Results tagged ‘ Alex Gonzalez ’

Gonzalez pleased, Masset shaky

In his first game action this spring at shortstop, Alex Gonzalez played five innings against the Yankees Tuesday night and was pretty pleased with how he did, especially since he had a few fielding chances.

“It was fun today to be in the field, playing the field,” Gonzalez said. I was excited today to get out there and do the best I can. I felt good. I felt good running and comfortable in the field.”

“That was a pretty good test for him,” manager Dusty Baker said. “He was only going to get four innings but he asked to play the fifth so he could play more defense.”

With no outs in the fourth, Gonzalez made a nice backhanded, short-hop pick on Jose Molina’s grounder and started the 6-4-3 double play.

“The ball was hit hard. I just stayed on the play,” Gonzalez said. “He hit it pretty good. I was thinking ‘hang on to the ball, don’t lose it.’ I kept my eyes on the ball and I have a great second baseman in Brandon Phillips. We had a slow runner going to first base and had all the time to turn the double play.”

“That was a great play,” Baker said. “He made it look easy but it was hard. That’s why he is one of the best.”
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In the second, Gonzalez nabbed a one-hop routine grounder from Angel Berroa, easily retired him for the third out. Gonzalez was also involved in a couple of close plays at second base, including one where Jay Bruce threw out Brett Gardner trying to stretch a single into a double in the third inning.

Gonzalez was 0-for-2 with a groundout to shortstop and a line out to second base. He ran up the bases slowly on the groundout. I didn’t think he looked too great but Gonzalez said he felt fine, better than fine in fact.

“Much better today. I didn’t feel any pain,” Gonzalez said. “The last couple games, I’ve felt better in my knee. I’ve got my speed back. A couple of more games, I’ll be ready. I felt great running from home to first.”

“I’m at the point where I want to be. Just go out there and play and help the team. With nothing stopping me, I know what I can do.”

Gonzalez is expected to start again on Friday. He will be rested on Wednesday vs. Houston. The Reds are scheduled off on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Yankees hitters haven’t been fooled by fifth starter candidate Nick Masset, who gave up three earned runs and eight hits over four innings with no walks and no strikeouts. Many of the balls were well hit, especially Juan Miranda’s solo homer to right field.

“I felt good today,” Masset said. “It felt like the ball was coming out of my hand well. I felt really loose. I think there were just a few pitches I could have executed better, maybe two or three. That’s really it.”

It was Masset’s second shaky outing in three starts and that couldn’t have helped him as well as Micah Owings and Homer Bailey have pitched.

 

First roster cuts, lineups vs. NYY

The first roster trim came down and there were no surprises. Most of the top prospects were sent to the Minor League camp. Here’s the list:

Optioned to Class AA Carolina  was 1B Yonder Alonso; reassigned to minor league camp were C Humberto Cota, C Chris Denove, INF Todd Frazier, C Devin Mesoraco, OF Drew Stubbs and INF Chris Valaika…the Reds have 56 players remaining in camp.

Reds lineup:

Dickerson CF, Gonzalez SS, Bruce RF, Phillips 2B, Barker 1B, Encarnacion 3B, Nix LF, Hanigan C, Bankston DH

Masset – P

Yankees lineup:

Gardner CF, Damon LF, Nady RF, Matsui DH, Ransom 3B, Molina C, Miranda 1B, Berroa SS,  Pena 2B

Chamberlain – P

Obviously, this will be a good test for Gonzalez’s knee to finally play the field. Look for a story postgame on that. More later once the Reds’ bus arrives at Steinbrenner Field.

6pm Update:

  • Dusty Baker said that Gonzalez would play four or five innings at shortstop tonight.
  • 3B Edwin Encarnacion said his left wrist felt better after he took BP on Monday. Encarnacion has been sore since a check swing the other day.

“But I tried to stay with a pitch inside, that’s what hurt me more,” Encarnacion said.

  • 1B Joey Votto is on a flight that should land in Sarasota tonight but Baker said he’s giving him Wednesday off. The team has a scheduled off day on Thursday, which gives Votto two days to regroup after the World Baseball Classic.

