*Reds 3B Scott Rolen took batting practice on the field Monday and appears to be past the lower back pain that kept him off the field since Sept. 4.
“He’s better. There’s a chance he can play real soon,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “He’s going to do baseball activity I think today. We’re a little bit different team. [Todd] Frazier has done a good job, all the guys have done a good job. But I mean, Scotty is our leader on the field. It’s just a little different when your leader is not out there.”
*RHP Nick Masset, who has missed the whole season with right shoulder issues, had arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn capsule inside his shoulder. An exact recovery/rehab time wasn’t known.
“They did it now so he would be ready for next year,” head trainer Paul Lessard said. “It wasn’t getting better.”
*1B Joey Votto, who said yesterday he felt good after testing his left knee scoring from first base on a triple, was on the field for early BP today (his 29th birthday).
“He’s doing pretty good. Yesterday was a great indicator when he went from first to home,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “He was breathing pretty good, but he said he needed it. He needed to make that run. That was a good sign. We’ve seen him slide, we’ve seen him god first to home, we haven’t seen him go first to third yet on a close play. But the longer he’s away from the operation, and the more different circumstances that things happen, the less he’ll think about it and become more natural in his movements and everything on the field. Every time you do something different, you overcome a different obstacle in your mind. You mind can play tricks on you.”
*Jay Bruce shared NL Player of the Week honors today with Marlins pitcher Ricky Nolasco. It’s the fifth time Bruce has been a POTW
“I have five watches so far. But I’ll keep taking them,” he said.
Reds lineup vs. Pirates
*Jay Bruce is 2-for-29 with 15 strikeouts lifetime vs. Pirates starter Wandy Rodriguez. As hot as Bruce has been (nine-game hitting streak and homers in 6 of his last 9 games), and as much as the offense overall has lagged these last few days, it appears as though Dusty Baker is hoping the often invoked law of averages is on Bruce’s side.
*Tony Cingrani’s Sunday outing (3ip, 1h, 1er, 0bb, 5k) had him join Angel Torres (5 K, 9/12/77 vs HOU) as the only relievers in franchise history to record five strikeouts in their Major League debuts.
The Three Stars from the Reds 5-1 loss to the Astros: (Click here for the game story)
No. 3 star: Tony Cingrani — 3 ip, 1 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 5 K, 1 HR. As far as MLB debuts go, Cingrani had a strong one. He struck out his first batter and looked mostly smooth from there, save for Tyler Greene’s one-out homer to right-center field on a 1-0 pitch in the sixth.
“The one shining light was Cingrani had an excellent outing,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “:It was good to get him in there and get him multiple innings.”
No. 2 star: Edgar Gonzalez, HOU — 5 ip, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 6 K — A journeyman who was making his second big league start since 2009, Gonzalez retired 10 of his first 11 batters until a Joey Votto walk with one out in the fourth. Next batter Jay Bruce laced a triple past diving center fielder Jordan Schaefer for the Reds lone run. Gonzalez exited before the sixth with a blister on his right foot.
“I was so focused on throwing the ball down in the zone, especially in this park which is small and the ball flies a lot,” Gonzalez said. “The whole time I was like that, and I just made a couple mistakes with Votto. I tried to keep the ball down, but the ball was up and with Bruce, the two best guys in the lineup, and Phillips.”
No 1 star: Matt Dominguez, HOU — 1-for-4, three-run HR. Dominguez hit a 1-0 changeup from Johnny Cueto to make it a 4-0 game.
“That’s the same guy that hit the three-run home run off of Chapman,” Baker said. “The two games we lost, he was very responsible.”
News and notes:
*On that Bruce triple, Votto had to hustle home from first base to score. I asked him how his surgically-repaired left knee responded.
“I felt good,” Votto replied.
*Here’s something you don’t see too often from the Reds these days: back-to-back series losses. First it was Philadelphia and now Houston, which has won only its second series since June 22-24. The Reds are 11-4-2 in second half series. Meanwhile, the Astros have won only two second-half series and hadn’t won a road series since at the White Sox June 8-10.
*Johnny Cueto looked very human, again. 4 ip, 9 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 6 K. Cueto came in with a 2.79 ERA over his past six starts, so it’s hard to say he’s struggling in the big picture. But he’s definitely lost some of that Cy Young Award momentum by losing his last two starts (both day games where he was 11-0 entering the home stand). Cueto is 17-8 with a 2.71 ERA. R.A. Dickey has 18 wins and a 2.64 ERA.
“He seems OK to me physically,” Baker said. “We talked about that with him before the start. He was throwing the ball well. It was a matter of getting the ball with not very good location. Whenever a guy gets hit hard that’s not used to getting hit hard, everybody wants to do if something is wrong with him. Sometimes you just have a couple of bad outings. That’s what it looks like to me. hopefully he’s not worried about things other than pitching and winning. He’s never been this close to 20 [wins], Cy Young. There are probably things running through his head. We’ll have to have a little sit down conference with him and get him back to being Johnny Cueto pitching.”
