May 2011

Arredondo active, Leake optioned

The Reds activated RHP Jose Arredondo from the disabled list Saturday and optioned RHP Mike Leake to Triple-A Louisville. As you know, Leake skipped the Minors when he made the team out of camp last year.

Leake was 3-2 with a 5.70 ERA in nine games, including six as a starter. His last three outings were in relief after he was removed from the rotation. His demotion is as much of an endorsement of the work Sam LeCure did so far out of the bullpen and his flexibility to pitch in different situations. Leake had not adjusted as well.

“We just felt right now that LeCure is more suited and adept to the pitching out of the bullpen, whether it’s long or short,” Reds GM Walt Jocketty said. “He has experience doing that and Mike really hasn’t.”

“It’s very difficult,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “Leaky is one of our favorites and the fact he hadn’t really done anything to be sent out. It’s just a matter of numbers and again, a business decision. We had to call up Arredondo or else lose him and have to pay him anyway. It’s similar to the Fred Lewis move. Sometimes there are baseball moves and business decision moves. Not only was it a business move, they told me he was throwing the ball well.”

Leake will go into the Louisville rotation, which will enable him to be on a fixed schedule every fifth day.

Said Jocketty: “He’ll continue to do that for a while, for a couple of reasons – in the event we have a need for a starter, but there are still some things he needs to work on to get back to pitching like he did last year.”

Arredondo was signed last year even though he was recovering from Tommy John surgery. He struggled with his command during Spring Training but his numbers in the Minors while on a rehab assignment were solid. He had a 2.30 ERA in 12 games for Double-A Carolina and a 2.25 ERA in six games for Louisville with two walks and 10 strikeouts.

He will be able to fill different situations — two innings, one inning, one batter and even though he’s right-handed, Arredondo has a strong track record vs. lefty hitters.

“We’re anxious to see what he can do,” Jocketty said. “We signed him for a reason. Hopefully, we’ll see the guy we thought we did when we signed him.”

A window to play?

Reds lineup vs. Cardinals

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

*Today’s game is a sellout and standing room only tickets were available as of last night. It is the 56th sellout in nine regular seasons at GABP. The club is 26-29 in those games.

*Friday’s game was the 54th without a home run in the 669-game history of GABP and the fifth this season. It’s only the second time it’s happened vs. the Cardinals.

*This season, the Reds won all six previous series after they took the first game.

*Last night’s 6-5 win, which came after a 4-0 deficit, was the third time this season that the Reds won a game in which it trailed by at least three runs. That leads the Majors.

*According to the Reds, the rain is supposed to end around 3 p.m. ET, and there should be a window to get the game in.

Votto gets the big hit (again)

Joey Votto is a master craftsman when it comes to hitting and that was highlighted a couple of times on Friday vs. the Cardinals. Of course, none was bigger than the final one that ended the game. Votto’s lined RBI single into right field scored Chris Heisey for a 6-5 victory in 10 innings.

With Cardinals reliever Jason Motte throwing gas, Votto looked at his first three pitches and fell into a 1-2 count. Next came a 97 mph fastball that Votto fouled back. Another 97 mph fastball was taken for ball two. And yet another 97 mph fastball was paydirt.

Motte was working up the ladder on each pitch and Votto saw that.

“I got a pretty good pitch to hit later in the at-bat,” Votto said. “He’s always a tough guy to face because he throws so hard and elevates the ball. He’s a guy a lot of guys strike out on. I got two strikes against me. I really felt like I had to fight.

“The previous two pitches were higher and I fouled them both back. So I had it in the back of my mind and I was reacting to them. If he had gone a little higher, maybe I would have got on top and put the ball in play or would’ve fouled it off again hopefully.”

In his previous plate appearance in the seventh inning against St. Louis LOOGY Trever Miller, Votto worked a 10-pitch sequence into a walk. He had a tough time in the Chicago portion of the previous road trip but has seemed to come out of that. In his last three games, Votto is 7-for-14 with four RBIs.

Notes:

*The Reds had a ton of chances throughout the night and kept missing out on the big inning. They were 4-for-18 RISP and stranded 13 for the game.

*The 10th featured other nice at-bats leading to Votto. Ramon Hernandez fouled a pair of two-strike pitches back before working a walk. Edgar Renteria worked a 1-2 count into a walk, but not before fouling a couple of pitches off. Had Renteria not reached, there’s a good chance the Cardinals intentionally walk Votto.

