Results tagged ‘ Juan Francisco ’

CF: Dickerson hot, Stubbs not

During Jamie Ramsey’s “Meet the Reds Press” just before we all came out here, I made a comment that if Drew Stubbs played himself out of center field, left field contender Chris Dickerson could easily move over if Stubbs took a step backwards in camp.

Through the early going of games, that seems to be happening. (Although in fairness, I also said in that same statement to Jamie that I didn’t think Stubbs would falter.)

Dickerson went 4-for-4 with a two-run homer in Monday’s 13-5 Reds win over the A’s. He’s batting .429 (9-for-21) this spring. Stubbs, who did not play Monday, is batting .100 (2-for-20) and has seven strikeouts.

A couple of weeks ago, Dickerson created a little dustup about his disappointment in not getting a more serious look in center field, his natural position. But now he’s backed it up on the field.

“Hey man, that’s how you do it. You play your way into it,” manager Dusty Baker said. “You don’t talk your way into it. And he’s playing. That was an outstanding job today. He’s been having a good spring.”

Baker has given Dickerson several starts in center field, so he’s definitely getting a serious look.If Juan Francisco could become the left-handed portion of left field, moving Dickerson to center field would be an even easier move to make. Besides, six good weeks in the Majors last season does not assure Stubbs of any lockdowns on the position.

Other notes:

*Mike Leake isn’t likely to get a serious look at the fifth spot but he certainly deserves more than a cursory glance. Leake allowed one hit and struck out four over two scoreless innings of relief.

“Leake was outstanding. That little dude can pitch,” Baker said.

In three games, Leake has logged five scoreless innings with two hits, one walk and six strikeouts.

*Travis Wood pitched three innings before Leake and allowed one hit, one run with three walks and four strikeouts.

*Starter Mike Lincoln came out blazing by retiring his first six batters in a row. He allowed all four of his runs and five hits in the third inning but walked none and struck out two.

“Linc looked good the first two innings,” Baker said. “In the third inning, he got some balls out over the plate.”

*During the morning workout, lefty reliever Bill Bray threw live BP and said everything was good.

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Francisco to get shot at LF

The Reds have already posted their lineup for Tuesday’s road trip to Tucson. I will not relay all of it now but one thing that stood out is Juan Francisco is starting in left field.

Francisco is 4-for-12 with two home runs and three RBIs and also had a homer in Sunday’s ‘B’ game. Obviously, he’s blocked by Scott Rolen at third base.

“I feel really comfortable with it,” Francisco said of left field, with teammate Yonder Alonso translating the Spanish. “Thank God that in the Dominican, I was able to play it a lot. I’m excited to play over there.”

In 397 Minor League games, Francisco logged five of them in left field. In the winter ball regular season, with the Cibao Gigantes, the 22-year-old played 36 games at third base and 18 in left field.

If Francisco keeps hitting like this, a semi-strong defensive showing in left field could improve his chances against Jonny Gomes, Chris Dickerson and the rest of the competition.

“I don’t care. I know I can play both positions – left field or third base,” Francisco said. “It’s not a problem as long as I can play and contribute every day.”

In 131 games combined at Double-A Carolina and Triple-A Louisville in 2009, he batted .295 with 27 homers and 93 RBIs. He had a nice September call-up to the Reds as well. His one issue — strikeouts. There were only 24 walks last season compared to 115 strikeouts in the Minors.

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Nice days for Bailey, Francisco

The Reds were handed an 11-4 trouncing by the Cubs on Saturday in Mesa but most the damage was done beginning in the fifth inning when most of the regulars were gone.

*3B Scott Rolen was, as they say in hockey, a healthy scratch from the Reds lineup vs. the Cubs on Saturday. There was no injury issue that took him out of the original lineup.

“He’s been playing a lot and plus we have a tough schedule next week,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said.

