Results tagged ‘ Kevin Barker ’

Owings' eardrum perforated

Pitcher Micah Owings was lucky. He avoided a concussion when he was drilled by a 92 mph fastball on Sunday in Atlanta. But he did suffer a perforated eardrum and is unable to fly.

A CT scan was negative for a concussion. Owings will see a ear, nose and throat doctor on Tuesday in Atlanta. It’s unlikely that he will be able to rejoin the Reds while in Colorado for four games.

“We are shooting for Chicago [on Friday],” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “He told me he’d drive to Chicago if he had too.”

In the 12th inning of a 4-2 win over the Braves, Owings was batting with the bases loaded when he was hit by a 92-mph fastball from right-hander Kenshin Kawakami. Owings spent several moments on the ground but never lost consciousness. He had a gash around his ear that required five stitches.

“He wanted it known that Kawakami called him after the game to see how he was doing,” Baker said. “[Kawakami] was pretty shook up.”

Owings lives in Gainesville, Ga., so he can at least be at home with his family while waiting to be cleared to fly and return to the team.

Speaking of beanings, there is a new helmet available from Rawlings to players. Called the S-100, it’s supposed to withstand 100 mph fastballs and offer better protection. However, it’s a bigger and more unwieldy helmet.

Scott Rolen, who was beaned on Aug. 2 and diagnosed with a concussion that sent him to the DL, said he would pass on wearing the new helmet.


Thumbnail image for wright.jpg“I feel like I’m OK right now,” Rolen said. “We’re kind of creatures of habit. I’m not saying that safety isn’t a priority. Of course it is. But it’s a big change in a batting helmet, not a small change. I think the day that MLB mandates it is the day everybody wears it.”

The new helmet will be required in the minor leagues next season. David Wright (pictured, left), who also suffered a concussion from a beaning last month, tried the new helmet for two days but went back to his old one.

“A lot of guys talked about how big it was. I tried it on. It’s large,” Rolen said.

Reds lineup:

Stubbs 8
Janish 6
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Rolen 5
Gomes 7
McDonald 9
Miller 2
Bailey 1
From the Elias Sports Bureau: Drew Stubbs leads the Reds in hits (23, tied with Brandon Phillips), runs (12) and home runs (five) since making his Major League debut on August 19.

The latest of Reds players to take the lineup card to home plate was Kevin Barker on Monday vs. Colorado. Edinson Volquez, Jay Bruce and Willy Taveras have also done it recently. The Reds won five in a row when Bruce did it.

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McDonald improves, roster moves

I remember when journeyman minor leaguer Darnell McDonald was up here to start the season, fans were far from pleased. First, McDonald made the 25-man roster over the more popular Jonny Gomes. He even started on Opening Day because Willy Taveras was out. Then he struggled mightily and there was an awful lot of attention paid to the 25th man on the roster.

McDonald was designated for assignment on May 22 after he batted .175. But if you’re a 30-year-old former No. 1 draft pick that spent 11 years in the minors, you know something about resiliency. He batted .314 for Triple-A Louisville and was brought back up last week.

“He’s played very well,” manager Dusty Baker said. “I saw the talent level there. It’s just a matter of putting too much pressure on himself when he was here the first time and trying to stay. He went down and played, got his stroke and everything together and really contributed.”

McDonald has featured prominent in several games. In a 13-inning game at Milwaukee, he forced extras by throwing out Ryan Braun at the plate from left field. The next day, he hit the game-winning double over Braun’s head in the 10th inning. McDonald hit a two-run homer — the first of his career — in Sunday’s loss and in Game 1 of Monday’s doubleheader with the Pirates, he scored the winning run a wild pitch.

“When you play to try to be perfect and not make mistakes, you make more mistakes,” McDonald said. “Now I want to play loose and have fun. If you make a mistake playing aggressive, that’s fine.”

Roster moves:

After Game 1, the Reds made three transactions. Starter Johnny Cueto was activated from the DL and RHP Ramon Ramirez and 1B Kevin Barker were recalled from Triple-A Louisville. Laynce Nix was placed on the DL with a bulging disc in his neck. RHP Carlos Fisher was optioned to Class-A Sarasota and LHP Matt Maloney was optioned to Double-A Carolina.

The moves were not extra-harsh demotions for Fisher and Maloney. Because Triple-A Louisville is in the playoffs, any player sent down there would have to wait 10 days before returning. Carolina’s season ends on Sept. 7 and Sarasota’s ends on the Sept. 6. Both guys can come right back after that but will pitch for their teams in the interim.

It will be interesting to see how Cueto does. With the Reds situation, I think he might have been better off resting the rest of the season. I trust the opinion of the medical staff but why risk injuring Cueto’s tired arm (only 136 2/3 innings) when there is no pennant race at stake? Between last season (174 innings), winter ball and the WBC — he’s already had a lot.

Game 2 Lineup:

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


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Nix's neck not good

Outfielder Laynce Nix has been conspicuous in his absence the last few days. An MRI taken on Friday revealed he has a bulging disc pushing against his spine.

“I’ll be fine in a couple of days. I hope to play by Monday or Tuesday,” Nix said. “I had collision three years ago, which is what it stemmed from. I never had an MRI on it until yesterday. It revealed some minor damage but nothing we can’t take care of.”

Reds lineup:

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

To make room for LHP Matt Maloney’s recall to start today’s game, 1B Kevin Barker was optioned to Triple-A Louisville. Barker batted .364 (4-for-11) in nine games since his Aug. 14 promotion.

