March 2012

Relievers making progress

Three relievers with various injuries appear to be turning a corner with their progress.

*Ryan Madson (elbow irritation) is scheduled to throw 30 pitches in the bullpen today, with 10 of those pitches being
changeups. He threw 20 pitches — all fastballs — two days ago.

“This is the best I’ve felt all spring,” Madson said. “Hopefully it continues. Every day since I said something and they began treating it, it’s gotten better. That’s a positive. Hopefully I will be in some games by the end of next week, which
will give me plenty of time to be ready for Opening Day.“

*Bill Bray (left groin) threw in the bullpen yesterday and is scheduled to have another bullpen session on Friday.

“I’m cautiously optimistic about it. I’m still expecting to be ready Opening Day,” Bray said. “I went thorugh all the testing last week – cuts, agility, the push off and the drop from the angle on the mound that caused the most problems. I
think it will be fine. I was letting it go pretty good yesterday and had no discomfort.”

*Nick Masset (shoulder) threw in the bullpen yesterday.

“Everything was coming out free and loose,” Masset said. “I’m throwing all of my pitches and I feel really strong.”

*There are no target dates known for when the three pitchers will get into a spring game. But it doesn’t appear it will be much longer.

I have more details in a story later on

Lineup vs. Angels

*I am back after a few days off. I will catch up with some news shortly but first, here is today’s lineup vs. the Angels.

Phillips 4
Cozart 6
Heisey 7
Cairo 3
Frazier 5
Phipps 9
Valdez 8
Navarro 2
Hanigan DH

Cueto 1

Francis and Marshall are also due to come out of the bullpen today.

Errors galore

The Reds’ spring record dropped to 4-4-1 following a 6-3 loss to the A’s on Saturday afternoon. Here are some of the items of note:

*It wasn’t a great afternoon for Johnny Cueto. 2 ip, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 1 HB. Cueto threw 50 pitches.

“It was one of those days that I felt too strong so I could not control my body on the mound,” Cueto said. “My arm was feeling so good that I was overthrowing today.”

Reds manager Dusty Baker still liked what he saw from Cueto.

“He was throwing real hard,” Baker said. “He was missing on the inside. He didn’t have his inside command today. But he was throwing the ball good.”

*The defense was not very robust with a total of six errors combined. The Reds made three of them — all fielding errors.

“We just didn’t play very good defense today. The infield got a little choppy,” Baker said. “That was really the difference in the ballgame. They [the A’s] didn’t play good defense either.”

*In the first inning, Juan Francisco botched a routine grounder by Manny Ramirez, which allowed an unearned run to score. It came just after Cueto got a double play from Seth Smith.

“It cost [Cueto] a lot of pitches,” Baker said. “He should have been out of there with no runs and nine or 10 less pitches. We were counting on him to go three innings, hopefully.”

*Kris Negron, who replaced Francisco, and shortstop Wilson Valdez made the other Reds errors.

*Yoenis Cespedes was 2-for-2 with a walk and two RBIs vs. the Reds. I was inside the clubhouse while Cueto talked to reporters when a roar from the crowd could be heard. It turned out it was Cespedes hitting his first homer off of LHP Jeff Francis.

*The Francis line: 3 ip, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1 HR

*LHP Clay Zavada: 1 ip, 1 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 0 K. Zavada walked his first two batters of the third inning, which led to a RBI single by Josh Donaldson and a sac fly by former Red Adam Rosales.

*There were a couple of wacky moments. In his first at-bat after Ball 2, Ramirez appeared to think it was Ball 4 because he lowered his bat and seemed headed to first base. (Manny being Manny?) In the second inning after Zack Cozart flied out with a runner on third base, left fielder Seth Smith fired a strike to home plate to get the runner. It was all for naught since that was the third out.

*First pitch temperature: 66 degrees

*Attendance: 6,644

*I won’t be around camp for a while since I’m taking a four-day break from Sunday-Wednesday to spend some time with the family. Be back on the case Thursday.

Phillips, Chapman, Rolen, more..

The Reds-A’s game is being shown on tape delay tonight at 11 pm ET on MLB Network. So between that and the Bearcats in the Big East finals, it’s a good sports night for Cincinnati perhaps.

