Results tagged ‘ Kip Wells ’

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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Lincoln out of 5th spot race

No shock here — Mike Lincoln is out of the fifth spot battle. Manager Dusty Baker told Lincoln this morning that he is going back to the bullpen. Lincoln posted a 11.37 ERA in his three starts.

“We’re starting to narrow it down,” Baker said. “We’re going back to have some meetings and try and determine who is who. It’ll probably go down to the wire, even if we have to use minor league games or ‘B’ games and things like that. As long as we get these guys their innings for endurance sake.”

That leaves Matt Maloney, Micah Owings Travis Wood, Justin Lehr, Kip Wells and of course Aroldis Chapman in the fifth starter race. 2009 first-round pick Mike Leake has been second-best behind Chapman but has no Minor League experience at all. Wells gave up four runs and four hits in two innings and didn’t help his remote chances. Justin Lehr has gotten no starts yet and no more than two innings of work. He worked two scoreless today.

In his latest outing (and first start), Chapman gave one hit and one run on a leadoff homer by Rickie Weeks with one walk and five strikeouts. Read about the start here.

Here is the breakdown of the battle:

Leake: 0.00 ERA, five scoreless innings and six strikeouts.
Wood: 1.29 ERA, five walks and six strikeouts.

Owings: 9.00 ERA in two games but is pitching vs. Indians tonight.

Lehr: 4.26 ERA through 4 games
Maloney: 6.75 ERA through 3 games, including one start, with 4 BB and five Ks.
Wells: 6.00 ERA in four games.
Chapman: 1.29 ERA, two walks and 10 strikeouts.

Based on what we’ve seen so far, Chapman and Wood should have the best chances. 

Who do you like? I don’t do the “if the season started today” stuff because it doesn’t start today. Anything can happen between now and April 5, but it’s getting harder for me to imagine that Chapman doesn’t get the spot if he keeps this up.

 

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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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Bruce getting closer

RF Jay Bruce seemed like a pretty happy dude this morning. After he got the all-clear from Dr. Tim Kremchek following his Friday exam, Bruce was allowed to pick up a bat and start swinging again.

“I hit soft tosses with my bat,” Bruce said. “If everything feels good [Monday], I will hit off of a pitching machine and then BP. We’ll see how it all progresses and go from there. It’s coming along great though.”

There is still no ETA for a return to the lineup. Bruce hasn’t played since he fractured his right wrist on July 11 in New York. He aims to come back some time next month. Still in question is whether he’d be able to get out on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Louisville before their season ends.

Speaking of Louisville, the Bats clinched their second consecutive International League West Division championship. They will play either Durham or Gwinnett in the opening round of the Governor’s Cup playoffs on Sept 9.

On the other end of the injury spectrum, OF Chris Dickerson was one-crutching it across the clubhouse. Dickerson wasn’t wearing his protective boot for his severely sprained left ankle…it was in his locker at that moment.

“Me and that boot are not on good terms,” Dickerson said. “There’s an air pump in it that sticks into my foot and makes it as uncomfortable as it gets.”

Dickerson expected to be in the boot for at least another week.

Reds lineup:

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

The Reds need another good, and deep, out from Bronson Arroyo today because of the looming doubleheader on Monday.

Johnny Cueto will be on a pitch-count when he comes off the DL to start Game 2 vs. the Pirates.

“We haven’t determined what it is yet,” manager Dusty Baker said. “We’re just hoping to get some innings out of [Game 1 pitcher Kip] Wells in the first game so we don’t have to tear up my bullpen.

“It’s a long day tomorrow. I have never played in a split doubleheader because they didn’t allow them. I participated and managed in a couple of split doubleheaders. I wish they still wouldn’t allow them. That’s an overtime day right there.”

The Reds will announce a roster move to make room for Cueto following Game 1.

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Rotation adjustments

With three members of the rotation on the DL and an open spot on Wednesday, the Reds tapped long reliever Kip Wells to start vs. Milwaukee on Wednesday.

“It won’t be my first rodeo,” Wells joked.

No — but it’s been a while since he stepped into the bullring as a starter. The last time was July 21, 2008, as a member of the Rockies vs. the Dodgers. Wells lasted only a third of an inning and allowed eight runs and seven hits while facing 10 batters. He started two games total for Colorado last season and one for Triple-A Louisville this season.

