Results tagged ‘ Chris Dickerson ’

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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CF: Dickerson hot, Stubbs not

During Jamie Ramsey’s “Meet the Reds Press” just before we all came out here, I made a comment that if Drew Stubbs played himself out of center field, left field contender Chris Dickerson could easily move over if Stubbs took a step backwards in camp.

Through the early going of games, that seems to be happening. (Although in fairness, I also said in that same statement to Jamie that I didn’t think Stubbs would falter.)

Dickerson went 4-for-4 with a two-run homer in Monday’s 13-5 Reds win over the A’s. He’s batting .429 (9-for-21) this spring. Stubbs, who did not play Monday, is batting .100 (2-for-20) and has seven strikeouts.

A couple of weeks ago, Dickerson created a little dustup about his disappointment in not getting a more serious look in center field, his natural position. But now he’s backed it up on the field.

“Hey man, that’s how you do it. You play your way into it,” manager Dusty Baker said. “You don’t talk your way into it. And he’s playing. That was an outstanding job today. He’s been having a good spring.”

Baker has given Dickerson several starts in center field, so he’s definitely getting a serious look.If Juan Francisco could become the left-handed portion of left field, moving Dickerson to center field would be an even easier move to make. Besides, six good weeks in the Majors last season does not assure Stubbs of any lockdowns on the position.

Other notes:

*Mike Leake isn’t likely to get a serious look at the fifth spot but he certainly deserves more than a cursory glance. Leake allowed one hit and struck out four over two scoreless innings of relief.

“Leake was outstanding. That little dude can pitch,” Baker said.

In three games, Leake has logged five scoreless innings with two hits, one walk and six strikeouts.

*Travis Wood pitched three innings before Leake and allowed one hit, one run with three walks and four strikeouts.

*Starter Mike Lincoln came out blazing by retiring his first six batters in a row. He allowed all four of his runs and five hits in the third inning but walked none and struck out two.

“Linc looked good the first two innings,” Baker said. “In the third inning, he got some balls out over the plate.”

*During the morning workout, lefty reliever Bill Bray threw live BP and said everything was good.

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Thursday afternoon notes

The Reds are up to a .500 spring record after a 3-1 win over the Brewers on Thursday. They were outhit, 7-6, and committed two errors but there were many positives.

*Joey Votto snapped a 0-for-9 skid to start play with a long home run to the grassy knoll in right-center field. His long ball provided the go-ahead run in the sixth inning.

“It was just a matter of time because Joey can hit,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “It was nice for him to hit one on that bank over there.”

*Starter Johnny Cueto pitched three scoreless innings with one hit, one walk and one strikeout. He had made some mechanical tweaks he seemed to be pleased with.

“I wanted to bring my leg up and stay in a straight line and keep my shoulder in,” Cueto said through an interpreter. “I threw fastball, two-seamer – no curveball. I threw a slider and changeup.”

*A throwing error by pitcher Jared Burton led to a run scoring on a double play in the sixth. The run was still earned and ended a streak of 15 scoreless innings for Reds pitchers.

*After Burton, Enerio Del Rosario, Pedro Viola and Logan Ondrusek combined for three scoreless innings.

*1B Yonder Alonso was charged with his third error of spring when missed a catch in the ninth.

“We’ve got good pitching today but we still made a couple of errors, which was not pleasing,” Baker said. “We have to keep working on it.”

*Chris Dickerson is 4-for-11 (.364) through five games. Dickerson hit two-out, RBI triple in the fifth inning.

*One funny thing I saw before the game this morning was Aroldis Chapman trying to hit in the cage. Chapman fouled back his first three offerings and people in the field were laughing. Chapman was a good sport and smiled his way through it before he got some knocks into the field to sarcastic cheer. Jamie Ramsey took a little video but what I saw wasn’t included in the clip.

http://mlb.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=7189381

*Reds great Barry Larkin was scheduled to start as guest instructor today but I didn’t see him. His familiar No. 11 jersey was hanging in a locker with his name on it in the coaches room this morning. Larkin is expected to be in camp for about 10 days. 

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Dickerson talks, Baker responds

The Reds pretty much view that Drew Stubbs has the inside track on center field and it’s his job to lose. But the other day, Chris Dickerson made it known he didn’t like being overlooked.

“I’m not trying to make this as a stab at the general audience, I don’t understand how I get written off,” Dickerson told CNati.com. “Drew’s a great player, but you know, when I was in center, I don’t remember a whole lot of balls falling out there. Everyone’s wanting to put me in left, that’s OK with me, I’m comfortable in all three positions.”

Dickerson is a natural center field and it’s his best position.

On Saturday, manager Dusty Baker’s view was pretty clear about the situation.

“You can be disappointed all you want to. But he allowed Stubbs to get his foot in the door,” Baker said. “[It was] via performance and injuries. It happens. Sometimes you have to wait for your next opportunity.”

Among other contrasts, Baker also pointed out that Stubbs hit eight homers in 180 at-bats and Dickerson hit two in 255 at-bats.