Here are a few news and notes items to keep you updated:

*GM Walt Jocketty said he expected to meet with Brandon Phillips’ agents soon when they get to town. It’s been rather quiet on talks about an extension since the latter part of the off-season.

“They will be here this coming week,” Jocketty said Saturday. “That’s all I am going to say. There’s nothing more to talk about until I talk to them.”

*Aroldis Chapman’s two perfect innings on Friday vs. the Giants had good reports from pitching coach Bryan Price, who made the trip to Scottsdale to watch.

“Bryan said he had the best mechanics he’s seen since he’s been here,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said.

*3B Scott Rolen is batting .556 (5-for-9) with two RBIs in his first four games out here. It’s definitely being taken as a positive sign that Rolen and his left shoulder are healthy.

“We’re keeping our fingers crossed, No. 1, that he stays healthy,” Baker said. “He’s looking better already this year than he was the whole year last year. He’s swinging with more freedom. I don’t see him wincing in pain or overall discomfort. You can see he’s happy about things.”

*INF Todd Frazier is at 1B today and has played there, LF and RF. He hasn’t played 3B yet. Offensively, Frazier is off to a decent start with a .286 (4-for-14) with two homers entering the day. Frazier has been trying to be aggressive at the plate.

“So far, so good,” Frazier said of his spring. “I came into camp with the understanding that I have to hit to play. I’m trying to get that first fastball and I am trying to drive it. If not, I’ll spit on it and not swing and live to see another day. I’ve had three or four at-bats where I’ve swung at the first pitch and put it into play and got a couple of hits out of it.”

*Baker has usual SS Zack Cozart in the DH spot today. It has nothing to do with the achy right arm Cozart had earlier this week.

“I have him DHing so he can get four at-bats without having to play nine innings,” Baker said. “Cozart said he’s feeling good. Jay Bruce will DH tomorrow and get four at-bats.”

*There are lots of national-type reporters here at Phoenix Municipal Stadium today. It’s the debut of OF Yoenis Cespedes, the latest Cuban defector.

Saturday lineup

Reds vs A’s, 3:05 pm ET in Phoenix

Phillips 4
Valdez 6
Heisey 9
Ludwick 7
Francisco 5
Frazier 3
Jones 8
Cozart DH
Hanigan 2

Cueto 1

And here is some news from a Reds press release:

The Cincinnati Reds and Findlay Market announce that Reds great and ESPN broadcaster Aaron Boone will be the Grand Marshal of the 93rd Findlay Market Opening Day Parade, which kicks off at 1 p.m. on Thursday, April 5th.

Split decisions

In the split-squad action today — it was a split result. The Reds won their home game, 5-1, over the Royals. Over at Scottsdale, the Chris Speier led team took a 6-3 loss to the Giants.

*In his second start of spring, Homer Bailey was solid vs. KC with three scoreless innings. Bailey gave up one hit and one walk but also picked up two double plays.

“I thought Homer was good,” manager Dusty Baker said. “He had good velocity and good location. He threw the ball very well today.”

*The Reds were shut down over the first two perdect innings by Royals lefty Danny Duffy, who struck out his last five in a row. The bats came alive with four runs in the fourth inning — all with two outs. After three singles, including a RBI hit by Scott Rolen, Donald Lutz crushed a three-run homer to right-center field – his second long ball of spring.

“The guys played well. We got some timely hitting,” Baker said. “Big Lutz had a big three-run homer.”

*Josh Judy replaced Bailey and pitched two scoreless innings. Andrew Brackman looked good in the eighth with one hit allowed and two strikeouts.

*Against the Giants, it was six up and six down for Aroldis Chapman in his start. Chapman struck out two.

*Sam LeCure was touched for four earned runs, five hits and one walk over two innings vs. the Giants.

*On Saturday, the Reds will face the A’s in Papago Park and will get to see Cuba-defecting center fielder Yoenis Cespedes in his first big league spring game. Cespedes, who will bat second, will be welcomed to the show by Johnny Cueto. That should be a fun matchup.

