Results tagged ‘ Alex Gonzalez ’

Gomes to play for Louisville

When Triple-A Louisville opens it season on Thursday, outfielder Jonny Gomes will be on the roster. Gomes accepted the assignment on Wednesday instead of choosing free agency.

“He’s down there,” GM Walt Jocketty said.

It was stunning to me when Gomes was cut, but I split Florida before he really declined. Despite hitting .250, he still led the club during camp with four homers and was tied for second with 12 RBIs.

If Gomes gets hot at Triple-A, I could envision a quick return. I think the Reds bench is lacking a guy that can be a game-changer in the late-innings.

More news you can use:

SS Alex Gonzalez felt no ill effects with his left knee after going all nine innings Monday in poor conditions.

“I feel good. I don’t feel any soreness,” Gonzalez said. “Any time you play nine innings, your body feels like you got punched by somebody. I didn’t feel like my body was heavy and there wasn’t any kind of pain. I was working in Miami five days a week [in the off-season], groundballs, hitting and running. I worked all year, especially for that.”

Manager Dusty Baker hasn’t decided if he’ll play Gonzalez Thursday with a day game after a night game.

“We’ll see how he comes out today,” Baker said. “If we have a big lead, hopefully we can get him out today and get him back in tomorrow. We’re going on how he feels. We just told him he’s on the honor system and tell us the truth because we have a long way to go.” 

OF Jacque Jones was released when the club did not have a spot for him in Triple-A.

OF Willy Taveras is out of the lineup again tonight because of the flu. He could be available to pinch-run. Jerry Hairston Jr. is starting in center field and leading off while Chris Dickerson is in left field.

The Reds took their team photo today. The picture will be given away to the first 40,000 fans attending the 4/24 game vs. the Braves.

Have a favorite Reds pitcher? Vote to decide which one will be a bobblehead for a July 18 giveaway.

One down, 161 to go

Who’s written the season off after one game? That’s a common occurance after an Opening Day loss, especially in Cincinnati. Just remember, it’s one game and only the first game. Obviously, the opener is a bigger deal around here, it doesn’t mean the season is over already.

While there were some negatives to take away from the 2-1 loss to the Mets, I will start with my positives:

  • Alex Gonzalez looked pretty good and played all nine innings in lousy conditions. He also made a nice diving stop to his left on Johan Santana’s second-inning groundout for the third out. Dusty Baker considered not playing Gonzalez because of the weather.

“I considered it but he probably would have shot me after he’s been out a year and a half,” Baker said.

  • The late-inning bullpen effort was strong. Arthur Rhodes and David Weathers each threw a perfect inning. Francisco Cordero was throwing 94 mph and gave up one hit in a scoreless ninth.
  • Aaron Harang had a high pitch count of 114 but mostly got out of jams. He only gave up one run and seven hits. Of those seven hits, two were infield hits, three were bloopers and there were two solid hits – including the homer by Murphy.

The negative:

  • The outfield defense was sloppy. Darnell McDonald and Jerry Hairston Jr. seemed to get crossed up. I think Willy Taveras makes a couple of the balls McDonald didn’t get to.
  • I know Johan Santana was pitching for the Mets, but just three hits in the game isn’t a good sign for those of us (me included) worried about whether the Reds will have enough production to be real contenders.

Dusty Baker post-game quotes:

“Our outfield is still learning the range of each other. They’re learning the speed of each other. We’ll get it together. I love our outfield. They’re not going to be too many balls that drop in.”

“He usually leads the league in strikeouts. A lot of people don’t get a lot of runs against Santana. Aaron matched him except for that home run he gave up to the youngerster we don’t know either. There weren;t many negatives today. People look for negatives when you lose, but they played a good game and beat us today.”

“I love the way [Harang] pitched. His zip and velocity were back. He had a sharp breaking ball. He got some tough hitters out in some tough jams.”

Harang on throwing a lot of pitches the first game:

“I was up to 100 pitches at the end of spring. It was definitely hard to pitch in those conditions. Johan had the same situation to deal with. You want to have enough feeling in your fingers to keep track of the ball.”

Harang on the conditions — 37 degrees and raining:

“They’re up there trying to keep their hands warm but they’re not out there trying to throw a ball with numb fingers. When it gets cold like that, the ball gets real slick and you might not have your best stuff. Now that I think about it, hitters have a little more of an advantage.”

