Results tagged ‘ Justin Lehr ’

T-minus two weeks, and counting

In exactly two weeks on Feb. 16, Reds pitchers and catchers have their report date to Spring Training and Goodyear, Ariz. They begin working out that same day. In many ways, this off-season flew by quickly. (Maybe not to you, however, but definitely to me).

Most of the time in the current era, players do not wait until the report dates to get started. Virtually all have been working out on their own at home since November or December and some pitchers start a throwing program around the holidays. Many of them will be early arrivals to the spring complex.

I was told that Justin Lehr and Chad Reineke are already on site throwing bullpen sessions. Dontrelle Willis has been working much of the winter with pitching coach Bryan Price near their homes in Scottsdale but moved over to Goodyear last week for drills and to get comfortable in the Reds bullpens.

Matt Maloney, Daniel Ray Herrera, Sam LeCure and Jared Burton are planning on arriving this week. Several more could be on the ground by next week. Price said he would be at the camp to work with the pitchers.

“I think it’s good to be there to provide some of the essentials of coaching,” Price said. “It’d be hard for me to be sitting at home knowing guys are there working out five days a week.”

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Non-roster invites to Goodyear

This is a bit delayed, I apologize, but I was off the grid at a Reds Caravan stop in Vevay, Indiana and had no internet access. I will have a story about that stop later today on

But here is the list of Reds non-roster invites to Spring Training:

RHP Scott Carroll, RHP Jerry Gil, LHP Jeremy Horst, LHP Donnie Joseph, RHP Matt Klinker, RHP Justin Lehr, RHP Chad Reineke, LHP Dontrelle Willis, C Chris Denove, C Devin Mesoraco, C Corky Miller, OF Danny Dorn, OF Jeremy Hermida and OF Dave Sappelt.

There are no stunners on this list. The Reds signed Willis and Hermida a while back and the other guys were in the organization already.

*Lehr had Tommy John surgery and missed most of last season.

*Gil was previously in Reds camp a few years ago as an infielder. He converted to pitching a couple of seasons back and this will be his first time in big league camp as a pitcher.

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Francisco tried at 1B

The Reds have tried to move prospect Juan Francisco to positions other than his natural third base spot. First it was left field on March 16 and today in the fifth inning, Francisco appeared at first base for the first time this spring.

Total number of balls hit Francisco’s way in the opportunities: zero. He did receive the ball a few times on throws to first.

Francisco, who never played first base in the Minors, is trying to land one of the extra spots on the Reds bench. He was 0-for-2 and struck out in the eighth while swinging way in front of a breaking pitch.

“We’re trying to move him around and get him acclimated just in case,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “We still have plenty of outfielders here. Until we make a move, we’ll see. We’re just weighing as many options as we can.”

In 18 games, Francisco is batting .300 (12-for-40) with two homers and five RBIs.

*It was a rough day of pitching during an 8-1 loss to the Cubs, which slugged three home runs. Three pitchers trying to nab one of the final bullpen spots particularly stumbled.

*Carlos Fisher started and gave up five hits and three runs in 1 2/3 innings, including Marlon Byrd’s two-run shot in the Cubs’ first inning. In the seventh, Kip Wells gave up two runs and two hits, hit a batter and walked in a run with the bases loaded. In the eighth, Matt Maloney gave up three hits and three runs, including two homers.

“We got beat up pretty good today,” Baker said.

*Justin Lehr had two very strong scoreless innings with no hits, one walk and three strikeouts.

“He looked pretty good. He had them off-speed, showed good control,” Baker said.

Lehr’s  chances of making the rotation are likely kaput and he’s still trying to make the bullpen. He hasn’t disappointed, however, with a 3.14 ERA in seven games, including one start. He’s walked five and struck out five.

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No walks make manager happy

At least in the Reds-Cubs portion of split-squad games Sunday, the 1-1 tie provided one of Cincinnati’s best pitched games all season.

Justin Lehr finally got a start and a chance to stretch out and didn’t disappoint. Lehr’s line was one earned run on five hits with no walks and one strikeouts over four innings.

“Lehr was only so supposed to go three but his pitch count was so low, that’s why we had him go another inning,” manager Dusty Baker said.

*Arthur Rhodes continued his stellar spring with one scoreless inning, one hit and three strikeouts. Rhodes has four scoreless innings in four games and just two hits and one walk.

