Results tagged ‘ Francisco Cordero ’

Sat. TBA, Sept. callups, trade talk

The Reds still have “TBA” listed for Saturday’s start vs. the Dodgers and this time, they’re not playing coy with the roster maneuvers. They have to get through Thursday first because after back-to-back extra innings games, their only fresh arm and only long man in the bullpen is Micah Owings. If he’s not needed, he will likely start vs. L.A.

“It depends on what happens here,” Dusty Baker said. “We need some deep innings. Even though we’ve won, it’s taken a toll on the pitching. You hate to go into a weekend series with the Dodgers tired.”

I will be writing a more complete story on this for Sunday night but I talked to GM Walt Jocketty about September call-ups this morning in the clubhouse. Don’t expect anyone up when right away Sept. 1 comes around on Tuesday. Also, don’t expect to see the cavalry rolling I-71 North.

Triple-A Louisville’s regular season ends on Sept. 7 and then there is the playoffs.

“I think it’s important. In most cases, you prefer to see them finish their season and go through the playoffs,” Jocketty said. “The exposure to postseason play is very good.

“We haven’t really finalized it yet but there won’t really be that many. We have most of them here. It’s more a question of playing time. If you don’t have playing time, there’s no reason to bring them up.”

These are the healthy players on 40-man roster not currently with the Reds: 1B Yonder Alonso, 3B Juan Francisco, RHP Sam LeCure, LHP Matt Maloney and RHP Ramon Ramirez.

You’d have to think someone like OF Chris Heisey will be rewarded for his great season. You also have to wonder about a dude like LHP Travis Wood. SS Chris Valaika had a lousy season for the most part but has come on the last couple of weeks. It’d be nice for them to be evaluated so the Reds know whether they might be ready for 2010.

Reds lineup:

Stubbs 8
Janish 6
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Rolen 5
Balentien 9
Gomes 7
Tatum 2
Lehr 1

Jocketty said it’s been all quiet on the trade inquiry front. Contenders that acquire players after Aug. 31 can’t have them eligible for postseason play. It doesn’t look like closer Francisco Cordero or Bronson Arroyo are going anywhere.

“No one has inquired about him,” Jocketty said about Cordero. “We haven’t talked to anybody about him. I would guess nothing will happen.”

CF Drew Stubbs is batting .156 since his call-up on Aug. 19. He has two walks and 10 strikeouts, including four on Wednesday. Baker didn’t think Stubbs was pressing too much.

“I don’t think he’s trying too hard,” Baker said. “I just think he’s taking too much – too many fastballs. It puts you in strikeout situations. Everybody talks about being deep in the count all the time. That’s not good for everybody. To go deep in the count, you have to be a pretty good two-strike hitter. In the minors, he was still prone to the strikeouts.”

The Reds didn’t have 2009 first-round pick RHP Mike Leake on its roster for the Arizona Fall League. Turns out the roster had to be submitted before Leake signed on Aug. 17. Jocketty said the Reds are seeking permission from MLB to make adjustments to the roster so Leake can go to Arizona.

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One Reds All-Star: Cordero

When the National League team takes the field in St. Louis for introductions at the All-Star game, you will see only one player wearing a Reds uniform. It will be closer Francisco Cordero.

I had a feeling it’d either be Cordero or Johnny Cueto but not both. Each team gets a minimum of one player to represent.

Cordero, a manager’s selection, is definitely a worthy choice with 20 saves in 21 attempts this season. It’s funny now thinking back to Spring Training when fans (and reporters…ahem) were so concerned when he was terrible and working his way back from off-season ankle surgery.

At 8-4 with a 2.69 ERA, Cueto was definitely worth a closer look but those back-to-back starts where he blew big leads to Toronto and the White Sox probably didn’t help his cause. While he was fourth in ERA among NL pitchers, he has only 78 strikeouts, which is not close to the leaderboard. He also doesn’t rank in other categories like innings pitched (103.2), complete games, etc. He was 4th with opponent’s batting average of .223.

Do you think any Reds were overlooked or snubbed?

Joey Votto would have been a stone-cold lock had he not missed so much time on the DL. In my mind, no other position player is having good enough seasons to warrant snubbed status.

