March 2012

Two games, two lineups

Reds lineup vs. Giants

Phillips 4
Cozart 6
Votto 3
Rolen 5
Jones 8
Heisey 7
Phipps 9
Hanigan 2
Bailey 1

This game is at 4:05 p.m. ET in Goodyear

Reds lineup at Padres

Stubbs 8
Valdez 6
Bruce 9
Ludwick 7
Francisco 3
Cairo 4
Janish 5
Mesoraco 2
Chapman 1

This game is at 4:05 p.m. ET in Peoria.

Madson to visit doctor in Cincinnati

*Closer Ryan Madson is headed back to Cincinnati to have his right elbow examined by team medical director Dr. Tim Kremchek. The club is still not revealing the nature of the setback for Madson.

“Nothing yet,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “He’s won’t be analyzed until tomorrow. He went back to Cincinnati. We won’t know anything until tomorrow.”

*Whether the situation is serious or not, it would seem unlikely that Madson could be ready in time for the start of the regular season. He has yet to pitch in an exhibition game. LHP Sean Marshall would appear to be the logical choice as a backup closer, but Baker wasn’t talking about contingency plans.

“I don’t know. We have to see about this first,” Baker said.

*LHP Bill Bray, who is trying to return from a groin injury, faced six batters over one inning in a Minor League game vs. the Indians today. He gave up a single and a two-run home run.

“You could tell he was rusty today. That’s to be expected,” Baker said. “He looked pretty good.”

“Not bad. It went pretty well,” Bray said. “I still need to zone it in a little bit.”

Bray is tenatively scheduled to see action in a big league game on Monday.

Friday at SD

Reds lineup vs. Padres, 10:05 p.m. ET

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

*Edinson Volquez is the starting pitcher for the Padres tonight.

*No news yet on Madson, or on how Bill Bray’s simulated game went. Check back later for updates.

No game for Madson Friday

It appears that Reds closer Ryan Madson has suffered a setback as he tries to return from an elbow injury.

Madson will not pitch in a Minor League game on Friday as scheduled, according to Reds manager Dusty Baker. He would not reveal the nature of the setback.

“I don’t have any answers for you right now,” Baker said after the Reds’ 6-2 win over the Rangers.

Madson, who was signed to a one-year, $8.5 million contract as a free agent in January, has missed every game this spring because of right elbow irritation. The injury was not considered serious.

In recent days, Madson has made progress with side bullpen sessions. On Tuesday, he threw 20 pitches over one inning in a simulated game against Reds hitters without issue.

If Madson is not able to open the season with the club, the Reds could turn to left-hander Sean Marshall to close games.

Chapman decision ‘close’

*One of the few mysteries of Reds camp has been what will become of LHP Aroldis Chapman. Starter in the big leagues, starter in Triple-A or reliever in the big leagues. The decision has not been made, yet.

“We’re close,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said Thursday afternoon. “You’ll be notified when we make our decision on what’s happening. Right now, we don’t know. The last time, it was decided kind of for us [in 2010], you know what I mean?”

The last time the Reds were on the fence with Chapman, he suffered a back injury late in camp and wound up starting the season at Triple-A Louisville. As luck would have it, the Reds have split-squad games on Saturday and have both Chapman and the other fifth starter candidate, Homer Bailey, making starts. Chapman gets the Padres while Bailey has the Giants.

*The team came back after the lone off-day away from the complex. Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips were each given an additional day of rest.

“I give them all a day to pick when you’d rather not be here, a mental day,” said Baker, who used his off day to go fishing. The other regulars will also get a day off before camp is over.

“I think everybody should have two days off. But it doesn’t work out in the schedule,” Baker added.

*I will have a feature later on LHP Sean Marshall. Here’s one interesting tidbit. When Marshall and his wife, Sarah, were married, the ceremony was peformed by “Mr. Cub” and Hall of Famer Ernie Banks.

“He’s a good man,” Marshall said. “We were on a vacation with this Cubs trip a couple of years ago. He said ‘when are you two going to get married?’ I said ‘I don’t know.’ He said ‘I can marry you. I’m a certified minister.’ I said ‘bring it on.’ So he lived up to the hype. We waited a year and a half. Ernie is all about weddings.”

Night ball….

I have no doubt that the UC-OSU game at 9:45 p.m. ET is at the forefront in local sports tonight. Nevertheless, there is night baseball going on at about the same time (10:05 p.m. ET).

Reds lineup vs. Rangers (ss)

Stubbs 8
Cozart 6
Bruce 9
Rolen 5
Francisco 3
Heisey 7
Mesoraco 2
Valdez 4
Latos 1

More to come later…

No opt out for Francis

The Reds headed into their day off with an 8-1 loss to the Mariners on Tuesday. It was actually a close game much of the day until Seattle scored three in the eighth and two in the ninth.

“A little tough day today,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “It seemed like we had a lot of balls today. We left a lot of runners on base. We had a lot more chances than to score just one.

*Cincinnati was 1-for-9 RISP, and stranded six.

*The Jeff Francis line: 5 ip, 7 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 1 HR. Francis has yet to walk a batter over 13 innings and has eight strikeouts and a 2.77 ERA in four games.

Francis’ chances of cracking the rotation are not great, barring the unexpected. But he has no plans to opt out of his Minor League deal — which is his right if he’s not on the big league roster by March 28.

“I’m not going to go home. I’ll be pitching,” said Francis, who also noted he wasn’t pursuing big league opportunities elsewhere. “I am not even thinking about it. I’m just trying to get people out.”

