April 2012

Frazier called up

It looks like the Reds have called up infielder Todd Frazier from Triple-A Louisville for the game tonight vs. the Cardinals.

I know this because Frazier is on my flight from Cincinnati to St. Louis.

A corresponding move has not been announced … but Miguel Cairo hurt his hamstring in Saturday’s game. We will soon know for sure.

Many may recall Frazier was the final cut after spring training. Plane doors closing…more later

UPDATE from STL —

Frazier did not know who he was replacing. He said he hadn’t heard about the Cairo injury.

I suppose the other possiblity is Phillips if his hamstring had something happen since Sunday’s game. Phillips said then that he hadn’t re-injured it in the game, however.

Getting back to where I left off earlier, Frazier hit .291 with a team-leading five homers and 15 RBIs during camp. He was brought back to Cincinnati after the team left Arizona, only to be cut when the Reds added another pitcher in Alfredo Simon.

Frazier got off to a slow start with Louisville and is batting .231 overall. But he’s riding a five-game hitting streak where he’s 6-for-18 (.333) with a home run.

UPDATE No. 2 —

Cairo was placed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday afternoon.

Votto: ‘We’ve got a choice…’

*Reds batters enter the day batting .191 as a team this season, and .138 with runners in scoring position. Joey Votto was one who expected that things will improve.

“Whenever we start being like ourselves, we’re one of the best offenses in the National League,” Votto said. “We’ve got a choice. We can either panic through this whole thing, or be determined and continue to grind through and treat this as a nice early season challenge that we’ll overcome and let the season play out. We’ll prep for the rest of the season and not today’s shortcomings.”

*I have a little more from Votto, and Jay Bruce, in today’s notebook later on MLB.com.

*Reds pitchers over the last five games have a 2.81 ERA, but a 1-4 record.

*Dusty Baker, who had considered batting Brandon Phillips further down once he returned to spare his legs, decided to bat him leadoff after all.

“With Detwiler being left-handed, we probably won’t try to steal that much anyway,” Baker said. “He has a pretty good move. It’s who’s the best candidate. I talked to him about it and he said he’d rather bat leadoff. I told him to not do anything excessive. We need an igniter in that position and he’s it. He hits well against left-handers so everything pointed towards Brandon.”

*Drew Stubbs, batting .147 thus far among the several struggling hitters, gets a break today.

*INF Miguel Cairo likely won’t play at all today but remains day-to-day. Baker said a decision on Cairo’s status wouldn’t come until Tuesday after the 37-year-old gets a couple of days of rest. Monday is an off day.

“It’s tight but it’s less sore than yesterday,” Cairo said. “It’s a good sign. The strength is good. Maybe it was just a cramp or the muscle was trying to protect something.”

*Today is Jackie Robinson Day. Every player/coach/manager on both sides will be wearing No. 42.

4/15 at WAS

Reds lineup vs. Nationals

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

Three stars, All Nats edition

Super quick recap — two hits, one run and a 4-1 loss for the Reds vs. the Nationals.

Outscored in the three losses: 9-4 Total Reds hits in three losses: 12

Team batting average after nine games: .191

CIN has dropped five of its last six.

Three stars:

No. 3 star: Jayson Werth, 2-for-3, 1 RBI.

No. 2 star: Adam LaRoche: 2-for-3, 2 RBIs. It was LaRoche’s two-run double to right-center field in the third that made it a 3-1 game and essentially put the Reds away.

No. 1 star: Who else but Edwin Jackson? 9 ip, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 92 pitches/67 strikes. He needed only seven pitches in the ninth to complete the game. He retired 16 in a row after giving up two hits and a run in the second inning, and retired 22 of his last 23 batters.

“Flores and I was able to get into the groove early and throught the game,” Jackson said. “They were aggressive. I didn’t have a lot of strikeouts until later on in the game. I’m fine with that as long as I’m getting outs and pitching to contract.”