*I was asked by some folks if the Reds should give Cueto a break from an upcoming start. I don’t think they’ll need to do that. There are 3 off days left this month and the club has never skipped another starter’s turn to keep Cueto on his normal rest anyway. They won’t obviously change that plan now. And I wouldn’t be shocked if Cueto’s final regular season outing is a shorter tuneup before the postseason.
*The Reds are off to a 3-5 start in September and have averaged 2.6 runs per game this month.
*Didi Gregorius had an infield single deep to the hole at shortstop in the sixth for his first big league hit.
Reds lineup vs. Astros
*It’s just a day of rest for LF Ryan Ludwick. While he hasn’t been in a slump, Ludwick has shown some signs of tiring. He hasn’t hit a home run since Aug. 18, but in the 16 games since is batting .276 (16-for-58). Only one of his hits has been for extra bases. He’s not worried at all.
“I think I’ve been a little bit tired at times. But who isn’t tired at this stage of the game? I’m grinding,” Ludwick said. “I think a lot of people worried because I heard a couple of comments ‘you’re not hitting home runs.’ Well, they come in bunches. It’s tough when you’re that locked in. I’m still getting my hits…I’m just not hitting home runs. When you start hitting home runs, everybody wants you to keep hitting home runs. I’m just trying to get on base and continue to help the team win. Hopefully the home runs come in bunches again soon going into the postseason.”
*Dusty Baker indicated that Todd Frazier will be getting a break soon. Frazier has reached safely in 30-straight games but hasn’t notched a RBI since Aug. 28 and hasn’t homered since Aug. 21. (UPDATE: He was batting .208 (10-for-48) in his last 16 games entering the day.
“He’s played a lot and I can see his bat slowing down a little bit,” Baker said. “There will come a time, if Scotty is not here, I might put somebody else over there to give him some time off. They’re starting to pitch him a little differently too. Word gets around. They have meetings just like we have them.”
*From the Elias Sports Bureau: Jay Bruce hit his 33rd home run of the season on Saturday. Bruce had 21 homers as a rookie in 2008, 22 in 2009, 25 in 2010 and 32 last season. He’s the first player in MLB history to hit 20 homers as a rookie and improve on that total in each of the next four seasons. Only five other players have done that at any point in their careers: Hack Wilson (1926-30), Willie Stargell (1967-71), Jim Thome (1998-2002), Derrek Lee (2001-05) and David Ortiz (2002-06).
*The left side of the Reds infield has been beset by back problems for 3B Scott Rolen and SS Zack Cozart. For Rolen, it’s been an ongoing issue since early last month. He underwent an MRI on Wednesday and some issues were discovered.
“I have a protrusion in two discs in my lower back, which are causing me trouble that we’re trying to address right now with a few days off,” Rolen told MLB.com.
Rolen has not gotten an epidural injection and is trying to get pain relief from anti-inflammatory medication and rest. He missed a handful of games with back pain last month, including the entire Aug. 9-12 road series vs. the Cubs.
“Since my setback in Chicago, I’ve been uncomfortable and not able to perform and move offensively and defensively the way I hoped to have by this point,” Rolen said.
Rolen hopes to be able to be better/play by the end of the weekend. The back issue didn’t stop his production that much. He’s batted .314 since the All-Star break and .323 in August. But in September, he is 1-for-10.
*As for Cozart, he felt some pain in the middle of his back on Tuesday, which had been a previously scheduled off day.
“I don’t even know what the problem was, but I locked up,” Cozart said. “Now I know what Scotty goes through. I’ve never had a back issue. … During BP, something didn’t feel right. I wasn’t letting it loose.”
Cozart did not play on Wednesday.
“I was hoping coming into Wednesday it would be OK,” Cozart said. “It still wasn’t. But it feels a lot better.”
Cozart came back inside a little while later in the afternoon after testing his back on the field with stretching and groundballs. When asked how he felt, he declined to comment — probably a strong sign it hasn’t improved enough.
Reds lineup vs. Astros:
*Todd Frazier was featured on MLB Network by reporter Sam Ryan. Check it out:
I forgot to post this on Wednesday, but I always love when the Reds media relations department revises this list. It’s the rundown of 2B Brandon Phillips’ double play partners at shortstop since he joined the team in 2006.
Didi Gregorius may have worn No. 68 for his debut, but he was No.
22 23 on the list of shortstops that have played with Phillips.
(UPDATE: Just added the accidentally omitted Wilson Valdez)
The full list in reverse order:
Jerry Hairston Jr.