If you were at the game, or watched on TV, what did you think?

 

March 31: Yankees-Reds

Getting down to it here, folks. Three games left before the Reds leave Sarasota for good. Here’s today’s lineup:

Taveras  CF
Dickerson  LF
Votto  1B
Phillips  2B
Bruce  RF
Hernandez  C
Encarnacion  3B
Janish  SS
Owings  P

That’s right, Encarnacion is back in the lineup today at third base for the first time in a long time. He DHed a couple days back, then played in a Minor League game yesterday (the weather cleared up enough for that to happen) and went 3-for-6. The key, after missing time with a sore wrist and then a sore shoulder, is for him to get into a rhythm so he’s ready to go full bore on April 6. “We want him to get at-bats so he doesn’t get off to a slow start,” Dusty Baker said.

Alex Gonzalez isn’t playing on the Major League side yet, but he is going to play the field in a Minor League game for the second straight day. There’s still hope he’ll be ready to go on Opening Day, but just in case, they’re waiting to see how he does before allowing him to playi in a big-league game. If he’s not ready and hasn’t played on the big-league side, they can back-date any DL move to his last big-league appearance, which was March 23.

That’s it for now.. enjoy the day.  — Jonathan Mayo

Under the Lights: Twins-Reds early notes

Night tilt today, folks. Here’s the nitty-gritty. First the lineup:

Taveras  CF
Hairston SS (first game back)
Votto  1B
Phillips  2B (back from illness)
Bruce  RF
Keppinger 3B
Dickerson LF
Hernandez C
Owings P

A couple quick notes:

  • Reds starting pitchers haven’t allowed a run in 17 innings
  • While Owings got the night start, fifth starter competitor Homer Bailey threw in a Minor League game this afternoon. I’ll pass along info on that when I get it. Update:  Still don’t have the line on his outing, but Dusty Baker said, “He looked pretty good. He had trouble getting his secondary pitches over. He was out of sync a little bit.”
  • Arthur Rhodes and Jared Burton threw in a minor league game yesterday. Each threw an inning, with Rhodes giving up two hits, but no runs, while striking out a pair. Burton struck out two and gave up just one hit, but it was a solo homer.
  • Edwin Encarnacion‘s shoulder still wasn’t ready to today. He was going to try to swing a little today. The test will be how he throws after swinging. To that end, Baker said he had to see him do both before he’d be ready to put him back in the lineup. Friday is a possibility, but giving him an extra day to see how his shoulder responds to heightened activity might not be a bad thing. He had had his shoulder examined and there wasn’t any damage, just some inflammation
  • Alex Gonzalez was going to test his hamstring a little today. It was still unclear when he’d be ready to return to game action.
  • With Hairston and Phillips back in the lineup, the Reds are starting to look like, well, the Reds. Once they get the two aforementioned infielders back, they’ll be good to go. “We want to start the season healthy,” Baker said. “That’s one of the real keys.”

. — Jonathan Mayo

Notes of note pre-game Red Sox-Reds

I need to work on my headline writing. That will not entice people to read, will it? But here we go…

  • Edwin Encarnacion remained out of the lineup with his sore shoulder, but Dusty Baker said he was feeling better and they were hoping he’d be able to play on Friday.
  • Jerry Hairston Jr.  is going to DH in a Minor League game today. It’ll be one of those deals where he’ll lead off every inning so he can get a bunch of at-bats. He could see big-league action tomorrow, at least for a few innings. Look for a story about Hairston over on Reds.com later today.
  • Baker was waiting to hear an update on Alex Gonzalez and his hamstring. He went home to Miami to see his therapist. Trainer Mark Mann said it was just a little spot and not too bad. He is the proverbial “day-to-day.” Baker: “More than anything, it scares him. He’s thinking, ‘Oh no, not again.’ (in terms of getting injured). I’m glad he stopped when he did.”
  • Brandon Phillips was back in camp today following his illness. He might play a few innings tomorrow.
  • Don’t pay attention to Bronson Arroyo’s line from his Minor League start yesterday (5 IP, 6 runs, 5 earned, 11 hits, 1 BB, 3 K). He threw only fastballs and changeups the entire 84-pitch outing. Here’s what Arroyo had to say about it:

“I told the catcher no signs. I just told him to set up inside and outside and I’d throw fastballs and changeups to either side. The hit the ball nice, but the wind was blowing out at hurricane speed. I threw a lot of fastballs, which I wanted to do, because I can lose command of that when I’m tired. I must have thrown 70 fastballs. My arm was sore an hour after, which was good. It’s better to be killed back there than on the big field on Sunday.” (Arroyo will start on Sunday against the Rays here in Sarasota.

