Results tagged ‘ Dick Pole ’

Pole out as pitching coach

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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Arroyo responds to pine tar talk

It’s been an interesting morning in the clubhouse — far more interesting than it usually is before a day game that came after a night game.

The buzz was about comments Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan made about Bronson Arroyo’s strong 8 1/3 performance after Wednesday’s 6-1 Reds win.

“I’m sure he had pine tar on his cap,” Duncan told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “He didn’t have any problem getting a grip. Balls like that can generate a lot more movement than a slick ball that hasn’t been rubbed up.” 

Asked if he had seen Arroyo go to his cap, Duncan said, “Just every pitch.”

Duncan was unhappy because Cardinals starter John Smoltz complained all night about not being able to grip the balls because they were slick. Smoltz, who walked five batters and allowed six runs over four innings, repeatedly threw balls out that he didn’t like.

“I’ve been around for 40-plus years now and I’ve never seen a major-league baseball game played with balls like that,” Duncan told the newspaper.

Arroyo was not shy with his retort to the allegations, which he denied.

“The reason he’s saying that is because I’ve been using this hat all season,” Arroyo said. “That’s what happens from playing games in every other park where there is so much mud on the balls. That black stuff comes off on my fingers every day.”

Arroyo showed his cap — the bill was stained black. Before games, clubhouse attendants for the home team have the job of rubbing the balls with mud so pitchers can get better grip. Some parks have muddier balls than others.

“The funny thing is I normally switch out hats. I have two hats,” Arroyo said. “The other one is a lot cleaner. It’s starting to build up a little bit. I didn’t switch hats because it wasn’t hot enough to be really soaked and wet like in the summertime.”

As for going to his cap frequently?

“Yeah, I grabbed my [crotch]. I do this and I have 8,000 twitches,” Arroyo said. “What do you want me to do about it? That’s how I pitch.

“The next time I pitch, I guarantee that I will call over there on the phone say ‘Dave Duncan, this is Bronson. I’m putting on a brand new hat.'”

The Reds, including pitching coach Dick Pole and manager Dusty Baker, were not too amused by the Duncan allegations. Neither were previously aware of the story from last night.

“He shouldn’t make wild accusations like that,” Pole said. “If they suspected that last night, why didn’t they check him? They would find nothing. The balls [Smoltz] were throwing out looked fine to me.”

“if anybody should know, it would be Duncan,” Baker said. “I remember they had Julian Tavarez over there. They threw his hat out, remember that? His hat was all messed up. They also had a left-hander, Steve Kline. It’s not like it’s something new.”

Reds lineup:

Stubbs 8
Sutton 6
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Rolen 5
Bruce 9
Gomes 7
Miller 2
Wells 1

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Lucky Bruce?

Could Jay Bruce be the Reds secret weapon from the DL? Bruce has brought out the lineup card the last two games (both wins) and was planning on doing that again tonight.

“We’re 2-for-2 when I bring out the lineup card,” Bruce said. “Tonight will be 3-for-3, hopefully.”

Bruce has a date with Dr. Tim Kremchek on Friday, when he will find out whether he will be cleared to start swinging a bat again.

Starting in late November, Bruce plans to be playing winter ball for a month for the Aguilas club in the Dominican Republic.

“I want to make up for lost time,” said Bruce, who hasn’t played since July 11 because of a broken right wrist. “Hopefully, I will get close to 100 at-bats and try to have some good ones and take that into the off-season and into next season.” 

Reds lineup:

Stubbs CF
Janish SS
Votto 1B
Phillips 2B
Rolen 3B
Nix RF
Balentien LF
Miller C
Wells P

Johnny Cueto had his bullpen session today and not yesterday. Cueto threw 56 pitches and pitching Dick Pole said that he felt fine. Cueto is expected to start one of the games in Monday’s doubleheader vs. the Pirates. It’s the first day he is eligible to come off of the DL.

Reliever Jared Burton said he was OK after he hyperextended his knee trying to field a ball in the ninth inning on Tuesday. Burton was available to pitch on Wednesday.

Corky Miller, who had two RBI singles in his 2009 debut with the Reds on Tuesday, was back behind the plate on Wednesday. Dusty Baker said that Craig Tatum would catch Thursday, because of his familiarity with starter Justin Lehr.

