Results tagged ‘ Chris Burke ’

Sunday morning notes

Good Sunday morning, although I realize it’s already afternoon in Cincinnati at least. While everyone else did the “spring forward” thing, Arizona doesn’t observe daylight savings. So now we are three hours behind on Pacific time instead of two hours back on Mountain time.

This will be the start of a hectic week in Reds camp. There is a B game this morning vs. the Indians here at the complex before the regular 1:05 p.m. “A” game against the White Sox. Another round of cuts are looming after Wednesday’s doubleheader, which loom large for many players trying to make the team.

“It’s a tough week,” manager Dusty Baker said. “Tucson [Tuesday], double header [Wednesday], day game right after the double header [Thursday], a night game [Friday] and then a day game after that. And then a split-squad right after that. Between the 16th and 21st is about as close to season-reality as there is.”

Other notes from the morning:

*Non-roster infielder Chris Burke is in the ‘B’ game lineup today. Burke has been out since near the start of camp with a fractured knuckle on his right ring finger. To make the club, Burke essentially has to condense his entire camp into three weeks.

“It is tougher, no doubt about it,” Burke said. “It’s my reality. I have to try and do the best with it, try to get caught up and try to play well.”

*There was talk earlier in camp of trying 1B Yonder Alonso in positions other than his natural one. But there has been little mention of it lately and Alonso has played only first base in games.

“I’ve only got so many spots,” Baker said. “We have 60 guys. The other spots that he’s going to go to is probably when he goes to minor league camp. He’s been working out in left field. I’m having a tough enough time with all of these players until I make some cuts to get guys time.”

*Baker hopes to schedule more ‘B’ games to give fifth starter contenders more innings. Two of them are working in the ‘A’ game. Matt Maloney is starting and Justin Lehr is scheduled to get one inning.

*For the time being, the Reds are still going to use the DH to hit for their pitchers. Aroldis Chapman will need all the work he can get. He hasn’t had to hit since he was 16 since Cuba used a DH in international play. Chapman is learning how to bunt.

“We’re working with him every day,” Baker said “This dude is working his butt off.”

*SS Paul Janish has two big league homers in 336 at-bats so he definitely enjoyed hitting a home run in the fifth inning against the Cubs on Saturday. Power hitter Juan Francisco crushed two homers in the game. I playfully asked Janish if there was a new “Bash Brothers” combo on the left side of the infield.

“I got back into the dugout and said ‘me and Francisco, we’re competing for the most power in camp,” Janish said.

*It might be of subtle notice but Reds minor leaguers are no longer required to wear their socks high over their pants. Being clean shaven is not mandatory anymore either. That rule extended to coaches too. Triple-A Louisville manager Rick Sweet is wasting no time growing a mustache.

Finally, here are Reds lineups:

‘B’ game

Anderson 8
Janish 6
Nix 7
Francisco 5
Alonso 3
Burke 4
Heisey 9
Mesoraco DH
Castillo 2

Harang 1

‘A’ game

Stubbs 8
Cabrera 6
Votto 3
Phillips DH
Rolen 5
Bruce 9
Gomes 7
Hernandez 2
Miles 4

Maloney 1

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Miles ready, utility INF battle

Aaron Miles still has an ugly, nasty looking black fingernail on his middle finger — the proof that remains from his small fracture at the tip. Fortunately it just looks worse than it is. Miles is expected to get his first game action on Friday.

“It’s slight pain but the doctor said I’m not going to hurt it at all,” said Miles, who fractured his finger on March 2. “The fracture was in a real good spot and to go be as aggressive as I want. As long as I go out there and make the plays, I’m good to go. I can’t hurt it more.”

The other member of the utility infield, broken finger club is Chris Burke, who suffered a more serious injury with a fractured knuckle on his right ring finger. Burke started swinging at bat on Wednesday and was headed to the cage again Thursday morning.

Manager Dusty Baker already has some tough decisions to make with his backup infielders. It’s a crowded group with Miles, Burke, Paul Janish, Miguel Cairo, Todd Frazier and Drew Sutton.Baker didn’t know how many extra infielders the club would carry.

“I haven’t even played that shell game yet,” he said. “We could play it all day and night. Right now, we have other things. We’ll play them and we’ll see come cut time. Now cut time comes weekly.”

*The first wave of cuts went down after Wednesday’s game.

Reassigned to Minor League camp were LHP Alexander Smit, RHP Jose Arredondo, 1B/OF Danny Dorn and catchers Ryan Yarbrough and Chris Denove. The next cuts will likely come after the day-night split-squad games on March 17.

Dorn caught the manager’s eye during his time in big league camp.

“Dorn, he impressed me,” Baker said. “It’s a matter of numbers and how much playing time he was going to get. I think he recognized pitches quicker than anybody among the young players we have here. Plus, he big-time got better at first base too.”

*Some tornadoes touched down near Benton, Ark., which is very close to where LHP Travis Wood’s family resides. Wood said his parents were OK and the twisters were a couple of miles away.

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Good days for Cueto, Heisey

The second wave of live batting practice went down on Thursday.