Wells hoped he could get to 75-85 pitches. Micah Owings was taken out of the rotation, for now, and moved into the bullpen to back up as the long man. Owings could start on Saturday vs. the Dodgers if he’s not needed before. Otherwise, someone would have to be called up (Matt Maloney?).

Justin Lehr will start on Thursday and Homer Bailey will go on Friday.

“The Harang thing, the appendectomy, kind of messed up things,” manager Dusty Baker said.

OF Darnell McDonald and C Corky Miller were back in the Reds clubhouse again. One had been gone much longer than the other. McDonald was designated for assignment in May and Miller last caught for Cincinnati in 2004. He was wearing the No. 37 he used to wear here.

In a sign of how fast turnover happened around the Reds, there were no old teammates left in the room for Miller to catch up with.

“Harang was about it, except for [bullpen catcher] Mike Stefanski and [third base coach] Mark Berry,” Miller said. “I knew Brook [Jacoby]. He was actually my hitting coach in Triple-A in 2003.”

McDonald scanned the room and noted he played with many guys, very recently, in Louisville.

“It seems like it’s the Cincinnati Bats up here,” McDonald said. “You hate to see guys go but if they’re going somewhere, it probably means they’re coming up to Cincinnati.”

Reds lineup (the 103rd different one used by Baker this season):

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

C Ryan Hanigan was back with the team after he flew to Milwaukee on Monday. Hanigan was left behind in Pittsburgh on Sunday because doctors didn’t want him in the air with a concussion. Hanigan, who went on the DL Monday, was hit by a foul tip that was so hard, it cracked his helmet and bent a bar on his mask. The headaches are still present.

“I have a little one,” Hanigan said. “It’s definitely dissipated. I don’t think it’s totally gone yet.”

Hanigan will take a concussion imPACT test here before heading home with the team on Thursday.

RHP Johnny Cueto was scheduled to throw in a bullpen session today for the first time since he went on the DL with right shoulder inflammation. The Reds hope to have Cueto back to pitch in one of the games of the Aug. 31 doubleheader vs. the Pirates.

To make room on the 40-man roster for Miller and McDonald, RHP Mike Lincoln (cervical disc surgery) and RHP Edinson Volquez (right elbow surgery) were transfered from the 15-day to the 60-day disabled list.

The Mets put Johan Santana on the disabled list today. They now lead the Major Leagues with 12 players on the DL, passing the Reds that are second in the league with 11.

The Arizona Fall League rosters were revealed and six Reds prospects are on the Peoria Saguaros club. They are: Double-A Carolina first baseman Yonder Alonso and Triple-A outfielder Chris Heisey, Louisville pitchers Sean Watson and Logan Ondrusek, Carolina pitcher Phillipe Valiquette and Carolina shortstop Zack Cozart. Carolina manager David Bell will be the skipper.

Not on the roster is 2009 first round pick and RHP Mike Leake. There was talk that Leake and RHP Brad Boxberger, who both signed on Aug. 17, could play in the AFL. This means they are likely to play in the instructional league instead.

To fill the outfield depth at Louisville, former Twins OF Lew Ford was signed to a minor league contract today. The speedy Ford last played in the Majors in 2007 and spent 2008 in Japan. In five seasons with Minnesota, he batted .272 with a .349 OBP. 

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Big day for Reds news

I guess not much went on during Trade Deadline day, huh?

To recap — here is a summary of all the trade and non-trade news of the day on Friday.

1. 3B Scott Rolen was acquired from Toronto with cash for 3B Edwin Encarnacion, RHPs Josh Roenicke and Zach Stewart.

2. IF/OF Jerry Hairston Jr. traded to the Yankees for Minor League catcher Chase Weems.

3. Edinson Volquez had to shut down his simulated start after his arm tightened up. This could be a disastrous development pending on what the results are.

4. Bronson Arroyo confirmed his admission of using androstendione and amphetamines.

5. The Reds called up RHP Kip Wells to fill in the roster blanks in the bullpen.

6. Catcher Ryan Hanigan returned after he missed six games with a sore neck.

The Rolen post before should have everything you need know. Here is my story on MLB.com.

As for the Hairston deal, here is what GM Walt Jocketty had this to say about Weems.