“With traveling and his family and Toronto, I’m sure he’s probably exhausted,” Baker said.

  • RHP Johnny Cueto is OK after twisting an ankle on Sunday. He did his running on Monday.

Here’s what Baker said about the roster moves. Three of the players (Alonso, Mesoraco and Stubbs) were the organization’s last three first round picks.

“They’re all good players. They’re good young men at the same time,” Baker said. “They worked hard, did what was asked of them. It was a matter of ABs getting tight. We’re going to get some guys back [from the World Baseball Classic]. They all got pretty good look-sees, especially for the first big league camp for most of them. Most guys don’t get that many ABs and innings.”

  • The decisions were all made before Monday’s game. Chris Valaika hit a grand slam vs. the Phillies and Yonder Alonso hit a homer to center field, his first of spring. A fan retrieved the ball and returned it to Alonso.

“You hate to send them out when they did something so spectacular. I was hoping Stubbs would hit one out,” Baker said. “I’d rather have them go out on a high note.”

 

 

 

 

Visiting with Mackanin, notes/lineups

Greetings from Clearwater and the Phillies’ spring home at Bright House Field, which is probably the finest stadium you’ll find in the Grapefruit League. (I’m also partial to the Red Sox place in Fort Myers). Sorry for the late morning post but sometimes that’s just how it goes.

Former Reds interim manager Pete Mackanin is now the bench coach for the Phillies and it was nice to see him for a few minutes. Mackanin was great to work with from a media standpoint and more importantly, it was impressive that he led the 2007 team to an above .500 record (41-39) after he took over following a horrible start.

“I’m wearing red again,” Mackanin said before breaking out some dry wit. “I look so good in blue and green but I can’t get away from red. Maybe next time.”

Reds lineup:

Jones CF, Keppinger SS, Bruce RF, Gomes LF, Ward 1B, Alonso DH, Francisco 3B, Hanigan C, Janish 2B

Arroyo – P

Phillies lineup:

Bruntlett SS, Dobbs LF, Werth CF, Howard 1B, Ibanez DH, Jenkins RF, Donald 3B, Cairo 2B, Marson C

Hamels – P

  • Edwin Encarnacion was given another day off to rest a sore left wrist.

“It’s a matter of not having to rush,” manager Dusty Baker said. “It’s the same thing he had last year which you get from check swinging improperly.”

  • Alex Gonzalez is definitely going to make his debut at shortstop Tuesday vs. the Yankees. 
  • Baker isn’t worried about the slow starts by Jeff Keppinger (.105 in 7 games) or Jacque Jones (.133 in 8 games coming in).

 

 

 

 

Springing forward stinks

I have a life lesson to impart so please gather the kids, grandma and grandpa and the neighbors around the laptop….

When you “spring forward,” be extra careful if you use your cellphone as the alarm clock.

I learned that at 7:35am today when carpool partner Hal McCoy called me out of a deep slumper to wonder where I was. I was supppsed to pick him up at 7:30am so we could meet with Dusty Baker at the usual 8am. The alarm was set and the cellphone clock was at the correct time when I peeked at it. But I guess if you set your alarm before the actual daylight savings time change of 2am, the alarm time won’t adjust along with the clock. It happened to Hal too, but he woke up on his own.

Because it’s Sunday, there was no traffic at least. And I’m proud to say that I went from wake-up to the ballpark in less than 30 minutes. (The park is about 20 minutes from Siesta Key). And because we weren’t the only ones to have clock issues, we were all still able to get to chat with the manager before the workout.

So with that Regis and Kelly-like story out of the way, let’s get to notes and lineups:

  • Baker was pleased with Homer Bailey’s outing vs. Toronto on Saturday where the right-hander allowed one earned runs and six hits over four innings with a strikeout. Six of the outs came via groundballs.

“He wasn’t sharp but that’s a sign of maturity when you can get by without your best stuff,” Baker said. “He wasn’t as sharp as he had been but he still got a key double-play groundball and a key line drive at the right time. You have to have a pitcher do something to get you out of trouble.”