The Reds have an “A” and “B” game scheduled for Sunday, a road trip to Tucson on Tuesday and day-night split-squad games on Wednesday.

Rolen’s replacement, third base prospect Juan Francisco, provided ample fill-in work. In his first two at-bats, Francisco crushed home runs. In the second inning, he hit a 3-2 pitch deep into the right-center field seats. On a 2-0 pitch in the fourth, Francisco went the other way with a long ball to left-center.

“He had a huge day. He has some tremendous power,” Baker said. “He blasted those balls.”

*Francisco is 4-for-11 (.364) in five games.

*Paul Janish also got into the power game with a solo homer in the top of the fifth.

*It was a very good afternoon for Reds starter Homer Bailey, who allowed one earned run and three hits over three innings with no walks and two strikeouts. In the third, Bailey gave up a one-out double to Jim Adduci. He scored on Darwin Barney’s seeing-eye single under second baseman Brandon Phillips’ glove.

“It took me a little while to get loose. The last two innings, I felt a lot better,” Bailey said. “I think it’s just getting back into games and stuff. You can throw all of these bullpens but you’re never ready for game situations until it happens.”

Bailey had thrown two scoreless innings in his previous outing, a ‘B’ game vs. Milwaukee. He also worked in the team intrasquad game and looked good.

“Homer threw the ball excellent,” Baker said. “He had good velocity today and very good location. He’s throwing as well as I’ve seen him.”

It’s been a quiet spring for Bailey, in terms of the attention he’s gotten. All of it has seemingly shifted to the latest young pitcher to arrive, Aroldis Chapman.

“I’m glad I’m done with that period now and focus on the game and the results,” Bailey said. “He’s going through a lot and he’s throwing really well. That’s good to see. I don’t know what the plans are for the fifth spot and it’s none of my business. He is definitely going to help this team out very soon.”

*After Bailey departed, fifth starter candidate Micah Owings gave up three earned runs and four hits over two innings with one walk and one strikeout. His big mistake was a two-out walk in the fifth. The next batter, Bryan LaHair hit a three-run homer.

*It was a rough afternoon for non-roster pitcher Jon Adkins, who lasted only one-plus innings but was tapped for five earned runs and seven hits with one strikeout. During the three-run Cubs sixth, Adkins gave up four-straight hits.

*Pedro Viola was also touched up for two earned runs and three hits in his inning.

*The Cubs used a lot of younger players in the split-squad game. Many of their regulars were playing the White Sox in Las Vegas. Chicago outhit the Reds, 18-5.

“A lot of guys over there are calling home — I’m ready Dad,” Baker said.

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The Captain and The Mayor

Popped over to the Goodyear complex for a little while before the Reds go to Mesa for the Cubs.

One of the first people I saw Saturday morning was Barry Larkin laughing at his locker in the coaches room. Larkin is in camp as a guest instructor for about 10 days and wearing a Reds uniform for the first time since he departed after the 2004 season.

Although 45, Larkin looked like he could still play.

“Looks can be deceiving,” he replied.

One thing Larkin didn’t overlook was the meaning of wearing that No. 11 uniform again.

“It feels good. It feels natural,” Larkin said. “I was telling Joey Votto the other day about my opportunity to play with the Nationals. When I saw the Nationals uniform with 11 and ‘Larkin’ on the back, I told them I couldn’t put the uniform on. I couldn’t do it. I sat in my locker and just looked at it like ‘something is not right about this.'”

Larkin spent a few years in the Nats front office but now works for MLB Network. As does Sean Casey, who is also back in uniform for the first time on Saturday.

One of my few regrets on this job is that I never got to cover the Reds when Casey was here. I started in December, 2005 during the Winter Meetings and the first news I got to write about was Casey being traded to the Pirates for LHP Dave Williams. We know how that deal turned out for Cincinnati.

Casey, aka “The Mayor”, is about as nice as they come and I’ve gotten to talk with him a few times since he left the Reds. But for the reporters he knew when he played here, there is fond feelings.

