Results tagged ‘ Carlos Fisher ’

Baker calls out Phillips

Should Brandon Phillips have had a triple in the third inning after he admired his drive to the wall a little long, thinking he had a second homer? Baker thought so.

“Probably, yeah,” Baker said. “:It looked like at first, he thought it might have been gone. Then he started running probably halfway but it was a little too late at that time.”

Phillips had to settle for a double. But if he had reached third base on the play, he likely would have scored on next batter Joey Votto’s fly ball to left field.

This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. A similar one occured in Houston last week when a routine fly became a three-run error and Phillips only reached second base instead of third.

There were gaffes last season also. In Kansas City, Phillips ignored a take sign on a 3-0 count and put his team out of a rally. On July 20 in Los Angeles he was thrown out at second base when he thought he had a routine sacrifce fly. He didn’t speed up until the ball fell in front of Andre Ethier, who threw Phillips out at second base. That one cost Phillips a game on the bench. There was also a stern rebuke from Baker that night.

“We’ve all talked to him until we’re blue in the face,” Baker said that night.

“I messed up,” Phillips said, also on that night in L.A. “That’s my second time not hustling this year. It won’t happen again.”

Keep this in mind: no one else on the Reds has a problem with hustling.

Moving on to some good:

*Catcher Ryan Hanigan made a nifty stretch and catch just before the top step of the Mets dugout on Angel Pagan’s fifth inning foul pop.

*Reliever Carlos Fisher struck out the side in the eighth — but they were no pedestrian hitters. Fisher fanned Jose Reyes, Jason Bay and David Wright. The Reyes K came on three pitches with an 82 mph changeup for strike three. The Bay strikeout was a 94 mph heater.

“He threw the ball the best he has since he’s been up here,” manager Dusty Baker said. “That’s a very positive thing for us.”

The just plain odd: Leading off the game, Angel Pagan had a bunt base hit to right field. I have a tough time believing Pagan meant to do it just like that, but it worked.

And the sad: Not game related but beloved Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell died today at 92 after a bout with inoperable cancer.

“Ernie Harwell, it goes without saying, was one of the greatest in the history of our profession,” Marty Brennaman said. “More important than that, however, he was one of the finest people I’ve ever known. I was privileged to call Ernie my friend. I will miss him greatly.”

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Ondrusek down, Fisher up

It seemed like only a matter of time some help for the bullpen was summoned.

The Reds optioned rookie reliever Logan Ondrusek to Triple-A Louisville on Thursday.  Carlos Fisher was recalled from Louisville to take his place.

Ondrusek made the team out of Spring Training with 10 scoreless innings, but had some rough outings once the regular season started. In nine appearances, he had an 11.25 ERA with 12 hits and five walks over eight innings.

Fisher has worked eight scoreless innings for Louisville with only one hit allowed among the 24 batters he’s faced. He’s walked one and struck out eight.

Reds lineup:

Dickerson 7
Cabrera 6
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Rolen 5
Bruce 9
Stubbs 8
Hanigan 2
Leake 1

*Dusty Baker wasn’t too chatty when the topic of Aaron Harang came up. From the sound of it, it doesn’t appear that Harang will be moved out of the rotation.

“I can’t tell you before I talk to him,” Baker said. “Plus, we’re talking about it but this guy is getting paid handsomely to be a starter. At this point, who do you have to take his place? And we need him to win. It’s four starts. If it was 14 starts, it’d be a different thing.”

*Drew Stubbs was moved down to seventh. Stubbs is in a 0-for19 funk with 10 Ks.

“It takes a little pressure off of him. Plus when you’re struggling and you’re leading off, you’re prone for 0-for-5 in a minute. They add up quickly because you come up more than anybody in the game.”

*A Stubbs, Dickerson, Bruce outfield should cover lots and lots of ground, right?

“When we’re not playing as well as we should, you have to go with your best defensive team out there, especially with a guy like Leake that throws strikes,” Baker said. “They’re going to put it into play.”