Joey Votto’s seven plate appearances on Tuesday gave him enough PAs to qualify for the NL batting title. However, Votto has an uphill battle. He entered Wednesday batting .311 and ranked 10th in the league. Hanley Ramirez is the leader at .362.

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Volquez has 'TJ' surgery

Reds starting pitcher Edinson Volquez had “Tommy John” surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament and torn flexor mass in his right elbow. Reds medical director Dr. Tim Kremchek performed the 90-minute procedure on Monday morning

That means Volquez could miss up to 12 months, which wouldn’t have him pitching again until late into the 2010 season.

On Friday, Volquez had to shut down a simulated game 20 pitches into what was to be an 80-pitch session when he complained of tightness in his elbow. He had previously thrown four bullpen sessions without incident.

Obviously, this puts a huge dent in the Reds’ plans for their rotation in 2010.

Last season, the 26-year-old Volquez threw a career high 196 innings for Cincinnati. He also pitched in one start and one relief appearance in Dominican winter ball last winter and three innings in one start for the D.R. in the World Baseball Classic. 

Volquez’s previous professional high in inning was 178 2/3 innings in 2007 with the Rangers organization.

 UPDATE: Reds manager Dusty Baker wasn’t prepared to assign blame that Volquez’s winter activity and the WBC contributed to his injury.

“Any time you do an unnatural act like throwing overhand, you risk something every time you pick up the ball,” Baker said. “I don’t know if anybody knows to say that exactly. The timing wasn’t real good to be thought of as part of the equation.”

It was learned that Volquez didn’t follow his off-season throwing program, as assigned by pitching coach Dick Pole. The team was told to limit Volquez to 50 pitches. He threw 99.

“They were playing [Johnny] Cueto’s team. That’s how I found out about it,” Pole said. “I know the guy that was taking care of Cueto and that he would do what I asked him to do.”

“It’s a lot of throwing. That Baseball Classic, there weren’t too many guys that repeated from the first time they did it and went back and pitched the second time. They knew the rigors of getting ready for that thing early.”

The two MRIs that Volquez since going on DL did not reveal the tears.

Kremchek didn’t make the decision to do the Tommy John surgery over the less invasive arthroscopic procedure until he could take a look inside the elbow. The situation was about as serious as these types of injuries can be.

“Not only was the flexor mass torn like we thought, there was also a tear in the ligament,” head trainer Mark Mann said. “It was almost completely torn.”

That means it was about as serious as these types of injuries can become.

“He will come back, I think, and pitch at some point next year in the second half,” Mann said. “But it will most likely be 2011 before you see the old Edinson Volquez.”

Bruce, Votto, post-break rotation

After slumping right fielder Jay Bruce was benched for two games to get a break, it might seem odd to see him batting second on Saturday vs. the Mets and ace lefty Johan Santana. It was only the second time this season Bruce batted in the No. 2 spot.

But there was a method to Dusty Baker’s madness.

“It’s back-to-back lefties vs. Santana because he’s actually pitched better vs. righties than lefties,” Baker said. Maybe if Willy [Taveras] gets on, he’ll get a good pitch to hit. And he’ll be in front of Joey [Votto] too so we’ll see.”

Lefties came into tonight batting .267 vs. Santana this season. Right-handers were batting .221.

Reds lineup:

Taveras 8
Bruce 9
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Hernandez 2
Encarnacion 5
Gomes 7
Hairston Jr. 6
Cueto 1

Speaking of Votto, he has a career-high 13-game hitting streaking going into Saturday. He’s batting .357 in 17 games since his return from a month on the DL with depression. And, get this, he doesn’t feel fully locked in at the plate yet.

“I’m feeling a lot better since coming back but I still have stuff to work on constantly,” Votto said. “I feel like my strength is coming back to where it was before. I’m not quite where I was but I feel like I’m headed in the right direction.

“I made sure that when I came back, I tried to be as mechanically sound as possible. Sometimes during the year if you’re a little stronger, you don’t have to quite as exact or make mistakes or miss and still find good results. Ideally, you want both combined. That’s what the great hitters do.”

Before Votto spent 21 games on the DL, the Reds were 26-21 with a .257 team average. While he was out, they went 8-13 and batted .217. The Reds are 8-9 since his return coming into tonight’s game.

