reds. Thursday’s 15-13 loss featured a combined 34 hits.

In the last seven games, the Reds have been outscored by a 72-71 margin.It’s hard to make heads or tails of what we see out here. Looking at the spring stats coming into the day, 10 of the top 11 in team runs scored were from the Cactus League. (Reds scored 152 runs entering day). In team ERA, nine of the bottom 10 teams were also from the Cactus League (Reds were at 5.49 and ranked 27th).

The air is thin at the higher altitudes and many pitchers often have trouble with dry baseballs and gripping the ball. Mistakes that still can be outs in Florida or in regular season parks become blights on the line score.

I’m certainly not making excuses for the pitchers or taking anything away from the hitters, but I think a little context is needed.

“Another long one but if you hang something here, it’s going to fly,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said postgame. “There are some guys that played well today. We made some mistakes. It’s getting a little stagnant. You know you have some more work to do but guys are ready to go. We’re scoring a lot of runs. When you’re playing someone like the Texas Rangers, you know you’re going to give up some runs and you better score some runs. That’s what happened today.”

Now for some of the day’s highlights….

The good:

*Travis Wood’s line isn’t pretty, but he did pitch pretty good. Wood allowed seven runs (five earned) over 5 1/3 innings with no walks and five strikeouts. A two-error third inning led to Nelson Cruz’s grand slam.

“I felt good,” Wood said. “I just got in trouble that third inning there.  I ended up giving up a grand slam.  That hurts but we were able to  battle back as a team.  … I feel like I’m ready for the season.  I got stretched out pretty good.  My pitches seem to be working pretty good.  So, I’ll pitch every fifth day and get ready the other four.  I’ll go out and give it everything I’ve got.”

“We threw the ball around that one inning. You need some help from your friends,” Baker said. “That one inning he didn’t get much. He got his work in. His pitch count is where we wanted to get it.”

*Wood also hit a RBI double in the fifth inning.

*Dave Sappelt continues to push to take an outfield spot. While going 2-for-3 Sappelt smoked a two-run homer off of the center field batters’ eye. He’s batting .553 (21-for-38) this spring.

*Jonny Gomes has a four-game hitting streak (5-for-13, .385) after he hit a three-run homer to left field. It was his second homer in three games. His average is still only .171.

*Paul Janish was 2-for-3 with three RBIs

*With two outs in the sixth, Chris Heisey’s two-run triple to left field re-tied the score at 10-10.

*Francisco Cordero enjoyed another 1-2-3 inning today for his seventh-straight scoreless outing. Five of his last six have been perfect.

Not-so-good

*Scott Rolen was plunked on his left elbow by a Tommy Hunter fastball in the first inning. He was lifted for PH Juan Francisco when he couldn’t grip his bat. There was no word on his condition.

“He had stitch marks on his elbow,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “I didn’t hear anything so no news is good news.”

*Bullpen candidate Jose Arredondo had another rough day. In the five-run eighth inning, Arredondo allowed five earned runs, four hits with one walk, one wild pitch and one strikeout. His spring ERA is 16.20. Because he’s still trying to find his way back from Tommy John surgery, it’s possible he could begin the year on the DL, which would help the Reds since he’s out of options.

“Arredondo is still inconsistent,” Baker said. “He’ll throw a heck of a breaking ball and hang one. He’ll throw a fastball low and away and then get one out over the plate. It shows me he’s not quite there yet.”

Other news:

*Bronson Arroyo, who has been battling the flu for over two weeks, pitched in a Minor League game on Thursday vs. a Dodgers Class A team.  Arroyo threw 87 pitches over 5 2/3 innings and allowed three earned runs and six hits with one walk and six strikeouts.

*Pitching against the Indians’ Class A team, Dontrelle Willis pitched one scoreless inning with one walk and two strikeouts.

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Bruce leading off

Reds vs. Rangers, 4:05 p.m. ET, FS Ohio/WLW/MLB.com

Bruce 9
Valaika 4
Votto 3
Rolen 5
Gomes 7
Stubbs 8
Hanigan 2
Janish 6
Wood 1

This is the second time this spring that Bruce has led off, I believe.