News and notes:

*Miguel Cairo exited in the second inning because of a strained left hamstring. Cairo’s return status is considered day-to-day by the club. Cairo notched  his first hit of the season with a one-out double to left field in the top of the second. Two batters later, Drew Stubbs drove him in with a RBI single to left field. Cairo scored with a slide into the plate.

“When I slid into the plate, I felt a big cramp,” Cairo said. “We’ll see how it feels tomorrow. It feels tight. Hopefully it’s nothing bad.”

Quotes:

“We’re going to hit. There’s not even a doubt in any of our minds. We have good hitters and it’s going to come around. I think I can speak for everybody on the pitching staff that there’s going to be those times when we’re not pitching well and our hitting is going to pick us up. We understand the game and that’s how it goes.” — Homer Bailey

“We’ve never seen him that fine. Usually he has a wild period in there some place but he didn’t have that at all today. I even asked the umpire one time, ‘are we that bad or is he that good?’ He said ‘hey, he was the good.’ He said everything was moving. He was sharp. Everything looked like a fastball and then it would be a breaking ball in the dirt. He made us look badly today.” — Dusty Baker on Jackson.

4/14 at WAS

Reds lineup vs. Nationals

Harris 4
Cozart 6
Votto 3
Bruce 9
Cairo 5
Heisey 7
Stubbs 8
Mesoraco 2
Bailey 1

*As you will see later in the Reds notebook on the main site, Brandon Phillips was disappointed about not starting. He’s expected to start on Sunday.

“I really thought I was going to play today,” Phillips said. “I was really looking forward to it. I woke up with a smile on my face and then found out I wasn’t in the lineup. It hurt. But it’s what is best for me. [Dusty Baker] has been around the game a long time and he knows what’s best for me.”

*Ryan Ludwick made it clear that he did not knock Xavier Nady’s ball over the fence for the game-tying homer in the eighth inning on Friday. The ball was already on the other side.

“What happened when I went back was I didn’t think I had to jump,” Ludwick explained on Saturday. “My body hit the wall as I was reaching up. It jarred my arm just enough that I turned my glove a little bit. It caught the thumb on just flipped off. If hindsight in 20/20, I would have jumped. I didn’t think I had to jump.”

*On the heels of a 13-inning game Friday, Baker made a few lineup changes for Saturday. Ryan Hanigan was originally slated to catch Reds starter Homer Bailey but was rested after he caught all 13 innings. Devin Mesoraco started. Scott Rolen was originally going to be rested Sunday but got Saturday off instead after he played every inning Friday as well.

*For the season, Reds batters are hitting .125 with runners in scoring position this season, including 1-for-18 in the two games thus far vs. Washington.

*Reds pitchers are 1-3 over the last four games, but have a 2.48 ERA in those games. A starter hasn’t earned a victory since Johnny Cueto on Opening Day.

*Correction pointed out by a few last night. Cueto did get an Opening Day hit. Reds pitchers were 0-for-10 since until Bronson Arroyo’s third-inning single.

Three stars, Another tough one

After a 10-inning heartbreaker on Thursday, came a 13-inning stomach punch to the Reds on Friday. They lost 2-1 to the Nationals. Closer Sean Marshall, the Reds sixth pitcher of the night, took over in the 13th inning. With one out, Danny Espinosa reached on a broken bat infield hit to the shortstop. Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche were both issued back-to-back walks to load the bases.

Cincinnati brought its infield and outfield in for Jayson Werth, who hit a sharp grounder through the middle for the game-ender.

The lineup managed only five hits for the whole game. The top five lineup spots were 2-for-26 on the night, with both hits coming from Joey Votto. The club was 0-for-8 RISP, with 10 left on base.

And the bullpen is still big time strapped.

The Three Stars:

No. 3 star: Joey Votto — 2-for-3, three walks. Votto reached safely in five of his six plate appearances.