“He did a good job for us pinch-hitting,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “There are a couple of other guys here with more versatility. I talked to [general manager] Walt [Jocketty] and we’ll get him back after the [Triple-A] playoffs unless someone gets hurt or doesn’t respond.”

2B Brandon Phillips is hitting .207 (12-for-58) in his last 15 games entering Saturday. He has been bothered by a sore wrist that was hit by a pitch on Aug. 20, but Baker wasn’t offering any excuses.

“It’s almost September,” he said. “Everybody is bothered by something in September. If you’re not bothered by something this time of year, you haven’t been playing very much.”

Closer Francisco Cordero was considered unavailable on Saturday. Cordero had pitched the last four days in a row and in the last five games over six days. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Cordero pitched four-straight days for the first time since July 3-6, 2008. He has pitched in five consecutive games for the first time since he pitched in a career-high six straight games from May 4-9, 2007.

To handle the ninth, Arthur Rhodes, Nick Masset and Jared Burton were considered available on a situational basis.

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Gonzalez traded to Boston

Gonzo is the latest Reds veteran to have gone elsewhere.

SS Alex Gonzalez cleared waivers on Friday and was traded to the Red Sox for Class A Minor League shortstop Kris Negron. Cincinnati also sent cash to Boston in the deal.

“The Red Sox had interest in Gonzo and have had problems at shortstop,” Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. “We viewed this as an opportunity for him to play for a contender in a possible playoff situation.”

This move isn’t too stunning, to say the least. Gonzalez was in the final guaranteed year of his contract and the Reds held a $6 million option for 2010 with a $500,000 buyout. It always seemed unlikely the club would have picked that up.

In 68 games this season during a woeful season production-wise, Gonzalez batted .210 with three home runs and 26 RBIs. His on-base percentage was .258.

When you look at the return against the three-year, $14 million contract he signed with the Reds in the 2006-07 off-season, and Gonzalez was a bust. He batted .248 over his tenure and missed all of 2008 with a knee fracture. He missed a month this season because of elbow surgery. His defense is superlative but I still don’t think it added up to a successful run in Cincinnati.

What now?

Paul Janish will get the bulk of playing time at shortstop. Adam Rosales could also play there once Scott Rolen returns from the DL to play third base.  

“I didn’t find out until I got to the yard,” Janish said about the trade. “Actually I stopped to sign autographs right before I got into the parking lot and one of the guys out there told me. I didn’t know. When I got in here, I found out. It’s bittersweet. Alex is a great dude but obviously this is a huge opportunity for me so I’m excited.”

Not Chris Valaika or Todd Frazier — both will remain in the minors for now.

“We think they should stay down and keep developing,” Jocketty said.

First baseman Kevin Barker was called up from Triple-A Louisville to take Gonzalez’s roster spot. Barker will be a left-handed bat off of the bench.

In 111 games for Class A Salem, Negron batted .264 with three home runs and 34 RBIs. The Reds will assign him to Class A Sarasota.

“We got a young player back that we like,” Jocketty said. “He has average-to-better tools in every category. We’ll see what happens.”

Since July 31, the Reds have dealt Jerry Hairston Jr., Edwin Encarnacion, David Weathers and now — Gonzalez.

Keep an eye on the Bill Hall situation with the Brewers. I’ve learned that the Reds have some interest. Hall was designated for assignment earlier this week but has yet to clear waivers. Jocketty did not want to comment on Hall, who is owed $11 million still by the Brewers. It’s likely his next team could pick him up for the league minimum.

Final score: Twins 10, Reds 4

For starter Micah Owings, it was a decent first time on the mound for the Reds. Owings threw three scoreless innings with two hits, no walks and two strikeouts. Only two balls were solidly hit — Brendan Harris’ double to the center field wall in the first inning and a tailing liner to center field that Willy Taveras where made a nice diving catch in the third.

Owings mostly threw fastballs in the first two innings and kept the ball down pretty well. By the third, he started mixing it up. Considering it was the first game action he had seen since August when he was shut down with a sore shoulder, Owings was pleased.

“Initially warming up during pre-game stuff, you start thinking about how long it’s been since I’ve been out there,” Owings said. “It was nice to get back out there and compete. Everything felt pretty good. For the first time out, I was pretty happy. The arm felt good, most important.”

It wasn’t a smooth first outing for Francisco Cordero, who gave up two earned runs and four hits (including two infield singles) in the fourth inning. Brian Buscher’s two-run home run to right field was the big hit off Cordero. I happened to miss the whole inning because I was in the clubhouse talking to Owings.

After Cordero, David Weathers worked a perfect fifth inning. In the sixth, Arthur Rhodes gave up two earned runs on three hits with a walk and a strikeout in the sixth.

A four-run seventh got the Reds on the scoreboard. Danny Richar lined a single and scored on Juan Francisco’s RBI single to left field. Craig Tatum added a RBI single to left field and Kevin Barker hit a two-run double to right field.

For those itching to get Joey Votto moved to left field to make room for Yonder Alonso, it wasn’t an easy day for the kid at first base. Alonso missed a scoop in the dirt in the seventh and committed a run-scoring E3 on Luke Hughes’ slow, slow roller up the first base line in the eighth. That would have been the third out. The next batter, Brock Petersen, hit a grand slam to right field. So that was five unearned runs off pitcher Ramon Ramirez that inning.

“Yonder was a little out of control and too aggressive,” manager Dusty Baker said. “He comes in early every morning and works on his defense. He’s getting a lot better.”




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.


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