*Baker could be taking a look at contingencies for a Plan B leadoff hitter since Stubbs has struggled all camp.

“There’s a chance,” Baker said. “”I keep hoping Stubby will come around.If it’s not working, you have to go with something else. In a perfect scenario, you’d hope that it would be better than it is. Especially if you’re making contact, you have a chance with his speed. If you don’t make contact, nobody has a chance. We’re just trying to find it.”

Stubbs got seven at-bats in a minor league game Wednesday and got 4 or 5 hits, he said.

**Update from medical staff***

*Ramon Hernandez (sore right elbow) is swinging and throwing comfortably. He will be back in a couple of days.  Baker indicated Hernandez could play a minor league game tomorrow.

*Johnny Cueto (shoulder inflammation) has seen his symptoms subside. They are working on a strengthen program now.

 

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Hernandez hurting

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

Reds lineup:

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

*The regulars are playing nine innings today, except for Phillips.

*Ramon Hernandez has been bothered by a sore elbow and will be examined Thursday when Dr. Kremchek is back in town. It wasn’t known how much time, if any, Hernandez might miss. 

“He’s treating it,” manager Dusty Baker said. “It just came up. It just happened. It’s nothing structural in there. He’s having a little trouble getting extended sometimes.”

Hernandez will DH tomorrow in a Minor League game since he’s not bothered while hitting.

*And because someone asked, here are the remaining 35 players in Reds camp.

Pitchers (16)

33 Arredondo, Jose
61 Arroyo, Bronson
34 Bailey, Homer
51 Burton, Jared
48 Cordero, Francisco
47 Cueto, Johnny
44 Leake, Mike
63 LeCure, Sam
40 Masset, Nick
66 Ondrusek, Logan
36 Volquez, Edinson
45 Bray, Bill
54 Chapman, Aroldis
56 Maloney, Matt
50 Willis, Dontrelle*
30 Wood, Travis

Catchers (4)

29 Hanigan, Ryan
55 Hernandez, Ramon
65 Mesoraco, Devin*
37 Miller, Corky*

Infielders (8)
 
43 Cairo, Miguel
64 Francisco, Juan
7 Janish, Paul
4 Phillips, Brandon
16 Renteria, Edgar
27 Rolen, Scott
3 Valaika, Chris
19 Votto, Joey

Outfielders (7)

32 Bruce, Jay
31 Gomes, Jonny
28 Heisey, Chris
26 Hermida, Jeremy*
15 Lewis, Fred
77 Sappelt, Dave*
6 Stubbs, Drew

* = non-roster player

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Shoulder inflammation for Cueto

 The word on Johnny Cueto is in after he had MRIs on his elbow and shoulder this morning. The diagnosis is mild inflammation on his right shoulder.

“Everything structurally is fine,” Reds GM Walt Jocketty said. “The recommendation from Dr. Kremchek is to shut him down for a week or so and give it a chance to subside and get him back on a throwing program.”

After that, Cueto could probably need at least two weeks, the club felt, to get back into the rotation. He will remain here in Arizona when camp breaks. More to come soon on MLB.com.

In light on the injury and Arroyo’s battle with the flu, the Reds rotation is as follows:

Volquez, Bailey, Arroyo and then either Travis Wood or Mike Leake in either the fourth or fifth spots.

Also — eight cuts went down. They were:

LHP Daniel Ray Herrera, RHPs Jordan Smith, Carlos Fisher, Jerry Gil
SS Zack Cozart, 1B Yonder Alonso, IF/OF Todd Frazier and IF Kris Negron

 

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Cut day

Reds lineup:

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

*Bronson Arroyo was scratched because of the flu. He is scheduled to throw 85 pitches in a Minor League game on Thursday assuming he’s feeling better.

*Cuts are underway and I have the full list when it’s official.

*Weather is inclement around here to say the least. It’s raining. Even if they do play and you are attending out here, bring a jacket and know it will be windy. Gusts are expected to reach 35 mph.

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Heisey looking good

It was another wild offensive day in the Cactus League for the Reds. This was a 9-8 victory, which has moved the spring record to 14-9-1.

The good:

The Reds collected 17 hits in the game.