  • The rotation goes as follows: Tomorrow vs. Twins: Micah Owings (Homer Bailey will pitch in a minor-league game; Aaron Harang starts Friday in Tampa against the Yankees; Edinson Volquez gets the start in Port Charlotte against the Rays, then Arroyo on Sunday.
  • Arthur Rhodes and Jared Burton will start in minor league games today. Daryl Thompson will pitch with Homer Bailey in that minor league game tomorrow.

That’s all I got for now. Have a great day, everyone…

A-Gone is, well, gone

Alex Gonzalez legged out an infield single with one out in the second inning. He was taken out of the game before the bottom of the second began. Gonzalez, who has been making his way back from surgery on his left knee, pulled up a little lame after crossing first base and was visibly flexing his leg. He stayed on the basepaths, but clearly wasn’t running full speed when he went to second on Ryan Hanigan’s single or when he was forced at third on Edinson Volquez’s sacrifice attempt. We haven’t gotten an update yet on Gonzalez’s status, but I’ll pass it along once we know more… — Jonathan Mayo

Update: Turns out it wasn’t the knee, which is a good thing. He suffered a right hamstring strain (it was indeed his right leg he was flexing). We’ll have more information after the game.

Dickerson trying to prove himself

Sometimes when you write a lot of stories, you can forget about them. Players however, don’t always forget. Many of them read what the beat reporters write and part of the gig is being accountable for writing it. So when I was talking to outfielder Chris Dickerson Wednesday about his good spring, he dropped this sentence my way:

“I’m trying to prove to you that I’m not an anomaly,” Dickerson said.

I had no idea at first what he was talking about. But he remembered a story about the left field vacancy that I wrote . I had to go look it up. On Feb. 10, I wrote:

“But there are questions about whether Dickerson’s numbers were an anomaly since they’re superior than anything he had previously produced in the Minors.”

So there you go. We talked about it today, I told him I looked up the story and everything seemed fine. But like many players, statements that carry even a shred of doubt about a performance seem to be something Dickerson uses as motivation. Batting .375 entering tonight, Dickerson has certainly had a solid spring and if he continues that way, I can’t see how he isn’t on the 25-man roster in April.

Last season Dickerson batted .304 with six homers and 15 RBIs in 31 games. He batted .287 at Triple-A Louisville and was red hot before his August call-up but is a .260 hitter lifetime in the Minors.

“People want to say that was just a great six-week performance and that’s it,” Dickerson said. “Just like everybody else, they look into the Minor League performance. I just want to come out here and continue to show people I can play and that I’m the same player I was those last six weeks.”

More on this story later on the web site.

News you can use:

  • Fifth starter contender Micah Owings acknowledged his less than pretty line in a Minor League game on Wednesday. (4.1 IN, 9H, 7 R, 6 ER, 5K, 1 HB)

“The results probably didn’t indicate how I felt,” Owings said. “The first three innings went well and I felt good. Looking back, I could have probably done a couple of things differently. Those guys were just swinging.”

“It’s not easy pitching against the young guys,” manager Dusty Baker said. “It’s a bigger deal for the kids to face them than it is for them to face the kids. You call home and tell them what you did. ‘Daddy, I think I’m ready.'”

Much of Owings trouble began after a bunt play when he made an error throw to third base. He also hit a solo homer in the game.

“The first at-bat was ugly. I saw three pitches, made three swings and sat down,” Owings said. The next at-bat, I broke my bat on the first pitch and fouled it off down the line. I got one of [Norris Hopper’s] bats he gave me because I only brought one out there.”

