June 2013

Moving past the plunkings

Shin-Soo Choo has been hit a MLB-leading 19 times by pitches this season. That included one on the right knee from Charlie Morton on the very first pitch of Tuesday’s game.

“It hurt. I have 19 right now and I was the most hurt last night,” Choo said on Wednesday. There was a noticeable mark on the side of his knee.

“I’ve never been hit in the first inning with the first pitch [of the game],” Choo said. “I never saw with different teams that happen before. I don’t know what’s going on.”

Was it intentional? The Pirates weren’t happy when Aroldis Chapman buzzed a heater past Neil Walker on Monday. The Reds don’t think so.

“No. 1, you have to pitch inside to get guys out. And they’re doing a pretty good job of getting people out,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “You don’t really like getting hit that much. A lot of times in this modern times, it’s two things: they don’t pitch inside and they don’t know how to pitch inside. The second thing is batters don’t know how to get out of the way if they’re not pitched inside. There is a very small margin of error between a hit batsman and a strike. There’s only six or less inches. You don’t like getting hit. We don’t like getting hit. We don’t think they’re getting hit intentionally. You don’t want to hit Choo with the first pitch of the [game].”

Choo has been plunked six times this season by the Pirates, which lead the league with 39 HBP (10 against the Reds).

“We’ve played more games against the Pirates – I’ll get more hit-by-pitches,” Choo said. “You guys count how many are hit against the Pirates and other teams. I’m not counting. I only count the total, not one team.”

Choo believed the controversy about the HBPs is media driven.

“I watch ESPN and MLB [Network] and they make problems. We don’t have any problems,” Choo said.

When asked how it would be known that this was all over with, Baker did not know the answer.

“It used to be an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth until it was over,” Baker said. “Umpires would give you both a shot. Now whoever takes a shot first, it’s an automatic warning for the second time. I hope nothing is intentional. We pitch inside too. Johnny Cueto pitches inside. There’s a correlation between success and pitching inside.”

Game 73: vs. PIT

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Latos not happy with HBPs

There will be much more in the final version of my game story for MLB.com, (click here) but Mat Latos let it be known after a 4-0 loss that he wasn’t pleased with the exchange of hit-by-pitches the Pirates and Reds have had this season.

In that battle, the Pirates lead by a 10-6 margin. Shin-Soo Choo has been hit six of those times, including with starter Charlie Morton’s first pitch of the game.

Latos says that’s enough.

“I got into trouble for hitting Neil Walker and protecting my teammates. I think it’s time that somebody steps up and starts disciplining the team that’s drilled the most guys in the league,” Latos said. “They’ve hit a lot of guys, whether it’s intentional or it’s by accident. Something has got to be done about it. They’re team that’s hit the most guys in the league and that’s not right.”

The hitting of Walker Latos referred to came on June 2 at Pittsburgh, in likely retaliation for Brandon Phillips getting plunked twice on June 1. It was not previously known that Latos was fined for that pitch.

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle and Morton denied any purpose pitches were made on their side tonight.

“You throw out a term beanball, I don’t go there. It’s competitive baseball,” Hurdle said. “You’ve got to do certain things to win, and when two teams are focused on winning and neither one wants to blink and they want to play hard and you want to compete, you push the envelope a lot of different places. Not just at the plate trying to get balls in on people, but breaking up double plays and doing everything. We’ve got to beat these guys, and we’ve got to beat the Cardinals to get where we want to go. These are good baseball teams. You’ve got to do some things you’ve never done before to beat good baseball teams.”

Morton: “You saw the ball I threw down and away to [Choo] and he hit a really sharp line drive up the middle [in the sixth inning]. So yeah, got to go in.”

Incidentally, Latos’ 21-game unbeaten streak came to a halt. He last took a loss on Aug. 24, 2012 vs. STL. He was 10-0 during that stretch.