3:30pm update: After taking a closer look at the NL pitching staff, I’m still not shocked Cueto didn’t make it. But one’s eyes can go into spasm crunching numbers and Cueto definitely had a case.

The Cubs’ Ted Lilly made it with a 7-6 record with a 3.35 ERA in 16 starts with 23 BB, 88 K, opp. avg of .242 and a 1.13 WHIP. Cueto’s walks-hit/per innings pitched is 1.12. Lilly was the lone Cub to get in and remember, each team has to have at least one All-Star.

Did Cueto deserve to get in over Johan Santana?

Santana was 9-6 with a 3.34 ERA, 102.1 IP, 34 BB, 104 K, .241 opp avg, and a 1.26 WHIP. He was named on the player’s ballot, which shows that players too often go with names and reputation.

Postgame: Cordero was pretty low-key about his honor but was happy about it.

“It’s a great feeling. It shows you’ve done a great job,” Cordero said. “I’m really happy I’m able to go this year after what happened to me in the off-season. It was hard for me.”

Besides having September ankle surgery, Cordero unexpectedly lost his mother, Martina, who died at the age of 60 in the Dominican Republic.

“Me and my older brother were playing cards with her,” Cordero said. “I went to pick up my boy from school and I got a call that she was taken to the hospital. The next night, she passed away.”

Baker wasn’t upset that Cueto wasn’t going to St. Louis with Cordero.

“I would have loved to have seen him [make the team],” Baker said. “But he has time. He’s getting better, big time.”
 

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Cueto an All-Star?

 The Reds could very well have just one or two All-Stars when rosters are announced on Sunday. Johnny Cueto made his final bid to be one of them with a gutsy six-inning performance in a 1-0 Reds victory.

Cueto was wild early because of a stiff back and had four walks through two innings. After being stretched out inside the clubhouse, he was unstoppable. He gave up just one infield hit to Felipe Lopez in the third and then retired his final 12 in a row. He struck out eight.

Arthur Rhodes hit some trouble but he, David Weathers and Francisco Cordero kept Arizona off the scoreboard for the staff’s seventh shutout of the season.

“Our bullpen came in and did the job but I felt like Johnny beat them singlehandedly today,” said Joey Votto, who was jammed but hit a bloop RBI single in the sixth for the win.

Is Cueto an All-Star? He is 8-4 with a 2.69 ERA in 16 starts. He doesn’t rank in strikeouts and is tied among a bunch of people for fourth in wins.

“Maybe, I don’t know. Yes,” Cueto said when asked about his chances. “I’m fighting to get into the All-Star game.”

“It’s something I haven’t thought about much,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “His ERA is certainly indicative of making the All-Star team. But there are a lot of good pitchers. If he doesn’t, he’ll have plenty of opportunities.”

Then there is Cordero, who has quietly notched 19 saves in 20 chances. He’s been right there with guys like Trevor Hoffman, Heath Bell and Francisco Rodriguez.

Which Reds will be in St. Louis for the All-Star game?

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Wishing for a private jet…

For those of you that want to better understand the “swashbuckling” life of a baseball beat writer, here are some things you can do on your own — no media credential required.

1. Wake up at 3:55am to catch a 6am Northwest Airlines flight to St. Louis with a connection in Detroit.

2. Learn the Milwaukee to Detroit leg of your flight is delayed one hour because of a mechanical issue, which means you’ll miss your Detroit connection.

3. Stand in a line about 50 people deep to get rebooked. But to get the realistic feel of this, only one counter agent must be working while you wait.

4. Learn that the next Detroit flight gets to St. Louis at 4pm, knowing you have to be at the ballpark no later than 3:30 pm.

5. Feel lucky to get re-booked on to an American Airlines flight at 11:30 am. At least it’s non-stop to St. Louis but you get to spend an additional four hours waiting in Milwaukee. That’s what I’m doing as I type. Only two hours to go from this point.

Renting a car and driving to St. Louis wasn’t a good option. My luggage was already in the airline’s hands. And I was afraid the missing a leg of my journey would void the next one home on Friday. That would have really given me a case of the goo.