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Two cuts.

Only two cuts were made on Thursday afterall….

Corky Miller was sent to the Minor League camp and RHP Carlos Fisher was optioned to Triple-A Louisville.

“We’ll have most of them tomorrow,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said of the pending cuts.

No decision was made about the fifth starter — between Mike Leake and Travis Wood. Both will have to endure another restless night.

“There are a few things we have to discuss first. We’ll see,” Baker said. “There’s a lot more to it than just being the fifth starter.”

Francisco tried at 1B

The Reds have tried to move prospect Juan Francisco to positions other than his natural third base spot. First it was left field on March 16 and today in the fifth inning, Francisco appeared at first base for the first time this spring.

Total number of balls hit Francisco’s way in the opportunities: zero. He did receive the ball a few times on throws to first.

Francisco, who never played first base in the Minors, is trying to land one of the extra spots on the Reds bench. He was 0-for-2 and struck out in the eighth while swinging way in front of a breaking pitch.

“We’re trying to move him around and get him acclimated just in case,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “We still have plenty of outfielders here. Until we make a move, we’ll see. We’re just weighing as many options as we can.”

In 18 games, Francisco is batting .300 (12-for-40) with two homers and five RBIs.

*It was a rough day of pitching during an 8-1 loss to the Cubs, which slugged three home runs. Three pitchers trying to nab one of the final bullpen spots particularly stumbled.

*Carlos Fisher started and gave up five hits and three runs in 1 2/3 innings, including Marlon Byrd’s two-run shot in the Cubs’ first inning. In the seventh, Kip Wells gave up two runs and two hits, hit a batter and walked in a run with the bases loaded. In the eighth, Matt Maloney gave up three hits and three runs, including two homers.

“We got beat up pretty good today,” Baker said.

*Justin Lehr had two very strong scoreless innings with no hits, one walk and three strikeouts.

“He looked pretty good. He had them off-speed, showed good control,” Baker said.

Lehr’s  chances of making the rotation are likely kaput and he’s still trying to make the bullpen. He hasn’t disappointed, however, with a 3.14 ERA in seven games, including one start. He’s walked five and struck out five.

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Fifth starter race still crowded

The fifth starter competition still has seven contenders left — Aroldis Chapman, Matt Maloney, Micah Owings, Justin Lehr, Kip Wells, Travis Wood and Mike Leake. Surprisingly, no one besides Mike Lincoln has been told they are out — yet.

“It’s going to go down to the wire,” said Maloney, who is scheduled for work out of the bullpen vs. Seattle. “We have a bunch of good guys competing for it. Whoever gets it is going to be very deserving of it. They’re going to help the team win and that’s the main thing they’re looking for. It’s a good competition and it’s going to bring out the best in all of the guys. I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes.”

*It’s possible that Maloney could wind up with a different role than he planned on.

“We haven’t decided on Maloney yet. Would he be better in the bullpen or is he still in the running yet?” manager Dusty Baker said on Friday. “We’re trying to decide that. Lehr, we’re trying to get him more extended time here.”

“I told them I’m willing to do whatever it takes to pitch at the big league level,” Maloney said. “I think they know I’m willing to do it.”

*Innings are getting more precious, especially starting next week.

On Saturday — Travis Wood gets his first start and is slated for four innings. Mike Leake follows with three innings.

On Sunday — Justin Lehr will get his first start and go three innings vs. the Cubs. Johnny Cueto will get five innings in the other split-squad game at the A’s.

Monday — Arroyo gets 5 innings, Chapman 4. Owings will throw 4 inn in a minor league game.

Tuesday —  OFF

Weds — Bailey goes 5 inn

Thur — Harang gets 6 inn

Friday — Leake gets his first start and goes four. Wood follows with four.

After he pitches tonight, Maloney is next slated to get just two innings on Thursday. If he was going to start, you’d think he’d be getting more stretched out by now.