  • Reliever Jared Burton gave up three runs in Saturday’s loss — the first runs he’s allowed in four outings this spring.

“Burton threw the ball well but was a little too strong,” Baker said. “He’s a guy that needs work to have movement.”

  • Non-roster outfielder Laynce Nix came in with an outside shot at one of the Reds’ reserve outfield spots. He’s played well in camp. Once a promising star with the Rangers, he’s been mired in Triple-A for most of the past three seasons. In the Brewers organization since 2006, Nix hit 23 homers last season and 24 in 2007.

“My particular situation the last couple of years was that way being with a  team that kind of had its roster set and didn’t have too much opportunity,” Nix said. “There wasn’t a lot I could do. I’m going to produce and do what I do on the field, no matter where I’m going to be. You have to exercise patience sometimes and that’s what I’ve done the last couple of years. I’ve tried to get better no matter where I was playing or what level.” 

A 2004 shoulder injury with the Rangers put a big dent in Nix’s career. Now he’s trying to prove himself all over again at 28. He entered Sunday batting .286 with one homer and three RBIs for the Reds this spring.

  • Baker was pleased with how well Alex Gonzalez has been swinging the bat. Gonzalez went 1-for-2 Saturday as the DH and is doing that again today. He is on track to play shortstop vs. the Yankees on Tuesday.
  • No word yet on potential cuts, but Baker said waiting for players to return from the WBC wasn’t a factor.

“That has nothing to do with it,” Baker said. “Most of the time, it has to do with pay day. That’s a cold, hard fact but it’s as truthful as you can say it. It happens at every job doesn’t it?”

Reds lineup:

Jones LF, Gonzalez DH, Dickerson CF, Phillips 2B, Gomes 1B, Nix RF, Keppinger 3B, Cota C, Janish SS

P – Owings

Rhodes, Cordero and Weathers are also expected to pitch today from the bullpen.

Blue Jays lineup:

Inglett 2B, Coats CF, Lind LF, Overbay 1B, Rolen 3B, Snider RF, Barrett C, Arencibia DH, McDonald SS

P – Purcey 

Back in Fort Myers, again

For the third time this week, the Reds are back in Fort Myers and so am I. The 80 minute drive down I-75 has become so familiar, the trusty Mitsubishi rental car can almost drive itself here. It’s Stockholm Syndrome at this point, I’ve resigned myself that I can’t live without I-75. At least the opposing team (the Twins) and venue are different.

It’s a beautiful morning at the Lee County Sports Complex, a place that’s improved mightily over the years. I tried taking a picture but it came out lousy on the smart phone, so I won’t be sharing.

Anyway, here are your lineups as I wait for the arrival of the Reds bus:

Reds:

Dickerson CF, Rosales 2B, Bruce RF, Francisco 3B, Ward 1B, Janish SS, Hanigan C, Mesoraco DH

P – Harang

James Avery, Jordan Smith, Daniel Herrera, and Ron Flores are in the bullpen today.

Twins:

Span RF, Casilla 2B, Crede 3B, Kubel DH, Young LF, Buscher 1B, Gomez CF, Morales C, Harris SS

P – Perkins

 

  • In their various World Baseball Classic tune-ups on Thursday, Joey Votto (as the DH) was 0-for-2, Willy Taveras was 0-for-1, Ramon Hernandez was 0-for-3 and Jerry Hairston Jr. was 1-for-5. Hairston played right field and center field. 

 

Updated news you can use:

  • Jay Bruce is focusing on trying to hit the ball to the middle of the field, rather than trying to pull the ball too much. Both of Bruce’s homers this spring were hit to the opposite field, which is a nice sign things are working.

“In Spring Training, I definitely try to hit the ball that way,” Bruce said. “Pulling is more of a reaction for me. Last Spring Training, I was a little too pull conscious. That might have been the reason I wasn’t as successful early on as I would have liked to been. This year, I’m just trying to stay in the middle of the field and let everything happen.”

Not expanding his strike zone and cutting down on strikeouts is also a priority for Bruce.

