Greetings from frigid Chicago, where I’m hearing it will be even more frigid on Friday when the Reds open their series with the Cubs at Wrigley.
Sorry for the lack of blog action on Wednesday. I had a plane to catch postgame and some deadlines to meet on non-game stuff. I had to put this here blog on the backburner for a day.
*In my Reds notebook yesterday, I had an item on the now infamous tweets by Jay Bruce on Tuesday night in response to some abuse he was taking. I asked Bruce about it and he did not wish to discuss it further on the record. I felt what he wrote was generally a measured, rational and thoughtful response. But should he have sent it out for the masses to see? No. I don’t think Bruce was wrong to write what he wrote and I liked the fact that he stood up to people who wrote things to him that they would be embarrassed to tell their family, friends, co-workers or bosses about. Yet, it was a no-win situation for the player. I can admit to coming close to taking shots at people on Twitter, but have generally thought better of it after a few moments of contemplation. If someone writes something nasty or calls me a name, I usually just block them and move on.
*Pretty soon, my off day story will be posting. The Reds are pretty lucky to be 15-14 in my mind. I think it could be worse considering how subpar the hitting as been and how banged up they’ve been. I know it’s a different year and there is one less team in the division, but through 29 games of 2012, they were also 15-14. It just tells me that there is a long way to go still.
*Is anybody making the trip from Cincinnati for the series? As I noted at the top, dress warm and layer it up. You will be a hearty soul in my book after spending nine innings in the seats.
Reds lineup vs. Cardinals
As the St. Louis Blues won a playoff overtime game a few blocks away, here are the Three Stars from a closely contested baseball game as the Cardinals edged the Reds by a 2-1 score. (Click here for the full game story)
No. 3 star: Bronson Arroyo — 7 ip, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 0 K. — 78 pitches. That’s it. No runners in scoring position. By usual standards, that’s enough to earn a win. But with the offense sputtering of late — not quite.
No. 2 star: Jamie Garcia, STL — 8 ip, 7 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 92 pitches — All Garcia gave up that hurt was a two-out RBI double by Shin-Soo Choo in the fifth inning that scored Derrick Robinson. As you’ll read in the game story, Garcia noted that the Reds were swinging aggressively much of the night.
“That one ball hit by Choo was definitely something you didn’t see much of, which is mistakes up in the zone,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “He was down and the ball was really running all over the place. You can’t really teach the stuff he has. It’s just different, and it was sharp today.”
No. 1 star: Matt Holliday, STL — 1-for-4, 2-run HR — Holliday smacked a 3-2 Arroyo curveball for a low-line drive home run. It was deceptive in that it didn’t look like it would be high enough originally from up here. Arroyo explains his thinking on the pitch sequence:
“I went 3-0 on three sinkers there and then I threw him three breaking balls in a row,” Arroyo said. “The full count was either going to be a sinker in or another curveball. I thought I’d walk him with the sinker because he hasn’t been fishing for it much. I had to be perfect in there. I picked the choice of going right at him rather than having first and second with one out and [Allen] Craig up and kind of getting into the meat of their order with the crowd coming into play around the sixth or seventh inning like they always do. You take your chances and play the best odds you can. A big strong guy like Matt Holliday sometimes can beat you, which he did.
“He’s just so strong. There’s maybe a handful of guys in this game that can hit the ball out of the ballpark with that low of trajectory. Especially with the wind not blowing out tonight. He’s a beast. He’s 6-4, 6-5, 240. He is solid and swings as hard as anybody in this game. He hit it good.”
*The Reds have scored only 15 runs over their last eight games as they finished April with a 15-13 record.
*Choo is batting .316 (6-for-19) vs. STL This season.
*Garcia is 9-2 lifetime vs. the Reds. They are his most wins vs. any opponent.
*The game lasted only two hours and 15 minutes.
More than a few Reds players have watery eyes and irritated noses because of allergies on Tuesday
“We’ve got about 12-13 guys that have allergies,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said.
One of them is closer Aroldis Chapman.
“Chapman looked like hell. I don’t think he’s available tonight,” Baker said. “I don’t know if [Jonathan] Broxton is available tonight. We may have to close with somebody else. He’s gone two days in a row and he threw 30 pitches the day before. I was a little apprehensive about using him last night. I was little apprehensive about using him last night. It’s not the innings sometimes, but the workload of that inning.”
Chapman has also worked two days in a row and earned back-to-back saves.
Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan, who is on the DL with left oblique and right thumb injuries, was on the field hitting during early BP Tuesday.
“It’s made a lot of progress, definitely. There’s still a little bit of healing to do,” Hanigan said. “But I’ve got the strength back [in my thumb], which is No. 1.”
It was Hanigan’s first hitting on the field since he was injured. He had been working solely in the indoor cages.
To treat his oblique strain, Hanigan recently got a cortisone shot and that has sped his improvement.
Hanigan also is improving on the throwing front. He long tossed on the field for the first time with pitcher Mike Leake.
“Today I aired it out to just get the shoulder and arm going. It was pretty good,” Hanigan said.
No timetable is set for a potential return.
Reds lineup vs. Cardinals
Here are the Three Stars from a Reds 2-1 win over the Cardinals on Monday night. Click here for the full story on MLB.com
No. 3 star: Xavier Paul, 0-for-4 with RBI — It’s not often a guy who goes 0-for-4 would be recognized but Paul had a nifty at-bat in the top of the fourth. He’s down 0-2 before going to a 1-2 count and fouling off three pitches to stay alive. His broken bat grounder to shortstop was slow enough to allow Jay Bruce to score. It proved to be the deciding run.
“It’s not always the hit that wins you the game. It was a battle,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said.
No. 2 star: Adam Wainwright, STL, 7 ip, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K — Wainwright was tough but was behind right away when Shin-Soo hit a leadoff double, went to third on a sac bunt, and scored on a Joey Votto single.
“The first inning, I really only threw one bad pitch,” Wainwright said. “I had a feeling Choo was swinging first pitch and that’s good – that’s a first-pitch out if you execute your pitch. I just didn’t execute it. He put a good swing on me. They played fundamental baseball and got the run home. And Joey Votto, he’s a great hitter. I threw a tough curveball and he hit it over second base.”
No. 1 star: Mat Latos, 6 ip, 5 H, 3 BB, 4 K, 91 pitches/52 strikes. — Latos kept working out of jams as STL was 1-for-7 with RISP against him. He kept finding ways to escape.
“That was the story tonight. Their first runner kept getting on base. We kept getting out of it,” Baker said.
Latos has a streak of 17 scoreless innings, a team best this season.
One thing to keep an eye on: Latos came out because of tightness in his right hip, which was bothered from his first at-bat in the second inning.
“I felt some tightness in my hip after I took a swing,” Latos said. “It just nagged throughout the whole game. I pitched four [more] innings and then really pushed myself that last inning. It was real tight. I wasn’t able to follow through with my leg on the mound. It should be all right. It actually loosened up.”
Reds ace Johnny Cueto just came in after a 45-pitch bullpen session.
“It was pretty good, no pain,” Cueto said. “I threw my breaking ball, everything.”
It was Cueto’s second time off of a mound since going on DL with strained lat muscle. He wasn’t sure what was next but thought a minor league game was possible.
Reds lineup vs Cardinals
*On Sunday vs. the Nationals, LHP Tony Cingrani became the fifth pitcher in Reds history to record four strikeouts in one inning. It happened in the fourth inning after one batter struck out but reached on a wild pitch. The other four pitchers to have 4 K’s in one inning are: Frankie Rodriguez (2001), Tim Birtsas (1990), Mario Soto (1984) and Joe Nuxhall (1959).
*The Reds are 3-23-2 in the previous 28 series at STL since the start of the 2003 season.
The Reds on Monday placed left fielder Chris Heisey on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring. To replace Heisey, outfielder Donald Lutz was recalled from Double-A Pensacola.
Heisey was injured on Saturday vs. the Nationals running to first base as he grounded into a double play. He has struggled in replacing the injured Ryan Ludwick as the regular left fielder and is batting .173 with two home runs and five RBIs in 23 games.
Not a quite a month into the 2013 season, Heisey is already the seventh player from the Reds’ 25-man roster to be placed on the DL.
The left-handed hitting Lutz, 24, batted .211 with five home runs and 14 RBIs in 21 games for Pensacola but had an impressive Spring Training as he batted .277 with two homers. He brings plenty of power and has a little speed too. Dusty Baker spoke highly of him throughout camp, especially since he didn’t begin playing baseball until a teenager.
Lutz, assigned No. 23, was born in the United States but grew up in Germany and is a German citizen. He is a product of Major League Baseball’s European Academy and was the first German player to be added to a big league 40-man roster after the 2011 season.
Click here to read a 2012 Spring Training feature I did about Lutz.