Attendance in Goodyear: 2,105

First pitch weather in Goodyear: 77 degrees


No target date for Madson

Good morning/afternoon from Goodyear. Today, our youth reporter Meggie Zahneis arrived to camp for a few days and she’s off to a great start. Meggie has interviews done already with Brandon Phillips, Dusty Baker, Sean Marshall, Mat Latos, Brett Tomko and Andrew Brackman in the span of 45 minutes. Be on the look out for her stuff in the coming days.

For the here and now, here are some quick AM notes:

*Ryan Madson (elbow) does not have a scheduled appearance in a game as of yet.

“We’re just moving forward with playing catch,” pitching coach Bryan Price said. “Once he can show he’s done everything he can do on flat ground, he’ll graduate to a mound.”

*Juan Francisco (calf), who hit a two-run home run in Thursday’s game vs. the Brewers, is in the lineup again at Scottsdale for the Giants.

“He’s getting better. He’s moving around better,” Baker said. “He’s working hard to get into shape, which he should have been already. He’s progressing.”

*Assuming he makes the club, RHP Logan Ondrusek will likely have the same role as he had last year. Ondrusek had a career-high 66 games last season but missed two weeks with a strained forearm.

“We’d hopefully like to limit the number of appearances he has,” Baker said. “Sometimes, it can’t be helped. Ondrusek did well. When he was strong, he was really good. There were periods when we had use him.”


Split squad lineups

Reds lineup vs. Royals (at Goodyear)

Stubbs 8

Harris 4

Votto 3

Bruce 9

Rolen 5

Lutz 7

Navarro DH

Hanigan 2

Janish 6

Bailey 1

 Reds lineup vs. Giants (at Scottsdale)

Phillips 4

Cozart 6

Ludwick 7

Francisco 5

Heisey 9

Cairo DH

Frazier 3

Mesoraco 2

Phipps 8

Chapman 1

More later…

Bullpen ailing? Add Chapman?

*It’s early in camp and the Reds have three of their seven projected bullpen guys down with injuries — Nick Masset (shoulder), Bill Bray (groin) and Ryan Madson (elbow). Manager Dusty Baker isn’t worried, however.

“Worrying does no good,” Baker said. “Every camp has somebody. You’d rather have it happen earlier than late. The doctor assured us it’s nothing serious.”

*If one pitcher was the most serious of the three, it would be Bray. He had a setback yesterday and is shut down from pitching off a mound for now. There’s no timetable for a return yet. And this could create a very interesting subplot — would the Reds consider moving Aroldis Chapman back to a bullpen role? Baker did not rule it out.

“There’s going to come a point where we’ll have to decide if he’ll be ready in time or not,” Baker said of Bray. “It’s a luxury that we can potentially have three lefties in the bullpen [including] Chapman if we need him. That’s a pretty good backup plan.”

*In talking to Masset, who exited in the middle of the seventh inning after 28 pitches, he appeared at ease after seeing Dr. Tim Kremchek.

“I don’t feel like it’s a big issue,” Masset said. “It’s a lot of tightness and soreness. I’ve never really had a shoulder injury before in my life. It comes with spring training, trying to get it going and throwing 110 percent. Sometimes your arm doesn’t catch up to the intensity you’re trying to throw with. It’s a small bump in the road right now.

“We’ll just take a few days off from throwing, stretch it and treat it. Hopefully , I will be right back to where I needed to be.”

*SS Zack Cozart has been limited because of a sore right arm, not the one that he had elbow surgery on last summer.

“We’re guarding him. He’s ailing a little bit,” Baker said. “His throwing arm is a little sore so we’re taking it easy on him.”

*Look for a story later today on Drew Stubbs, who had a season he’d like to forget last year in many ways.

“Obviously at the end of the year, you’re left with a bitter taste in your mouth,” Stubbs said. “I think whenever you can take a few months off, clean the slate and start over fresh, you look back at it as a learning experience. You move forward and think ‘what did I do good? What did I do bad?’ Take the positives and try to expound on those. Take the negatives and look at those as opportunities to improve.”

To Milwaukee, er, Maryvale

Here is Thursday’s lineup vs. the Brewers at their complex in Maryvale.

Valaika 4

Janish 6

Heisey 7

Francisco 5

Cairo 3

Phipps 8

Frazier 9

Hanigan 2

Negron 5


Leake 1


More later…

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