“It really hurt when were missing Joey,” Baker said. “It hurt bad, especially when you don’t have an high-octane offense.”

Here is your Reds rotation coming out of the All-Star break:

Homer Bailey, Bronson Arroyo, Aaron Harang, Johnny Cueto and Micah Owings.

Baker and Dick Pole wanted to set up the rotation so no one got too many days off. Cueto will be pitching on seven days rest and Harang will be getting five days. Owings gets the longest break with 10 days of rest.

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KC, the DH and Volquez news

Greetings from Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City — one of the few ballparks from the 1960s and 70s that was built right (actually opened in 1973). During my American League days, this was one of my preferred places to visit. The sightlines are great, the field always looks good and of course, there are the fountains. When the weather is pleasant, it’s a nice way to watch baseball.

“It was big but it was pretty,” said Reds manager Dusty Baker, who last visited here in 1986.

The Reds last played here in 1999, and a power outage during the series opener forced a doubleheader.

 

kauffman stadium.jpgThe ‘K’ as it’s known, underwent a major $220 million renovation that was finished before this season. Although the grassy knolls in the outfield are gone — it looks fantastic. The video scoreboard is massive and they have the LED scoreboard in the fences also. The only complaint is they moved the press box a few floors up but it’s really nice.

“This field is way ahead of its time,” said Jonny Gomes, who played here often as a member of the Rays. “They just did that stuff in the outfield and guys think this park is brand new. A lot of guys that come here for the first time don’t realize it’s old.”

Gomes is the Reds’ first designated hitter of the season in Friday’s game and Baker said he would DH again Saturday.

“There’s nothing better than having a good day at the yard DHing,” said Gomes. “You work about three minutes and 30 seconds in the whole thing. On the flip side, you go crazy. There’s nothing worse than a bad day at the yard DHing when you’re just sitting on all your at-bats. It goes both ways and evens itself out.”

Gomes had 229 games logged as a DH over his previous six seasons. He batted .219 (174-for-794) as a DH but hit 33 of his 66 career home runs and drove in 108 runs in that spot.

Reds lineup:

Taveras 8
Gonzalez 6
Phillips 4
Nix 7
Hernandez 3
Bruce 9
Gomes DH
Hanigan 2
Rosales 5
Maloney 1

Willy Taveras, in a career high 0-for-24 slump, was back in the leadoff spot again. Baker said it was because Taveras had experience playing the Royals in past years during Interleague play. However, Taveras was 0-for-4 in his previous meeting against KC starter Luke Hochevar.

Injury updates:

RHP Edinson Volquez (elbow tendintis) threw for the first time on Thursday back in Cincinnati since he went back on the DL on June 1. Volquez long tossed, throwing 25 balls at a distance of 60 feet. Volquez, who saw medical director Dr. Tim Kremchek on Wednesday, was scheduled to throw again on Friday.

“He’ll probably take a couple of days and when we get back, we’ll see where we are as far as getting him on a mound,” pitching coach Dick Pole said. “We’ll see how he feels when we get back. He said he’s had no problem with his elbow, his forearm – nothing. He felt fine.”

3B Edwin Encarnacion (left wrist chip fracture) was slated to take batting practice on Friday. It was to be his first hitting since having a setback with soreness last weekend.

Hello, Bad Boy:

As expected, there was a Steve Stewart sighting here. Stewart, the Reds’ former radio voice, now does Royals games. Stewart is going to join Marty Brennaman in the booth for the second inning tonight. No doubt, Marty will light up his old partner a few times for

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Kent Mercker in the house

Towards the end of last season when he was injured and retirement was near, someone asked reliever Kent Mercker what his next vocation would be. Without hesistation, he said he’d be “turning vodka into urine.” Everyone around him in the clubhouse laughed.

That was quintessential Mercker, who was one of the smartest and funniest players I’ve encountered in this game.

But he’s found a part-time gig that brings him around the Reds again. Mercker is here at Busch Stadium to make his regular season radio debut working with Marty Brennaman tonight and Thursday. He’s slated to do a handful of games later in the season. I can only imagine he’ll make for entertaining radio during the games. Let me know how he does.

