It’s Monday morning in Phoenix and everyone is at the Arizona Biltmore Resort for the All-Star media sessions. The National League team is just wrapping things up. Three of the four Reds All-Stars are here — Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce. Scott Rolen had returned home to gather up his family and was still flying out. He will be here tonight.
Lots of print, internet, TV and radio reporters peppered the players with all sorts of questions — ranging from what music they like to which pitchers they want to face or not face. Although this is a work trip for the Reds players — it’s also a four-day break from the season. I will have a more detailed story later today but here is something for now….
“It’s very helpful. Jay and I were talking about that on the ride here and how nice it will be to put the season on pause,” Votto said. “I think, speaking as a player on the team to the Reds’ fans, we’re frustrated too. We’re frustrated about the inconsistency of the team, not necessarily the players, but the wins and losses. We’re frustrated that things haven’t been easier. I think that if we pull this division out, this will almost be, to us, it might end up feeling more satisfying than last year. Last year, we just felt like ‘this is our season. We’re going to do it.’ This year, we feel like we’re supposed to repeat but we’ve kind of been in a hole the whole time and have to dig ourselves out.”
Only named to the All-Star team as an injury replacement on Saturday, Reds third baseman Scott Rolen is now in the National League’s starting lineup. During his press conference, NL manager Bruce Bochy revealed on Monday that Rolen will bat ninth.
Rolen’s seventh All-Star selection happened when Braves third baseman Chipper Jones was placed on the disabled list with a torn meniscus in his right knee. Rolen was the second-highest third baseman on the NL Player Ballot.
In 62 games this season, the 36-year-old Rolen is batting .241 with five home runs and 36 RBIs. He was an All-Star for the Cardinals from 2002-07 and with the Reds in 2010.
Greetings from Chase Field and the All-Star game experience in Phoenix. When I landed last night, it was 104 degrees. But what was really strange was that later in the evening, it actually rained.
(This post is coming literally at the very moment Francisco Cordero blew the save and the game at Milwaukee. Yeesh, that’s three-straight blown saves in a row. That was one rough road trip to end the first half with.)
I will be trying to blog and tweet from here and provide pictures if opportunity arrives. Today is the XM All-Star Futures Game with Minor Leaguers from the U.S. and World squads.
Three members of the Reds are here. Catcher Devin Mesoraco, 1B/OF Yonder Alonso and Triple-A Louisville manager Rick Sweet, who is a coach on the U.S. team. Look for a detailed story later today on Reds.com/MLB.com
“It’s kind of a taste of the big leagues a little bit,” Mesoraco said of the experience. “We’re staying at a nice hotel downtown. We have a nice locker room with a lot of media around. It’s a cool experience.”
The U.S. team was using the D-Backs home clubhouse while Alonso and the world team was housed on the visitor’s side. Alonso has mostly played left field in Louisville but is playing first base today. He was thrilled for his friend and shortstop Zack Cozart, who was called up earlier in the week.
“I was pumped,” Alonso said. “It’s good for him to get called up. I’m really happy for him. He’s done a good job. It’s even better when he’s doing so well. It shows what type of team we have at Triple-A. He set everything up – him and Sappelt – batting first and second. All the other guys would come up – like myself, Hermida and Mesoraco – and most of the time get them in.”
While I was talking with Sweet, I asked about the arrivals of shortstop Paul Janish and pitcher Edinson Volquez, who were both sent down this week.
“They both reported and both were in pretty good spirits,” Sweet said.
Janish is working on his hitting with coach Smokey Garrett and roving instructor Ronnie Ortegon.
“He actually called me as soon as he got to the airport in Milwaukee,” Sweet said of Janish. “He said ‘I’m sorry to say this but I will be seeing you shortly.’ We have a plan for him. He reported that next day and played well. His attitude has been great. He knows he got a chance, it didn’t work out and now he has to get ready for the next opportunity. He’s a good kid. He’s a professional. It is what it is. That means he just has to get back to work. His attitude is great.”
As for Volquez?
“Obviously, he would have preferred to be there,” Sweet said. “He felt this time he should have stayed there. But all that being said, he came back, got his work in and threw a side. He’s starting today.”
What a crazy game that fried the neurons of every Reds fan out there but the Reds’ 9-8 win in 13 innings I’m sure was a big sigh of relief for many of you.
I’m not sure there would have been existing technology to measure the dark mood of the clubhouse had the Reds dropped that game after blowing the 8-0 lead through five innings.
The Reds leave town three games behind the Cardinals. Stressful game or not, that’s a heck of a lot better than five games.
“Boy, that’s about as hard a victory that you can get,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said.