*The starting lineup, with the exception of Hanigan, could be very close to what we see on Opening Day. However, there is locks in center field and left field yet.

“I’m trying to get them together at the same time – Stubbs, Jay [Bruce] and Gomes – so they can get a cohesive outfield going just like our infield, defensively,” Baker said. “At this point, Stubbs has come along better but so far, [Chris] Dickerson has outplayed Stubbs. We have a couple of weeks to go.”

*Gomes has had a fabulous spring to this point, entering the night batting .333 (9-for-27) with three homers and nine RBIs. Baker was asked if Gomes could be someone that could be the left fielder against both left-handed and right-handed pitching.

“We’ll see,” Baker said. “I have to find a way to keep guys sharp and play them. You have to produce too. Not taking anything away from Jonny, but breaking balls aren’t breaking quite the same here. I told you that before we got out here. Sometimes it’s a little harder to judge overall. Everybody knows Jonny can hit that fastball.”

*Carlos Fisher hasn’t pitched in a week because of a sore right elbow but things appear to be improving.

“He said he’s feeling good. I talked to him today,” Baker said.

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First time in Tucson

Greetings from Tucson Electric Park, where the Diamondbacks host spring games and their Triple-A team calls home. With rush hour in Phoenix, it was about 2 1/2 hours to drive down here. I’m not getting attached to the area since this is the last year of Spring Training in Tucson. Both the D-Backs and Rockies are moving to the Phoenix area next year.

Lots of wide open desert, cactus and sagebrush along I-10 to look at on the way down. There were also random mountains and buttes — I wondered if I saw Wil E. Coyote trying to drop an anvil on the road runner a couple of times.

Beyond the left field wall are the Santa Catalina Mountains. There is some snowy peaks on one spot called Mt. Lemmon. It doesn’t pick up as well in the photo.

tucson.jpgSome pre-game notes:

*As mentioned yesterday, CF Drew Stubbs enters Tuesday 2-for-20 with seven strikeouts this spring. Meanwhile Chris Dickerson is tearing it up and making a bid for center field. Is Stubbs normally a slow starter like this?

“I’d say traditionally, yeah,” Stubbs responded. “The key part is getting to where you feel like you need to be from a comfort standpoint. Ultimately, you’re getting prepared for the season. I felt like, from the first couple of games until now, the results haven’t shown it but I’m starting to settle in. I’m starting to have better at-bats, which is the direction I’m trying to go in.”

Manager Dusty Baker isn’t concerned about Stubbs’ numbers…yet.

“No but he needs to get going here pretty soon,” Baker said. “We’re about a third of the way through and a 3-for-4 or 3-for-3 and you’re right back there when you don’t have many at-bats. I’d like to see him make some more contact because he’s struck out a lot, and try a couple of bunts. He’s been working on them with Hatch early in the morning.”

*Todd Frazier is the DH today and has also played LF, 1B, 2B and 3B in games this spring. The search to get him a settled spot continues.

“We still don’t know yet,” Baker said. “We’re still trying to come up with a position. Does he play everywhere or what position is best for him? He has a very interesting history but we’d like to come up with a position. You’ve seen some life.”

*Reliever Carlos Fisher has been out since Friday’s 1 2/3 innings appearance vs. the Dodgers because of muscle soreness on the forearm near his right elbow, according to Baker.

*People have been asking about when cuts are coming. Here’s the best clue that can be offered:

“Generally, it’s around pay day. I’m not going to lie to you,” Baker said. “It’s around split-squad days when we need to bodies. Basically, the 17th is a split-squad day. It’s also pay day. Sunday the 21st is also a split-squad day and we have a pay day a few days after that. Then we’ve got 10 days before we get ready to get out of here. It’s where you no longer say ‘I’m getting ready’ and you need to be ready.”

I think it’d be a good assumption to believe that some moves will go down on Thursday.