  • Must have been some bat since Hopper also hit a solo homer in his Minor League game. Hopper isn’t known for his pop.
  • Baker plans to play all of his regulars for nine innings against the Red Sox, except for Alex Gonzalez, who is going six. None of the regulars will be on the Friday trip to Kissimmee to play the Astros. Ryan Hanigan isn’t playing today but will be catching starter Johnny Cueto on Friday.
  • We’re one day short of the three-year anniversary of Bronson Arroyo’s trade from the Red Sox to the Reds for OF Wily Mo Pena. It was former GM Wayne Krivsky’s first trade with the club. Still like it? Arroyo is 38-37 with a 4.05 ERA since coming to the Reds but he’s pitching 200 or more innings in all three seasons. It’s still a no-brainer to me and I’m sure Boston GM Theo Epstein wouldn’t mind a do-over. Arroyo gets to face his old team tonight — but Boston also didn’t travel its ‘A’ lineup.
  • In the clip ‘n save — Baker has liked very much what he’s seen from catcher Craig Tatum, who reached Triple-A last season.

“He’s one of the most improved hitters I’ve seen as far as approach and keeping things simpler,” Baker said. “He’s strong. He’s got a cannon for an arm.”

Tatum starts tonight and has benefitted greatly from Ramon Hernandez’s extended leave for the WBC.

Reds lineup:

Taveras CF, Gonzalez SS, Votto 1B, Phillips 2B, Bruce RF, Encarnacion 3B, Dickerson LF, Tatum C, Arroyo P

Red Sox lineup:

Baldelli CF, Lowrie SS, Wilkerson 1B, Bailey RF, Carter LF, Green 2B, Chavez 3B, Brown C, Lester P 

Masset discussion, bullpen for Bailey?

It’s getting late in spring and in the previous blog post about the probable starters, Nick Masset’s name was nowhere to be found. Nothing has been determined officially, but all signs are pointing to him no longer being in contention for the rotation’s fifth spot.

Masset has a 6.75 ERA through four games, including three starts, totalling 10 2/3 innings.

“We have to sit down and talk about it,” manager Dusty Baker said. “We might be making some decisions soon because there are not enough innings without ‘B’ games or split-squad games.”

It’s likely down to Micah Owings and Homer Bailey, who have both pitched well this spring. Owings has been nearly unstoppable. Baker caught the last couple of innings of Bailey’s minor league outing Monday (see previous post for line) and liked what he saw.

The big mystery could be the last bullpen spot. Masset, who has been a long reliever for a couple of years, is out of options. Bailey has no history as a reliever but isn’t out of the question to do it if Owings beats him for the fifth spot.

“Possibly. It’s something we’ve discussed,” Baker said. “It’s something that depends on what’s better for him in the long run – do we pitch him or make him the fifth guy? With the Dodgers and Giants, a lot of our top young guys started out as long guys – Dave Stewart, Bobby Welch, Pedro Martinez.

“A lot of it depends on who has options left and who doesn’t. There is a lot that goes into consideration as well as how you’re pitching.”

More news you can use:

  • Jay Bruce hasn’t hit well most of spring (batting .200 entering the day) but Baker wasn’t too worried.

“He kind of started this way last year too,” Baker said. “He was getting some hits early, but they were groundballs between first and second. His stroke isn’t really there because he’s fouling off pitches he would ordinarily put into play. He’s close. When you see him going to left field or up the middle that means he’s right there because he is not a pull hitter. When he starts trying to pull, that’s when most hitters get into trouble.”

  • Jacque Jones and Daryle Ward, who are both struggling offensively, were kept back in Sarasota to DH in Minor League games.

“They stayed back and hit extra and try to hope we can find their strokes.”

  • Alex Gonzalez and Norris Hopper will likely do the same thing on Wednesday while the Reds are in Port Charlotte.
  • Infielder Danny Richar probably had an outside chance at best to make it as a backup infielder. But despite some nice defensive plays, Richar entered batting .111 and was honest about his state of mind.

“I don’t feel like I’m playing the way I’m used to playing. I don’t feel confident,” Richar said. “I need to get that back. I’m trying to do too much. I need to play my game. Right now, I don’t feel like I’m playing my game.”

The Reds are wearing green hats for St. Patrick’s Day and several players had green shirts among their street clothes, including Brandon Phillips and Baker.

