June 2011

Volquez returns

Reds lineup vs. Cubs

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

*According to the Twitter feed of Double-A Carolina, LHP Aroldis Chapman has been sent there to resume his Minor League rehab assignment. Chapman had three appearances for Triple-A Louisville, but none since May 29.

*How good of an outing does Edinson Volquez need to put your mind at ease, and the Reds for that matter? Obviously a smooth top of the first would be a nice beginning.

*A roster move to make room for Volquez has yet to be revealed.

*Against Cubs starter, LHP Doug Davis, Brandon Phillips is 9-for-21 (.429) with two doubles and one RBI.

*More to come…

Reds select high school pitcher

 With the 27th overall selection in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, the Reds picked right-handed pitcher Robert Stephenson from Alhambra High School in Martinez, Calif.

If you would like to see some video of Stephenson, click here

Stephenson, 18, is the first high school player to be taken by Cincinnati since catcher Devin Mesoraco in 2007. He’s the first high school pitcher taken by the team since Homer Bailey in 2004.

At 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, Stephenson is considered a power pitcher that, according to reports, can reach 97 mph with his fastball. He also has a commitment to the Univ. of Washington.

“We’re very excited to have Robert,” Reds scouting director Chris Buckley said. “He’s an outstanding high school projection pitcher with a very loose, live arm. We saw him as high as 98 [mph] this year. He’s going to fill out, get stronger.”

During his senior season, Stephenson threw two no-hitters and posted a 1.19 ERA in 76 1/3 innings.

“I saw him pitch three times this year,” Buckley said. “To get him in the first round, we obviously liked him a lot. He’s got very good upside, good projection to his frame. He throws hard now. He should throw a little harder as most high school kids do as they get bigger and stronger. We’re real excited to have him.”

 

Baker: Hitting not the problem

Reds manager Dusty Baker was asked Monday if there might a chance for some hot-hitting players at Triple-A Louisville to come up to help the offense. Players like Zack Cozart, Yonder Alonso, Devin Mesoraco and Todd Frazier have been playing very well.

Baker shot down any notion that moves would coming on the offensive side.

“Hitting ain’t been our problem,” Baker said. “We’re second in the league, or third, in almost every offensive category. Are we going to go from a five-run game to seven runs or eight? In a number of cases, it still hasn’t been enough. There haven’t been any discussions.

“There’s a bigger gap now between Triple-A and the big leagues than there ever used to be. If not, guys would come up here right away and do what they were doing down there. It hasn’t been the case. We chose this team for a reason. That’s a very good Triple-A team down there with guys that have been there for a while. Whatever you do, you have to do something with the guys that are here. You don’t just pull the plug on the guys that are here right now. It’s too early for that.”

The Reds enter the night in third place with a 30-30 record and are 5 1/2 games out of first place in the NL Central. But the manager has a point. The team ranks third in hitting, second in runs scored, hits, total bases and RBIs and third in home runs. On the pitching side, the Reds are 14th in ERA. They have allowed the most homers in the NL and the third most hits.

If there’s going to be a shakeup of any kind, it makes me wonder if GM Walt Jocketty will explore the trade market for an “ace” type of pitcher. He aggressively pursued LHP Cliff Lee but lost out when the Mariners dealt him to the Rangers. Cincinnati was very much in that battle for Lee. And before you ask me who is available, that’s harder to figure out. A total of 19 of the 30 MLB teams are within six games or better in their respective divisions. It’s not time for the white flag to be waved by those teams, yet.

In other news:

*Edinson Volquez is definitely making the start for the Reds on Tuesday.

*3B Scott Rolen has strep throat. The team hopes he can return Tuesday, but it’s not a guarantee.

No Rolen in lineup, roster move

Reds lineup vs. Cubs

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

*The Reds announced one roster move. They optioned RHP Chad Reineke to Triple-A Louisville and recalled RHP Daryl Thompson from Louisville. Thompson was up for one game on May 26, the day after the 19-inning game. He pitched 3 innings and allowed five runs, six hits and five walks.

*Edgar Renteria (back) and Scott Rolen (head cold) are both listed as available off of the bench on the lineup card.

*This season vs. Cubs starter Matt Garza, Brandon Phillips has the most success at 3-for-5 with one RBI.

*I will be mostly tied up tonight with the first round of the First-Year Player Draft. The Reds will have the 27th overall selection. The Draft starts tonight at 7 p.m. ET and can be viewed on television at MLB Network or on MLB.com on the Draft Central page.

A break for Phillips

Reds lineup vs. the Dodgers

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

*A rare non-start for Brandon Phillips, who was 0-for-11 in the Brewers series and 7-for-39 (.179) in his last nine games since moving back to the No. 2 spot of the lineup. (updated…Also, he was hit on the right wrist in the 8th inning of Wednesday’s game, so I’ll have to as about that.)

**UPDATE — it’s just a day off and not really health related for Phillips

 

“I could tell his legs were getting a little tired and how he was swinging,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “I wanted to give him two days off. Usually he kind of fights me on it. I called him yesterday and said ‘have a good time, do what you want to do tonight because you’re off tomorrow too.’ He didn’t fight me on it.”