“Reality is reality,” Baker said. [Dickerson] was disappointed he wasn’t playing against lefties but hey man, I’ve got a guy that’s pretty good hitting against lefties in Jonny Gomes.”

Dickerson was better at reaching base. His OBP was .370 compared to .323 for Stubbs. Dickerson also had 13 doubles and three triples. He also missed significant time with two trips to the DL.

“I told Dick last year the reason I’m platooning you is try and keep you healthy, which still didn’t work,” Baker said. “Nobody said he wasn’t in the running. Maybe he feels that. You have to re-establish yourself.”

On Saturday, Dickerson was more diplomatic in talking about his versatility being a positive but hadn’t altered his opinion very much. He would like a shot at center field.

“I don’t think there’s any reason why I shouldn’t be able to play center field,” he said. “I’ve done a great job in center field. Many people don’t know that’s where I played until I came up. I was one of the top defensive center fielders. Like Stubbs, he was the best defensive outfielder in the system like I was the previous three years. My premiere position was center field. I proved I can play center field at the Major League level and be a good one at that.”

**The Reds held a public workout/fanfest at Goodyear Ballpark. A few hundred fans came out as the Reds did some throwing and performed infield practice.

“I like it. It looks great,” infielder Todd Frazier said of the facility. “I can get used to something like this for sure.”

I talked to one Ohio native that drove all the way from Palm Springs, Calif. to see the workout. It was a 3 1/2 hour trip one way.

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What's going on with Gomes?

With less than two weeks before the Reds start Spring Training, outfielder Jonny Gomes seemed far from assured of being signed.

Since last week when it was learned the two sides were talking about a Minor League contract, there has been little movement.

“Nothing recently,” Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said on Friday night. “We may re-evaluate where we’re at with our roster and with the number of people we have going [to Spring Training].”

If the Reds do not end up signing Gomes, they will not try to pursue another outfielder as a Plan B.

“We’ll either do something with him or stay with what we have until we get to camp and see how it shakes out,” Jocketty said. “There’s no real deadline. We’re playing it by ear. I don’t think there’s pressure one way or the other to get it done.”

There is still a vacancy in left field that will need filling this spring. Chris Dickerson, Laynce Nix, Wladimir Balentien, Chris Heisey and Todd Frazier are among the candidates.

 

Lehr for Maloney on Friday

RHP Justin Lehr will make the start for the Reds on Friday vs. the Pirates instead of LHP Matt Maloney, who has a blister on his middle finger. It’s the same finger that blistered on Maloney earlier this month in Colorado.

“The doctor today recommended that he not pitch for fear it could get worse,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “It’s something that we don’t want to become chronic.”

Lehr wasn’t expecting to get another start before the end of the season….surprise.

“I was part relieved to think I wasn’t going to pitch and part excited now to get another shot to win my sixth game,” Lehr said. “They told me to stay ready just in case and be ready to pitch. It happened a lot quicker than I thought.”

That means Maloney finished the season 2-4 with a 4.87 ERA. Over his final three starts, he was 2-1 with a 2.65 ERA. Especially since he’s the only lefty starter on the 40-man roster, you’d have to think he’s made himself a candidate for the rotation’s fifth spot in 2010. Am I wrong?

Reds lineup:

Stubbs 8
Janish 6
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Rolen 5
Bruce 9
Nix 7
Hanigan 2
Arroyo 1

OF Chris Dickerson was activated from the DL, where he had been since Aug. 25 because of a severely sprained ankle. Dickerson’s return means the Reds have eight outfielders on the active roster.

That’s some kind of crowd.

“It’s OK,” Baker said. “It’s better than when I had too few at one time. I remember when my hands were tied because we were operating shorthanded for a third of the season.”

The active roster has 37 players overall. I don’t remember a time when it’s been that loaded since I’ve been covering the team.

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Dickerson says he's ready

Today is the first day of the rest of the season. Well, that means only six more games including Tuesday I guess.

It appears that OF Chris Dickerson could make an appearance before it’s over. Dickerson hasn’t played since Aug. 25 because of a severely sprained left ankle. Manager Dusty Baker said Dickerson could be activated soon but will likely be limited to pinch-hitting and pinch-running.

“There isn’t much of a chance he’ll be in the field again,” Baker said. “We can use him in situations. He worked hard to get back to this point. With the amount of time he spent on the DL, he didn’t want to end the season on the DL.”

While the Reds were on the road last week, Dickerson worked out with the baseball team at Xavier University to shag flies, run and other activity. He also went over to the University of Cincinnati to do conditioning and throwing.

“It was basically a big week of working out at the area’s fine institutes of higher learning,” Dickerson said.

Dickerson had the rarity of wearing a dirty uniform after batting practice. He was practicing sliding for his final test before being activated.

“Fortunately, I passed,” he said. “I expressed my wanting to come back on  Monday and Tuesday and really didn’t get much of a response. I’m ready to go.”

It makes sense not starting or playing Dickerson a ton the final week. Unlike Jay Bruce, Dickerson didn’t have a chance at a rehab assignment since the minor league season is over.

