Phillips is OK

The one concern for the Reds out of the 8-2 win over the Astros on Tuesday was the mysterious exit of Brandon Phillips, who went out for PH Miguel Cairo in the fifth.

Phillips is OK. He just didn’t feel too great after his head first slide to score on Joey Votto’s fourth inning double. The decision to remove him was precautionary, said manager Dusty Baker.

“I’m good. I had to sit down,” said Phillips, who was 2-for-2. “I couldn’t breathe at all. I went out there and tried to play defense. I was out there huffing and puffing, trying to stretch and everything. I just knocked the breath out of me.”

It was a very good performance for Mike Leake, who finished with a solid six innings pitched and allowed two earned runs on three hits with two walks and four strikeouts.

The sort-of a stunner to come out of postgame was from Baker, regarding Leake. After all the speculation in Spring Training about whether Leake would go to Triple-A Louisville if he didn’t make the rotation before the Cueto/Bailey injuries, Baker and the club had other ideas.

“The main thing is we know he can pitch,” Baker said. “He might have been trying too hard. He wasn’t going back to the Minors even though he might have been a little afraid that he might. We couldn’t tell him that. He was going to be on the team.”

What happens when the rotation is whole again?

“We’ll see,” Baker said. “We’ll deal with that when we get there. You can’t look too far into the future. Nobody can tell what will happen.”

Other notes:

*Drew Stubbs has a 12-game hitting streak dating back to last season.

*Chris Heisey drove in three runs despite going 1-for-2 with a RBI single. The other two RBIs were not official at-bats since Heisey walked with the bases loaded in the first inning and hit by a pitch with the bases full in the second.

*Jonny Gomes drew two walks, including one with the bases loaded. He has seven walks already through four games. Gomes had 39 walks all of last season.


“He felt like he was getting squeezed and it’s tough to tell when you’re in the box taking pitches. We always think they’re balls as hitters. I’m sure some of them were really close. I’m sure it was frustrating but we got the call. We got a couple on the board early and it’s always big to get that momentum right out of the gate.” — Chris Heisey on Astros LHP J.A. Happ

“It was six months since I pitched. I forgot how to pitch basically. I needed those five or so outings to remember what it was like to pitch. That last outing, I finally felt like I remembered. Today was a step in the right direction. There’s still a few things to work on.” — Mike Leake, talking about Spring Training and tonight
“Leakie was sharp other than that one inning where he kind of lost command of the strike zone. Those guys can hit over there. He made some quality hitters tonight swinging and miss or hit the ball on the ground. When Leakie is throwing groundballs, that’s when you know his ball is moving, he’s changing speeds and he’s in and out of the strike zone.” — Dusty Baker

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Well, yes, Dusty, you can tell what’s going to happen in the future, or at least make a very good guess: Bailey and Cueto are going to finish their rehab assignments and rejoin the team, giving the Reds a 7-man rotation. LeCure goes back L-ville; Cueto and Bailey (out of options) fill the fourth and fifth spots, and Leake goes – where? The bullpen? I found myself wondering last night if a Bailey trade was a possibility. You hear ‘no’ because of his stuff, but wouldn’t that solve a lot of problems? Mark, I’m starting to believe that light-air stuff about Arizona – after giving up 10+ runs a game for the last two weeks of spring training, the pitching’s been great! Go Reds!

I am not certain that LeCure would be the one sent down. At the during spring training he was prepared to be a bullpen guy. Maloney (also a potential starter) or Bray (options may play a factor) seem to be more likely as they are both lefties, but Jordan Smith, being the least experienced reliever may be picked. I think the solution is a Cordero trade (but maybe not this year). There are three or four potential closers on the club now – Chapman, Masset and maybe Bailey or Ondrusek. Another set of problems occur when Burton comes off the DL. He has shown potential, but has been hit with injuries in recent seasons.

Jon – you broached a lot of possibilities I hadn’t considered, but still and all, I don’t see any way Leake avoids going to Louisville unless there’s some roster move. Cordero? As you say, you can’t trade him now. Having a lot of pitching is great, even if it seems like too much sometimes. I don’t think the Reds should make a fetish of keeping Leake out of the minors. On the other hand, he looked great last night.

Check out my blog for a more detailed explanation of my thoughts on the pitching situation.

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