*Chris Heisey went 3-for-6 with two RBIs, including a solo homer to left field in the top of the eighth. He was a double shy of hitting for the cycle. Heisey is batting .325 (13-for-40) this spring and has hit safely in 9 of his last 12 games. He seems to have all but claimed a reserve outfielder’s spot. Heisey started in center field again and despite a throwing error today, has shown that he can play all three spots.

*Todd Frazier cranked a three-run homer to left field in the  fourth inning off of Brewers starter Chris Narveson. It was his second long ball since Thursday. Frazier got off to a slow start and seems to be coming on.

*The Dave Sappelt hitting show had another strong day. Sappelt was 2-for-4, which actually lowered his average from .536 to .531.

*Dontrelle Willis pitched well in the game, despite giving up a three-run homer to George Kottaras in the bottom of the fifth. A one-out walk to Casey McGhee two batters before Kottaras hurt.

“Willis made one bad pitch on a breaking ball to George Kottaras and what got him in trouble was the walk also,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said.

*Aroldis Chapman pitched two scoreless innings with two walks. Chapman also batted for himself in the eighth and slapped a single the opposite way through the left side.

“I turned to him and said ‘are you ready to hit?’ He said ‘oh no.’ And he got a hit. I’m glad for him,” Baker said.

Not-so-good:

*Reds pitchers combined to allowed 11 walks. Five came via Edinson Volquez, including four in the bottom of the third. Volquez walked two runs in and was removed after 2 1/3 innings. He was charged with five earned runs.

“I had a little bit of problem with control. It’s nothing big,” Volquez said. “It’s nothing but mechanical. I was jumping from of the rubber to home plate. … My arm is good, my body, everything is fine.”

Volquez believes he’ll be ready for the Brewers again on March 31.

“I have a good idea now of what they’re looking for,” he said. “It will be a good game.”

*Playing first base in the eighth inning, Yonder Alonso had his foot stepped on accidentally by former Red Chris Dickerson as he ran out a groundball. Alonso needed a couple of moments and was looked over by trainer Paul Lessard and Baker. But he was able to continue.

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Sunday

After the regulars played about seven innings for the past two days, many are getting a break on Sunday. Ramon Hernandez is back after he was scratched yesterday.

Lineup vs. Brewers, 4:05 p.m. ET Maryvale Stadium. WLW/MLB.com audio

Sappelt 7
Heisey  8
Lewis 9
Frazier 3
Francisco 5
Hernandez 2
Cozart 6
Valaika 4
Volquez 1

Chapman and Willis are slated to appear from the bullpen.

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Consequences of Cueto injury?

***UPDATE: Johnny Cueto left today’s game after only one inning with stiffness in his right biceps. He will fly to Cincinnati Sunday and be examined by Kremchek on Monday. Cueto was supposed to throw 50-60 pitches over 3-4 innings.

However, the club voiced optimism that the injury might not be serious. Pitching coach Bryan Price noted that Cueto’s pre-game warm-up went without a hitch and that he only felt discomfort on a couple of pitches.

“It’s that time of year where you have to be ultra-cautious,” Price said. “You don’t want this guy battling something the whole first half of the year. Nip it in the bud right now and we’re in good shape. Hopefully it’s not a major issue. I don’t think it is but I’m not a doctor. It’s better than the last time that he threw but it’s not 100 percent. We just didn’t want to take the chance of making it worse.

“If it was the playoffs, I don’t think he would’ve said anything about it at all.”

You may recall that Cueto exited his March 11 vs. TEX after two innings because of stiffness in his forearm and biceps. After a couple of days off and having his next start pushed back, he had been long tossing.

Even if the Reds downplay the injury and even if it isn’t serious, this is still a development that could create some havoc with the rotation.

The Reds are close enough to the regular season that you’ve got to think Cueto won’t get enough work to be ready. This could mean that Homer Bailey, Travis Wood and Mike Leake can all make the rotation. Wood, coincidentally, is starting the other split squad game @ARZ. He could slide into the No. 3 spot of the rotation.

Of course with all the days off early on, the Reds may not even need five starters right away. (***Upon further review, they would need a 5th starter as soon as April 9.)