No. 2 star: Xavier Nady, WAS — 1-for-1, HR. Nady’s eighth-inning pinch-hit home run off of Bill Bray was clutch and made it a 1-1 game.

And the No. 1 star: Bronson Arroyo — 7 1/3 ip, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K, 94 pitches/56 strikes. Arroyo was brilliant on the mound and it had it working right. His breaking stuff was good. His velocity was in the 85-88 mph range, which could be a tick harder probably. At the plate, he got the game’s first hit with a lined single up the middle and he drove in the Reds’ first/lone run with his sacrifice fly that scored Willie Harris in the fifth.

Since there was a big Twitter firestorm upon his exit and subsequent homer, Arroyo said postgame was pretty much out of gas in the eighth and that is why he didn’t remain after the 94th pitch. It was decided after the seventh that he would only face one more hitter before giving way to Bray and the bullpen.

“We talked about it the inning before,” Arroyo said. “I wasn’t real strong even to start the game. My pitch count was real low but he just needed me to get the righty out.”

News and notes:

*Arroyo’s single to center field with one-out in the top of the 3rd was the first hit by a Reds pitcher in 2012, and snapped the staff’s 0-for-11 start.

*With two outs in the top of the 3rd, Drew Stubbs stole second base. It was the team’s first stolen base of the season.

*Willie Harris snapped a 0-for-10 skid to start the season with a fifth inning leadoff double.

*Sam LeCure and Jose Arredondo were not available after both threw two innings yesterday. Dusty Baker was trying like mad to avoid using Aroldis Chapman but had to in the 10th inning. Chapman threw nine pitches and was lifted.

*Nice bounceback for Alfredo Simon, who worked two scoreless innings after being the goat on Thursday with the run-scoring wild pitch for the loss. Simon had a man on third in the 12th and amid chants of “Wild pitch” from fans, escaped.

Quotes:

“That’s the way it goes, man. When it’s 1-0, it’s always a nail biter as far as getting a win. It’s tough. Getting into the eighth, I felt good about that situation. Guys in the ‘pen have been throwing the ball good.” — Bronson Arroyo

“I didn’t make the pitches I wanted. I walked those two batters. When you do that late in the game, they come back to bite you. That’s what it did.” — Sean Marshall

“That was a tough one right there tonight.” — Dusty Baker

4/13 at WAS

Reds lineup vs. Nationals

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

*Regarding the lineup, Dusty Baker said it was just a day off for SS Zack Cozart, whose six-game hitting streak ended with a 0-for-5 on Thursday.

“He’s been playing every day, running the base and doing a great job,” Baker said. “He’ll be back in there tomorrow, maybe even today.”

*Brandon Phillips is available to pinch-hit tonight, and might even get into Saturday’s lineup.

“We’ll see,” Baker said. “He was better yesterday than he was. I might have to bat him down in the order some so he doesn’t have to run as much until that leg gets back 100 percent.”

*Since many have asked about him over the last day or so — over at Triple-A Louisville, final Reds cut Todd Frazier is off to a .160 (4-for-25, seven strikeouts) through his first six games.

*Willie Harris has been off to a slow start, entering 0-for-9 in his six games. Baker had a chat with Harris and also told Miguel Cairo to speak with him. During his first year as a Red in 2010, Cairo started out 2-for-20 (.100) and drew the ire of fans immediately. Cairo didn’t really kick it into gear until May.

“Now they love him. I told Cairo to talk to Willie about what happened to him, “Baker said. “We need to get Willie going. We need Willie. He’s always done well. He’s probably trying too hard. Hopefully he’ll relax and beat his old team.”

*And if you don’t think Major League players hate to lose, check out the photo here of rookie catcher Devin Mesoraco. He tried to block Alfredo Simon’s wild pitch yesterday and it just took a funny bounce off of his body to allowed the Nationals to score the winning run. Mesoraco heard from friends and family once the photo surfaced.

