Results tagged ‘ Mark Berry ’

Pole out as pitching coach

We knew something out of the ordinary was coming when reporters were summoned to the Reds clubhouse early, before the usual 3:40 p.m. opening time. Once summoned into the manager’s office, GM Walt Jocketty and Dusty Baker let us know that all of the coaches were renewed for 2010, except for pitching coach Dick Pole.

Pole will not be in the dugout for the final three games of this season against the Pirates.

“I think as an organization that Dick has done a good job,” Jocketty said. “At this point going forward, we’re making a change and we’ll leave it at that. There are no specific reasons. We really don’t have a clear candidate [as a replacement]. We’re going to formulate a list and try and find the right guy that can be with this organization a long time. We’ve got some young pitchers coming along. We want to make sure we find the right guy to help develop them.”

Pole, 58, was in his third season as the Reds pitching coach and was brought on by previous manager Jerry Narron. Pole had previously worked with Baker on the Cubs’ staff. It was Baker who informed Pole of the change.

Hitting coach Brook Jacoby, first base coach Billy Hatcher, third base coach Mark Berry, bench coach Chris Speier, bullpen coach Juan Lopez, bullpen coach Juan Lopez and bullpen catcher Mike Stefanski were all informed they would be returning.

In house — I’d have to imagine that Triple-A Louisville pitching coach Ted Power and perhaps organizational instructor Mario Soto would be candidates for the job. And before you even ask, Jeff Brantley has zero chance to get the job.

Outside — Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan immediately comes to mind, despite the pine tar flap from Thursday. He obviously worked for Jocketty in the past and owner Bob Castellini used to have a minority interest with the Cardinals.

The general impression here is that this decision wasn’t Baker’s to make.

“I told Dick when I got here today,” Baker said. “It was pretty difficult for me to tell him because you know how close me and him are. I’d rather be the one to tell him because of my relationship with him and how much he’s done in the game. It’s a tough decision, an organizational decision.”

The details of why Pole was let go were not revealed. There had been times when some pitchers didn’t follow his directions and went their own way. Edinson Volquez defended Pole, however.

“He was a good pitching coach. Somebody had a different opinion than me,” Volquez said. “He was one of the good guys on the team. He taught me a lot for the last two years. I’m going to miss him next year.”

One reason the decision seems odd — Reds pitchers showed improvement this year. The team ERA entering Friday was 4.21 compared to 4.55 in 2008. Opponent’s batting average was .258 compared to .275 last season. Hits are 1399 in ’09 to 1542 in ’08.

Jocketty didn’t want to wait until after the season to make the decision known, so coaches wouldn’t be twisting in the wind.

“It’s tough going to the last day,” Jocketty said. “Those guys were all anxious to understand where they’d be next year. We decided this would be the best way to handle it. there’s never a good way to handle it.”

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Bill Hall?

Among a flurry of moves in Milwaukee today, the Brewers designated super utility player Bill Hall for assignment. Assuming he clears waivers, the Reds should take a run and add Hall. He hit 35 homers in 2006 and was often a Reds killer (18 homers, 56 RBIs vs. CIN). His sharp decline over the past three years has been mysterious and he was down to just .201 this season.

Still, it’s a no-risk move since Milwaukee owes him about $11 million for the balance of this season, next season and a buyout of the 2011 option. The Reds could just pay him the minimum. They can plug him wherever they need him this season and then figure out what to do with him next year in the off-season. If it doesn’t work out, he wouldn’t cost them much.

Reds lineup:

Dickerson 7
Taveras 8
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Balentien 9
Gonzalez 6
Sutton 5
Tatum 2
Bailey 1

SS Alex Gonzalez is hitting all of .217 entering tonight but he’s been one of the Reds’ hottest hitters. He is 9-for-20 (.450) on the road trip and had four hits in Tuesday’s win.

“I feel very good. I am hitting the ball hard. I’m finding some holes,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez missed a month to have elbow surgery and has batted .273 over the previous 16 games.

“He had it going on pretty good before he got hurt,” manager Dusty Baker said. “He was starting to get it. He went backwards and is going forward again. He’s staying off of bad pitches, getting good pitches to hit and is swinging the bat well.”

Gonzalez is in a contract year as the Reds hold a $6 million option for 2010 that carries a $500,000 buyout. Considering the financial constraints they’re facing, it’s dicey on whether it gets picked up. Gonzalez said he’s not thinking about what could happen in the off-season.

“Right now, it’s about helping the team win and trying to finish strong,” Gonzalez said. “I can’t think too much about that. We have two months left. It’s more important for me to finish strong and finish the season healthy. We will see after the season.”

Mired in a career-long 0-for-20 skid, C Ryan Hanigan is getting a break tonight and Craig Tatum is catching. Hanigan has batted .143 (8-for-56) in 15 starts since Ramon Hernandez went on the DL.

Chris Dickerson did make a base running mistake in the sixth inning when he ran with his head down and got into a rundown that led to Justin Lehr being thrown out at the plate. Dickerson has great speed but been prone to mistakes on the bases.