The reason for the change: Chris Welsh returned home for his son’s graduation and Jeff Brantley shifted from the radio booth to TV with George Grande.When Mercker first got here, he didn’t know where to go — so he went to visit a familiar face, Dick Pole, who was by the Reds bullpen — which is usually a no-no for credentialed media.

“I will light him up for that,” Brennaman said. 

A few years ago when the Reds stayed near a decepit mall in St. Louis adjacent to Union Station, the stores were all T-shirt shops and fudge stores. One day Adam Dunn was given a white T-shirt with a photo of Mercker’s smiling mug on it. Above the picture read “World’s Greatest Teammate.”

On to some news…

Willy Taveras is out of the lineup again because of a sore right hamstring. Taveras’ inability to catch up to Nick Stavinoha’s sixth-inning drive to center field let two-runs score on the double, including the go-ahead run in a 5-2 loss. Taveras spent a while in manager Dusty Baker’s office on Wednesday.

“He’s about the same,” Baker said. “I had a long talk with him today. We’ll hopefully try it again this weekend some time against the Cubs.”

Chris Dickerson started in center field but Jerry Hairston Jr. was back in the lineup and moved up to the leadoff spot. Hairston missed the last two games with a stomach flu. Why was Hairston moved up?

“No. 1, I wanted to split up right-left-right-left,” Baker said. “No. 2, last year Hairston was an outstanding leadoff man.”

The Reds were 25-19 last season when Hairston led off.

“Hopefully we can get some of the same,” Hairston said. “Whether I leadoff or hit second, I know my job is to get on base. Obviously hitting second, I may take a few more pitches to give the guy in front of you an opportunity to steal a base.”

Alex Gonzalez was also given a rest after he made the last 11 starts. Paul Janish got a start at shortstop.

“He’s been playing a lot,” Baker said. “I don’t want Janish to be out too long. I thought about doing it tomorrow but that’s not fair to Janish getting one start and he has to face [Cardinals Thursday starter Chris] Carpenter.”

Almost forgot to mention — no starter was named on Saturday yet. Baker said it was definitely not someone already up here. That seems to all but point to Matt Maloney to get the start vs. the Cubs.

Reds lineup:

Hairston 5
Dickerson 8
Phillips 4
Bruce 9
Hernandez 3
Nix 7
Hanigan 2
Janish 6
Cueto 1

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Volquez could miss a start

It looks like back spasms are still bothering Edinson Volquez. His side bullpen session was cut very short by more soreness on Wednesday. Afterwards, the Reds starter went into manager Dusty Baker’s office and told him he shouldn’t make his next start.

Volquez was to start on Friday but was moved back to Saturday today after Baker first heard Volquez was still sore. Bronson Arroyo will start on Friday against Cleveland.

“I was feeling it. I threw only a couple of pitches and still felt it on my left side,” Volquez said.

Volquez, who prematurely left his start on Saturday when mid-back spasms grabbed him in the sixth inning vs. San Diego, was asked if being moved back a day would be enough time to get better.

“I don’t think so,” Volquez said. “I told Dusty that it’d be better if I missed a start. I don’t want to go at like 70 percent. That’s no good for me or the team. He said he’d talk to [pitching coach] Dick Pole about it.”

Ramon Ramirez, a starter who was just called up from Triple-A Louisville on Tuesday to work from the bullpen, is an in-house candidate to take Volquez’s place in a spot start if needed.

In other medical news, first baseman Joey Votto had a doctor’s appointment Wednesday morning and was at another doctor in the afternoon. There is still no word on what has caused his dizziness. Votto is not an option off the bench as a pinch-hitter because of his condition. Plus, if he had to go on the disabled list, the Reds would not want to prolong his time out by sticking a less-than-healthy Votto into a game.

9:30 p.m. update on Votto: All tests have been completed, with results expected on Thursday. The club will provide an update then.

10:30 p.m. update on Volquez: He’s going for a MRI on Thursday. No determination was made about whether he will still start on Saturday.