*Scott Rolen had a nice return from the DL, going 3-for-5 with a RBI double in the sixth inning.

*The Reds are 4-0 in extra inning games.

*Tonight was the longest extra-inning game for the Reds, lasting 3:54.

Quotes:

“They weren’t bouncing our way at all, but you keep that pressure and something’s bound to happen, sooner or later. You just got to keep that pressure and pressure and always keep believing that you can get it done. The right man at the right spot was up there at the end of the game.” — Dusty Baker

“They’re one of those teams that really seems to minimize the big innings. I wouldn’t necessarily say that was a product of us coming up short. I think it’s just them doing a very good job executing, making sure instead of giving up the big three run inning, it’s one maybe two. They’re very good at that.” — Joey Votto

Roster move

To make room for Scott Rolen’s activation from the DL, the Reds optioned infielder Chris Valaika to Triple-A Louisville.

Valaika batted .313 since his April 24 call-up. He was 5-for-11 (.455) over his last five games. What stood out for me is how capably he played third base in several games. It’s the position he’s least familiar with but he handled it well. It gives the Reds another option to consider down the road should they lose Rolen, and/or Juan Francisco to an injury.

The Reds have not activated RHP Jose Arredondo from the DL and he is not on the premises yet. That situation remains murky but I will keep you posted. His rehab assignment ended officially on Tuesday. I am trying to figure out the rules of what must be done with a player after his rehab assignment expires.

**UPDATE — I was told that there is no set rule for a time limit to get a player back on the active roster after a rehab assignment runs out. That being said, I do not expect the Reds to let Arredondo stay idle for very long because it does him little good. And the Reds aren’t likely to DFA him because that would be a total waste of rehab/sweat equity they put in with him in 2010 and this year.

Rolen back in the fold

Reds lineup vs. Cardinals

Stubbs 8
Renteria 6
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Bruce 9
Rolen 5
Lewis 7
Hanigan 2
Arroyo 1

*Obviously, a roster move is pending for the activation of Scott Rolen. No word yet.

*Against Kyle Lohse, Edgar Renteria has the best career numbers at 5-for-12 (.467) with all singlesand one RBI. Fred Lewis is 2-for-3 with two doubles. Joey Votto is 3-for-9 (.333).

*Against Bronson Arroyo lifetime, Lance Berkman is hitting .292 with five homers and 14 RBIs.

*Since Homer Bailey and Johnny Cueto came off the DL, the Reds rotation is 5-0 with a 1.71 ERA. That included a 24-inning scoreless streak that was snapped on Wednesday.

*Cardinals skipper Tony LaRussa will not be with his club this weekend as he continues to be ill with shingles.

*Three games into his rehab assignment at Triple-A Louisville, Juan Francisco is 4-for-15 (.267) with one  double,  two RBIs and  three strikeouts.

*From the Reds: Through 12 p.m. ET on Wednesday 5/25 fans can register at reds.com for the opportunity to purchase up to 4 individual tickets to the 6/20-6/22 games vs the Yankees…fans selected will be notified on or about Fri, 5/27 via thee-mail address submitted on the registration form.

*And if you don’t mind some non-Reds news, Hall of Famer and former Twins great Harmon Killebrew announced today he was entering hospice care as he loses his fight against esophageal cancer. I had the prvilege to interview Harmon a few times in person when I covered the Twins and occassionally talked with him on the phone as well for stories. He could not have been more gracious to speak with and there isn’t a nicer gentleman around the game of baseball.

Cueto brilliant in debut

Since I need to make my way to the airport, I will keep this brief.

Johnny Cueto gave the Reds exactly what they hoped for today with six-plus scoreless innings for a 2-0 victory. Cueto allowed five hits and a walk with four strikeouts. He threw 102 pitches and was lifted after a leadoff single in the seventh since he was at his pitch limit.

With Homer Bailey back and Cueto back and both with nice starts, the Reds could really see what they’ve got going forward. Bronson Arroyo pitched great yesterday and Travis Wood was mostly solid — save for four walks — his last time out. Maybe I’m a dissenter to you, but I believe Edinson Volquez isn’t too far from finding his rhythm on a consistent basis. To me, his moments of brilliance are too good to think he can’t start clicking.
 

“We’re on a little bit of a roll now,” manager Dusty Baker said. “Hopefully we can get on a big roll if we can get everybody back. This is the team we slated to be the team. The other guys did a good job for them in their absence but these guys are my horses.”