“I’m just glad it’s over with and I don’t have to hear you guys talk about it anymore,” Latos said. “It’s done and it’s over with. It sucks that we lost because I don’t want to lose, ever. But now I have to hear you guys talk about it so I can start up a new one.”

Walker on Chapman’s inside pitch

The Reds and Pirates have exchanged some purpose pitches over the last couple of seasons, including one during that last road trip that put Brandon Phillips out for four games with a bruised left forearm.

In the ninth innoing during Monday’s 4-1 Reds win over Pittsburgh, closer Aroldis Chapman came up and in with a 100 mph fastball. It whizzed under the chin of Walker, who bent backwards somewhat like Keanu Reeves from “The Matrix” to get out of the way. Walker struck out on the next pitch.

Courtesy of Jeremy Warnemuende, Walker talked with reporters about the brushback.

“You try to give players the benefit of the doubt, and you try to be as professional as you can be. But given the history between us and Cincinnati, it makes you wonder a bit,” Walker said.

Walker continued: “If that’s the route that we’re going to go down of giving in to, ‘If you hit our guy, we’re going to hit yours,’ then that’s the way it’s going to be. But by no means, balls should not be anywhere near anybody’s head. Like I said, I was hit by [Mat] Latos last time at our place. I was fine with it because he hit me right in the butt. We moved on. Whether last night was part of any of that, I don’t know. It’s tough to get me in particular fired about things, but when you see a 100 mph fastball come pretty close to your face, you’ve got to wonder a little bit.”

(Latos hit Walker in retaliation for Phillips being knocked out by a Tony Watson fastball on June 1.)

This isn’t the first time Chapman’s high heat has bothered a hitter. The Indians weren’t pleased late last month when he buzzed Nick Swisher with a 100 mph fastball near the head.

In the fourth inning of Monday’s game, Reds starter Mike Leake plunked Andrew McCutchen in the back with a 0-2 pitch. Jeremy said that McCutchen took no issue with the pitch and realized it was not intentional.

Game 72: vs. PIT

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Cingrani to stick around

I’ll have more on this in my notebook for Reds.com/MLB.com later but it looks like LHP Tony Cingrani will remain in the big leagues for the time being. Cingrani will have a bullpen role but Reds manager Dusty Baker was cagey when asked how he might use him.

“He’s going to stay here,” Baker said. “We’ll just have to see. I haven’t told him exactly yet.”

It seems like Cingrani could fill multiple spots, depending on the situation. Obviously, he can work long relief but he might be of use in late-inning situations. He’s been a closer in college at Rice and he worked out of the bullpen last year as a September call-up.

“He fills what we need,” Baker said. “We need a power arm in the bullpen, and a left-hander.”

More from Cingrani and what’s up with Johnny Cueto in the notebook later…Check it out.

– Mark Sheldon

2013 Draft picks signed (so far)

From the Reds, a list of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft picks that have been signed as of Monday. Of course, the top pick, Phillip Ervin, was signed last week.

1 Ervin, Phillip S. CF 7/15/1992 5-10 205 R/R Leroy, AL Samford University
3 Armstrong, Mark A. RHP 11/20/1994 6-3 215 R/R Clarence Center, NY Clarence H.S.
4 Lively, Edward B. RHP 3/5/1992 6-4 215 R/R Gulf Breeze, FL University of Central Florida
5 Thompson, Cory J. SS 9/23/1994 6-0 180 R/R Mauldin, SC Mauldin H.S.
7 Mahle, Tyler F. RHP 9/29/1994 6-3 180 R/R Westminster, CA Westminster H.S.
8 Brattvet, Scott M. RHP 7/21/1991 6-2 195 R/R Trabuco Canyon, CA Cal State Bakersfield
9 Jones, Chad LHP 10/5/1988 6-3 225 L/L New Orleans, LA No School – Formerly LSU
10 Wright, Daniel P. RHP 4/3/1991 6-3 200 R/R Bartlett, TN Arkansas State University
11 Boyles, Ty R. LHP 9/30/1005 6-3 255 L/L Quartz Hill, CA Quartz Hill H.S.
12 Long, Shedric B. C 8/22/1995 5-10 175 L/R Jacksonville, AL Jacksonville H.S.
16 Roman, Fabion L. RHP 11/22/1991 6-0 200 R/R Jersey City, NJ Lubbock Christian University
17 Carter, Michael D. CF 4/3/1995 6-2 200 L/L Winder, GA Winder-Barrow H.S.
18 Mantoni, Joseph RHP 6/4/1991 6-0 220 R/R Northbridge, MA Merrimack College
22 Somsen, Layne R. RHP 6/5/1989 6-0 190 R/R Yankton, SD South Dakota State University
30 Terrasas, Taylor J. 3B 7/24/1991 5-11 185 R/R Santa Fe, TX Louisiana Tech University
32 Uxa, Logan D. 1B 1/25/1991 6-4 220 L/R St. Louis, MO Arkansas State University