 

Reds lineup:

Taveras CF
Hairston 3B
Phillips 2B
Bruce RF
Hernandez 1B
Gonzalez SS
McDonald LF
Hanigan C
Harang P

Alex Gonzalez is 4-for-6 lifetime with one homer, two doubles and four RBIs vs. Phillies starter Jamie Moyer. Willy Taveras is 2-for-5. Hairston is 3-for-17 (.176), For those wondering where Laynce Nix is today, he is 1-for-11 (.091) in his career vs. Moyer 

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Historically good pitching

Sorry for not hanging a “gone fishing” sign up while I was out for a couple of days. I skipped the Florida series but had to catch a flight home from Pittsburgh Sunday right after the game.

Here is a note from the Elias Sports Bureau about some splendid Reds pitching:

For only the third time in the live-ball era, the Reds have posted four team shutouts over a six-game span…the starting pitchers in those shutouts were Edinson Volquez, Bronson Arroyo, Johnny Cueto and Volquez again…starters in the previous 2 instances were Elmer Riddle, Johnny Vander Meer, Joe Beggs and Vander Meer in 1943, followed in 1970 by Gary Nolan, Jim McGlothlin, Jim Merritt and Nolan.

Reds lineup:

Taveras CF
Hairston 3B
Votto 1B
Phillips 2B
Bruce RF
McDonald LF
Hanigan C
Janish SS
Arroyo P

News you can use:

SS Alex Gonzalez (strained left oblique) was re-examined on Wednesday. The Reds are holding off putting Gonzalez on the DL for now.

“He’s better today than he was yesterday,” manager Dusty Baker said. “At this point, if he keeps improving over the next couple of days, we might not have to DL him. I know [going on the DL] is not what he would like after being on the DL a year and a half. But we’ll get to a point when we’ll have to make a decision on his progress.”

If Gonzalez does go on the DL in a few days, it can be made retroactive to Tuesday if he doesn’t appear in a game. Paul Janish and Jerry Hairston Jr. will fill in. Part of the issue if Gonzalez does go on the DL is there aren’t many infielders lighting it up at Triple-A Louisville. Chris Valaika is batting .176, Danny Richar is hitting .213. Neither are on the 40-man roster. Drew Sutton made his Louisville debut yesterday after being out with mono and went 1-for-4.

3B Edwin Encarnacion (small chip fracture, left wrist) had his cast removed today. He was placed in a removeable splint that he’ll likely wear for at least one week.

More on the pitching: The Reds’ 3.61 team ERA is best in the National League. The last time this team finished a season leading in ERA was 1940.

The Reds reached six shutouts last night in their 26th game, their fastest to six shutouts since the 1914 Reds threw their sixth shutout in their 25th game. They had six shutouts during all of the 2008 season.

“I am just trying to stay the heck away,” pitching coach Dick Pole said. “They’re having fun right now and it’s not up to me to cramp their style. Let them keep enjoying what’s going on.”

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Opening Day news you can use

Still raining at the GABP…the tarp is on the field.

Earlier this morning, Bronson Arroyo threw a 40-pitch bullpen session and still wants to pitch on Thursday as originally scheduled. Yesterday, Manager Dusty Baker moved Arroyo back to Sunday and has Micah Owings going on Thursday.

“Trust me, everything is negotiable,” Arroyo said.

As for the session itself, no problems.

“Ask Porky [Lopez] or Dickie Pole what he thought,” Arroyo said “My arm feels great. I usually throw a little bit less but I threw a really hard one just to let them know I’m not full of it when I say my arm feels fine. I’m ready to go. They will let me know.”

Bullpen coach Juan “Porky” Lopez caught Arroyo’s throwing session.

“Bronson threw really good,” Lopez said.

UPDATE: Arroyo is starting on Thursday again. Baker changed his mind.

  • It’s never a good sign when a coach walks up to you wearing a surgical mask as a joke like Billy Hatcher did with center fielder Willy Taveras Monday morning. Taveras has the flu and isn’t playing today. Taveras hoped he could come back Wednesday after the off day Tuesday.

“I feel a lot  better today so we’ll see. It’s a hard case,” Taveras said.

  • Canadian Joey Votto has the quote of the day on today’s weather:

“We play hockey in this weather, not baseball,” Votto said.

First pitch was at 1:23 — 13 minutes behind schedule. Temperature was 37 degrees.

Here is the rotation after Monday:

Wednesday vs NYM, Volquez
Thursday vs NYM, Arroyo
Friday vs Pit, Cueto
Saturday vs Pit, Owings
Sunday vs Pit, Harang

 

 

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