Notes:

*Joey Votto’s on-base streak to start the season was ended at 33 games after he was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. That left him one shy of Dave Collins’ 1981 club record. Interestingly, Votto’s 41-game on-base streak last season was ended here as well on July 4 when he was ejected in the first inning for balls and strikes.

“You go through stretches where you miss. I’ve been missing lately. It will pass,” Votto said.

*For those wondering, Aroldis Chapman was up in the bullpen during the seventh inning jam and was intended to use against lefty hitter Kosuke Fukudome. Chapman wasn’t ready in time, however. And Sam LeCure walked Fukudome to load the bases, but he escaped the jam of his own making.

“We were thinking about him but he takes a long time to get loose,” Baker said of Chapman. “We have to give him a full inning to get loose. I called down and he wasn’t ready. We didn’t want to take a chance.”

*Jay Bruce was 2-for-3 today, making him 12-for-36 (.333) with four homers and eight RBIs over his last 10 games.

*Going back to last season, the Reds have won 12 of the last 15 games vs. the Cubs.

*Cueto and Nick Masset were both called for balks today. It was the first time that two balks were called on the team since it happened to Brandon Claussen and Brian Shackelford on 8/25/05 vs. the Nationals. That interesting nugget came from the Cubs media relations staff.

Quotes:

“That was a great outing by Cueto. We took him to his limit, I think. That’s why we got him. He was still throwing the ball well but you’ve got to remember that’s his first outing. That was awesome.” — Dusty Baker

“My fastball was landing where I wanted it. And I was happy with the location because my fastball was getting good location.” — Johnny Cueto

*
“We had the tough loss yesterday and to be able to bounce back from that and get a win today was great. Cueto came back and pitched outstanding. Our relievers did a great job also holding that lead. Not a lot of hits, but luckily the one I got was a homer and Ramon got the big hit early too.” — Drew Stubbs

“It might have been one of the best I’ve ever seen him throw, to be honest with you. He looked fantastic. He threw his breaking ball really well. It seemed like they were off balance the entire game. I’m really glad he came back after missing some time and threw so well today.” — Joey Votto on Cueto

*
****That’s it for me for a few days. I’m skipping Houston but resuming on Friday for the Cardinals series.

Cueto, Cairo return

Reds lineup vs. Cubs

Stubbs 8
Renteria 6
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Bruce 9
Gomes 7
Hernandez 2
Cairo 5
Cueto 1

*
*To make room on the roster for Johnny Cueto, Carlos Fisher was optioned to Triple-A Louisville.

*
*SS Paul Janish (sprained right ankle) grabbed a bat and headed to the cage under the outfield bleachers. Earlier in the clubhouse, he saw some improvement since he was injured on Friday.

*

“I am going outside today and move around a little bit,” Janish said. “It is definitely better than it was but it’s still a little sore. I am obviously not playing today, but maybe tomorrow or the next couple of days, I’ll probably be at least in the realm to get back on it pretty good. It’s kind of encouraging because I thought it would be a few more days. We’ll be good.”

*
*Miguel Cairo, who has a sore right knee, is making his first start since April 30.

*
*If Joey Votto reaches base today, it will be 34 straight games to start the season and would tie himwith Dave Collins’ 1981 record to start the season.

*

3B Juan Francisco (left calf) was scheduled to leave today for a Minor League rehab assignment at Louisville.

*

*Several Reds players were opening boxes that contained their new pink bats for use on Mother’s Day and to recognize breast cancer awareness.

**
“I’m using it for my Mom,” Brandon Phillips said. “I’m using it for my Mom’s mom and for the all the moms in my family. It recognition for the moms out there, especially for breast cancer awareness also. I’m very privileged to use a pink bat and pink cleats also. It’s nice to be able to do something like this. I’m just glad to be a part of it.”

*
“Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers,” said manager Dusty Baker as he put pink wristbands on his arms. “I made all my calls. My wife sent all the flowers and they thanked me. She even sent herself some. That’s a good wife, ain’t it?”

Janish not in lineup

Reds lineup vs Cubs

Stubbs 8
Renteria 6
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Bruce 9
Heisey 7
Hanigan 2
Valaika 5
Arroyo 1

Haven’t seen Janish yet but I will see if the ankle he turned is why he is out today.

Update: Janish isn’t available because of his ankle.  Janish rolled it on the side of the bag as he was rounding third base on Edinson Volquez’s fifth inning sacrifice bunt.