*Francisco Cordero followed with two scoreless innings. He allowed one hit and struck out three. He’s worked seven scoreless innings this spring.

*Kip Wells also turned in his best outing of spring with three scoreless innings, one hit and three strikeouts.

The common thread here — no walks were allowed by any Reds pitchers vs. the Cubs today.

“That’s what Bryan [Price] has been trying to stress to these guys about trying to get strike one and make them earn it,” Baker said. “No free passes.”

*Not much offense to speak of but Laynce Nix tattooed an opposite field home run to left field on a 1-1 count with two outs in the second inning. There was no doubt it was going out off of the bat.

“That’s one of the best balls I’ve seen him hit to the opposite field,” Baker said. “He’s been working on driving the ball. We knew he could drive it this way [to right field] but it was the first time I’ve seen really drive it. He hits a lot of doubles over there. That opposite field home run, he busted that ball.”

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Fifth starter race still crowded

The fifth starter competition still has seven contenders left — Aroldis Chapman, Matt Maloney, Micah Owings, Justin Lehr, Kip Wells, Travis Wood and Mike Leake. Surprisingly, no one besides Mike Lincoln has been told they are out — yet.

“It’s going to go down to the wire,” said Maloney, who is scheduled for work out of the bullpen vs. Seattle. “We have a bunch of good guys competing for it. Whoever gets it is going to be very deserving of it. They’re going to help the team win and that’s the main thing they’re looking for. It’s a good competition and it’s going to bring out the best in all of the guys. I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes.”

*It’s possible that Maloney could wind up with a different role than he planned on.

“We haven’t decided on Maloney yet. Would he be better in the bullpen or is he still in the running yet?” manager Dusty Baker said on Friday. “We’re trying to decide that. Lehr, we’re trying to get him more extended time here.”

“I told them I’m willing to do whatever it takes to pitch at the big league level,” Maloney said. “I think they know I’m willing to do it.”

*Innings are getting more precious, especially starting next week.

On Saturday — Travis Wood gets his first start and is slated for four innings. Mike Leake follows with three innings.

On Sunday — Justin Lehr will get his first start and go three innings vs. the Cubs. Johnny Cueto will get five innings in the other split-squad game at the A’s.

Monday — Arroyo gets 5 innings, Chapman 4. Owings will throw 4 inn in a minor league game.

Tuesday —  OFF

Weds — Bailey goes 5 inn

Thur — Harang gets 6 inn

Friday — Leake gets his first start and goes four. Wood follows with four.

After he pitches tonight, Maloney is next slated to get just two innings on Thursday. If he was going to start, you’d think he’d be getting more stretched out by now.

*The starting lineup, with the exception of Hanigan, could be very close to what we see on Opening Day. However, there is locks in center field and left field yet.

“I’m trying to get them together at the same time – Stubbs, Jay [Bruce] and Gomes – so they can get a cohesive outfield going just like our infield, defensively,” Baker said. “At this point, Stubbs has come along better but so far, [Chris] Dickerson has outplayed Stubbs. We have a couple of weeks to go.”

*Gomes has had a fabulous spring to this point, entering the night batting .333 (9-for-27) with three homers and nine RBIs. Baker was asked if Gomes could be someone that could be the left fielder against both left-handed and right-handed pitching.

“We’ll see,” Baker said. “I have to find a way to keep guys sharp and play them. You have to produce too. Not taking anything away from Jonny, but breaking balls aren’t breaking quite the same here. I told you that before we got out here. Sometimes it’s a little harder to judge overall. Everybody knows Jonny can hit that fastball.”

*Carlos Fisher hasn’t pitched in a week because of a sore right elbow but things appear to be improving.

“He said he’s feeling good. I talked to him today,” Baker said.

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Sunday morning notes

Good Sunday morning, although I realize it’s already afternoon in Cincinnati at least. While everyone else did the “spring forward” thing, Arizona doesn’t observe daylight savings. So now we are three hours behind on Pacific time instead of two hours back on Mountain time.

This will be the start of a hectic week in Reds camp. There is a B game this morning vs. the Indians here at the complex before the regular 1:05 p.m. “A” game against the White Sox. Another round of cuts are looming after Wednesday’s doubleheader, which loom large for many players trying to make the team.

