Results tagged ‘ Daryle Ward ’

Masset discussion, bullpen for Bailey?

It’s getting late in spring and in the previous blog post about the probable starters, Nick Masset’s name was nowhere to be found. Nothing has been determined officially, but all signs are pointing to him no longer being in contention for the rotation’s fifth spot.

Masset has a 6.75 ERA through four games, including three starts, totalling 10 2/3 innings.

“We have to sit down and talk about it,” manager Dusty Baker said. “We might be making some decisions soon because there are not enough innings without ‘B’ games or split-squad games.”

It’s likely down to Micah Owings and Homer Bailey, who have both pitched well this spring. Owings has been nearly unstoppable. Baker caught the last couple of innings of Bailey’s minor league outing Monday (see previous post for line) and liked what he saw.

The big mystery could be the last bullpen spot. Masset, who has been a long reliever for a couple of years, is out of options. Bailey has no history as a reliever but isn’t out of the question to do it if Owings beats him for the fifth spot.

“Possibly. It’s something we’ve discussed,” Baker said. “It’s something that depends on what’s better for him in the long run – do we pitch him or make him the fifth guy? With the Dodgers and Giants, a lot of our top young guys started out as long guys – Dave Stewart, Bobby Welch, Pedro Martinez.

“A lot of it depends on who has options left and who doesn’t. There is a lot that goes into consideration as well as how you’re pitching.”

More news you can use:

  • Jay Bruce hasn’t hit well most of spring (batting .200 entering the day) but Baker wasn’t too worried.

“He kind of started this way last year too,” Baker said. “He was getting some hits early, but they were groundballs between first and second. His stroke isn’t really there because he’s fouling off pitches he would ordinarily put into play. He’s close. When you see him going to left field or up the middle that means he’s right there because he is not a pull hitter. When he starts trying to pull, that’s when most hitters get into trouble.”

  • Jacque Jones and Daryle Ward, who are both struggling offensively, were kept back in Sarasota to DH in Minor League games.

“They stayed back and hit extra and try to hope we can find their strokes.”

  • Alex Gonzalez and Norris Hopper will likely do the same thing on Wednesday while the Reds are in Port Charlotte.
  • Infielder Danny Richar probably had an outside chance at best to make it as a backup infielder. But despite some nice defensive plays, Richar entered batting .111 and was honest about his state of mind.

“I don’t feel like I’m playing the way I’m used to playing. I don’t feel confident,” Richar said. “I need to get that back. I’m trying to do too much. I need to play my game. Right now, I don’t feel like I’m playing my game.”

The Reds are wearing green hats for St. Patrick’s Day and several players had green shirts among their street clothes, including Brandon Phillips and Baker.

“Erin Go Braugh my brother,” Baker said to Phillips — both men laughed.

 

Little things, news and lineups

In another sign that the Reds are more focused on executing the fundamentals, or little things, than in past years — Friday’s 1-0 win over the Twins is a prime example. Dusty Baker was still thinking about one particular play and planned to point it out in the team meeting before taking the field for the workout.

With a runner on first and no outs, pitcher Micah Owings fielded Matt Tolbert’s hot grounder to the mound and threw quickly to second base for a perfectly turned a 1-6-3 double play. Those fielding drills seem mundane in the early days of camp, but they do have a purpose.

“The key to the ballgame and I point it out on PFPs about those comebackers,” Baker said. “In a game like that, 1-0, that was a key thing to the whole ballgame. When he snagged that ball, being a good athlete, threw perfectly to second base. That would have been first and third and nobody out. I’m a firm believer that a whole bunch of games lost on balls hit back to the box. That’s what Pete Rose taught us. He told us all the time. Stay back through the box and stay out of the air. That is what’s he told my kid last year when I was throwing to him in the cage. The biggest hole is the closest person, no reaction time.”

More news you can use:

  • Another tweak to the spring rotation — Homer Bailey will pitch in a Minor League intrasquad game during Monday’s day off to stay on his regular turn. Daryl Thompson will also pitch in that game behind Bailey.
  • Bill Bray is scheduled to pitch again out of the bullpen on Sunday vs. the Blue Jays. Bray, who had a sore shoulder earlier in camp, hasn’t pitched since last Saturday vs. Toronto. This layoff has had nothing to do with his shoulder however. Bray has been bothered by a tight left hamstring and pitched on the back fields in a simulated game earlier this week.

“We didn’t want to take a chance on him if he couldn’t cover first effectively or bunts,” Baker said. “There was a play at first base [last Saturday] to Daryle Ward and Billy didn’t cover. I kind of hit the roof a little bit and then I found out it was his hamstring.”

  • You will notice in the lineup that the Reds have dispensed with the DH in their home games. Pitchers will hit from now on when possible.

“It’s about time for my pitchers to hit,” Baker said. “They would have been hitting sooner but we’ve had so many guys in camp that needed at-bats. But now it’s time for pitchers to be part of the game. Hopefully, they last long enough to get up there.”