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Yes — other pitchers threw too

With all of the hoopla about Aroldis Chapman, you might have wondered if anyone else pitched on Wednesday. They certainly did.

On the field I was watching, I saw Carlos Fisher, Jordan Smith, Logan Ondrusek, Phillipe Valiquette and Pedro Viola. On the other field included Mike Leake, Sam LeCure, Matt Maloney. I heard that Jonny Gomes took Leake deep with a homer. But I don’t believe anyone else left the field with one.

Ondrusek is listed as 6-foot-8 but looks much taller in person and was definitely more imposing from the mound. I had never seen Valiquette before — he was a very hard-throwing lefty pitcher.

“I like the fact that everybody was around the plate,” pitching coach Bryan Price said. “These guys showed up to compete for jobs on the team. That’s been very apparent from the first workout. Guys seem to have an idea that they need to come in commanding their stuff with their arms in good shape. They’ve done that instead of trying to impress by overthrowing or doing things that get you into trouble. This is a pretty polished group.”

Like mentioned in the previous post, Price had pitchers not use a screen. He didn’t want them to get into a bad habit by changing delivery to drop behind it. It only became an issue once when Chris Heisey hit a screamer off of Smith’s leg. Smith was able to continue pitching.

Among the other hitters I watched — Todd Frazier, Juan Francisco and Yonder Alonso. It’s hard to gauge how they did. They really were at a disadvantage so early in camp. Some had some good hits, including Alonso that last few swings in the cage. 

One other quirky moment happened during fielding drills. On a bunt play with Chapman on the mound, the catched yelled “three” meaning Chapman was supposed to throw to third base. But with the language barrier, he didn’t understand. He was told three meant “tres” and got the play right on the next try.

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McDonald improves, roster moves

I remember when journeyman minor leaguer Darnell McDonald was up here to start the season, fans were far from pleased. First, McDonald made the 25-man roster over the more popular Jonny Gomes. He even started on Opening Day because Willy Taveras was out. Then he struggled mightily and there was an awful lot of attention paid to the 25th man on the roster.

McDonald was designated for assignment on May 22 after he batted .175. But if you’re a 30-year-old former No. 1 draft pick that spent 11 years in the minors, you know something about resiliency. He batted .314 for Triple-A Louisville and was brought back up last week.

“He’s played very well,” manager Dusty Baker said. “I saw the talent level there. It’s just a matter of putting too much pressure on himself when he was here the first time and trying to stay. He went down and played, got his stroke and everything together and really contributed.”

McDonald has featured prominent in several games. In a 13-inning game at Milwaukee, he forced extras by throwing out Ryan Braun at the plate from left field. The next day, he hit the game-winning double over Braun’s head in the 10th inning. McDonald hit a two-run homer — the first of his career — in Sunday’s loss and in Game 1 of Monday’s doubleheader with the Pirates, he scored the winning run a wild pitch.

“When you play to try to be perfect and not make mistakes, you make more mistakes,” McDonald said. “Now I want to play loose and have fun. If you make a mistake playing aggressive, that’s fine.”

Roster moves:

After Game 1, the Reds made three transactions. Starter Johnny Cueto was activated from the DL and RHP Ramon Ramirez and 1B Kevin Barker were recalled from Triple-A Louisville. Laynce Nix was placed on the DL with a bulging disc in his neck. RHP Carlos Fisher was optioned to Class-A Sarasota and LHP Matt Maloney was optioned to Double-A Carolina.

The moves were not extra-harsh demotions for Fisher and Maloney. Because Triple-A Louisville is in the playoffs, any player sent down there would have to wait 10 days before returning. Carolina’s season ends on Sept. 7 and Sarasota’s ends on the Sept. 6. Both guys can come right back after that but will pitch for their teams in the interim.

It will be interesting to see how Cueto does. With the Reds situation, I think he might have been better off resting the rest of the season. I trust the opinion of the medical staff but why risk injuring Cueto’s tired arm (only 136 2/3 innings) when there is no pennant race at stake? Between last season (174 innings), winter ball and the WBC — he’s already had a lot.