“It’s something you can teach but you don’t want to teach through trial and error,” Baker said about base running. “Last night, he was so excited to get back he was like a runaway child in the wild.”On a foul ball, he almost passed Lehr.”

Dickerson did not goof, like I wrote, when he was thrown out at third base in the first inning on Joey Votto’s fielder’s choice play. Third base coach Mark Berry instructed Dickerson to move off the bag to prevent Mark DeRosa to throw to second for what would have been a 5-4-3 double play. So, I learned something there.

Historical note from Elias: Lehr was the only the third pitcher since 1900 to earn a win while allowing zero or one run and at least 11 hits in six innings pitched or less. The other two were Cleveland’s Jack Kralick in 1965 and Baltimore’s Pat Rapp in 2000.

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Reds notes galore

I checked in with shortstop Alex Gonzalez this morning to see how his left knee was holding up after several days of drills. So far, so good — but Gonzalez said he is still easing into the running and not going at 100 percent.

“They don’t want me to run yet everyday,” said Gonzalez, who missed all of last season with a compression fracture. “When I started running, it was two-three times a week. Not only that, I’m doing a lot of stuff. Two days ago, I felt a little tight in both legs. Every day, I’m feeling good. I’m lifting weights and getting stronger. It’s nice and easy and getting ready for the season. Last year at this time, we were here and I was in the training room doing rehab. Now I can participate in Spring Training. I’m glad I can do a lot of stuff.”

A hodge podge of topics came up in manager Dusty Baker’s office this morning.

Pitcher Nick Masset is definitely in the mix for the fifth starter’s spot. Masset conditioned himself for starting during the off-season and could always go back to the bullpen if he doesn’t crack the starting five.

If Micah Owings doesn’t make the rotation, Baker wants to find a way to maximize his use as a pinch-hitter and reliever.

“If we could figure out how to get him loose, if he doesn’t make the starting rotation, he could be like a Brooks Kieschnick situation where he can pinch-hit and go into the game,” Baker said. “That was an interesting scenario when Kieschnick was doing it for the Brewers.”

Kieschnick was an outfielder-turned-pitcher for Milwaukee in 2003-2004. In 2003, he batted .300 with seven homers. Owings is .319 hitter with five home runs in 116 career big league at-bats.

“It’s no fluke. Some guys can hit,” Baker said.

Baker affirmed Willy Taveras’ statements earlier this week that it was possible for him to steal 100 bases this season. Taveras swiped 68 last year in a down offensive season.

There was a lot of praise for the effort position players had during drills on Friday.

“Yesterday was the finest baserunning and conditioning that I’ve ever seen as far as technique, cutting the bases, energy, training,” Baker said. “And some fun and competition as well. No complaining. This is an excellent group of guys.”

Coaches Mark Berry, Billy Hatcher and Eric Davis supervised the running drills. Baker was asked if there was more energy at this year’s camp.

“That comes with youth,” Baker said. “Youth, attitude and competition. And a desire to succeed.”

The first batch of players with 0-3 years of service time were signed. The club agreed to terms on one-year contracts with: OF Jay Bruce, RHP Jared Burton, RHP Carlos Fisher, 3B Juan Francisco, LHP Daniel Ray Herrera, RHP Sam LeCure, LHP Matt Maloney, RHP Robert Manuel, RHP Josh Roenicke, IF Adam Rosales and C Craig Tatum.

The spring rotation cleared up some. Aaron Harang will start in Tuesday’s intrasquad game. On Wednesday at TB, Edinson Volquez will start and be followed by Homer Bailey and Johnny Cueto. On Thursday vs. Minnesota, Owings will start. On Friday vs. the Phillies, it’s Bronson Arroyo. On Saturday at the Red Sox, it’s Masset. 

 

It's up to Homer

In 2006, Homer Bailey was the young phenom getting his first look at camp. In 2007 and 2008, he was still the top starting pitching prospect in camp. After a trying season last year, now he is simply in the mix for the fifth spot.

“Here’s the ball Homer,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said Sunday morning. “I’m not going to put any pressure on him other than what he puts on himself. I’m pulling for him, big time. He’s one of the guys in the mix. He’s had some opportunity but he’s still so young. He’s not close to have exhausted his opportunity. He’s 22 — you’ve just heard of him forever. As long as you’ve heard about him, you’d think he’s 30 years old. We’re going to keep trying to instruct him. The ball is in his hands, so to speak.”

Another note from Sunday morning:

Closer Francisco Cordero has been held back some from conditioning drills but is still doing the fielding drills. He had a bone spur removed from his right ankle near the end of last season. Cordero will no longer join the Dominican club for the World Baseball Classic.

Numerology:

Third base coach Mark Berry switched to No. 41 after wearing No. 55 since 2000. Berry gave up No. 55 to new catcher Ramon Hernandez, who wore it his whole career. Such a transaction often involves compensation for the guy who surrendered his number.

“When is that Mercedes being delivered, Bear,” pitching coach Dick Pole said.

 “I’ll take a black pair of shoe laces,” Berry replied.

Berry had a good reason for selecting No. 41.

“It reminds me of Nuxie, what’s a better number?” he said, referring to the late Joe Nuxhall. “It’s going down hill with me wearing it.”

 

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