  • Because it was a day game after a night game, a lot of the regulars didn’t start. But many of them were available off the bench. Expect their innings and at-bat totals to increase more as they build towards Opening Day.

Reds lineup:

Taveras CF, Keppinger SS, Nix RF, Ward 1B, Francisco 3B, Tatum C, Hopper LF, Janish 2B, Arroyo P

Rays lineup:

Bartlett SS, Crawford LF, Longoria 3B, Pena 1B, Burrell RF, Aybar 2B, Navarro C, Zobrist CF, Kazmir P 

 

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 

 

I like long walks on the beach…

One of the true perks of getting to cover Spring Training in Florida is Siesta Key. Last year was the first time I stayed on the island and I returned to the same spot this year. I’m not exactly a beach person, but it’s certainly nice to have it close by — especially when you can watch some of the best sunsets around.
 My cellphone camera that took this shot Monday night probably doesn’t do it justice.

 
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Later today, the Reds will be playing in what’s being termed an afternoon workout. Aaron Harang will be pitching to hitters. There will be three outs per inning and no batting cage being used. But it’s not technically a game.

The first game is on Wednesday at the Rays’ new facility in Port Charlotte.

“Now you’ll have something to write about, and talk about,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said.

Definitely. In my nine seasons of covering baseball, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a more serene camp. There have been no major injuries — with only precautions being taken with Alex Gonzalez and a little soreness for Bill Bray. There has been no drama. No superstars mean little national coverage. USA Today has been around twice and someone from SI.com made an appearance today. With games starting, performances can be evaluated and news can hopefully start flowing.

As mentioned last week, second baseman Brandon Phillips will be batting fourth. He acknowledged that he isn’t your prototypical cleanup hitter but embraces the role.

“I will go out there and do my best to hit fourth,” Phillips said. “I’m not really a No. 4 hitter so I’ll try my best. If I was on any other team, I know I wouldn’t be out there hitting fourth. Me hitting fourth and having the year I had last year, I was very happy. I’m not complaining. I understand I hit .260 with 20 jacks but those are beautiful stats for a second baseman. I’m not a home run hitter but I have to be that guy that’s going to drive in runs. I wish I could have drove in more but I missed three weeks of the season.”

Phillps broke his right index finger while bunting in September at Milwaukee. He said he’s had no issues since coming to camp.

With Joey Votto one of several players leaving camp for the World Baseball Classic soon, Baker plans to have a plethora of players manning first base. Expect to see Daryle Ward, Jeff Keppinger, Kevin Barker, Todd Frazier, Yonder Alonso, Adam Rosales, Wes Bankston, Jacque Jones and Jonny Gomes all get chances.

The Reds have agreed to terms on one-year contracts with four more 0-3 year players: OF Chris Dickerson, C Ryan Hanigan, IF/OF Jeff Keppinger and IF Danny Richar. That means 11 players remain unsigned.

More later from the afternoon workout — please check back.

 

Encarnacion to change hitting approach

Third baseman Edwin Encarnacion, owner of a new two-year, $7.6 million contract that avoided arbitration, made his camp debut on Wednesday. In a good mood for obvious reasons, Encarnacion said he committed in the off-season to returning to his old approach of hitting.

“I want to try to stay more to the middle. Last year, I tried to pull too many balls and hit more homers,” Encarnacion said. “That’s why my average went down. I will be more consistent with my hitter. I know I can do it. I’ve done it before. I know I can hit better than that and I just have to keep working.

“You can’t go to the plate hitting like crazy. You have to go up with some plan. That’s what makes you a better hitter.”

One of the better clutch run producers before 2008, the 26-year-old Encarnacion  batted .251 with a career-high 26 home runs but only 68 RBIs in 146 games.

During his playing career, Reds manager Dusty Baker said he made similar mistakes.

“Sometimes it happens at that point of your career. It happened to me. It’s a disease – I call it home run-itis,” Baker said. “You start liking the trot. What happens is you end up hitting lower, less RBIs and have just as many homers. I got a letter from Joe Black, I’ll never forget it. I still have the letter. He told me to ‘remember you’re a hitter, not a slugger.”

Other notes from Wednesday:

Jerry Hairston Jr. worked out with the outfielders when workouts began on Tuesday. Baker said not to read too much into that. Hairston is also considered a backup shortstop option to Alex Gonzalez.

“It was day one. You have to start somewhere,” Baker said.

Hairston told me he will play shortstop for Team Mexico at the World Baseball Classic. His mother is Mexican.

Live BP:

It’s one of those days of the year when pitchers have total dominance over hitters — the Reds went through live batting practice. Pitchers faced hitters and threw at game speed. On one field, a group of hitters faced Aaron Harang, Edinson Volquez and Johnny Cueto in succession.

Volquez and Cueto throw in the mid 90s with some nasty breaking stuff.

“I don’t even want to get in there,” joked Norris Hopper as Volquez pitched.

The only hitter to really connect on a pitch was Daryle Ward, who cleared the right field fence against Cueto. On another field, Homer Bailey, Arthur Rhodes and Mike Lincoln also faced hitters.

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