Game 2 Lineup:

Stubbs 8
Janish 6
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Rolen 5
Gomes 9
McDonald 7
Miller 2
Cueto 1


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Another injury: Bailey

Homer Bailey might not have been able to dodge an Albert Pujols screamer to the box, but he might have dodged a serious injury.

Bailey left his Wednesday start vs. the Cardinals with a bruised foot and he was struck by a Pujols line drove in the first inning. X-rays revealed no fracture. He will be re-evaluated on Thursday in Cincinnati.

After the bottom of the first began with back-to-back singles to Skip Schumaker and Brendan Ryan,  Pujols, ripped a 3-2 pitch up the middle off of Bailey’s leg and towards the third-base foul line.

Although Pujols was nearly on first base, Bailey fired a desperation throw into right field, scoring two and putting Pujols on third base with a single and two-base error.

Bailey tried to take a warm-up pitch afterwards but had to leave. Carlos Fisher took over and saved the bullpen, big-time, with 4 1/3 innings of work — a career-high. The Reds lost the game, 5-2. 

That’s twice in three games a Reds starter went out early. On Monday, Johnny Cueto lasted only two innings because of a tight left hip flexor that turned out to be a cramp. Overall, the bullpen provided 18 innings of work in the series.

POSTGAME UPDATE: Bailey still expected to be able to make his next start. Here was his account:

“It hit right between my ankle and toe,” Bailey said. “I knew it wasn’t broken because I could walk. Once I lifted my leg, it’s like a balloon went off and then it swelled up real big.

“I’ve had it go off my glove or nick a shoe. I’ve never been hit square like that before. That guy has a little bit of power so it got off the bat really good.”

Bailey seemed to be moving around OK in the clubhouse under the circumstances and still managed to get his feet into his trademark cowboy boots.

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Will injury bug stop biting?

Whatever this thing called an “injury bug” is — it’s bite has not spared many inside the Reds clubhouse. Just when it seems like a couple of players are getting healthy, another one goes down.

This time, it’s starting pitcher Johnny Cueto. He left Monday’s start vs. the Cardinals after just two innings because of a tight left hip flexor. He will be evaluated again on Tuesday.

Cueto was the leadoff batter in the top of the third inning during a 1-1 game when he appeared to favor the leg on a groundout to second base. He slowly trotted down the line even though Cardinals pitcher Kyle Lohse had to cover first base on the play.

In his two innings, Cueto gave up one earned run and one hit with one walk and two strikeouts. He threw 39 pitches. The Reds lost 4-1. 

In his Reds debut, Kip Wells took over for Cueto and started off well by retiring his first seven batters in a row. Then, trouble. A Molina lined single before eighth hitter Brendan Ryan walked. Lohse sac bunted and Schumaker and Rasmus got back-to-back walks and forced home a run.

Cueto was injured not long after Micah Owings wrapped up a rehab start for Triple-A Louisville at Lehigh Valley. In 79 pitches over 4 2/3 innings, Owings gave up one earned run and five hits with two walks and two strikeouts.  He left with a 4-1 lead.

Depending on how bad Cueto is hurt, Owings could obviously slide right into his rotation spot for Saturday’s scheduled start vs. the Nationals.

UPDATE: Cueto didn’t think he would miss a start but that’s not to be decided until after the Reds know more.

“We’ll have a better idea tomorrow how sore he is and the severity of it,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “He said he was cramping. I could tell something was wrong when he didn’t run to first base. He was tight early in the game. When I looked up, he didn’t have his normal velocity. He wanted to go back out but we couldn’t take a chance of hurting him.”

Cueto said the issue bothered him before his at-bat.

“Since the first inning, it was bothering me,” Cueto said with teammate Carlos Fisher translating from Spanish. “It got a little tight to start the day but it didn’t really bother me until the first inning.”

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