Casey saw Hal McCoy in the hallway and engulfed him a gigantic hug with big slaps on the back. I think Hal is headed to the chiropractor in a few minutes.

In that hallway, Dr. Tim Kremchek was giving Casey some grief. Casey called Doc last night while Kremchek was at the Suns-Lakers game.

“Where’s Doc? My elbow is killing me,” Casey said. “I think I need a cortisone shot.”

“You’re retired for God’s sake,” Kremchek said.

“It’s all the pullups I’ve been doing,” Casey joked.

*The Reds had a lineup change. Scott Rolen was scratched and Juan Francisco was the replacement in the fourth spot and at third base. The Reds said nothing was wrong with Rolen.

*After two relief appearances, lefty Aroldis Chapman will make his first start on Wednesday in the split-squad afternoon game vs. the Brewers.

*Jay Bruce is off to a nice start batting .429 (6-for-14) with a homer in six games. Considering the bad year he had last season, it’s encouraging. It’s also a sign that some of the improvement he made after coming off of the DL late in the year is sticking.

“So far, what I’ve been proud of is that I’m not going up there feeling like I’m having to hit or having to swing at pitches,” Bruce said. “I’m making a decision on the pitch I’m going to swing at. It’s not so much of collision hitting this year. It’s more of having more time to make a decision. I’ve chased very few pitches. Everyone is going to chase some pitches or swing at bad pitches or strikeout. I’m trying to cut down on that as much as I can. That’s my goal.”

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Monday morning notes

If you’re wondering what’s next for Aroldis Chapman, he is scheduled to throw in the bullpen today. His next camp milestone, however, should come Thursday when he appears in the Reds intrasquad game.

The list of pitchers that are to appear is as follows:

Harang, Bailey, Chapman, Del Rosario, Smith, Ondrusek, Smit, Valiquette, Viola.

*Bill Bray, working his way back from Tommy John surgery, is up to 40 pitches off of a mound in the bullpen. He probably won’t be ready to pitch when games start. The club isn’t rushing him.

*Todd Frazier has a bat that will force his way to the Majors someday soon. But exactly where remains the big mystery. Originally a shortstop, Frazier has worked out all over the diamond this spring and has played multiple positions since he was Drafted in 2007.

“He’s an interesting guy,” manager Dusty Baker said. “He can play all over and he has a really good bat. Hopefully at some point in time, we can settle on a steady position for him.”

Besides having established veterans at the big league level at every infield spot, the Reds have prospects on their way. Chris Valaika is a potential future second baseman. Zach Cozart is a future shortstop. Juan Francisco is a third baseman in waiting and as mentioned in the previous blog post,

Yonder Alonso is waiting at first base. Chris Heisey is nearing the Majors as a corner outfielder.

“There’s somebody coming at almost every position,” Baker said. “We’re trying [Frazier] at every position in case we use his value in that way.”

With Spring Training, the daily workouts usually begats the itch for exhibition games to start. But that’s mostly the writers who want to see something different. Baker wasn’t in a rush for camp to move any quicker.

“We still need to get some work in,” he said. “we didn’t get some fundamentals in because of the weather. We have cutoffs and relays today. We want to get some fundamental stuff in there.”

*And a public congratulations to Hal McCoy, who will be joining Fox Sports Ohio to cover the Reds. He will be writing stories on line for their web site and also appearing on pre-game and postgame shows. When Hal told me last week of his plans, I was naturally excited for him.

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Rolen signs extension

The Reds and 3B Scott Rolen have restructured his contract and have extended him for two more guaranteed seasons. Rolen’s new contract will pay him $23.625 million through the 2012 season with a $5 million signing bonus that is deferred over the next three seasons without interest. He was originally expected to earn $11 million in 2010 but will now get $6 million in 2010, $6.5 million in 2011 and $6.5 million in 2012.