“I’m feeling good,” Phillips said. “I just haven’t had the results. I’m hitting the ball hard. I hit a ball hard the last game and Nyjer Morgan made a nice play. I hit one right at Prince Fielder. I’m not really caught in a slump at all. If I was striking out and stuff like that or hitting weak pop ups and weak groundballs, then I’d say I’m slumping. I’m just having bad luck.”

 

*Edinson Volquez pitched 6 2/3 innings and allowed 1 ER, 5 H, 4 BB, 2K and threw 112 pitches/69 strikes for a 5-1 Triple-A Louisville win over Syracuse. Curious to see if that’s viewed as good enough to warrant a return to the big leagues.

*The Sporting News named 1B Joey Votto the fourth-best player in baseball behind Albert Pujols, Troy Tulowitzki and Felix Hernandez.

Huge win before welcomed day off

Even if Joey Votto doesn’t agree, the Reds needed that game in a bad way. A 4-3 win over the Brewers came in the Reds’ last two at-bats on a two-run homer by Jay Bruce in the seventh and Joey Votto’s game-winner with a two-run shot in the eighth. Cincinnati was trailing 3-0 after four innings.

Votto hasn’t gotten as many pitches to hit, and especially drive, this season. But he got one very favorable matchup against Milwaukee reliever Kameron Loe, coming in 3-for-6 with two homers. Not only did Votto crush the 2-1 pitch, it was still carrying upwards as it smacked the center field batters’ eye. Estimated distance: 439 feet.

“Every single game is equally important,” Votto said. “This one was important because we’ve been losing quite a bit lately.”

Manager Dusty Baker had a different point of view about the meaning of the game, which was the Reds’ 20th in 20 days.

“Best one in a long time. That was huge that we found a way to win the game,” Baker said.

Notes:

*Francisco Cordero recorded his 300th career save with a 1-2-3 ninth inning. Cordero is only the 22nd player to reach that plateau and it tied him with HOFer Bruce Sutter on the all-time list.

*Brewers 2B Rickie Weeks has started three games against the Reds this season with a home run. Oddly enough, his team is 0-3 in those games.

*In his last 17 games, Jay Bruce is hitting .403 with nine homers and 25 RBIs. His long ball tonight was his NL leading 17th.

*The Reds have 15 come-from-behind wins this season.

*Before tonight, the Reds had lost their last five one-run games.

Quotes:

“It was so great tonight. We’re down by a run in the bottom of the eighth, two outs, and Joey Votto came big and hit a homer and I get the save. Now we have a great day off tomorrow and enjoy the day off and come back ready to play against the Dodgers and keep doing what we’re doing — just keep winning games, just keeping saving any time I get the chance. Who knows? Maybe next time we’re talking about 400. You never know.” — Francisco Cordero

“Shaun Marcum obviously had a lot to do with it. We ended up getting some big hits at the end of the game, myself and Jay. Jay has obviously been a go-to guy over the past month.” — Joey Votto on the Reds’ first six scoreless innings and the turnaround.

“Both of them are great hitters. Votto is always hot. Bruce has been unbelievable for the last month. When you make a mistake to them, neither one is going to miss it.” — Brewers manager Ron Roenicke.

“We finally won a series, won a rubber match game that has been eluding us for so long. Hopefully now we’ll take this day off and enjoy it. It’s been a tough run these last 20 days. Up and down and a lot of emotional swings, mostly down.” — Reds manager Dusty Baker

“Any time you’re in the central division and win, it’s always good. But going into a day off and winning, it’s a little better feeling than going in with a loss. We’ve got a tough stand coming here with L.A., we’ll have to battle.” — Reds starter Mike Leake, who allowed three runs over six innings.

Rolen not in the lineup

Reds lineup vs. the Brewers

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

*Scott Rolen is in a 4-for-27 clip (.148) since May 25 and 9-for-50 (.180) since May 18. No word until we get to the clubhouse on if there’s a specific reason for the rest tonight.

**UPDATE: Talked to Rolen and this was a planned off day. Dusty Baker told him last night.

“He gave me the day off so we could put two full ones in a row – today and tomorrow,” Rolen said. “It doesn’t have to be a day game after a night game.”

Asked how he’s feeling at the plate lately as he’s struggled, Rolen know it isn’t how he wants to be.

“I’m kind of searching a little bit, obviously,” Rolen said. “I’m trying to figure it out, a never ending batting. I wish it were coming a little easier than it is right now.”

*More on Rolen later on MLB.com/Reds.com

*Edgar Renteria gets another start. He is 4-for-10 (.400) lifetime with a homer vs. Brewers starter Shaun Marcum.

*Renteria also has six errors for the season. Paul Janish has four errors at shortstop and one at third base. Renteria’s E6 between the legs set an ominous tone in the four-run Milwaukee third inning last night. The stunner was that ball went between the wickets on Janish too in the ninth.

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