“I had no clue at the time. It was kind of an embarrassing shot I guess,” Mesoraco said. “It’s my fault. As a player, you’re supposed to do that somewhere people can’t see it. I will learn from it to take it down in the tunnel if I have to get out that frustration as opposed to where people can snap pictures.

“That was a tough way to lose a game, especially as a catcher. That’s something you never want to happen. I think [the photo] made it a lot bigger of a deal than it was.”

Three stars, Tough loss

There aren’t many good ways to lose a game, but the way the Reds dropped a 3-2 decision in 10 innings was particularly unfortunate. It came on Alfredo Simon’s wild pitch that scored Ryan Zimmerman. It was Zimmerman who Simon hit with a pitch to start the game-ending rally.

“That was a tough way to lose a game. We were in a tough spot there,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “We didn’t have Ondrusek today because he’s gone four out of five. We didn’t have Chapman, he went two innings yesterday. We were down to Billy Bray or Marshall.”

The Three Stars from a frigid Thursday…

No. 3 star: Ryan Ludwick  — 1-for-4, 2 RBIs. In the top of the ninth, the Nationals elected to put the go-ahead run on first base by walking Jay Bruce intentionally with the bases loaded to face Ludwick. In his previous encounters with Brad Lidge, Ludwick was 1-for-10. This time, Ludwick came up big with a two-run single through Zimmerman and into left field that forced extras.

No. 2 star: Adam LaRoche, WAS — 2-for-5, 2 RBIs. It was LaRoche’s two-run single off of Mat Latos that gave Washington a 2-0 lead in the fifth.

No. 1 star: Gio Gonzalez, WAS — 7 ip, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K, 97 pitches/64 strikes. Gonzalez looked brilliant shutting down the Reds all afternoon. Reds manager Dusty Baker pointed out that Gonzalez brought a different strategy than his previous time against them when he was with the A’s in 2010.

“When we saw him in Oakland, he threw a lot of breaking balls and a lot of curveballs,” Baker said. “Today he threw a whole bunch of fastballs. Perhaps he changed his philosophy coming from the American League to the National League.”

News and notes:

*Mat Latos’ line: 5 ip, 5 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 99 pitches/62 strikes. Latos had his pitch count run up early…some of it was a credit to Washington’s hitters, some of it might have been a tight strike zone and some of it was Latos’ own doing. In the second inning, Danny Espinosa worked an 11-pitch plate appearance for a walk. In the fifth, Ian Desmond was down in a 0-2 count, but Latos could not finish him before a single was hit to center field. Espinosa was down in a 1-2 count when Latos issued three straight balls for a walk that loaded the bases. It all led to the LaRoche hit.

*Latos has a 5.59 ERA through his two starts.

*Zack Cozart had his first lackluster day, going 0-for-5 with three strikeouts.

*Drew Stubbs was also 0-for-5 with three strikeouts.

*In my Reds notebook, Baker explained more about being shorthanded without Chapman. Click here.

Quotes:

“Thank God we won that game because if we would have lost that game, I couldn’t sleep tonight,” Zimmerman said.  “They are not routine plays like they call them, but I expect myself to make those plays. You can kind of forget about it and laugh about it now. Moving forward, I obviously have to make those plays.”  — Nationals 3B Ryan Zimmerman

“Could’ve, should’ve, would’ve. It’s whatever. I went on the attack early and got defensive later on. That was probably why. There were some borderline pitches I made that I thought could have gone either way. They could have been strike three.” — Mat Latos

“In that situation, I just tried to make a pitch. He blocked the ball but it went to that side. Next time I go out there, I’ll try to do it better.” — Alfredo Simon

“We were one hit away from possibly winning that game and snatching it from them.” — Dusty Baker

4/12 at WAS

Reds lineup vs. Nationals

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

*Latos is 3-1 with a 2.19 ERA in four career starts vs. WSH and 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA at Nationals Park.