“We’ll take a look at him and determine what I see,” Baker said. “I know he’s hated being on the DL.”

The big question is how Dickerson will fit into the 2010 plans? Left field? Center field? Role player? Baker has said in the past he still high on his upside but Drew Stubbs’ arrival added some competition.

Reds lineup:

Taveras 8
Janish 6
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Rolen 5
Bruce 9
Balentien 7
Hernandez 2
Bailey 1

The Reds defense has a .985 fielding percentage that’s ranked eighth in the National League. Assuming it remains there, it would be a new franchise record for a non-strike season. (It’s been .984 six times, most recently in 2007).

Entering tonight, Reds relievers have posted a 1.09 ERA (4 ER, 33 IP) over the last 13 games. ERA can be a very deceiving number for relievers but that’s still pretty, pretty good.

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Pittsburgh all locked down

As Marty Brennaman said to me today, Thursday’s game is being played before an “intimate audience.” No matter what the announced attendance is here, the actual crowd inside the ballpark will be a mere fraction. The upper deck was closed and fans were told they could move to other sections.

Because of the G-20 Summit that started today, the locals were essentially told to stay away from downtown. Most of the local businesses are closed and you can forget driving to navigate a car across most of the streets on the south side of the river.

As I walked to PNC Park, there were metal detectors at the entrance of my hotel and I probably saw platoons of police marching through town in various spots. It all told me that I’m glad I’m leaving town as soon as the game is over.

Reds lineup:

Taveras 8
Sutton 6
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Rolen 5
Gomes 9
Balentien 7
Hanigan 2
Arroyo 1

At first glance, you might be wondering why Willy Taveras is already back in there and Drew Stubbs isn’t after Dusty Baker made the Wally Pipp reference the other day.

“You have to play some time,” Baker said. “Stubbs has been playing every day. We all have to earn our keep.”

Baker was asked what kind of role he envisioned for Taveras if Stubbs was the regular center fielder next season.

“I don’t know. You’re asking questions that are way down the line,” Baker said. “Willy was struggling before Stubbs got here. He’s been out a long time and the door opened for Stubbs and he really kicked that door open.”

What about Chris Dickerson? He’s been out for a month with a sprained ankle.

“He has to come back,” Baker said. “Right now, Stubbs has played better than both of them. Dickerson’s average is higher but Stubbs has been way productive. Dickerson’s upside is still tremendous. There’s a lot of competition out there and we’ll find a way to get playing time for all that will help us – the best players at that particular time and day.

“Dickerson still has action big time. I’d rather have too many than too few. They’re all pretty good outfielders and have speed. Stubbs has shown more power than almost any of them and stealing bases  and better defensively the more familiar he becomes with the ballparks.”

What the Reds end up doing with Taveras next season will be a big $4 million question. He wouldn’t make an effective bench player so I don’t see how all three of them could be kept. That’s also a lot of money to write off by just releasing him. Teams like the Red Sox and Yankees routinely do that, not the Reds.

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Center fielder is in charge

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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Bruce getting closer

RF Jay Bruce seemed like a pretty happy dude this morning. After he got the all-clear from Dr. Tim Kremchek following his Friday exam, Bruce was allowed to pick up a bat and start swinging again.

“I hit soft tosses with my bat,” Bruce said. “If everything feels good [Monday], I will hit off of a pitching machine and then BP. We’ll see how it all progresses and go from there. It’s coming along great though.”

There is still no ETA for a return to the lineup. Bruce hasn’t played since he fractured his right wrist on July 11 in New York. He aims to come back some time next month. Still in question is whether he’d be able to get out on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Louisville before their season ends.

Speaking of Louisville, the Bats clinched their second consecutive International League West Division championship. They will play either Durham or Gwinnett in the opening round of the Governor’s Cup playoffs on Sept 9.

On the other end of the injury spectrum, OF Chris Dickerson was one-crutching it across the clubhouse. Dickerson wasn’t wearing his protective boot for his severely sprained left ankle…it was in his locker at that moment.

“Me and that boot are not on good terms,” Dickerson said. “There’s an air pump in it that sticks into my foot and makes it as uncomfortable as it gets.”

Dickerson expected to be in the boot for at least another week.

Reds lineup:

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

The Reds need another good, and deep, out from Bronson Arroyo today because of the looming doubleheader on Monday.

Johnny Cueto will be on a pitch-count when he comes off the DL to start Game 2 vs. the Pirates.

“We haven’t determined what it is yet,” manager Dusty Baker said. “We’re just hoping to get some innings out of [Game 1 pitcher Kip] Wells in the first game so we don’t have to tear up my bullpen.

“It’s a long day tomorrow. I have never played in a split doubleheader because they didn’t allow them. I participated and managed in a couple of split doubleheaders. I wish they still wouldn’t allow them. That’s an overtime day right there.”

The Reds will announce a roster move to make room for Cueto following Game 1.

Is anyone out there still reading this blog?

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