Cueto signed a four-year, $27 million contract over the winter. Obviously, he underwent a full physical before the contract was inked and passed with flying colors.

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Saturday split squads

The squads are splitting up today. You get two Reds lineups for the price of one.

Vs. Rockies @ Goodyear, 4:05 p.m. ET. Radio on WLW/MLB.com

Stubbs 8
Renteria 6
Phillips 4
Rolen 5
Lewis 7
Hermida 9
Cairo 3
Hernandez 2 Miller 2
Cueto 1

*Cueto is making his first start on eight days rest after having a stiff forearm/biceps.

*Hernandez was scratched due to general soreness. Dusty Baker said he should be back on Sunday. 

*Baker will be the manager of this squad.

vs. Diamondbacks @Scottsdale, 4:10 p.m. ET

Heisey 8
Janish 6
Votto 3
Gomes 7
Bruce 9
Valaika 4
Francisco 5
Hanigan 2
Wood 1

*In both games, the regulars are expected to play seven innings again. Rolen will likely play five innings.

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Lots of crooked numbers

If you’re one of those folks that love crisp pitching, quick innings and a low-scoring affair…be glad you were not at grand HoHoKam Park on Friday. For those that enjoy bountiful offense, it was hitter’s delight for both teams as the Reds eeked out a 14-13 win that featured a combined 40 hits.

“I told the guard sitting next to me in the second inning that this looks like a 13-12 game,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “Then we had that five-run lead, I said ‘man, I’m nervous.’ Anything can happen in these games, especially in this park.  Our guys kept battling and we scored just enough.”

The highlights:

*Sam LeCure came in with seven scoreless innings over four relief appearances in the making of a strong bid for a bullpen spot. LeCure started vs. Chicago and had a long afternoon for just 2 1/3 innings of work. He allowed six earned runs and eight hits with one walk and no strikeouts.

LeCure had a one-walk, scoreless first inning but the hits started coming in a two-run Cubs second.

“I felt like I made some pitches in the second inning to get out of that deal,” LeCure said. “We had a potential double play that was going to be tough to turn.”

The lasers started coming in the third as four of his five batters faced reached with sharp line drive hits. Alfonso Soriano’s RBI double was the end.

“I made some pitches I was happy with even though I ended up giving up some runs,” LeCure said. “I haven’t pitched in trouble in all of Spring Training. I didn’t have a guy get to second base until today. I understand it’s going to happen. The last inning, they were hitting missiles all over the place. The ball was starting to come up some. Overall, I’m trying to take some positives from it. I pitched in some trouble, which I hadn’t done. I got stretched out more than I had. I think that will bode well for me when it’s time to pick guys for the team.”

*Daniel Ray Herrera, who is trying to earn a bullpen spot, inherited runners on second and third with one out from LeCure and both scored. A sac fly by Soriano followed. After a wild pitch, Darwin Barney’s RBI single on the ground to left field scored another run. Herrera returned in the fourth inning and picked up two outs. Then he allowed two singles and a walk but escaped the bases loaded jam.

*Jared Burton allowed  three earned runs and three hits over two innings with a homer.

*Matt Maloney gave up three earned runs and five hits over two innings with two walks.

*The regular players played seven innings. The lineup had an Opening Day-type look to it.

*Jonny Gomes, who came in batting .071, went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles.

*Scott Rolen (3rd inning) and Joey Votto  (5th inning) slugged their first homers of the spring. Both came against Carlos Zambrano on the first pitch. Rolen’s was a three-run shot and Votto’s was for two runs.

*Speaking of Rolen, I took my turn asking him about the discussion of how many games played. It will be seen in today’s feature. Not surprising, he doesn’t buy into the speculation nor worry about injuries.

“You have 162 games ahead of you. We’re going to be injured,” Rolen said. “We’re going to be beat up, banged up, bruised up and that’s a fact. It’s something that we know. So is everyone else in the league. That’s true. Hopefully we stay away from the big injury.”

*Reds starter Homer Bailey pitched on Friday in a Minor League game for Class A Bakersfield vs. Brewers Minor Leaguers. Bailey gave up four earned runs and five hits over 5 1/3 innings with no walks and seven strikeouts. He threw 76 pitches.

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