July 2012

Missed chances, mistakes

The Three Stars from a 7-1 dud of a Reds loss to the D-backs on Wednesday.

No. 3 star: Drew Stubbs — 2-for-4. Stubbs hit a leadoff double in the first and flared a RBI single in the second inning.

No. 2 star: Ian Kennedy, ARI — 8 ip, 8 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 7 K, 105 pitches/73 strikes. The Reds helped Kennedy’s cause with some missed chances early and some quick innings late, including a six-pitch bottom of the seventh.

He had been struggling and that was the best that he’s thrown in a while,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “When a guy is struggling, if you can get on him early, a guy tends to think ‘here I go again, struggling again.’ He got out of those situations early, settled down and got some run support. It was tough after that.”

No. 1 star: Jason Kubel, ARI — 2-for-4, 2 HRs. Kubel hit a two-run homer to CF in the first inning and leadoff shot to right-center field in the fourth. In between, Mat Latos had retired eight in a row.

“You throw a pitch out over the middle of the plate and it doesn’t really matter what kind of hitter he is. He’s going to hit the ball hard,” Latos said. “The first one was a fastball right down the middle and the second one was a slider, right down the middle.”

Click here for the game story

News and notes:

*Some very poor execution in the  first inning. Zack Cozart couldn’t get a sac bunt down and popped out. As his July skid continued, Jay Bruce hit a first-pitch popout to third base with runners on the corners and one out. Bruce was 0-for-4 and is 5-for-42 (.119) over his last 11 games.

*Baker harped on the missed chances and stressed that it’s something being focused on by the club as it looks for ways to produce runs without Joey Votto.

“Those are the things you have to do if you’re going to play winning baseball,” Baker said. “Those are some of the things we’re working on big time. We’re addressing it, talking about it and everybody is thinking about it. You have to get to the point where you don’t talk about it or think about it. You don’t try. You just do it. The simple fact is you’ve got to do it.”

*Latos also missed a sac bunt in the second inning. On the mound, a 15-game unbeaten streak is over. He had won his last seven decisions since April 18. Latos’ line: 4 2/3 ip, 6 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 2 HR, 75 pitches/50 strikes.

*Jose Arredondo gave up two runs in the eighth, ending the bullpen’s scoreless streak at 17 ip. One of the runs scored on a passed ball by Ryan Hanigan.

*Xavier Paul made his Reds debut as a pinch-hitter and flied out in the seventh.


Votto: ‘It was handled perfectly’

Injured Reds 1B Joey Votto was back in the clubhouse on Wednesday, albeit on crutches with a wrap around the left knee that underwent arthroscopic surgery a day earlier. Votto was good spirits and smiling and talked about his situation.

I will have a more detailed story on MLB.com soon…but for now here is a snippet. The bottom line is Votto has no regrets on how he or the club handled the injury that became a torn meniscus cartilage.

“I was feeling great,” Votto said. “Those four days off at the All-Star game and then coming back, I was almost 85-90 percent running. Then all of a sudden, it started swelling up and it felt like I tweaked something. It felt like it felt in San Francisco. That’s when I knew it was time to go in and talk some more to them. I thought it was handled perfectly. I got to play in California, play in the All-Star game and I healed. My knee told me the truth.”

Votto said the tweaking of the knee happened on Sunday. He underwent the MRI on Monday that revealed the tear. If he had to do it over again, would he have gotten the MRI closer to when he was originally hurt on June 29 in San Francisco?

“No. I really wouldn’t,” Votto replied. “All of us players, we deal with things here and there. Sometimes, you think you might need some help and then it heals. Other times, you don’t think you need help and it’s something serious. I was always taught to stay out of training room, play as much as you can, and if you can play, play. For better or worse in the long run, that’s going to pay off for me and for the Reds.

“I was very optimistic. I was hoping it was just something muscular and it turned out to be a small structural thing. Ask 100 different ballplayers, especially those play every day, you just play. You don’t gripe about it. If things get in the way and become serious and when you can’t perform — I couldn’t run, I couldn’t be agile and that’s when I knew it was time. We’re trying to stay in first place and win the division, that’s another reason I felt it was wise to wait it out and hopefully heal and be able to help the team.”

Xavier Paul called up

*The Reds have selected the contract of OF Xavier Paul from Triple-A Louisville. Paul, who was released by the Nationals organization earlier this month after taking an out in his contract. He was signed by the Reds to play at Louisville last week. In a combined 66 games this season at both Triple-A stops, he was batting .332 with nine homers and 48 RBIs. In six games with Louisville, he was batting .480 (12-for-25).