“He is very sore,” Dusty Baker said. “He can’t do anything today. He’s just getting treatment…and we hope it subsides tomorrow or the next day.”

Janish was in the clubhouse with his right ankle tightly wrapped and elevated on a chair.
“It’s just so tender right now,” Janish said. “Whenever I get up on my toe, it’s tough to do much. I think it will be a couple of days or taking it easy and it will be alright. It’s nothing too severe, just your standard issue ankle sprain. There’s nothing you can do about it, which really stinks.”

Miguel Cairo is available off the bench but the Reds are definitely shorthanded on infielders.
 

“Cairo is close,” Baker said. “He’s available to double switch. That’s me not wanting to take a chance right now. I’m just trying to give him every chance to get 100 percent, get better, so it doesn’t return or linger.”

Greetings from Wrigley

Reds lineup vs. Cubs

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

*In three career starts vs. the Cubs, Edinson Volquez is 2-0 with a 0.96 ERA. He has a 1.54 ERA in his two starts at Wrigley Field.

*Cubs starter Matt Garza has never faced the Reds before. He has previous faced batters Ramon Hernandez, Miguel Cairo and Edgar Renteria. In the very small sample, Hernandez fared the best at 2-for-9 (.222).

*Since going to Triple-A Louisville, RHP Jose Arredondo has a 4.50 ERA with one walk and five strikeouts in three games. He already had nine appearances at Double-A Carolina. Arredondo is scheduled to work tonight for Louisville at Buffalo.

Nice series turnaround

Just think, there was a moment on Wednesday when the Reds were three outs away from losing this series. They had only one hit through eight innings and all was bleak.

Fast forward to today’s 10-4 win. The Reds took the series with back-to-back wins, the first time they did that since April 11-12. And they did it behind a very fine season debut from Homer Bailey.

Bailey’s line: 6 ip, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K. 95 pitches/62 strikes. His 1-2-3 first inning was a good barometer — 15 pitches/11 strikes. You can read more on him when my full game story is published on MLB.com.

“Pretty much, we were always in a good count,” Bailey said. “There were only a couple of batters where we fell behind. When you’re ahead in the count, good things are going to happen.”

The Reds could not have asked for a better outing for his first game back from the right-shoulder impingement. Another anticipation is brewing for Sunday when Johnny Cueto makes his 2011 debut.

Notes:

*Joey Votto’s on-base streak is at 31 with his fourth-inning single. Now that Ryan Braun’s streak ended yesterday at 28, Votto is the only big league player to reach base in all of his team’s games.

*Ryan Hanigan’s three RBIs accounted for the first three runs of the game.

*Bailey’s 1-2-3 top of the first inning was only the fifth for the rotation in that troublesome inning this season. However, it was the second in a row after Travis Wood did it Wednesday.

*Fred Lewis had the first PH homer of his career and his first homer with the Reds in the sixth inning.

*Aroldis Chapman had a rough one today. Chapman entered with two on and two out in the seventh and did not retire any of his three batters. He walked two, including one with the bases loaded and gave up a two-run single.

*Nick Masset did a nice job with a 1-2-3 eighth inning. His two strikeouts both came on 96 mph pitches.

*Jay Bruce hit an eighth inning homer during the important four-run eighth that put the game away. Bruce is tied with Jonny Gomes for the team lead with six homers.

*The Reds have had four-straight games without an error.

Quotes:

“This guy is capable of a lot of victories for us. We were hoping this injury or the layoff for him and Cueto both – we’re in September and they’ll still be strong when everybody else has another month on them. Hopefully into October, he’ll be September with innings and wear and tear. This could work out great for us.” — Dusty Baker on Homer Bailey

“I had a lot of confidence that we were going to score some runs. I had Hanigan back there doing a great job. It was more about executing pitches.” — Homer Bailey

“He’s had spurts of dominance throughout his career. It’s just a matter of consistency. He’s such a competitor and he wants it bad. He works at it as hard as anybody. He’s got the stuff to do it when he’s on. We’re just going to try and take it game by game, have a good game plan, try and stick with it, make adjustments on the fly and hopefully he can have a good year.” — Ryan Hanigan on Bailey
 
“It feels good to shut the door a little bit, not having to come from behind. It’s always comforting, especially on get-away days.” — Jay Bruce

“He didn’t have it today; I’m sure he will next time. The rest of the guys picked him up.” Ryan Hanigan on Aroldis Chapman

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