Obviously, I don’t have the kind of scratch needed to charter my own plane…not even once let alone on standby at my pleasure for me to bark over the phone “fuel the jet” to someone in a hanger. One can dream however.

John Fay of the Enquirer is in the same predictament as me and we both got rebooked. It’s usually the DDN’s Hal McCoy that has travel nightmares. We’ll find out who had tougher journey when we see Hal at the ballpark press box.

Since I had some extra time to kill in Milwaukee, here is some extra stuff:

Baseball Prospectus gives the Reds a 20 percent chance of making the playoffs. In the NL Central, only the Cardinals (59 percent) and Brewers (42 percent) higher. The Cubs have an 18 percent chance, according to BP.

In the latest “Crystal Ball report” at MiLB.com, my colleague Jonathan Mayo projected the Reds would use the eighth overall draft selection to pick RHP Tanner Scheppers, currently with the independent St. Paul Saints. Scheppers was a college draft pick last season but did not sign.

Brewers closer Trevor Hoffman’s “Hells Bells” entrance at Miller Park on Friday and Sunday was even better than it used to be in San Diego. The Brewers time it just right to have a bell toll just as Hoffman walks through the bullpen door. Then it’s “Trevor Time.” Brilliant.

It got me to think of my all-time top 5 favorite closer entrances:

1. When Eric Gagne was in his prime, Dodger Stadium’s LED boards all said “Game Over” next a picture of the goggled Gagne’s face. Cue the metal music and three outs later, the game was definitely over.

2. Hoffman in Milwaukee.

3. The White Sox briefly had a closer a few years ago named Shingo Takatsu, who was the all-time saves leader in Japan. Nicknamed “Mr Zero,” a gong sound was made at U.S. Cellular Field when he emerged from the bullpen. In an added nice touch, the gong was sounded after each strikeout — just perfect.

4. Todd Coffey — the sprint from the bullpen was always entertaining. It’s even more embraced by fans in Milwaukee than it was Cincinnati, where his eventual struggles made it harder to enjoy. My colleague Adam McCalvy is working on a story about it and had Coffey take a picture next to the old bullpen car used in the movie “Major League,” which was shot at old County Stadium.

(addendum — I realize Coffey isn’t a closer, but he was briefly. He still gets No. 4)

5. Rich “Goose” Gossage — this is an old-school nostalgia choice. When I was a kid at Yankee Stadium, they used to have a Toyota Celica bullpen car with Yankee pinstripes and everything. They would drive the Goose and drop him off in front of the visitor’s dugout. He’d get out and slam the door and tromp out to the mound. With that fu-manchu mustache, it was just an added touch of intimidation. The Goose was loose!

Afraid that there is no honorable mention for the Reds or Francisco Cordero at GABP. That’s because they have no real closer entrance to get the crowd going in the top of the ninth. With Cordero on a streak of 27 saves in a row, you’d think he’d have something cool by now.

Does anyone out there have a favorite closer’s entrance? If Cordero had one, what music, sound effects would you suggest?

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The rotation is humming

 The rotation was the story again as Friday’s 4-0 win over the Pirates has given the Reds back-to-back shutouts. While throwing eight scoreless, Bronson Arroyo gave up four hits, three walks and struck out four.

After two first inning hits, he got a Nate McLouth double play and rarely had trouble after that.

“I knew my command was good,” Arroyo said. “I was like ‘if I can make it through this inning without giving up a run here, I’ll be alright.’ Luckily I got the double play and got out of that inning. It just worked out like I thought. It doesn’t always work out like that.”

At one point, Arroyo retired 10 in a row and 16 out of 17 batters. It was the second-straight eight inning start for the rotation after Edinson Volquez and Francisco Cordero threw a one-hitter that blanked the Braves Wednesday. The scoreless innings streak is at 19 overall.

Brandon Phillips hit a leadoff homer in the eighth — the other way. He seems to be heating up.
The lineup did strand 10 men on base but still got enough, especially against a Pirates team that’s been scoreless over their last 22 innings.

“A lot of teams wanted some of our pitching,” manager Dusty Baker said. “You have to be strong in one major area and that’s the area you want to be strong in – pitching. These guys are getting better and better, more confident and one guy feeds off another guy.”