Johnny Cueto broke a couple of bats and I don’t think anyone did anything spectacular against him. It was good for the Reds to see Cueto that sharp considering he was not allowed to pitch in winter ball.

heisey.jpgHomer Bailey was bringing some heat and came in hard and brushed Paul Janish’s windbreaker chest high. He was fine but Janish’s eyes were opened a little wider as he gathered himself.

Chris Heisey (pictured, left) had the most success as a hitter. Heisey homered twice against Francisco Cordero and did likewise against Aaron Harang.

“They’re out there trying to work on things and I was trying to put some wood on the ball,” Heisey said. “I don’t take any stock in it. it’s better than swinging and missing 10 times. I’m not going to call my whole family tonight and tell them.”

Heisey said he didn’t even remember how many long balls he hit.

Before live BP, everyone took pop fly drills. Louisville manager Rick Sweet put a ball in a machine and sent them way up. The high sky and bright sun made it adventurous. At least there was no wind.

Guys had trouble tracking the pop ups and there was the occassional miss or two players getting a little two close converging on the same ball.

There was one casualty from the session. Infielder Chris Burke, a non-roster invite, suffered a dislocated right ring finger when a ball kicked off of it. X-ray showed a small fracture. He will be re-examined in a couple of days after the swelling goes down.

 

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Chapman pitches, hitters guess

Aroldis Chapman faced five hitters for about 10 minutes worth of pitching in his session of live batting practice on Wednesday. By my count, he threw 32 pitches to Chris Burke, Chris Valaika, Chris Heisey, Yonder Alonso and Corky Miller.

Only one hitter — Heisey — made solid contact and that was one time.

“I haven’t thrown to a hitter in about eight months. I felt really good,” Chapman said through interpreter Tony Fossas. “I threw the ball very efficiently. I thought I had control and command of my pitches.”

Batters were talking to each other trying to figure out what they were seeing. After seeing Chapman’s changeup on his third overall pitch to Burke, people around the cage were heard going ‘oooh.’

For all of the talk about Chapman’s 100 mph velocity after his signing, it was his slider and changeup that had people in the cage talking, and guessing.

“That’s a nice little repertoire. Somebody should sign this kid,” Burke said after leaving the cage.

“I never really had a slider or changeup,” Chapman said. “The changeup is the pitch that wasn’t efficient and didn’t throw much. Since I got here, I’ve been working really hard on it and those are pitches I will be able to use.”

The session reminded me of the first time Johnny Cueto pitched live BP at camp. He showed good stuff right away and was an unknown entity. By the time spring was over, Cueto was in the rotation and essentially skipped Triple-A. (He did have four starts at Louisville the previous year).

“Chapman was very good,” general manager Walt Jocketty said. “With hitters in there, he was very comfortable and threw good pitches. He threw a lot of strikes. He threw a really good changeup. All in all, it was a good day.

“The slider was pretty nasty. Very nice. It will be fun to see how this progresses. There’s a lot of competition for that rotation.”

Wilkin Castillo, who speaks Spanish, was Chapman’s catcher this time. He called all of the pitches and wasn’t shaken off once.

“His slider was 85-88 mph and breaking a lot. It was pretty nice,” Castillo said. “His fastball? Oh my God, it was 98-99 mph and strikes, down and in.”

One other thing to keep in mind: Pitching coach Bryan Price had pitchers not use the “L” screen in front of the mound and not tell hitters what was coming. That’s not often the case in the first live BP. So hitters were really had a disadvantage on their second day of camp against all pitchers.

Chapman will pitch again on Saturday.

Here is what others had to say about Chapman –

Burke:

“Obviously, it’s dominating stuff. If he’s going to keep the ball down like that and get ahead in counts, what can you really do? As a hitter, you have to be ready to hit the fastball. It’s going to give him so much leeway with the slider and changeup.”

“If he can command the ball down in the zone like he did today, sky’s the limit for him potentially.”

“It’s a lot like Randy [Johnson] was. When Randy could really command his fastball, what could you really do? You just hoped you ran into one. His slider to me was comparable. It was sharp and came out of the same arm slot. If he can get it in like that, as a right-handed hitter, the best you can do is hope to hit a groundball hopefully through the left side.”

“First impressions were great. I was surprised with how well he seemed to be in command of his stuff.”

“I’ve been playing long enough to know a special guy. You don’t need a radar gun to see when the ball is getting there. The ball was getting there. He’s got a little herky-jerky to him, which is good from a pitching standpoint. It’s makes us even more uncomfortable.”

Alonso:

“I didn’t feel that bad just because I know him. He’s my boy. I told him this morning that ‘if by any chance I have to face you, just don’t hit me.’ Whoever doesn’t know him, God bless, because it’s rough.”

Pitching coach Bryan Price:

“It was terrific. He was in the zone with all three of his pitches. I thought he was sharper against hitters than he was in the bullpen.”

“These guys have seen guys that throw hard. It’s when you get a combination of a guy that’s a hard thrower that can command a finesse pitch like a changeup and has a power breaking ball. That puts you at a big disadvantage when he’s got three choices, even when he’s behind in the count. Today, he could have pitched with any of those pitches behind in the count.”

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