Mike Leake had a lousy performance for the Reds in a 6-2 loss vs. the Phillies. He lasted only 2 1/3 innings and gave up six runs on six hits with two home runs. This isn’t a good time for him to be having these kinds of outings. Leake is 7-9 with a 4.73 ERA and he’s trying to crack the postseason roster. Although he won his previous two starts and three of four, he’ll need better outcomes than this.
Leake is not a good matchup for the Phillies — 0-3 with a 9.33 ERA in five starts (28 ER, 27 ip). He gave up a three-run homer in the second inning to Erik Kratz and a two-run homer in the third to Chase Utley.
“He was getting the ball up. The three-run homer hurt on a slider that didn’t slide,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said.
Click here for the game story.
The Three Stars:
No. 3 star: Joey Votto — 2-for-3, two singles and a walk. Votto didn’t look like he missed 50 games. He lined a Roy Halladay pitch into left field for a single in his first at-bat. Votto also got to test his left knee with a slide into second base trying to break up a double play.
“It’s going to take a day like today where I have to almost work my way back into it, shrink it down and try to do a little less. Eventually I will be able to stretch it out – hopefully,” Votto said.
A full Votto sidebar story will be up shortly on MLB.com/Reds.com. Check it out.
No. 2 star: Jay Bruce — 3-for-4, two doubles, HR, 2 RBIs. Bruce now has homers in a career-best four-straight games and five of six. His 32 homers overall tied a career high. Bruce has improved his home run total every season he’s been in the big leagues.
“I’d like to hope it’s indicative to the experience I am gaining and the comfort I have up here,” Bruce said. “I’m really trusting my ability and letting the game come to me and not trying to force things. That’s one of the hardest things for me to do – relax, take what they give you and let the opportunities present themselves and better capitalize on them.”
No. 1 star: Roy Halladay, PHI — 7 1/3 ip, 8 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 K, 104 pitches/69 strikes. Halladay was given the early 6-0 lead and never looked back. Bruce’s two-out RBI double in the fourth was his only blemish. When given a lead of four runs or more, Halladay is 110-0 in his career.
“There were some tough at-bats,” Halladay said. “They’ve got some guys that are some good players. I thought Joey Votto would be a little more rusty than he was coming back. He didn’t seem like he missed a beat.”
News and notes:
The Cardinals lost also today so the Reds keep their 8 1/2 game lead in the NL Central. And for the first time on this blog in 2012: the magic number for the Reds to clinch is now 17.
*Todd Frazier singled in the ninth inning to reach base in a team-high 28 straight games.
*Didi Gregorius made a spectacular catch on a tough pop up from Juan Pierre in the fourth. Gregorius twisted his body in mid-air to catch the ball.
*The Reds bullpen retired the final 17 Phillies in a row. That included Pedro Vilarreal, who made his big league debut with a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
Reds lineup vs. Phillies
*Cozart is out again. Dusty Baker said he has a sore back.
The Three Stars following the Reds’ 2-1 win over the Phillies:
No. 3 star: Kyle Kendrick, PHI — 6 ip, 6 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 3 K, 91 pitches/61 strikes. One mistake to Jay Bruce cost Kendrick the game. See below for the details.
“Bruce was swinging at changeups all night,” Kendrick said. “He’s a good hitter, he could have been sitting soft, I don’t know. He put a good swing on it and got it out.”
No. 2 star: Mat Latos — 7 ip, 4 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 6 K, 1 HB, 100 pitches/63 strikes. Latos had retired 10 of his first 11 before pitching himself into a bases loaded jam with a double, a hit batter and a walk. A four-pitch walk to Domonic Brown forced home a run. A break on a short-hopped snag by Drew Stubbs that was ruled an out, and then a double play, saved Latos.
Latos was asked about pitching in very humid conditions.
“I weighed my jersey after the game,” he said. “It was 2.8 pounds, just my jersey alone through seven innings. I changed my shirt three times. It was pretty bad.”
No. 1 star: Jay Bruce — 2-for-3, two-run HR. Bruce did it again as he hit his third homer in three games and fourth in the last five. In his five-game hitting streak, he has 10 RBIs – which has accounted for more than half of the Reds’ 19 runs scored in that span. In 22 games since a two-game benching in Chicago last month, Bruce is batting .345 (29-for-84) with 10 homers and 24 RBIs.
“Honestly, I’m just doing what I can,” said Bruce, who hit Kyle Kendrick’s 2-1 changeup for tonight’s game-winner. “I don’t think about it too much. I’m glad I could help. Mat did great tonight. He deserved that [win] so it was good.”
Bruce also made a nice running catch into the right field corner in the second inning to rob Nate Schierholtz of a RBI hit.
News and notes:
*Latos’ six-game hitting streak came to an end.
*Aroldis Chapman converted his NL leading 35th save, and No. 27 in a row.
*Todd Frazier drew an eighth-inning walk to extend his streak of reaching base safely to 27-straight games.