More Arroyo: “I feel like this is the best staff we’ve had since I’ve been here. If we can continue to do things like this, it just breeds confidence in the guys from top to bottom. We hope we can keep holding them down until we can score eight or nine a night and we won’t have to sweat it so much.”

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No beating Oswalt, again

A great effort by Johnny Cueto was for naught as far as the Reds dropped a 4-1 game to the Astros. On the heels of his seven scoreless at Chicago last week, Cueto allowed one run and seven hits over seven innings. Last time, he had zero walks. This time, one walk. You have to be encouraged by his improved command and aggressiveness.

At least Cueto didn’t get a losing decision but too bad for him that the Reds were predictably neutralized by Roy Oswalt much of the time. They also hurt themselves with three double plays induced by Oswalt, including one by Brandon Phillips for a 6-4-3 GIDP with two on and one out in the fourth.

A nice two-out rally came in the sixth. Laynce Nix hit his fourth double of the season. Joey Votto (who else?) was clutch with a RBI single that tied the game at 1-1. The bases were later left loaded when Edwin Encarnacion tapped a ball that spun in front of the plate and was tagged out.

Francisco Cordero was brought out in a non-save situation in the top of the ninth to hold the game so the Reds could rally in the bottom half. Cordero gave up three-straight hits to open the inning, including Hunter Pence’s two-run double off the wall. Pence’s hit came on a 0-2 pitch.

Chris Dickerson came out after the fifth inning. In the bottom of the fourth, he had a head-to-head collision with Miguel Tejada while trying to break up a double play at second base. Dickerson has concussion-like symptoms and will be tested again Tuesday before being cleared to return.

The Reds might have used up all the capital they gained from the 7-3 road trip. After three crowds near or more than 30,000 over the weekend vs. Atlanta, Monday’s attendance was 12,365. It was 81 degrees at first pitch and a perfect night for baseball — so weather was no excuse.

Dickerson quotes:

“Everything was real spotty. It was like going from HD to regular television. Nothing is sharp and I was out there and couldn’t see the hitter’s face. The ball was splitting and coming apart almost. Looking out in the stands, everybody kind of meshed together. I knew that was definitely going in the wrong direction.”

I’m doing alright. My vision is coming back a little bit. Right now, I feel a little drowsy. I just want to sleep. It’s not as hard to focus, which is a good sign. I just had to answer simple questions like ‘what happened yesterday?’ It almost took me a while to answer but I got it.”

Cordero quotes:

“You’re going to have days like that. The thing I’m not happy about is because of the way Cueto pitched. He gave our team a chance to win a ballgame. That’s why I’m a little upset with myself. I should have made better decisions and better pitches. Cueto was unbelievable.”

Don’t forget that you can also get Reds updates on Twitter:

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Votto on fire, Reds off the schnide

You didn’t really think the Reds would go 0-162, did you? No one did of course, but Thursday’s 8-6 win a stress buster that was needed. I wrote about the need for a fast start yesterday by the Reds and a 0-3 record after the first series wouldn’t have been what they needed.

  • Joey Votto, who had another big game with a 3-for-5 day and three-run homer. Votto was 7-for-13 (.538) in the series and seems poised to have a big year. He had a great spring despite being known as a slow starter.
  • Bronson Arroyo got off to a slow start but his outing was still solid despite five runs allowed over six innings. I give Arroyo a pass because I’d imagine it’d be tough to pitch after getting a cortisone shot only a few days ago.
  • Paul Janish struck out three times but his rolling single up the middle scored two huge insurance runs in the fifth was big. He was strong defensively too and he will important on these days when Alex Gonzalez’s gets precautionary rests.

Some post-game quotes:

Dusty Baker:

“The main thing is we won. That first one is always the toughest to get it seems like. Hopefully we can start rolling from here.”

“It’s real important for your confidence, your mindset and your attitude. I don’t care who you are, as long as I’ve been in this game, every year you start thinking about the Chicago Cubs starting off 0-13. Every time you lose one, the pressure mounts until you get your first one.”

Votto:

“My mindset personally is more team oriented. Last year, I was concentrating on a lot of personal things trying to get myself established as a Major leaguer. This is totally different. I have a mindset of being a better Cincinnati red and a better team. We have to do better this year.”