“It’s a tough week,” manager Dusty Baker said. “Tucson [Tuesday], double header [Wednesday], day game right after the double header [Thursday], a night game [Friday] and then a day game after that. And then a split-squad right after that. Between the 16th and 21st is about as close to season-reality as there is.”

Other notes from the morning:

*Non-roster infielder Chris Burke is in the ‘B’ game lineup today. Burke has been out since near the start of camp with a fractured knuckle on his right ring finger. To make the club, Burke essentially has to condense his entire camp into three weeks.

“It is tougher, no doubt about it,” Burke said. “It’s my reality. I have to try and do the best with it, try to get caught up and try to play well.”

*There was talk earlier in camp of trying 1B Yonder Alonso in positions other than his natural one. But there has been little mention of it lately and Alonso has played only first base in games.

“I’ve only got so many spots,” Baker said. “We have 60 guys. The other spots that he’s going to go to is probably when he goes to minor league camp. He’s been working out in left field. I’m having a tough enough time with all of these players until I make some cuts to get guys time.”

*Baker hopes to schedule more ‘B’ games to give fifth starter contenders more innings. Two of them are working in the ‘A’ game. Matt Maloney is starting and Justin Lehr is scheduled to get one inning.

*For the time being, the Reds are still going to use the DH to hit for their pitchers. Aroldis Chapman will need all the work he can get. He hasn’t had to hit since he was 16 since Cuba used a DH in international play. Chapman is learning how to bunt.

“We’re working with him every day,” Baker said “This dude is working his butt off.”

*SS Paul Janish has two big league homers in 336 at-bats so he definitely enjoyed hitting a home run in the fifth inning against the Cubs on Saturday. Power hitter Juan Francisco crushed two homers in the game. I playfully asked Janish if there was a new “Bash Brothers” combo on the left side of the infield.

“I got back into the dugout and said ‘me and Francisco, we’re competing for the most power in camp,” Janish said.

*It might be of subtle notice but Reds minor leaguers are no longer required to wear their socks high over their pants. Being clean shaven is not mandatory anymore either. That rule extended to coaches too. Triple-A Louisville manager Rick Sweet is wasting no time growing a mustache.

Finally, here are Reds lineups:

‘B’ game

Anderson 8
Janish 6
Nix 7
Francisco 5
Alonso 3
Burke 4
Heisey 9
Mesoraco DH
Castillo 2

Harang 1

‘A’ game

Stubbs 8
Cabrera 6
Votto 3
Phillips DH
Rolen 5
Bruce 9
Gomes 7
Hernandez 2
Miles 4

Maloney 1

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Lehr for Maloney on Friday

RHP Justin Lehr will make the start for the Reds on Friday vs. the Pirates instead of LHP Matt Maloney, who has a blister on his middle finger. It’s the same finger that blistered on Maloney earlier this month in Colorado.

“The doctor today recommended that he not pitch for fear it could get worse,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “It’s something that we don’t want to become chronic.”

Lehr wasn’t expecting to get another start before the end of the season….surprise.

“I was part relieved to think I wasn’t going to pitch and part excited now to get another shot to win my sixth game,” Lehr said. “They told me to stay ready just in case and be ready to pitch. It happened a lot quicker than I thought.”

That means Maloney finished the season 2-4 with a 4.87 ERA. Over his final three starts, he was 2-1 with a 2.65 ERA. Especially since he’s the only lefty starter on the 40-man roster, you’d have to think he’s made himself a candidate for the rotation’s fifth spot in 2010. Am I wrong?

Reds lineup:

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

OF Chris Dickerson was activated from the DL, where he had been since Aug. 25 because of a severely sprained ankle. Dickerson’s return means the Reds have eight outfielders on the active roster.

That’s some kind of crowd.

“It’s OK,” Baker said. “It’s better than when I had too few at one time. I remember when my hands were tied because we were operating shorthanded for a third of the season.”

The active roster has 37 players overall. I don’t remember a time when it’s been that loaded since I’ve been covering the team.

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Hanigan back, rotation change

The Reds made catcher Ryan Hanigan’s activation from the disabled list official on Wednesday. However, Hanigan wasn’t in the Reds starting lineup — even with favorite batterymate Bronson Arroyo on the mound. Corky Miller is getting the start.

“He flew all day to get here,” said Dusty Baker, who will start Hanigan on Thursday. “And Miller worked well with Bronson the last couple of times too.”