The move seems to provide the Reds more payroll flexibility for next season while giving the 34-year-old Rolen the extra two years of security.

Here are more contract details:

Rolen can earn the following bonuses:

$25,000 per All-Star selection
$50,000 for Gold Glove
$50,000 for Silver Slugger
$200,000 for MVP
$50,000 for Division Series MVP
$100,000 for LCS MVP
$150,000 for World Series MVP

The no-trade clause Rolen had from his old contract extends through the new one.

Rolen also gets access to a suite on the road.

Having Rolen for two extra years brings a few questions.

1. What happens with 3B prospect Juan Francisco? Does this mean Francisco is a left fielder of the future now? Could he be a trade chip?

2. Given Rolen’s age and injury history, is this a risky move adding on two more years? He will be 37 when the new contract ends.

Feel free to reflect and respond…

4:25 pm update: The Reds confirmed the signing.

“Scott’s signing is an indication of his feelings toward the club and the direction we’re taking,” Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said in a statement. “He wants to stay here, and hopefully he can end his career as a Red.”

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Bruce back, Francisco up

OF Jay Bruce’s rehab assignment at Triple-A Louisville was ended and he was activated from the disabled list on Monday.

In 10 games for the Bats, Bruce was 7-for-33 (.212) with five walks and six strikeouts. He was out briefly with a mild-strain of the groin, which he dismissed.

“It’s nothing,” said Bruce, who went 0-for-3 as the DH on Sunday. “I just didn’t want to take the chance of pulling my groin on a rehab assignment. It wasn’t that important. We took a precaution and it’s fine now.”

Louisville was eliminated from post-season play on Sunday during a 5-3 loss to Durham.

Bruce still wasn’t in manager Dusty Baker’s lineup — in part because he is 1-for-15 lifetime vs. Astros lefty starter Wandy Rodriguez.

“I just have to see him run and all that stuff,” Baker said. “That’s the main thing. He said his wrist feels fine. I just want to make sure his legs are right.”

You may remember that Bruce fractured his right wrist on July 11 at New York while attempting a sliding catch. In a sign he wasn’t afraid of re-injuring it, his right forearm had the scab from a raspberry while attempting a diving catch on the warning track at Durham.

Before going on the DL, Bruce was batting .207 with 18 home runs and 41 RBIs. He was also in a 0-for-14 skid. There were no thoughts of bagging the season even with just 19 games left and nothing to play for as a team.

“Hopefully I can finish up strong. That’s the plan,” Bruce said. “I want to help these guys win some games.”

The other notable transaction of the day — 3B prospect Juan Francisco was called up for the first time from Louisville.

In 131 games combined with Double-A Carolina and Louisville, Francisco batted .295 with 31 homers and 93 RBIs. He showed no signs of adjustment issues in AAA — he batted .359 with five homers and 17 RBIs in 22 games.

Obviously, the Reds have a third baseman for this year and next in Scott Rolen. Francisco is a potential left fielder down the road. He will spend time at instructional league this fall to learn the position he said he played just twice this season at Louisville.

“I can do it. I’m ready,” said Francisco, who speaks very little English.

Don’t expect him to see Francisco this season in left field, according to Baker.

“Like a lot of September call-ups, I’ll use him to pinch-hit and maybe play third base on days that Rolen doesn’t play,” Baker said. “That’s it for now. We’re working him out in the outfield. But you just don’t come up in the big leagues and just play outfield for the first time. [Billy Hatcher] will work him out every day and hope we see some improvement.”

Personally, I’d like to see Francisco get more than marginal amounts of play because I’d like to see how big league ready his swing is. But you also don’t want to embarrass a guy by sticking him the outfield when he doesn’t know the position well. Just being in the Majors for the first time has to be pressure enough.

Bruce had this assessment of Francisco after watching him the last couple of weeks at Louisville.