“It’s such a huge challenge to make the team and stay worth the Major League team throughout the year. I did it successfully I thought. This year I want to play well because I know I’m an important part of the team. I want to help create wins.”

“Last night it was so frustrating because I had such a good game and it didn’t produce anything. It really reminds you of how humbling this game is. There are going to be times where we all don’t get any hits and somehow come out with a win.”

  • And for those who panicked about Francisco Cordero stinking it up in Spring Training, this should serve as a reminder about the meaning of spring performances. Cordero was nasty as he struck out the side for his first save.

“That’s the best I’ve seen him throw and that’s the best his ankle felt,” Baker said. “He was operating all of last year on a bad ankle. In Spring Training, everybody was worried about him because he wasn’t throwing well or hard. He’s getting stronger and better.”

It’s only three games in, but what are your thoughts about the Reds so far?

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One down, 161 to go

Who’s written the season off after one game? That’s a common occurance after an Opening Day loss, especially in Cincinnati. Just remember, it’s one game and only the first game. Obviously, the opener is a bigger deal around here, it doesn’t mean the season is over already.

While there were some negatives to take away from the 2-1 loss to the Mets, I will start with my positives:

  • Alex Gonzalez looked pretty good and played all nine innings in lousy conditions. He also made a nice diving stop to his left on Johan Santana’s second-inning groundout for the third out. Dusty Baker considered not playing Gonzalez because of the weather.

“I considered it but he probably would have shot me after he’s been out a year and a half,” Baker said.

  • The late-inning bullpen effort was strong. Arthur Rhodes and David Weathers each threw a perfect inning. Francisco Cordero was throwing 94 mph and gave up one hit in a scoreless ninth.
  • Aaron Harang had a high pitch count of 114 but mostly got out of jams. He only gave up one run and seven hits. Of those seven hits, two were infield hits, three were bloopers and there were two solid hits – including the homer by Murphy.

The negative:

  • The outfield defense was sloppy. Darnell McDonald and Jerry Hairston Jr. seemed to get crossed up. I think Willy Taveras makes a couple of the balls McDonald didn’t get to.
  • I know Johan Santana was pitching for the Mets, but just three hits in the game isn’t a good sign for those of us (me included) worried about whether the Reds will have enough production to be real contenders.

Dusty Baker post-game quotes:

“Our outfield is still learning the range of each other. They’re learning the speed of each other. We’ll get it together. I love our outfield. They’re not going to be too many balls that drop in.”

“He usually leads the league in strikeouts. A lot of people don’t get a lot of runs against Santana. Aaron matched him except for that home run he gave up to the youngerster we don’t know either. There weren;t many negatives today. People look for negatives when you lose, but they played a good game and beat us today.”

“I love the way [Harang] pitched. His zip and velocity were back. He had a sharp breaking ball. He got some tough hitters out in some tough jams.”

Harang on throwing a lot of pitches the first game:

“I was up to 100 pitches at the end of spring. It was definitely hard to pitch in those conditions. Johan had the same situation to deal with. You want to have enough feeling in your fingers to keep track of the ball.”

Harang on the conditions — 37 degrees and raining:

“They’re up there trying to keep their hands warm but they’re not out there trying to throw a ball with numb fingers. When it gets cold like that, the ball gets real slick and you might not have your best stuff. Now that I think about it, hitters have a little more of an advantage.”

If you were at the game, or watched on TV, what did you think?

 

Cordero to get more work

The Reds have devised a plan they hope will get closer Francisco Cordero back on track. Cordero will get more work and pitch in some extra Minor League games, including one on Saturday.

“Instead of being three days in between, or a couple, we’ll get him on more of a routine and see if he can get into a rhythm,” pitching coach Dick Pole said on Friday. “Right now, he just doesn’t have good flow to him.”

Last night vs. Boston was Cordero’s roughest outing yet with four runs, four hits and two walks allowed in one inning. Most of the hitters were Minor Leaguers. Pole said that Cordero’s velocity was in the 92-93 mph range in the game.