Hanigan had a solid five-game rehab assignment at Triple-A Louisville, batting .389 (7-for-18) with two doubles, two RBIs and four runs scored. He said there were no symptoms from the concussion he suffered on Aug. 23 when he caught a foul ball off of his helmet.

“I was fortunate that it wasn’t real serious,” Hanigan said. “It was a milder concussion. I feel fine. I got some hits. [I had] a couple of days of working out and feeling fresh and trying to find my timing. I swung the bat alright. Hopefully, it will translate up here.”

The only thing Hanigan didn’t get was a foul tip off of the mask.

“Hopefully they will hit at an angle,” Hanigan said. “I think that was more of a freakish thing. Who knows why that happened. I’ve taken a million balls off of the mask like that. Just the way it hit and the fact that the mask broke is what combined for the concussion.”

Reds lineup:

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

RHP Justin Lehr had his bullpen session and had no trouble with the strained groin that caused him to miss a start. The Reds have changed their rotation for the Cubs series. Lehr will start on Friday, Johnny Cueto will go on Saturday and Homer Bailey will pitch on Sunday.

“We’d rather have Cueto pitch Saturday to get an extra day of rest,” Baker said.

LHP Daniel Herrera leads the Reds staff with 62 appearances entering Wednesday. His professional high was 64 games, set last season between Double-A, Triple-A and the Majors. In his last eight appearances, Herrera has a 7.04 ERA.

“He’s a little worn.,” Baker said. “He is still doing well against lefties. He just has to figure out how to make the adjustment against righties. Those guys have hit him hard. But this is a period that you have to get through. You have to get through uncharted waters and places that you haven’t been through before in order to know how to do it when you get back there, which is next year.”

In the eighth inning on Tuesday, Herrera gave up a leadoff double to right-handed pinch-hitter Ryan Spilborghs, who later scored on a sac fly.

“I still feel really strong,” Herrera said. “I think I’m still throwing some pretty quality innings and getting some outs. As far as health goes, my arm feels really good. I might be a little fatigued at this point, but so is everybody else. It will be good to finish the year strong. … They hit me a little bit, obviously last night.”

LHP Matt Maloney doesn’t have a starting assignment yet after he came out of Tuesday’s game with a blister on his left middle finger. It derailed the best start of his big league career after five innings.

“He came in today to apologize,” Baker said. “I said you don’t have to apologize. He wanted to keep pitching so we could win. It just got to the point where he couldn’t pitch anymore without tearing it. If he tears it, he’s probably through for the year.”

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Digging the 6:40 start

Thirty minutes earlier than usual doesn’t sound like much but the 6:40 p.m. (MT) start for Tuesday and Wednesday’s Reds-Rockies games is pretty cool in my book. Colorado has been doing it for a few years now. As far as I know, only the Rockies and Diamondbacks start weeknight games at 6:40 p.m. local time.

I’d love to see the Reds experiment with that. Games that start earlier could often mean an earlier conclusion. That wouldn’t hurt fans that have school or work the next morning. Plus for downtown folks, it’s less idle time between the end of the work day and first pitch. On the negative side, people would have less time to get home from work (especially in the suburbs), scoop up the family and get down to GABP.

Would you want to see a 6:40 p.m. start be a regular thing at GABP? Or, would you prefer something later? The Braves start their games at 7:35 p.m. Or — do you like it just the way it is?

Put me down for 6:40 starts. I like it.

Reds lineup

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

News of the day:

Jay Bruce likely won’t be back before the end of the road trip in Chicago this weekend. The plan is to have Bruce be with Louisville for the entire first round of the best-of-five International League playoffs.

Dusty Baker talked with Bruce on the phone today.

“He said he was swinging better,” Baker said. “He stole a couple of bases. His legs were feeling fine. His wrist was a little tight in the beginning but once it loosens up, it’s fine. Last night he said he faced some guy throwing 95-96 mph. The first at-bat, he was a little bit tardy and then he caught up and got a base hit. He said that was the first real high octane fastball test that he had.”

All expectations are that Ryan Hanigan will be off of the DL on Wednesday. Even though Louisville could use a catcher, the plan is to carry three up here with Hanigan, Corky Miller and Craig Tatum.

Miller, by the way, has done a bang-up job since he’s been up. The pitching staff has a 7-2 record and a 2.66 ERA when he catches.

