Results tagged ‘ Jeff Keppinger ’

Talking to Keppinger

I ventured over to the Astros clubhouse to see former Red Jeff Keppinger and was fortunate to find him within about five minutes. For the second night in a row, Keppinger wasn’t in the lineup because of a sore back caused by a slide into third base for a triple.

I’ve noticed a lot of Reds fans were upset (and still are upset) about the Reds trading Keppinger on March 31. Personally, I think it was a good move by Cincinnati, especially since it looks like they got a better than I expected return in IF Drew Sutton. Keppinger had a nice second half of 2007 and a great start to 2008, but I think fans placed too much value on him. He wasn’t the same offensively after fracturing his kneecap last May. Defensively, he lacked the range at shortstop compared to the guy who beat him out for the backup job — Paul Janish.

Of course, Keppinger is off to a hot start with a six-game hitting streak and is batting .467. I’m sure he will do well for Houston in his platoon role at third base. Here are some extended quotes from the clubhouse:

When did he turn it around since Reds camp?

“Season time. Spring Training is Spring Training. It was a time to get ready. You can’t really go too much on that. Once the lights come on, it’s when it counts. That’s when you have to have everything figured out.”

Did he feel that the Reds gave up on him because of Spring Training? (He hit .140 in 21 games)

“I don’t want to say gave up on me. I think they thought Gonzo [Alex Gonzalez] would be back and in there most of the time. There weren’t much plans for me of getting in there as far as playing time. I had that same situation when I was with the Royals. They were going to put me on waivers. The GM told me I don’t think you’re going to clear. So the next thing I knew I got traded three days later.”

Life good with Houston?

“It’s nice. We’ve got a lot of veterans in the clubhouse. It’s kind of a more laid back atmosphere. You just go out there and do your business and play your game.”

Taking on Oswalt

Roy Oswalt enters Friday 0-2 with a 6.23 ERA this season. He is 23-1 all time vs. the Reds. Here is the lineup Oswalt will be facing:

Taveras, cf
Dickerson, lf
Votto, 1b
Phillips, 2b
Bruce, rf
Encarnacion, 3b
Hernandez, c
Gonzalez, ss
Cueto, rhp

News you can use:

  • Dusty Baker got a scouting report on IF Drew Sutton, who came over Thursday in the Jeff Keppinger trade.

“I talked to some guys over with the Astros,” Baker said. “They told me they liked him. They said he was a good player. He can run. They said he can play second base, first base and they believe he can play the outfield too because of his speed and instincts.”

  • Keppinger wasn’t in Friday’s Astros lineup and is one of several Houston players bothered by a sore back. He came into the day hitting .467 with a six-game hitting streak. Knowing a little more about Sutton as the “player to be named later”, how do you feel about the return from this deal?
  • Baker was asked about the Reds facing Oswalt.

“We’ll get him,” Baker said. “The law of averages is definitely on our side…been on our side for a long time.”

The last time the Reds beat Oswalt was April 28, 2006.

  • After his last outing at Milwaukee on Wednesday where he gave up four sixth-inning runs, plus one charged to Micah Owings, reliever Jared Burton was pretty down and sounded like someone who had been struggling for a while despite some good numbers. On Friday, Burton clarified a little but said he hasn’t felt like himself on the mound, yet.

“For some reason, my command has been suffering a little bit,” Burton said. “I find myself feeling for my pitches. Me personally, I’m not a feel pitcher. I like to rely on my intensity and things like that. It’s what gives me that good finish on my pitches, that late movement.

“My velocity isn’t where it will be in another month.”

  • In the clubhouse, some players were watching the Cardinals-Cubs afternoon game. Reliever Chris Perez was pitching for St. Louis. Edinson Volquez remembered seeing Perez routinely throw 100-101 mph when they were in Double-A.

When asked, Volquez said his top speed in the Minors was 100 mph. I asked how he felt when he threw it.

“I got dizzy,” Volquez said with a laugh. “Then I tried to throw 100 again, and it was 94 mph.”

  • Some Minor League news from Jamie Ramsey of the Reds:

In last night’s Triple-A Louisville loss to Indianapolis, Adam Rosales was 2-for-4 and hit his third homer of the season. Jonny Gomes reached base three times with a single and two walks.

Rosales is batting .375 (9-for-24) through seven games. Gomes is batting .217 (5-for-23). 

Keppinger deal completed, Bray's elbow

The March trade that sent infielder Jeff Keppinger to the Astros was completed on Thursday when the Reds received infielder Drew Sutton as the player to be named.

Sutton, 25, will report to Triple-A Louisville. To make room for him on the 40-man roster, Danny Richar was sent outright to Louisville.

Last season with Double-A Corpus Christi, Sutton batted .317 with 20 home runs and 69 RBIs and was his team’s Most Valuable Player. He led all Astros Minor Leaguers in batting average, hits (165), runs (102), walks (76), doubles (39) and extra-base hits (63).

With Triple-A Round Rock, Sutton was batting .267 (4-for-15) with a .389 on-base percentage in five games.

  • Reliever Bill Bray has been saddled with another injury. Bray was diagnosed with a strained left elbow after an exam by Dr. Tim Kremchek, according to the Reds. The lefty will be evaluated in 10 days.

Shoulder soreness set Bray back during Spring Training and he didn’t catch up in time to make the team. He had five scoreless innings over three games for Triple-A Louisville.