“He’s got some special pop, I’ll tell you that,” Bruce said. “He’s got a chance to be a really, really good player. It’s all about learning and making adjustments so we’ll see.”

Reds lineup:

Stubbs 8
Janish 6
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Rolen 5
Gomes 9
McDonald 7
Hanigan 2
Arroyo 1

Injury report: Besides Bruce, Laynce Nix (neck), Ramon Hernandez (knee) and Willy Taveras (quadriceps) all took early BP on the field today.

“Nix is probably ahead of the other guys. He said his neck feels a lot better,” Baker said. “Taveras is still feeling something in his leg. Ramon could be in better shape or semi-ready by the weekend. He’s not in game shape. He says he feels a lot better than before he went down. At the same time, the guy hasn’t had at-bats either. We’re trying to win games too.”

Nix is eligible to come off of the DL on Tuesday.

Unlike Bruce — there is no more rehab assignments possible for the other guys because all of the organization’s Minor League seasons are over.

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Votto: 'I'm better today.'

On Thursday morning, Dusty Baker already had Joey Votto written in the Reds lineup before he had to talk with him about the blurred vision that put him out in the middle of the first inning Wednesday. Doctors told Baker after last night’s game that he would be fine.

“We’re definitely not the same without Joey in the lineup,” Baker said.

Votto, who was diagnosed with a retinal migrane, confirmed he was good to go.

“I’m better today,” Votto said. “My head is a little sore as far as having a headache. I’m alright.”

Votto said the issue started between the 40-minute rain delay and the start of the game.

“A blurry spot popped up and it really expanded during the inning,” Votto said. “I told Dusty on the pop up that I would have to come out of the game. About 25 minutes after I came out of the game and saw the doctor, I kind of laid down and it dissipated and a heavy headache popped up.”

Votto said he’s never had this issue before.

“That’s why it was so scary,” he said. “Nearly half of the vision in my left eye was blurry. I wouldn’t say gone but I couldn’t see anything.”

As for the question on everyone’s mind, Votto didn’t believe the issue was related to the dizzy spells and anxiety that caused him trouble in May and June. He spent nearly a month on the DL while being treated for depression.

“No, I don’t think so,” Votto said. “The doctor said it could be stress related. It’s been kind of stressful lately with all the losing. I’m not going to say yes or no on that one. It was a really odd occurrence and I hope it doesn’t happen again.”

Reds lineup:

Dickerson 9
Stubbs 8
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Nix 7
Rosales 5
Janish 6
Tatum 2
Harang 1

Catcher Ramon Hernandez, who has been on the DL since July 20 because of left knee surgery, has started to hit off of a tee.

“He’s coming along pretty good,” Baker said. “The final test is squatting.”

There wasn’t a target date yet to activate Hernandez.

RF Jay Bruce, who has been out with a broken right wrist since July 11, still hasn’t started hitting yet.

At Triple-A Louisville, 3B Juan Francisco hit another home run vs Indianapolis on Wednesday. Francisco has three homers in as many games. He is hitting .421 (8-for-19) since his promotion from Double-A Carolina on Saturday (six runs, two doubles, three homers,  seven RBIs, 1.000 slugging pct.).

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Draft picks in the fold?

Word from Baseball America is that the Reds’ top two 2009 draft picks have signed. I’ve been told that deals with pitchers Mike Leake and Brad Boxberger are not officially done yet. They still have to take their physicals, which could push their actual signings back to Monday.

The deadline to sign all Draft picks is midnight ET on Monday night.

Baseball America reported that Leake, the eighth overall pick and a right-handed starting pitcher, will receive a $2.27 million bonus. Boxberger, a right-handed pitcher who was No. 43 overall as a supplemental first-rounder signed for $857,000.

LATE UPDATE: MLB.com has confirmed the agreement to a deal. Both players are in Cincinnati to take their physicals on Monday.