Paul, 27, is a left-handed hitter and broke into the Majors in 2009 with the Dodgers. He spent most of last season with the Pirates and batted .255/.292/.346 with two homers, 20 RBIs and 16 steals.

*To make room for Paul, the Reds optioned RHP Todd Redmond back to Louisville. Redmond was brought up Tuesday to backup the bullpen in case Johnny Cueto had a short outing. It’s been a tough business for Redmond, who has had two callups this season (one for four days with the Braves last month) and he has yet to make his big league debut.

7/18 vs ARI

Reds lineup vs DBacks

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

Cueto escapes trouble, wins

The Three Stars from a 4-0 Reds win over the D-Backs:

No. 3 star: Scott Rolen — 1-for-2, 2 BBs. Rolen was robbed of a hit in the first inning in a bizarre liner that resulted in a 1-4-6-3 double play in the first inning. In the seventh, he made a nifty barehanded catch and throw on Aaron Hill’s grounder for the third out.

No. 2 star: Ryan Ludwick — 1-for-4, 3-run homer. Ludwick’s 422-foot shot landed in the second deck of seats in left field. It provided the Reds with their first hit of the game, too, as the Reds offense still looks for footing.

“We just have to pick one another up,” Ludwick said. “We’re still talented. Joey [Votto] is obviously a $250 million player so he’s an elite caliber, one of the best players in all the big leagues. You’re going to miss him. That’s part of it. We still have some pretty good players in here. I think we’ll be all right.”

No. 1 star: Johnny Cueto — 6 ip, 4 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 3 K, 106 pitches/60 strikes. Cueto improved to 11-5 with a 2.28 ERA and is 6-1 in games following a Reds loss — ace type of stuff for sure. He admitted to feeling the blister on his index finger that pushed him back from Sunday, but he got past it.

There were two big bases loaded jams that Cueto had to escape from including his final inning, the sixth. He struck out Gerardo Parra with high heat to get out of it.

“This guy got out of trouble tonight and that’s the mark of a good pitcher,” manager Dusty Baker said. “His ERA isn’t what it is if he doesn’t know how to get out of trouble. He can dial it up when he wants to and when he needs to, which he did.”

Click here for the full game story

News and notes:

*Drew Stubbs, who drew a walk in the top of the first inning, was part of a double steal and scored on a wild pitch. The Reds are 31-2 this season when Stubbs scores a run. Stubbs has walked in back-to-back games after not previously drawing a bases-on-balls the rest of the month.

*Tough night for Todd Frazier, who got what’s termed the “golden sombrero by going 0-for-4 with four strikeouts.

*Here is a nugget from the Elias Sports Bureau: “The Reds started nine right-handed hitters against right-handed pitcher Trevor Bauer Tuesday night. According to Elias, it’s the first time since April 22, 2005, that any team started nine right-handed hitters against a right-handed pitcher. The Astros started nine righties against the Cardinals’ Jason Marquis in that game. Regardless of the handedness of the pitcher, it’s the first time the Reds have started nine righties, none of whom were switch-hitters, since May 8, 2001, a game in which Randy Johnson struck out 20 hitters.”

*Zack Cozart snapped a 0-for-17 skid with a fifth-inning single.

*The Reds bullpen hasn’t allowed a run in 15 1/3 innings, including the last four games.

Looking ahead, Bruce update

It’s a natural reaction for Reds fans to freak out about the Joey Votto developments of the last couple of days. Moving on without him for the next 3-4 weeks is as a big an obstacle for the team to clear as there will be this season.

But here is some good news for the Reds — the schedule.

Assuming the worst case that Votto misses a month — that covers 29 games for the Reds. Only six of those games — vs. the Pirates and Mets at GABP — are vs. teams with over .500 records. Two portions of the schedule are vs. last place teams in Houston and Colorado come on the same road trip.

The biggest concern is having people within step up. Scott Rolen will be a huge factor. He’s been hitting his last three games and  they will have to monitor his health. If Todd Frazier can fill in for Votto like he did for Rolen, it will be a big boost. In today’s lineup, Brandon Phillips finally gets his wish to be a No. 3 hitter. It’s something he’s wanted his whole career. Since moving to cleanup and getting over his hamstring injury, Phillips has been the second-best run producer on the club. And Ryan Ludwick is batting cleanup — he has heated up lately and can be a big run producer despite his low average. Jay Bruce, who isn’t starting tonight, will need to find a successful groove that lasts longer — at least the next 3-4 weeks would be to his team’s liking for sure.