Illness strikes again

Quick update… Brandon Phillips was sent home. Looks like he caught this bug that’s been making its way around the clubhouse here. From what I could gather, he was going to give it a go, then they took his temp and it came out above normal. I’m not 100 percent sure, but I think Jeff Keppinger’s starting in his place. — Jonathan Mayo

Sunday in Dunedin

It’s a little patch of Florida with the Labatt’s beer flows and the Canadian maple leaf flag flies proudly — Dunedin. Unfortunately, it’s not one of the finer ballparks in the Grapefruit League and the ball is prone to flying out without much effort on the hitters part. I remember one day when the wind was blowing out and Eric Milton was pitching…you needed an abacus to keep score.

Until the bus gets here, this is the Reds’ lineup:

Hopper CF, Dickerson LF, Votto 1B, Phillips 2B, Bruce RF, Encarnacion 3B, Nix DH, Gonzalez SS, Hanigan C.

Cueto is the starting pitcher and Nick Masset is expected to follow from the bullpen. Bill Bray, who hasn’t pitched since he was up here eight days ago, is also on the travel roster.

Blue Jays lineup:

Inglett SS, Hill 2B, Bautista CF, Millar 1B, Rolen 3B, Lane DH, Snider RF, Barrett C, Adams LF

P Mills

Updated news you can use:

  • Dusty Baker still hasn’t defined specific late-inning bullpen roles but he is leaning towards carrying 12 pitchers early in the season, instead of 11. 

“We have to get Francisco Cordero together and see who our long man is,” Baker said

  • When asked if infielder Jeff Keppinger was in danger of not making the team because of a slow spring, Baker gave little indication that was possible. Keppinger had two hits on Saturday but came into Sunday batting .179 (5-for-28).

“He has a track record. That helps big time,” Baker said. “Kepp is a guy that plays a lot of positions. Things are always subject to change but you never really feel comfortable in this game. You have to continue to produce. I wasn’t worried about Kepp hitting. He can hit. He didn’t have his stroke. Everybody doesn’t get their stroke at the same time. You hate to make up your mind on spring Trainings only. You can get fooled. You have to go on track record, if he has one, and what he’s doing now. If he’s not hurt, there’s a good chance he’ll come pretty close to what he’s always done.

  • If Baker wanted to go in a different direction, Adam Rosales or Paul Janish would be two top alternatives. Both can play multiple infield positions. Rosales is batting .222 but Janish came in batting .300 and has made improvements offensively. He batted .188 in 38 big league games in 2008.

“I think I mentally took on the approach to slow it down,” Janish said.

Baker believed there to be more to it than that. Janish has put in the work the club asked of him.

“I’ve noticed that he looks stronger,” Baker said. “Every time I go in the weight room to work out, he’s in there. He’s working on his hands and his forearm strength.”.

Visiting with Mackanin, notes/lineups

Greetings from Clearwater and the Phillies’ spring home at Bright House Field, which is probably the finest stadium you’ll find in the Grapefruit League. (I’m also partial to the Red Sox place in Fort Myers). Sorry for the late morning post but sometimes that’s just how it goes.

Former Reds interim manager Pete Mackanin is now the bench coach for the Phillies and it was nice to see him for a few minutes. Mackanin was great to work with from a media standpoint and more importantly, it was impressive that he led the 2007 team to an above .500 record (41-39) after he took over following a horrible start.

“I’m wearing red again,” Mackanin said before breaking out some dry wit. “I look so good in blue and green but I can’t get away from red. Maybe next time.”

Reds lineup:

Jones CF, Keppinger SS, Bruce RF, Gomes LF, Ward 1B, Alonso DH, Francisco 3B, Hanigan C, Janish 2B

Arroyo – P

Phillies lineup:

Bruntlett SS, Dobbs LF, Werth CF, Howard 1B, Ibanez DH, Jenkins RF, Donald 3B, Cairo 2B, Marson C

Hamels – P

  • Edwin Encarnacion was given another day off to rest a sore left wrist.

“It’s a matter of not having to rush,” manager Dusty Baker said. “It’s the same thing he had last year which you get from check swinging improperly.”

  • Alex Gonzalez is definitely going to make his debut at shortstop Tuesday vs. the Yankees. 
  • Baker isn’t worried about the slow starts by Jeff Keppinger (.105 in 7 games) or Jacque Jones (.133 in 8 games coming in).





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.

Thumbnail image for PhotoQ022309Q001.jpg

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 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


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



Almost that time…

Early Friday morning, I will be catching my flight to Sarasota, where the forecast says it will be 76 degrees (not bad). If all goes smooth with the trip, I will head over to the complex around midday and see who is around. Maybe I will be able to start banging out some copy too. The pitchers and catchers report date is Saturday and it’s Tuesday for position players.

Media relations director Rob Butcher sent out a note earlier listing some of the early arrivals.

RHP Aaron Harang, RHP Jared Burton, OF Chris Dickerson, IF/OF Jeff Keppinger, LHP Arthur Rhodes, RHP Homer Bailey, RHP Nick Masset, RHP Josh Roenicke, LHP Daniel Ray Herrera, RHP Daryl Thompson, C Ryan Hanigan, IF Adam Rosales, IF Paul Janish and OF Norris Hopper.

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