“That’s my No. 1 goal at Spring Training – swing at strikes and take balls,” Bruce said. “Not just strikes, but pitches I think I can drive. Something I ran into in the past, if I felt I could make contact with the ball, I’d just swing. This spring training, I’m really trying to swing at pitches I can drive and not be afraid to get deep into the counts.” 

  • Alex Gonzalez will DH on Saturday and Sunday vs. the Blue Jays. Dusty Baker plans on giving him Gonzalez his first start at shortstop, possibly on Tuesday vs. the Yankees.
  • Reliever Bill Bray is expected to make his spring debut pitch an inning during Saturday’s game at Dunedin vs. Toronto.
  • For those wondering about roster cuts, they do not appear imminent. Because of the World Baseball Classic, there is a need for arms to take up all the innings. Help from the Minor League camp isn’t possible yet, since it just opened today.

“You figure you have to give them at least 10 days before those guys come over,” Baker said. “It’s going to affect cuts, or the lack of.”

Masset rebounds well, other news

It was a much better second start for Nick Masset on Thursday. The fifth starter candidate pitched three scoreless innings against the Pirates with one hit and two strikeouts.

The only “uh-oh” moment for Masset came in the second inning when leadoff batter Andy LaRoche smoked a line drive off of the pitcher’s right foot. Masset needed a few minutes to shake it off and resumed nicely. He induced a 6-4-3 double play by Garrett Jones and went on to retire his final nine batters in a row.

“Last time I needed the feel of getting back on the mound, feel for finding the zone,” Masset said. “I think was trying to do more than I really should that first one out. This time I was a lot more relaxed and a lot more in tune with myself. I felt really good out there pounding the zone with all my pitches.”

In his first start on Saturday against the Red Sox, Masset was nervous and gave up four runs (three earned) on four hits with a walk in one inning. He also committed a throwing error trying to start a double play.

“You have to take it with a grain of salt,” Masset of the first-game debacle. “Everyone is going to have those type of outings. It’s Spring Training, the first game. You’re all worked up. I think the night before I lost more sleep than I did the night of. The way I looked at it was it’s something to rebound off of, get back out there and do the job I know I’m capable of doing.”

“Much more composed,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “He threw the ball well. He threw the ball relaxed. He was ready today. He was ready the other day but he was a little over-amped.”

  • Pitcher Johnny Cueto didn’t have a strong World Baseball Classic tuneup. On Wednesday for the Dominican Republic against the Orioles, Cueto gave up three earned runs and five hits over three innings. Willy Taveras was 3-for-3 for the Dominican with a run scored.
  • As the DH again, Alex Gonzalez singled to left field in his first at-bat in the third inning. He ran the bases but didn’t have to go too hard. Gonzalez will not play in Friday’s game at Minnesota. It’s not clear yet It’s expected that he will make the trip to Dunedin for the Blue Jays on Saturday. Gonzalez told me he felt fine after he left today’s game.
  • The Reds beat the Pirates in 10 innings, 10-6. Darnell McDonald hit a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the 10th. It was the Reds’ fourth grand slam this spring (McDonald, Craig Tatum, Jonny Gomes and Jerry Hairston Jr.).
  • ESPN’s Dick Vitale made his first appearance in Reds camp today. Vitale walked into Baker’s office to say hello while I was conducting a one-on-one interview for a future date. Vitale spoke for a few minutes and apologized after he realized he interupted my interview. Then he talked to Baker for a couple of more minutes before leaving when his cellphone rang.

Worries about Coco? Lineups & notes

Good morning from Sarasota, where all signs are pointing to a beautiful day. To stir the pot of weather envy in the North, the expected high today is going to be 78.

On to the news and notes for Thursday:

Closer Francisco Cordero has a 22.50 ERA through two appearances (5ER, 2 IN), and that doesn’t even count Wednesday’s exhibition vs. the Netherlands where he gave one earned run on Randall Simon’s RBI double. Cordero also walked a batter and struck out two in the game.

