Results tagged ‘ Jacque Jones ’

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.

 

No early games for Gonzalez

Shortstop Alex Gonzalez has had no setbacks since running the bases the other day but the Reds decided to not start him for the start of exhibition games as a precaution. Gonzalez also won’t play in Tuesday’s intrasquad afternoon workout.

“Gonzo isn’t going to start [Tuesday], or for a few days. My guess is at least a week,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “It’s just what I see and the trainers see. And where we are in the scheduling to get him ready for Opening Day. We’re trying to keep him healthy to be ready, that’s all. There are still a few tests he has to pass – sliding, cutting or if he had to get out of the way for a double play and avoid a collision.”

Gonzalez missed all of last season with compression fracture in his left knee, which required surgery. Look for Jeff Keppinger and Jerry Hairston Jr. to get more time at shortstop to prepare just in case Gonzalez isn’t ready — not that anyone is saying yet that he won’t be ready to start the season.

Other notes for Monday:

Baker said he is considering carrying five or six outfielders. With Willy Taveras set in center field and Jay Bruce in right field, that means there could be room for left field candidates Hairston, Chris Dickerson, Jonny Gomes and Jacque Jones to all make the roster.

“Somebody just might emerge and take it. That’d be fine with me,” Baker said. “But if we started right now, it probably would be more of a platoon situation with somebodies.”

No decision has been made yet whether to carry 11 or 12 pitchers.

I made a slight error in my Jones feature on Sunday. He had the lasiks eye surgery after he played in Mexican winter ball and not before like I wrote. That means Jones hit well while not seeing well down there. Interesting.

I think almost everyone is looking forward to a game of some sort being played on Tuesday. The repetition of drills does get redundant and people can start to separate themselves a little during game action. For me at least, Tuesday morning will be like how Bill Murray felt when he finally got to Feb. 3 in “Groundhog Day.”

Here are some lineups for Tuesday’s five-inning workout:

Home team:

1. Willy Taveras CF

2. Jerry Hairston Jr. LF

3. Joey Votto 1B

4. Brandon Phillips 2B

5. Jay Bruce RF

6. Edwin Encarnacion 3B

7. Jeff Keppinger SS

8. Ramon Hernandez C

9. Laynce Nix DH

Aaron Harang – P

Visitors:

1. Norris Hopper CF

2. Chris Dickerson LF

3. Adam Rosales 2B

4. Juan Francisco 3B

5. Jonny Gomes RF

6. Daryle Ward 1B

7. Ryan Hanigan C

8. Paul Janish SS

9. Jacque Jones DH

Jordan Smith – P

 

 

Sunday's cornucopia

Nothing like forgetting to set your alarm to drop a jolt into your morning. I woke up at 7:15am on my own. I usually pick up fellow writer Hal McCoy to ride over to the complex at 7:30. So I had to cut some corners to get going but we still made it on time.

And because of that, here is your daily roughage of Reds news:

After a lousy 2008 where he was cut from two teams, outfielder Jacque Jones is hungry to prove himself. He got laser eye surgery and played winter ball in Mexico to find his stroke. He hit well down there.

“I wasn’t under contract with anybody. No one told me to go anywhere,” Jones said of winter ball. “I knew what I needed to do to play the game. I’ve never needed anyone to send me in the right direction for things I needed to do. I know what it takes.”

Jones is only 33 years old, which to manager Dusty Baker, means there should be plenty left. 

“Jacque can play,” Baker said. “He can play all three outfield positions. He can run. He hustles. He had a down year last year just like [Jonny] Gomes. But they have some track record of excellence. Just because you fall down for a while doesn’t mean you’re through, especially at the ages of those guys.”

More on that on MLB.com/Reds.com later Sunday. In other news:

Baker said he hasn’t decided if SS Alex Gonzalez will play in the first exhibition game on Wednesday. Gonzalez is still doing well but the club is taking it easy with him as I wrote yesterday. During the season, the manager said Gonzalez would likely hit seventh or eighth because there is too much running on his left knee needed for him to bat second.

It’s possible that catcher Ramon Hernandez could get some time at first base to spell Joey Votto against a tough lefty. It would also open up some chances for backup Ryan Hanigan.

Non-roster catcher Humberto Cota finally straightened out his visa issues and reported to camp. It will be a short stay since Cota is expected to leave to play for Mexico in the WBC.

The Dominican Republic classic squad asked the Reds on Saturday for the services of pitching prospect Pedro Viola.

The Reds will have enough pitching for Tuesday’s intrasquad game to last five innings.

Between now and Wednesday’s Grapefruit League opener at the Rays, Baker still has some things he’d like to get done — namely sliding drills.

“You probably get more injuries sliding than any other thing,” he said. “We have cut-off relays, pop-ups. You never get everything in because there are not enough days before the games. You try to get the most important stuff done early and add on as you play the games.”

Also highlighted was a comparison between the current camp location and the future one in Goodyear, Ariz.

“One drawback with Florida vs. Arizona is teams out there are so close that you can do a lot of your fundamentals and take your batting practice before you go [to road games],” Baker said. “You just go play the game. Here with the length of some of the trips, you’re lucky to have batting practice at their park. That’s about it. You do your work only at home games. Arizona, you work every day, home or road.”

And in the “they said it” department: Pitchers and infielders were working on situational stuff on a practice field. After Francisco Cordero was given a runner on first, two-out scenario, David Weathers was handed a runner on second with nobody out.

“You think that’s a sign of things to come?” joked Weathers. 

Dickerson wants LF spot

Chris Dickerson is part of a crowded mix of players vying for the left field vacancy. He was not intimidated by the competition and feels his chances are good.

“What’s the point in coming out if you don’t feel like you’re going to win the spot?” Dickerson said. “I don’t come out here to sit on the bench.”

Dickerson has a lot of reasons to feel confident. After his August call-up, he batted .304 with six homers and 15 RBIs in 31 games after he was a .260 hitter in 622 Minor League games.

“The fact that you did it, your confidence level rises,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “You think you belong here. He’s always had the ability. Everybody was trying to figure out when he was going to put it together.”

Baker still wasn’t ready to hand left field to Dickerson. The Reds also re-signed Jerry Hairston Jr. and added Jonny Gomes and Jacque Jones as non-roster players.

“Is that enough to make him the left fielder on what he did last year?” Baker said. “It’s a combination of not enough yet but on the way. You need some more if you’re going to win.”

What do you think — should Dickerson have the inside track in left field based on last season? 

Who's in LF?

So the Reds identified acquiring a right-handed hitting, run-producing left fielder as a top priority in the off-season. You’re probably wondering ‘what happened?’

The choices weren’t great and in my mind, no one out there really was someone that could catapult the Reds into an instant World Series contender.

Now it appears left field will be by committee (er…platoon). The choices are Chris Dickerson, Jerry Hairston Jr., Jonny Gomes, Norris Hopper and Jacque Jones.

Who do you like and why? Who will win the job?

 

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