*The Reds also need a lot of help. The Pirates have only seven games against winning teams out of their next 29 (the Reds and Dodgers). Over the Cardinals’ next 28 games, only eight are vs. winning clubs (the Dodgers and Giants).

*Speaking of Bruce, he got the day off because Dusty Baker felt he needed a break.

“He’s feeling OK. He’s not looking OK is he?” Baker said. “Exactly, that’s why he’s getting the day off. It’s either pay me now or pay me later and look up his record after the All-Star break and guys that don’t get a break. I told him to chill and show up at 5 o’clock and don’t hit too much.”

Bruce is 3-for-16 (.188) in four games since the break and 8-for-45 (.178) in July.

“Sometimes you’re doing too much,” Baker said. “It’s getting late. You need your energy. You need your strength. Sometimes 110 percent is too much. It’s mental and emotional when you’re not getting hits.”

*Baker also had a plea for media to not descend too much on players like Frazier.

“Don’t put too much pressure on them that’s already on them. Please,” Baker said. “I know you always have to grab somebody all the time but they’re kids. Let them play and let them enjoy. You don’t have to ask them questions every day about this or that they don’t have the answers to. They’re still trying to find their way through the woods without a flashlight. Just let them play.”

7/17 vs. ARI

Reds lineup vs D-Backs

Stubbs 8
Cozart 6
Phillips 4
Ludwick 7
Rolen 5
Frazier 3
Heisey 9
Hanigan 2
Cueto 1

**UPDATE — Votto was placed on the 15-day disabled list and RHP Todd Redmond was recalled from Triple-A Louisville. Redmond was acquired by the Braves in a trade for SS Paul Janish on Saturday. This will be Redmond’s debut in the Majors if he appears. He was 6-6 with a 3.58 ERA in 18 starts this season for Triple-A Gwinnett. He would be insurance as a long man for Johnny Cueto after Alfredo Simon pitched three innings on Monday.

*The Reds announced that Votto underwent successful arthroscopic surgery on his left knee to repair the torn medial meniscus cartilage. Dr. Tim Kremchek did the operation. Votto will be sidelined 3-4 weeks.

Votto to have knee surgery

The Reds announced that 1B Joey Votto will have arthroscopic left knee surgery on Tuesday to repair a torn meniscus. He will miss 3-4 weeks. Below are statements from the club.

General Manager Walt Jocketty:

“Joey Votto met with the medical staff this evening and has been diagnosed with a torn meniscus in his left knee. He is going to have arthroscopic surgery tomorrow and should miss 3-4 weeks. Joey is very comfortable with the decision and is eager to return to the lineup.”

Votto said, “It is in my best interest and in the best interest of the team to do it now so that I can be healthy during the last two months of the pennant race.”

Votto suffered the injury sliding into third base in the fifth inning on June 29 at San Francisco.

Necessary roster moves will be made Tuesday.

***Needless to say, this means the Reds have a huge test ahead of them over the next month. Todd Frazier can likely take the majority of starts for Votto and if Frazier is needed at third base for Scott Rolen, Miguel Cairo can play 1B. But that doesn’t account for Votto’s production no matter how you slice it.

7/16 vs. ARI

Reds lineup vs. D-Backs

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

*Joey Votto sits today. He is 9-for-32 (.281) since he returned July 3 from a left knee injury that put him out for two games. He had 0-for-4 games on Saturday and Friday. His last home run was on June 24.

**UPDATE — Dusty Baker said there were multiple reasons for giving Votto the break today.

“His leg is a little sore too,” Baker said. “Sometimes you don’t like it, you don’t want to do it, but you’ve got to do it or else you’ll end up killing him in the long run.

“You know every time Joey takes a day off he comes back smoking. It’s more of a mental day off more than anything. In his case, it’s mental and physical.”

**Baker also explained why he flipped Stubbs/Cozart in the order and has Stubbs leading off.

“In a perfect world or perfect scenario, that’s a better spot for Stubbs than Cozart because he uses his speed,” Baker said. “That’s an alarming stat that Stubbs has going. When he scores a run, we’re like something ridiculous like [30-2] Got to do what you got to do. And if Stubbs gets on that makes Cozart’s job easier to get more fastballs and not the other way around.”

**Also — Johnny Cueto is a go for Tuesday to start after being pushed back with a blister on his right index finger.

“Yeah, I think so,” Cueto said. “It’s better.”

ASG NL Lineup

Gonzalez DH
Cabrera 8
Braun 7
Votto 3
Beltran 9
Posey 2
Sandoval 5
Uggla 4
Furcal 6

Cain 1

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