*The Reds are now 5-4 in extra inning games but had dropped the last four in a row.
*Bronson Arroyo retired 14 of his first 15 batters and faced the minimum through his first five innings. The first hit was a questionable call by the official scorer. Daniel Descalso beat out a single on a grounder to Joey Votto because of a high toss to Arroyo covering first base. It became a moot point when Tony Cruz doubled to start the St. Louis sixth.
*Chris Heisey led off the game with a homer, the second time he’s done that this season.
*Jay Bruce’s home run in the first inning snapped a 0-for-14 skid.
*Fred Lewis’ homer in the fourth inning was his first since May 5 when he went deep against Houston as a pinch-hitter.
*Dontrelle Willis did not pitch tonight in relief at Triple-A Louisville as we were previously told by GM Walt Jocketty. What that means to the Reds situation up here, I do not know.
*I will not being finishing the final first half road trip with the Reds in Milwaukee. I’m headed home for a couple of days off and will be in Phoenix starting this weekend to cover the All-Star game and related festivities. Be sure to check back for updates, pictures, etc. from the event with the three Reds All-Stars — Votto, Phillips and Bruce, plus the Futures game stars Alonso and Mesoraco.
“You never know what can happen in the game of baseball. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t start the game. You don’t know when you can be a part of it.” — Ramon Hernandez, who delivered the game-winning pinch-hit double in the 13th.
“I could have gone another inning. My mind was set for more than one inning. Thank God we took the lead and I came in and I feel really good that I could help with the team victory.” — Aroldis Chapman, who notched his first big league save.
“It feels good to help us get a win.” — Jose Arredondo on his first victory as a member of the Reds. He pitched a scoreless 11th and 12th.
“Chapman was it. Just like their guy Valdes was probably it with Lynn going two innings yesterday. Sometimes you’ve got to roll the dice and do what you’ve got to do.” — Dusty Baker
“It’s a tough loss, because we invested a lot, a lot of pitching. But 8-0, to come back and tie it against a real good club… We had nine outs to win it at home. We had a chance. Just couldn’t do it.” — Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa
So after all the speculation earlier this afternoon, the Reds roster is no different. General manager Walt Jocketty said that Dontrelle Willis is slated to pitch in relief tonight behind Travis Wood.
“It’s Wood day to start and I wanted to keep Wood on [his turn]. We didn’t want to deviate,” Jocketty said.
The mixed messages over Wood and Willis were good reasons to wonder if the Reds might make a change in their rotation, especially with the struggling Edinson Volquez scheduled to start Sunday.
When asked if the Reds still planning to go with Volquez, Jocketty said “yeah.”
The Reds haven’t played well heading towards the end of the first half, but the usually patient Jocketty isn’t seeking a move to shake things up.
“I don’t normally react that way,” Jocketty said. “If I make a move to do something, it’s not to shake things up. It’s to make the club better.
“I’m not going to sit here and predict what’s going to happen. I can’t. We only have a few days left before the break.”
The organization has a collection of young players at Triple-A Louisville doing well — whether it’s Zack Cozart, Devin Mesoraco or Yonder Alonso. Asked if they could make this club better, Jocketty declined to discuss.
“I’m not going to answer a question like that so stop asking,” Jocketty said.
Reds lineup vs Cardinals
*The last time Phillips batted fourth was May 23 at Philadelphia. In his previous stint there this season, the Reds went 15-12 while Phillips batted .291 (30-for-103) with three homers and 20 RBIs.
*This is the second time in four games Stubbs is taking a seat. Last night, he was 0-for-4 with a walk and four strikeouts.
*At Triple-A Louisville, 3B Juan Francisco was placed on the DL with a right knee meniscus tear. The move is retroactive to Monday.
Check out these two tweets from Triple -A Louisville, made only minutes apart.
“Travis Wood bumped back a day. @D_Train35 is on the hill tonight as the Bats look to take three in a row from the first place Clip Show.”
Then 10 minutes later:
“And just like that, we are officially TBA for the starting pitcher. We will let you know who it is when we know.”
*As far as I know, Arroyo is still a go for tonight..but stay tuned.
***3pm ET update: Louisville is back to listing Travis Wood as today’s starter.
There haven’t been many nights when the Reds seemed to have no life and little chance to win after an early deficit. But they were flat, flatter and flattest during an 8-1 loss to the Cardinals on Tuesday.
“Nothing went right tonight. Bad night. Terrible, actually,” manager Dusty Baker said.
That is four losses in the last five games, all of the defeats coming with two runs or less scored by the Reds.
