Results tagged ‘ Billy Hatcher ’
A Happy Fourth of July to everyone. It’s a great day to remember the founding of the country and those who continue to work on our behalf to preserve it.
It’s going to be a smoking-hot afternoon at Wrigley Field. Several hours before game time, it’s already roasting.
I have a flight after the game tonight — I rate my chances of making it 30-70 at this point. Stay tuned later as we will learn who makes the All-Star team on TBS beginning at Noon ET.
Sunday lineup vs. Cubs
*Chris Dickerson is here, currently taking fly balls in the outfield with Billy Hatcher hitting balls his way. Dickerson wasn’t here the previous the three days. Dickerson (right hand/wrist surgeries) recently resumed swinging again after he had to shut it down because of a setback.
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We knew something out of the ordinary was coming when reporters were summoned to the Reds clubhouse early, before the usual 3:40 p.m. opening time. Once summoned into the manager’s office, GM Walt Jocketty and Dusty Baker let us know that all of the coaches were renewed for 2010, except for pitching coach Dick Pole.
Pole will not be in the dugout for the final three games of this season against the Pirates.
“I think as an organization that Dick has done a good job,” Jocketty said. “At this point going forward, we’re making a change and we’ll leave it at that. There are no specific reasons. We really don’t have a clear candidate [as a replacement]. We’re going to formulate a list and try and find the right guy that can be with this organization a long time. We’ve got some young pitchers coming along. We want to make sure we find the right guy to help develop them.”
Pole, 58, was in his third season as the Reds pitching coach and was brought on by previous manager Jerry Narron. Pole had previously worked with Baker on the Cubs’ staff. It was Baker who informed Pole of the change.
Hitting coach Brook Jacoby, first base coach Billy Hatcher, third base coach Mark Berry, bench coach Chris Speier, bullpen coach Juan Lopez, bullpen coach Juan Lopez and bullpen catcher Mike Stefanski were all informed they would be returning.
In house — I’d have to imagine that Triple-A Louisville pitching coach Ted Power and perhaps organizational instructor Mario Soto would be candidates for the job. And before you even ask, Jeff Brantley has zero chance to get the job.
Outside — Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan immediately comes to mind, despite the pine tar flap from Thursday. He obviously worked for Jocketty in the past and owner Bob Castellini used to have a minority interest with the Cardinals.
The general impression here is that this decision wasn’t Baker’s to make.
“I told Dick when I got here today,” Baker said. “It was pretty difficult for me to tell him because you know how close me and him are. I’d rather be the one to tell him because of my relationship with him and how much he’s done in the game. It’s a tough decision, an organizational decision.”
The details of why Pole was let go were not revealed. There had been times when some pitchers didn’t follow his directions and went their own way. Edinson Volquez defended Pole, however.
“He was a good pitching coach. Somebody had a different opinion than me,” Volquez said. “He was one of the good guys on the team. He taught me a lot for the last two years. I’m going to miss him next year.”
One reason the decision seems odd — Reds pitchers showed improvement this year. The team ERA entering Friday was 4.21 compared to 4.55 in 2008. Opponent’s batting average was .258 compared to .275 last season. Hits are 1399 in ’09 to 1542 in ’08.
Jocketty didn’t want to wait until after the season to make the decision known, so coaches wouldn’t be twisting in the wind.
“It’s tough going to the last day,” Jocketty said. “Those guys were all anxious to understand where they’d be next year. We decided this would be the best way to handle it. there’s never a good way to handle it.”
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In center field for the Reds since his call-up, speedy Drew Stubbs has mostly been as advertised defensively. It doesn’t mean there isn’t work to be done.
During the second inning of Friday’s game, Geovany Soto hit a sacrifice fly to right-center field. Stubbs went after the ball but deferred to Darnell McDonald in right field. The runner was scoring either way but the club wants Stubbs to be more assertive because it’s not the first time that’s happened.
“I want Stubby to get more comfortable and take control of it,” first base/outfield coach Billy Hatcher said Saturday morning. “I’m just trying to get Stubby in a situation where he takes control of the outfield so he can catch everything that he can catch.”
Stubbs is aware that he needs to be the boss of the outfield.
“It’s the primary responsibility for the center fielder, if you’re able to get to the ball, to be the one in charge and the one that takes it,” Stubbs said. “That’s the main thing – communication. It’s usually an issue with guys you’re playing with for the first time and you’re not experienced playing with. We’ve had a little of that the first couple of weeks but I think we’re settling in well and getting the feel for what balls each of us can get to.”
OK, here’s the question for you:
You’re in charge of setting up the 2010 Reds….who is your center fielder?
Stubbs, Chris Dickerson or….Willy Taveras?
I’m pretty sure I know your answer of who you don’t want there.
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I checked in with shortstop Alex Gonzalez this morning to see how his left knee was holding up after several days of drills. So far, so good — but Gonzalez said he is still easing into the running and not going at 100 percent.
“They don’t want me to run yet everyday,” said Gonzalez, who missed all of last season with a compression fracture. “When I started running, it was two-three times a week. Not only that, I’m doing a lot of stuff. Two days ago, I felt a little tight in both legs. Every day, I’m feeling good. I’m lifting weights and getting stronger. It’s nice and easy and getting ready for the season. Last year at this time, we were here and I was in the training room doing rehab. Now I can participate in Spring Training. I’m glad I can do a lot of stuff.”
A hodge podge of topics came up in manager Dusty Baker’s office this morning.
Pitcher Nick Masset is definitely in the mix for the fifth starter’s spot. Masset conditioned himself for starting during the off-season and could always go back to the bullpen if he doesn’t crack the starting five.
If Micah Owings doesn’t make the rotation, Baker wants to find a way to maximize his use as a pinch-hitter and reliever.
“If we could figure out how to get him loose, if he doesn’t make the starting rotation, he could be like a Brooks Kieschnick situation where he can pinch-hit and go into the game,” Baker said. “That was an interesting scenario when Kieschnick was doing it for the Brewers.”
Kieschnick was an outfielder-turned-pitcher for Milwaukee in 2003-2004. In 2003, he batted .300 with seven homers. Owings is .319 hitter with five home runs in 116 career big league at-bats.
“It’s no fluke. Some guys can hit,” Baker said.
Baker affirmed Willy Taveras’ statements earlier this week that it was possible for him to steal 100 bases this season. Taveras swiped 68 last year in a down offensive season.
There was a lot of praise for the effort position players had during drills on Friday.
“Yesterday was the finest baserunning and conditioning that I’ve ever seen as far as technique, cutting the bases, energy, training,” Baker said. “And some fun and competition as well. No complaining. This is an excellent group of guys.”
Coaches Mark Berry, Billy Hatcher and Eric Davis supervised the running drills. Baker was asked if there was more energy at this year’s camp.
“That comes with youth,” Baker said. “Youth, attitude and competition. And a desire to succeed.”
The first batch of players with 0-3 years of service time were signed. The club agreed to terms on one-year contracts with: OF Jay Bruce, RHP Jared Burton, RHP Carlos Fisher, 3B Juan Francisco, LHP Daniel Ray Herrera, RHP Sam LeCure, LHP Matt Maloney, RHP Robert Manuel, RHP Josh Roenicke, IF Adam Rosales and C Craig Tatum.
The spring rotation cleared up some. Aaron Harang will start in Tuesday’s intrasquad game. On Wednesday at TB, Edinson Volquez will start and be followed by Homer Bailey and Johnny Cueto. On Thursday vs. Minnesota, Owings will start. On Friday vs. the Phillies, it’s Bronson Arroyo. On Saturday at the Red Sox, it’s Masset.