Kip Wells will be the Reds starter on Thursday vs. Colorado. The Reds had left it TBA because they were watching the status of Justin Lehr, who missed a turn in the rotation with a strained groin.

Lehr is scheduled to throw off of a mound on Wednesday. If all goes well, he could start this weekend vs. the Cubs. Lehr said he wasn’t in pain but obviously the 30-40 pitch session here will be a test.

“I haven’t got on a mound yet but it was the only place where I felt it, or it at least got my attention,” Lehr said.

Pitcher Micah Owings, who suffered a perforated eardrum when he was beaned on Sunday, will rejoin the team in Chicago and workout on Friday. He was cleared to fly today.

Former Reds pitcher Matt Belisle was among four September call-ups made today by the Rockies. He’s been up with Colorado previously this season.

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Phillips' wrist, Votto sits

After Monday’s Game 2 victory where he went 3-for-4 with a home run, Brandon Phillips offered up the information, unsolicited, that he had a fractured left wrist, stemming from when he was hit by a pitch on Aug. 15. Phillips said it was a small hairline fracture, in fact.

“I’m playing with a fractured wrist that people don’t even know about,” Phillips said last night. “I’m here just grinding it out and finishing the season.”

On Tuesday, Phillips asked the reporters to gather around him in the clubhouse. This time, he recanted what he said on Monday — probably at the request of the medical staff who reported from the start that he had a deep bone bruise.

“My wrist is not broken. I didn’t mean to say broken,” Phillips said. “I know I didn’t say ‘broken.’ I said ‘fracture.’ I didn’t know ‘fracture’ and ‘broken’ meant the same thing. My wrist feels like it’s fractured. Yeah. That right there.

“The last time I took an X-ray, it said there’s nothing broke. Broken and fractured are the same thing. It feels like it’s broken, fractured, or broken — it’s the same thing. But my wrist really does bother me.”

All I can say is that was a weird moment. Broken and fracture might mean the same thing but deep bone bruise and fracture does not.

Let’s just move on….

Reds lineup:

Stubbs 8
Janish 6
Phillips 4
Barker 1B
Rolen 3B
Gomes RF
Balentien LF
Tatum 2
Lehr 1

Joey Votto was given a break. Votto is mired a career-high tying 0-for-15 slump. He was also 0-for-15 in the first part of August.

“I think Joey needs it and deserves it,” manager Dusty Baker said. “I could tell his concentration is not quite there. He has a very high level of concentration. I can tell he’s frustrated. He doesn’t get angry but he’s been getting angry lately.”

Jay Bruce, who really did have a fractured wrist, took batting practice on the field for the first time on Tuesday and reported that all went well. It’s likely that Bruce will go to Triple-A Louisville this weekend for a rehab assignment.

“I have no complaints. I felt good. I felt strong,” Bruce said. “It’s all about repeating now. It’s all about doing it again day after day with no pain or discomfort.”

Catcher Ryan Hanigan (concussion) could also be headed to Louisville with Bruce for his own rehab assignment. Both Hanigan and Bruce would be eligible to participate in Triple-A postseason play, which Louisville begins on Sept. 9.

Catcher Ramon Hernandez is also making progress, just not as fast as he would like. Hernandez has been on the DL since July 20 because of left knee surgery. He tried squatting today and expected to try blocking balls tomorrow. He’s also been hitting off of a tee and running.

Hernandez hoped to be back with the team by the middle of September.

“It’s been really hard for me,” Hernandez said. “Right now it’s better but two weeks ago was when I should be feeling like this. I’m disappointed because I didn’t recover that quick. I feel like if I don’t play in September, that I will let a lot of people down.”

The International League announced today that Justin Lehr was the most valuable pitcher and Rick Sweet was back-to-back winner of Manager of the Year.

If you do the USA Today crossword puzzle today, I know the answer to 42 across. It says “Scott, who plays third.” The answer is Scott Rolen.

“You know you made it when,” Corky Miller wrote on a copy of the puzzle page before he taped it to Rolen’s locker.

Before Tuesday’s game, the Reds were planning to honor Erich Kunzel, the longtime Cincinnati Pops conductor who died today at age 74. Kunzel was a huge Reds fan, and co-wrote a song called “Hooray for the Cincinnati Reds” that made its debut on May 19, 1997 at Riverfront Stadium.

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