*LHP Sean Marshall turned in another scoreless inning with one hit and three strikeouts.

*RHP Andrew Brackman: 1.2 ip, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K

*Brandon Phillips was 2-for-2 with two singles.

*After a Phillips single in the fourth, he scored on a Zack Cozart double down the left field line. Cozart is batting .419 (13-for-31) this spring.

*In a Minor League game vs. the White Sox Triple-A squad, Johnny Cueto gave up four earned runs and five hits over 3 2/3 innings. Cueto walked two and struck out three with two home runs allowed.

*And following up from the earlier post, here is what LHP Bill Bray said about his simulated inning this morning.

“I like that I felt good and didn’t feel anything in my groin,” Bray said. “I got ahead of hitters pretty well. I got a little excited though and tried to throw the nasty pitches. Other than that, I felt great. I was around the plate so I was happy.”

*First pitch temperature: 57 degrees

*Attendance: 4,322

AM update: Madson, Bray, Wood

*Ryan Madson and Bill Bray each pitched an inning in simulated action, throwing 20 pitches against a rotation of Juan Francisco, Denis Phipps and Chris Valaika. When asked how it went, GM Walt Jocketty replied “good, really good.” There is no word yet on the next step, but it should be game action — possibly on the Minor League side. (Update: Bray said he has a Minor League game on Friday scheduled.)

*Johnny Cueto is pitching today in a Minor League game. I will have the numbers later today.

*Over at Cubs camp, former Reds pitcher Travis Wood is struggling. Wood has a 25.07 ERA through three games. On Monday vs. Seattle, he gave up seven runs on seven hits, two walks and three homers.

“You get traded for a guy like [Sean] Marshall & want to show what you can do and I haven’t been,” Wood told Chicago reporters this morning.

*Catcher Devin Mesoraco comes into today batting .136 (3-for-22). Dusty Baker was not concerned about Mesoraco’s offense.

“He’s been concentrating so much on catching,” Baker said. “Him and the shortstop, more than any other position, they’re going to get a majority of the plays. They really have to concentrate. Mes has always hit. If he never hit, it’d be what can we expect. If he has always hit, sooner or later if he can maintain confidence, he’s going to hit again.”

*Former Reds star and current TV analyst Aaron Boone is here today with ESPN’s 30 camps in 30 days series. Boone will be grand marshall in the Findlay Market parade on Opening Day.

“Elbow, elbow, wrist, wrist, wrist,” Boone said as he practiced a wave. “I’m working it out.”

It worked out for Boone to be part of the festivities since he’ll be in Cincinnati for the ESPN broadcast of the Reds-Marlins game.

“I think some of you that know me know what Cincinnati means to me, what the Reds mean to me,” Boone said. “The fact that they asked me to do this is a great honor.”

The lineup before a day off

Reds lineup vs. the Mariners

Phillips 4
Cozart 6
Votto 3
Rolen 5
Bruce 9
Ludwick 7
Stubbs 8
Hanigan 2
Francis 1

Brisk pitchers’ duel

It’s not something you see a lot of in Spring Training…a 1-0 final in two hours, 14 minutes. That’s what the Reds got in their win over the White Sox on Monday — their third victory in the last four games.

“The pitching was outstanding,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “Homer threw the ball great, everyone did. Masset, it was nice to have him back. Mahay threw the ball good. Arredondo was good. Ondrusek was also very good. Fisher, that’s the best outing he’s had this spring. He threw the ball great.

“We didn’t get a lot of hitting but scored just enough to win. That’s actually what we talked about this morning, winning one-run ballgames. Whatever we need to do, we’ll talk about that morning.”

*It was a scoreless pitchers’ duel most of the day, 0-0 through eight innings in fact. Chicago lefty Chris Sale worked six scoreless innings with six strikeouts.

*The lone run of the game came with one out in the ninth and in unique fashion. Wilson Valdez dropped a perfect squeeze bunt to the first base side of the mound, scoring Daryl Jones.

“He’s a smart player,” Baker said of Valdez. “He did what was necessary to get that run in and stay out of the double play. That’s what they were trying to get in that situation. That was heads-up baseball. “

*Homer Bailey looked good after a lousy previous outing vs. the Dodgers. Today’s line: 4 ip, 3 H, 1 BB, 1 K. Bailey thought he would go five innings but threw additional pitches in the bullpen instead.

“The biggest difference from the last game was we kept the ball down,” Bailey said. “The last time we were up in the zone and some breaking balls didn’t go where we wanted to. If you get the ball up, you’ll run into bats. Other than that, our defense made a couple of really good plays today and Mes did a really good job behind the plate.”

Bailey has a 7.15 ERA through four starts.

“The last game was the one I really felt bad about,” Bailey said. “The rest of them I thought I threw pretty well. It’s building up and I’m feeling really good, which is a change. So you have to be happy with that.”

*Nick Masset’s return to action was neat and clean — 3 up, 3 down. Masset got two groundouts and a flyout in the fifth,
all routine. Total number of pitches: six.

“Typically your job is to get strikes early and get ahead and get outs as quick as you can,” Masset said. “That’s the way it worked out. I didn’t to work as many pitches as I wanted to work and get it going. But I got three outs and it was a clean inning.”

*Logan Ondrusek pitched the bottom of the eighth and struck out the side.

*Here is Aroldis Chapman’s line for Class A Bakersfield vs Carolina today: 2.1 ip, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 WP.

*First pitch temperature: 54 degrees

*Attendance: 5,163

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