“You have to take into account getting adrenaline flowing during the course of a season,” Pole said of Cordero’s lower pitch speed. “Last year, his results were better so we didn’t pay attention as much to it. Looking back at last year, his velocity was about the same and then all of a sudden the last couple of times he pitched, he was popping up to 94-95.”

The difference between last year and this year is Cordero is trying to return from right ankle surgery. That is the pitcher’s push off foot and the source of his power.

“He’s going to get more action,” manager Dusty Baker said. “He didn’t throw a lot this winter to get his arm strength up. He couldn’t because of his ankle operation and he’s a little behind. We still have two weeks and he’ll get some consecutive days. The more he throws the stronger he’ll get.

“It doesn’t do any good to get concerned. All you can do is figure out how to get him back. Concern helps no one and worry helps even less. You just have to go to work.”

Maybe, but is anyone wondering whether Cordero will be ready for start of the regular season? He has has an 18.00 ERA (12 ER over 6 IN) with 17 hits and four walks allowed in his six games. If he isn’t improving, would a stint on the DL and some extended spring training help? That would mean David Weathers would step up and be the closer.

FYI — both Pole and Baker both said that Cordero’s ankle is healthy.

Postgame news you can use:

  • Johnny Cueto gave up two earned runs and six hits over five innings. No walks, one strikeout. A majority of the hits were bloopers and not hard hit. The exception was pitcher Russ Ortiz’s RBI single to center field off of Cueto in the second. After, he faced the minimum and retired eight of his last 10 batters, getting a double play and a caught stealing along the way.

“He threw the ball good. He had good location, good movement,” Baker said.

  • Nick Masset gave up two earned runs and three hits over three innings with three walks and one strikeout. The outing didn’t start well. Masset began by giving up Darin Erstad’s double and Lance Berkman hit a 2-2 pitch to the right field corner for a two-run homer ruled just inside the pole. Then Carlos Lee walked.Masset’s final two innings were mostly smooth.
  • Norris Hopper was scratched from the lineup because of bronchitis.

Arroyo 'working those kinks out'

Facing the Red Sox on Thursday, it was a subpar night for Bronson Arroyo. In five innings, Arroyo gave up four earned runs and three hits, including two home runs. He also had four walks and four strikeouts.

Both homers, two-run shots by Jed Lowrie and Chris Carter, came in the third inning immediately after Arroyo walked a batter. He was trailing, 4-1, when he came out of the game.

“That’s what killed me. Quit giving them free bases, quit giving them two-run homers,” Arroyo said. “After the second inning, I was missing a little bit with my fastball, especially the sinker. I kept missing down, down, down. I got behind in counts and it got me into trouble. Next time, I will try to dial that in a little better.”

Arroyo had 1-2-3 second and fourth innings. Through four starts, totaling 15 innings, he has a 6.00 ERA with 12 hits, 10 runs and seven walks allowed and 10 strikeouts. Asked if he was comfortable with his spring to this point, Arroyo said he was.

“Any way you cut it – unless you’re a young guy trying to make the club, unbelievable numbers aren’t helping you and getting killed is really helping either,” Arroyo said. “I’m kind of in the middle of the road. I feel solid. I feel like the ball was jumping out of my hand pretty good tonight. I threw the ball by some guys. The breaking ball was pretty good. I got a little out of sync in the third and fourth innings. I didn’t feel comfortable throwing the fastball. That’s what we’re here for – to try and work those kinks out.”

  • Whatever kinks Arroyo has, closer Francisco Cordero clearly has more. It was another rough performance for Cordero, who gave up four earned runs, four hits and two walks in the top of the eighth. Nick Green hit a long RBI double to the center field wall and later a Minor Leaguer named Ryan Kalish smoked a three-run triple to the left-center field gap. 

Cordero was coming off of two-straight scoreless outings but he wasn’t fooling any of Boston’s hitters tonight. Now that “it’s early in spring” no longer applies, maybe it’s time for some concern to set in.

Over his six games, totaling six innings, Cordero has an 18.00 ERA with 17 hits, 12 earned runs and four walks allowed.

  • Two more roster cuts came after the 9-1 loss. RHP Carlos Fisher and catcher Craig Tatum were optioned to Triple-A Louisville. There are now 42 players left in camp.
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