Sure it’s early in spring but Cordero is also coming off ankle surgery. Are you worried about the Reds closer? Manager Dusty Baker and Cordero are not concerned.

“It’s too early to worry, No. 1,” Baker said. “You could be worried about something you don’t need to be worried about yet. With a week left in the pre-season, you’re a little concerned. I’ve seen guys, especially veteran pitchers, that are facing guys they don’t even know. You’re told to keep the ball down the and guy is a low-ball hitter and he’s a kid. When you set them up, you don’t even know they’re being set up. Everybody in the ballpark knows he’s set up for the inside fastball but him.”

Cordero, who saved 34 games last season, had minor right ankle surgery in September to remove a bone spur.

“I feel good. My body, my shoulder, everything else feels good,” Cordero said. “I’m just trying get back on track and get everything normal with my ankle. It’s been great. I’m working more to get the ankle ready than anything else. It’s not like you want to go out there and give it up. Every time I pitch, I want to do a good job. I’m not worried about what’s happening right now – if I give up hits or runs. Obviously, I don’t want to do that but I don’t worry about it. I just want to get ready and back on track and feel good.”

  • Jacque Jones will get his first start at first base against the Pirates.
  • Alex Gonzalez is back at shortstop (sorry I meant DH). Baker is still concerned about Gonzalez’s gait when he runs but thinks it’s a matter of getting used to not limping.

Here are the lineups for Thursday:

Reds:

Hopper LF, Keppinger SS, Bankston RF, Phillips 2B, Jones 1B, Rosales 3B, Nix CF, Gonzalez DH, Kroski C

P – Masset

Pirates:

Morgan CF, McCutchen LF, Moss RF, Monroe DH, LaRoche 3B, Jones 1B, Diaz C, Ford 2B, Bixler SS

P – Maholm

 

 

No issues for Gonzalez, Arroyo smooth

  • Alex Gonzalez’s first game of the spring appeared to go OK. Gonzalez was 1-for-2 against the Netherlands with a first-inning fly out to left field and he lined a single to left field in the third. He did not appear to be favoring his left knee at all as he ran the bases.

“Finally,” Gonzalez said of playing again. Here is what else he said:

“I felt very good. it was a little tight. It was nothing with my knee. It’s the muscle above the knee.”

“If I keep doing what I’ve been doing every day here, I will be ready for the season.”

“He swung the bat good,” manager Dusty Baker said. “He hit a good breaking ball. He’s still not running great but I didn’t know if that was because he didn’t have to run. I’ve seen him run better in practice.”

  • Bronson Arroyo pitched four scoreless innings with two first inning hits allowed. Arroyo struck out two and threw 47 pitches in the game. He started the game with a bunt single allowed and also gave up a Randall Simon single to left field.

Arroyo finished up by retiring his final 10 in a row.

“It was good,” Arroyo said. “When you don’t know guys, it makes you go a little bit harder. I don’t know if these guys are A-ball, Triple-A, Mexico or don’t play at all. You have no idea. I just assume everybody is pretty darn good. I went at them hard, especially after I gave up two hits in the first inning. I didn’t want to get beat up too bad by those guys.

“Today was much, much better. The fastball was coming out of my hand much better. My command was better. I felt stronger. It felt a lot more like a regular game today. Plus, it’s a little bit easier with Hanigan behind the plate. He’s used to how I pitch from last year.”

  • Since it was a special non-Grapefruit League exhibition, Wednesday’s game was not counted statistically for the players. The crowd was pretty sparse, less than 1,000 people — I’m told it’s often like this for Florida State League games here.
  • The Reds won the game, 4-3, in 10 innings. Luis Bolivar scored from third base on a wild pitch to Todd Frazier.

 

 

 

 

Gonzalez starting, lineups & notes

Sorry for the late update today but there is some connectivity issues at the MMW-Sarasota bureau at the moment. The Reds play the Netherlands WBC squad at 6pm.