Game 71: vs. PIT

It’s Mark Sheldon, back on the scene today. I will try to get some updates ASAP after heading into the clubhouse.

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Game 70: vs. MIL

Reds Lineup vs. Brewers
Robinson 8
Cozart 6
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Bruce 9
Paul 7
Hannahan 5
Hanigan 2
Cueto 1

It’s the return of Reds ace Johnny Cueto today. Again. Yesterday, Cueto mentioned that it will be hard to keep the injuries off his mind, and Dusty Baker agreed today that getting over it mentally can be difficult. Cueto didn’t think he would have a pitch limit, but Baker said he’ll keep a close eye on him and not extend him too far. That’s easier considering Tony Cingrani was scheduled to pitch today and could fill in for a few innings.

“Hope he stays out of a big inning,” Baker said of Cueto. “You hope that Johnny didn’t lose much in his off-time. First time, he was kind of rough when he came back, but the second [game after that] he was excellent. Let’s just hope the layoff didn’t drain him too much. …

“The thing with injuries, you not only have to get over it physically, you have to get over it mentally, too. Every time you feel something, you wonder if it’s back. But the further you get away from an injury, the less and less you think about it.”

Pedro Villarreal was optioned back to Triple-A Louisville to make room for Cueto.

Standard off-day for Shin-Soo Choo, who said he does feel a difference in the amount of energy it takes to play center this season as opposed to playing in the corner like he has in the past. Baker said he had to tell Choo to come in late. Choo then had to ask fellow outfielder Jay Bruce what time to get to the clubhouse because he’s so used to coming in early.

Sean Marshall was in the clubhouse today and said he feels good. He’s been throwing from about 90 feet, and he hopes to be back in game action in “three weeks or less.” More to come later at

Jeremy Warnemuende

Cardinals offense rolls Reds

As good as the Reds record has been playing overall this season, the Cardinals have simply been better. They saw just how better in person on Friday night in a 9-2 loss. Click here to read the game story on MLB.com.

Some notes out of the game:

*Reds pitchers have allowed at least 15 hits in consecutive games for the first time since Aug 24-25, 2010 at San Francisco (both of those were 18 hit games). They also allowed a season-high seven doubles in the game.

*The Reds have scored two or fewer runs in six-straight games vs. St. Louis, a feat that they hadn’t accomplished since 1974.

*Cincinnati is a season-high four games out of first place.

*The Cardinals lineup had all starting position players reach at least twice, and seven different players scored in the game. St. Louis entered the night with a Major League best .339 average with runners in scoring position. That was 38 points better than second-place Tampa Bay. St. Louis was 8-for-19 with runners in scoring position and stranded seven. They came in tied with the Reds with a NL-best .335 on-base percentage this season.

*Meanwhile, Day 2 of the 2013 Draft was happening also on Friday. For a complete recap of the day’s Reds picks, click here to read the items of Jeremy Warnemuende. He will have more coverage of the third and final day on Saturday.

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