Leake was 16-1 with a 1.71 ERA, 24 walks and 162 strikeouts in 142 innings over 19 games this season for Arizona State.  The bonus was over the MLB slot recommendation of $2.043 million.

This season in 14 starts for the Univ. of Southern California, Boxberger was 6-3 with a 3.16 ERA, 50 walks and 99 strikeouts.

Third baseman and prospect Juan Francisco is one step closer to the big leagues. Francisco was promoted and will be with Triple-A Louisville Saturday night. He took Kevin Barker’s spot after Barker was called up by the Reds.

In 109 games for Double-A Carolina this season, Francisco batted .281 with 22 homers, 74 RBIs and 64 runs scored (26 doubles, .501 slugging percentage.). He is first in the Southern League in homers, tied for first in RBIs, second in hits and extra base hits.

As for the big league team, injured third baseman Scott Rolen (concussion) was on the field today manning first base while infielders took groundballs. Rolen was scheduled to hit soft tosses in the cage Saturday and do some running on Sunday. If he’s not bothered by more headaches, he could begin to take batting practice.

Nothing is physically wrong with outfielder Wladimir Balentien, manager Dusty Baker said. Balentien is batting .346 since being dealt to Cincinnati but wasn’t starting Saturday for the third-straight game.

“He’s playing [Sunday]. I can’t play everybody,” Baker said. “He was supposed to play [Friday] but Gomes had three home runs [Thursday]. I talked to him. I don’t have to tell anybody anything. As a former player, you wonder why you’re not playing. You’d like to know why.”

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Reds over Phillies, 10-3

Some of the highlights from Friday’s 10-3 Reds win over the Phillies:

  • Bronson Arroyo didn’t have a smooth top of the first inning — giving up two doubles and a walk. Raul Ibanez’s double drove in the game’s first run. Arroyo appeared to be just trying to locate strikes in the first inning. In the second inning, Arroyo seemed to throw a little harder with some more movement.
  • Arroyo’s final line: 2 IP, 1 ER, 2H, 1 BB, 0 K 

“The first inning, you always feel like an alien out there for the first one – crazy,” Arroyo said. “Honestly, you don’t know where any pitches are going. You have no idea if you’ll bounce a changeup up there or paint it right on the black. In the second inning, I felt a little better. You start feeling like you’re in the pocket a little more.

“It was actually a good first inning. I will take that first inning over an eight-pitch inning based on the fact you need some pounding on the arm. It’s impossible to get it any other way than out there with the adrenaline going. I will be a little sore tomorrow, which is nice.”

“I was trying to throw strikes, that’s it,” Arroyo continued. “Regardless of where they hit it, you just try to get it over the dish. You don’t want to go out there, no matter how established you are in the game, and go 3-1 and walk a bunch of guys. If they’re hitting it around the yard, at least you’re throwing it over the plate. It might not be that way during the season.”

 

  • Lefty Matt Maloney followed Arroyo and I missed much of it. His line was two innings with two earned runs and three hits allowed. Maloney gave up Pablo Ozuna’s leadoff homer in the fourth.
  • Daryl Thompson followed and pitched two scoreless innings with one hit. Thompson, who is battling for the fifth spot, looked pretty sharp.

 

  • Offensively, the Reds jumped Phillies starter Andrew Carpenter, who faced six batters without recording an out in the first inning before getting yanked. Ten Reds batted in the inning. 
  • Joey Votto was 2-for-2 with a first-inning RBI single and a second-inning solo homer the opposite way to the left field corner.
  • It was also a good game for left field candidate Jonny Gomes, who was 2-for-3 with two doubles and a RBI.

 

  • Late left field replacement Darnell McDonald made a nice diving play towards the line to end the game. It was the play of the game.

 

  • It was a well-played game overall for the Reds, which collected 10 hits and made no errors.

“We got some good pitching today, really good pitching,” manager Dusty Baker said. “And we got some timely hitting and played good defense.”

 

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