“We got very good reports him. He’s actually a guy we were interested in for the draft a couple of years ago and didn’t get.”

Volquez was supposed to be taking the final step before a possible rehab assignment when he began what was to be an 80-pitch simulated game. He didn’t make many throws from the mound before he walked off the field with head trainer Mark Mann. It turned out to be tightness in the arm inside the forearm/elbow area.

“My trainer told me it was a 50-50 chance it could happen,” Dusty Baker said. “So now it’s back to the drawing board again. That’s something I wasn’t expecting or hoping for.”

If his throwing program is shut down again, that could likely finish any chance Volquez has for returning this season. There is no word on whether his issue will be surgical.

Arroyo inserted himself into controversy when he tried to defend former Red Sox teammates David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, who were identified by the New York Times as two of 104 players on a list of players the tested positive for PEDs in 2003. In Friday’s Boston Herald, Arroyo admitted to taking androstenedione and amphetamines himself before both performance-enhancing drugs were banned by baseball.

On Friday, Cincinnati reporters were gathered around Arroyo’s locker to get the rest of the story.

“From 1998-2003, I took androstendione,” Arroyo said. “1998 was a big year for Mark McGuire. That was when he had the stuff sitting in his locker,” Arroyo said. “Everyone was aware of the fact that he took that stuff and said he was taking it. So everybody went out and tried it. I tried it in the Arizona Fall League. I thought I could hit my head on the rim [playing basketball]. [pitcher] Mike Lincoln and I would go to 24-hour Fitness every night, shoot hoops and work out until midnight-1 am. I felt unbelievable on this stuff. I took it through 2003 until they told me that stuff would give me a positive test. So I didn’t take it anymore.”

As for amphetamines, which were commonly known as greenies, Arroyo had no problem admitting usage until they were banned before the 2006 season.

“Oh yeah, of course I took a greenie for a 12:35 p.m. game,” Arroyo said. “Pitching against Johan Santana, you don’t think I’m going to take a greenie if I could? C’mon.”

Since random drug testing became mandatory in 2004, Arroyo has never flunked. He still uses a variety of legal substances to get a physical edge, including creatine, proteins, vitamins, ginseng and caffeinated drinks.

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Bruce sits, for two games

Not only was Jay Bruce out of the lineup on Thursday, he’ll be missing from the starting lineup when the road trip moves to New York on Friday. Bruce is batting .209 and 0-for-his-last 12.

Manager Dusty Baker called Bruce into his office Thursday for a private, one-on-one meeting that lasted several minutes.

“I’m letting him clear his head, much like Jimmy Rollins over here and Magglio Ordonez with the Tigers, I thought I’d give him today and tomorrow to clear himself and study,” Baker said. “He’ll study our guys, who’s hitting and who’s not and why. He’ll study their guys like Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and different guys and see how they approach things and set up.”

Baker, who is an eternal optimist is trying make sure Bruce maintains his confidence which will be essential to climbing out of the hole.

“The big thing is the mindset and staying positive and just not getting too down,” Bruce said. “Mentally, sometimes it’s the toughest thing to keep your morale up. Confidence is a huge part of this game.”

Some people keep asking if Bruce should go to Triple-A and get his swing back. I’d be thinking that if he wasn’t do anything right at all on the field. But he’s still helping the team in other ways. His 10 outfield assists are tied for the Major League lead. His 18 homers lead the team. He’s also a smart guy and I believe he’ll find his way out of this. He’s not going to be a feast or famine type of hitter his whole career.

“I told him he didn’t get in it in a month and he won’t get out of it in a month,” Baker said. “It’s a slow steady process and you try to recall what your mindset was when you didn’t think anybody could get you out. You try to remove all doubt.”

Reds lineup:

Taveras 8
Dickerson 9
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Hernandez 2
Gomes 7
Encarnacion 5
Janish 6
Owings 1

Baker said he plans to change the rotation order after the All-Star break but the schedule remains in flux.

“We’re going to reset it but we haven’t decided exactly yet,” Baker said. “We don’t want anybody to be off for 10-12 days either.”

The Reds also signed RHP Kip Wells to a Minor League contract and assigned him to Triple-A Louisville. Wells was released by the Nationals on Monday and signed with the Reds organization on Tuesday.

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