“Erin Go Braugh my brother,” Baker said to Phillips — both men laughed.

 

Owings and Volquez look great

To this point, Micah Owings couldn’t ask for a better spring to compete for the fifth starter’s spot. Against the Twins during his fourth outing of spring, Owings cruised for four scoreless innings with two hits allowed and four strikeouts. The Reds won the game, 1-0, on a long Jonny Gomes homer to left field off of Francisco Liriano.

“It was weird throwing a night game after all of those day games,” Owings said. “It was nice to be under the lights again.”

That gave Owings a 1.23 ERA in four starts with eight hits, two walks and 16 strikeouts over 14 2/3 innings. His track record is not as a strikeout pitcher.

“I’m not really going to look too much into it or think much about it,” Owings said if his strikeout total. “The main thing is I’m focused on trusting my stuff and getting ahead. Ryan Hanigan was again back there solid calling pitches. We were on the same page the whole time. The biggest thing is getting ahead of hitters and being in position to put them away.”

Edinson Volquez followed and dealt three scoreless innings with one hit and two strikeouts. On the ballpark radar, one pitch reached 96 mph.

Volquez needed just 36 pitches to retire the Twins and rarely went deep in the count.

“It’s all about going deep in the game and not throwing too many pitches,” Volquez said after the game. “I threw a lot of first-pitch strikes. I had to go to the bullpen and throw 20 more pitches.”

Also — I forgot to mention earlier that Dusty Baker will have the rotation in this order during the regular season: Harang, Volquez, Arroyo and Cueto.  At this point, Owings is looking really good for the No. 5 spot but there is still a ways to go and Homer Bailey will have something to say about that.

And one more thing: Alex Gonzalez came through his second start at shortstop with no issues. Gonzalez went 1-for-3 with a single. He made an abrupt stop between first and second base and scampered back after his hit. He also turned a nice 1-6-3 double play on defense.

“I felt good,” Gonzalez said. “I had no problems. Each day I take another step. I have to keep working and keep doing what I’m doing. I’m getting stronger with my legs.”

 

Innings to tighten? Votto here

After last night’s shocking loss to the Netherlands, the Reds will be getting their eliminated Dominican players back, including Edinson Volquez and Johnny Cueto. That means the abundance of innings for extra pitchers will soon vanish since the starters will need to get work. While it would seem that could pare down the fifth starter’s battle some, no decisions have been made to trim the contenders.

“They just lost last night. We haven’t had a chance to talk about how we’ll arrange stuff or what we’re going to do,” manager Dusty Baker said. “We don’t have to make a decision on the fifth starter. That would negate the purpose of spring. That would go to who has had the early success and the real pressure isn’t coming until close to the end. The way I look at it is the better you handle this pressure, the better you can show me you’d handle that pressure down the stretch in a real pennant race.”

One solution would be to have established starters get their work in Minor League games. For now at least, Homer Bailey, Micah Owings and Nick Masset are still the top three fifth spot contenders.

 

  • After flying back from Toronto last night, Joey Votto was back in the clubhouse nice and early today despite being given the day off by Baker. Not surprisingly, Votto didn’t take it. He won’t play in the game vs. the Astros but will still do his full workout and batting practice.

“You know what? I just assumed I’d come in,” Votto said. “I didn’t think I’d get days off all of a sudden. We have a day off tomorrow so I didn’t think it was a good idea to take three straight days off with yesterday’s travel day.”

Reds lineup:

McDonald CF, Dickerson LF, Bruce RF, Phillips 2B, Ward 1B, Francisco 3B, Richar SS, Hanigan C, Keppinger DH

P – Harang

  • Bailey will follow Harang out of the bullpen. Thursday’s off day would have been Bailey’s normal turn to start.

“He’ll go shorter because of that fact,” Baker said. “He’s going a day earlier. I’d rather have him do that and go shorter than wait an extra day and that would back everybody else up too.”

Astros lineup:

Matsui DH, Bourn CF, Berkman 1B, Pence RF, Blum 3B, Newhan 2B, Palmisano C, Bogusevic LF, Manzella SS

P – Fulchino

  • Alex Gonzalez reported feeling good the day after playing shortstop vs. the Yankees. He will return to play on Friday vs. the Twins.
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