It’s not uncommon for GM Walt Jocketty to be in the clubhouse postgame. But he was behind closed doors in the coaches locker room with the staff and Baker after this one. Could roster changes be a foot?
Brandon Phillips had some interesting comments after the game.
“If you look at our team up and down the lineup, we have some of the best talent as any team. Right now, we’re just not putting it all together,” Phillips said. “I know it’s very frustrating for our fans. It really is. We just have to find a way to put it together because the ball that we’re playing right now, it’s unacceptable.”
*Edinson Volquez didn’t really have it, which was disappointing after his solid outing in Tampa Bay. Volquez gave up three homers, including back-to-back shots by Holliday and Berkman with two outs in the first inning. He lasted only 5 1/3 innings and threw 94 pitches with seven runs (six earned) allowed on seven hits with three walks and three strikeouts.
*In six starts since his return from a demotion at Triple-A Louisville, Volquez is 2-2 with a 5.29 ERA. It was 6.35 in the 10 starts before going down. He has a 12.38 first inning ERA for the season.
*The Reds are in fourth place at 43-44 and four games behind the first-place Cardinals. Cincinnati has not been below .500 since they were 14-15 on May 3.
*Paul Janish made his ninth error of the season on a routine grounder by Ryan Theriot in the fifth, which led to a three-run homer by Holliday. That will do nothing to deter the Zack Cozart fan club campaign for a promotion.
“I don’t know. This game sort of frustrates you. I’m frustrated right now. The best thing to do is not talk too much.” — Dusty Baker when asked if there was hope for Volquez to turn things around.
Reds lineup vs. Cardinals
*No Cardinals lineup is out that I’ve seen…will Albert Pujols be in it tonight? He was activated from the disabled list. Returning from a broken wrist in 15 days is remarkable. Pujols is 4-for-10 (.400) with two home runs lifetime vs. Reds starter Edinson Volquez.
UPDATE: Pujols is not in the Cardinals lineup but available to pinch hit. That is kind of stunning.
*Against Cardinals lefty Jaime Garcia, Jonny Gomes has a good track record with a .500 average (4-for-8) with two doubles and three RBIs. Jay Bruce is 1-for-7, Brandon Phillips is 3-for-14 with a homer, Scott Rolen is 2-for-10 and Joey Votto is 1-for-8.
*The 43-43 Reds will be fighting to stay above .500 tonight. They have only been below .500 once this season back when they were 14-15.
*The Reds are 12-18 this season in one-run games. The 18 losses are fourth most in the Majors and second behind Florida for most in the NL.
Reaction from both clubhouses following the Reds 1-0 loss to the Cardinals on Monday.
On the pitching duel between Cueto and Carpenter:
“I don’t think that surprised anybody. We always have our hands full when Carp is out there. Cueto has been as good as anybody in the league. We definitely expected that out of both guys.” — Scott Rolen
“That was as good as you’re going to see. Both of them were dealing. We actually had more chances than they did. You hate to lose a game like that on a little jam shot-squibber because Johnny was great.” — Dusty Baker
“It doesn’t bother me because it’s part of the game. When I go there, I want to win. If that’s the way God wants it, that’s it.” — Johnny Cueto
“The key is that he’s pitching. He faced a lot of No. 1’s lately. He’s matched up with every one of them. He’s really maturing and coming along as a pitcher.” — Baker on Cueto
On Rolen’s play at third base to try and stop the Mark Hamilton RBI infield hit in the eighth:
“I was playing off the line. It kind of squibbed over and that was the only way I could think of making the play. He beat it out. It’s a base hit and RBI. “I knew it was fair right away. I knew it was going to land past the bag. I was just trying to get over there and see what happens when I got there.” — Scott Rolen
“That ball is spinning. That was a golden glove play by Scotty right there to even get that close.” — Dusty Baker
“I thought it had a chance to get by him when I hit it. He made an unbelievable play on me so I just had to get on my horse and get down the line, honestly the dive was just one of those spur of the moment things. It’s almost like I could feel the ball coming from Rolen at third and I felt like I had to do something to get there.” — Cardinals PH Mark Hamilton
“That play Scott made may be the greatest play by a third baseman I’ve ever seen. I have no idea how he got to that ball and threw the ball, I have no idea.” — Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa
And Rolen on his 2000th career hit, a first-inning single off Carpenter:
“I’m not a huge numbers guy but that’s number or plateau or a resting place I guess for a second. I guess I can let myself reflect a little bit since it’s a milestone number. It’s more a representation – I feel like I’ve worked pretty hard at this game, coming up from the minor leagues and all the way through. It’s a nice number. I will reflect on that number as a reward for a lot of sweat.”