Reds lineup:

Dickerson LF, Gonzalez DH, Bruce RF, Rosales 2B, Encarnacion 3B, Nix CF, Keppinger SS, Barker 1B, Hanigan C

P – Arroyo

Netherlands:

Kingsale RF, Schoop 2B, Simon 1B, Halman CF, Adrianna DH, DeCastier 3B, Engelhardt LF, Jansen C, Statia SS

P – Vanden Hurk

  • This will be a good test for Alex Gonzalez, who is seeing his first game action since 2007. He missed all of last season with the compression fracture in his left knee. Dusty Baker said that Gonzalez could start playing SS next week. He will get two ABs tonight.

“I will start him off DHing the first couple of times out,” Baker said. “I think he’s ready now to play shortstop but we’ll probably wait some time until early next week. I think playing shortstop will be, other than the physical exertion, be easier than getting his bat stroke back. He hasn’t hit in a while. He hasn’t seen live pitching in a while.”

What do the Reds need to see before saying Gonzalez is fully ready?

“Just natural movements,” Baker said. “The toughest part of getting over an injury is the psychological part when you’re not injured anymore and when you don’t have to calculate your every move and every step. It becomes natural. I speak from experience on that one.”

  • Reliever Bill Bray (shoulder) is scheduled to throw in a live BP session this afternoon after the annual MLB security meeting in the clubhouse.
  • The most experienced big league player on the Dutch team is Randall Simon. The Reds will be facing their own Minor League pitchers, Alexander Smit and Juan Carlos Sulbaran, who are scheduled to work from the bullpen.
  • Joey Votto played LF for Team Canada vs. the Blue Jays on Tuesdat, which Baker said he didn’t know was going to happen.

“I hadn’t talked to anybody,” Baker said. “Somebody told me he was probably going to probably DH some and play first base. I didn’t know he would play left. He’s played there before and he’s willing to do anything to help his team. That’s Joey Votto.”

Team Canada has Justin Morneau at first base. On Wednesday vs. the Phillies, Votto was the DH.

Reds-Red Sox: Part Deux – lineups, notes

Greetings from Fort Myers and City of Palms Park. Here are the lineups:

Reds:

Hopper CF, Jones LF, Bruce RF, Phillips 2B, Encarnacion 3B, Francisco DH, Ward 1B, Hanigan C, Janish SS

Owings – P

Red Sox:

Ellsbury CF, Lowrie SS, Wilkerson RF, Baldelli DH, Varitek C, McNaulty LF, Anderson 1B, Ochoa 2B, Velazquez 3B

Lester – P

  • Thompson, Cordero, Rhodes and Maloney are in the bullpen today behind Owings.
  • Arroyo is starting on Wednesday vs. the Netherlands. Masset starts on Thursday vs. the Pirates and Harang is slated for Friday against the Twins.
  • The Reds will be facing both of their own pitchers in the game vs. the Netherlands squad — Alexander Smit and Juan Carlos Sulbaran are slated to work from the bullpen tomorrow.

From the clubhouse:

  • Daryle Ward is feeling better after missing a few days with food poisoning. He got his first start at first base and could be in left field sometime soon. A key for him is also is left-handed pinch-hitting ability. He has 11 career PH homers, and isn’t intimidated at facing other team’s hard-throwing closers and set-up men.

“I believe in myself. I believe in my bat speed,” Ward said. “For me, the harder the guy throws, the better.”

  • Dusty Baker said that Alex Gonzalez is still on track to be the DH in Wednesday’s game vs. the Netherlands.

“He’ll probably DH a couple of days and get his stroke,” Baker said. “The next step will be a few innings in the field, probably starting a game so he can loose before the game instead of trying to get loose in the middle of a game. I’m excited to have him.”

  • Baker was pleased when he found out Team USA, Venezuela and Canada were all in the same bracket for the first round of the WBC. Joey Votto plays for Canada while Ramon Hernandez and Ramon Ramirez are with Venezuela.

“So we’re going to get somebody back either way? Real soon,” Baker said laughing.

Below is another cool picture from Brita Meng Outzen — Reds players watching the Red Sox take batting practice and waiting to stretch.
20090303_bmo_pregame_0662_mark.jpg 

 

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