*I didn’t get to this after Wednesday’s game, but check out these stat comparsions on Chris Heisey, who won the game vs. STL with a PH RBI single in the bottom of the 9th:

as a starter: .230/.298/.420 with 18 HR, 47 RBIs in 99 games.

as a PH: .356/.403/.729 with 6 HR, 20 RBI in 67 games.

Heisey freely admits he doesn’t feel pressure when asked to pinch-hit in clutch situations, but that he might get more nervous when in a pressure moment late in a game he’s been in all day.

“I can’t really explain why in my mind I am more relaxed pinch-hitting than I am when I’m up there in a late game situation after being the starter,” Heisey said.

“He’s remarkable at doing that,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said of Heisey’s pinch-hitting skills. “If now we can just transfer that to when he’s playing every day. Pinch-hitting, he’s one of the best.”

*It’s the home opener for the Nationals today and although brisk, it’s a very nice day. The Reds have never been part of an Expos or Nationals home opener in that franchise’s history. Washington is 2-5 in home openers since the move, and has dropped the last three.

Three stars, Votto breaks out

The Reds couldn’t take the series, but they still felt very good about taking the final game vs. the Cardinals with a 4-3 walk-off victory on Chris Heisey’s walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth.

“Right off the bat, I could see it going towards the gap,” Heisey said. “It was a good feeling to get that barrel on one and obviously, to help win the game. That’s great.”

Cincinnati notched 14 hits after having seven in the first two games of the series. They were 3-for-11 RISP, but got hit No. 3 at just the right time. It meant a 3-3 home stand with two walk-off wins.

Since I have plane to Washington to catch…on to the Three Stars of the game:

No. 3 star: Jon Jay, STL — His two-run home run in the top of the third inning against Johnny Cueto gave the Cardinals a 3-0 lead and made things look rather bleak for a time.

No. 2 star: Aroldis Chapman — 2 ip, 1 H, 5 K — Chapman wasn’t throwing extreme heat but was still blowing hitters away. He struck out the side in the eighth and after a one-out single allowed in the ninth, struck out two batters in a row with 97 mph fastballs. That’s his second two-inning win during the home stand.

And the No. 1 star is: Joey Votto  — 4-for-5, two doubles, one RBI, two runs scored. Votto raised his average from .188 to .333 as he caught on fire for the first time in the regular season.

News and notes:

*According to Elias Sports Bureau, SS Zack Cozart is the first Reds rookie to hit safely in each of the first six games of a season since Frankie Baumholtz in 1947. Coxart was 2-for-5 vs. St. Louis.

*Johnny Cueto’s line: 5 ip, 7 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 1 HR. St. Louis scored three runs in the third inning Cueto, all with two outs. Before the second out, Cueto dueled Erik Komatsu in a 14-pitch sequence that featured seven-straight foul balls with two strikes. Komatsu popped out to the shortstop, but Jaime Garcia followed Komatsu with a single up the middle and scored on Rafael Furcal’s triple to right field. Jay lifted a 2-2 pitch just out of Drew Stubbs’ reach at the center field wall for a two-run homer and 3-0 Cardinals lead.

“I think Komatsu took a lot out of him,” manager Dusty Baker said.

*Nice push bunt for the tying run by Wilson Valdez in the fifth against Garcia. Valdez’s bunt went past the mound towards second base, which enabled Votto to score and make it a 3-3 game.

Quotes:

“I don’t ever come to the ballpark imagining that I’m going to get four hits. I expect to play well. I spend most of my time and energy trying to stay as focused and intense as I can out on the field, not giving away anything. I also spend a lot of time and energy in the cages working on my craft. I try not to get ahead of myself.” — Joey Votto

“That was the job – hold the other team to give my team a chance to come back and win the game. That’s what I had to do today.” — Aroldis Chapman

“We swung the bats better today. You keep putting them out there and sooner or later something is going to happen.” — Dusty Baker

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