Results tagged ‘ Marty Brennaman ’

Baker calls out Phillips

Should Brandon Phillips have had a triple in the third inning after he admired his drive to the wall a little long, thinking he had a second homer? Baker thought so.

“Probably, yeah,” Baker said. “:It looked like at first, he thought it might have been gone. Then he started running probably halfway but it was a little too late at that time.”

Phillips had to settle for a double. But if he had reached third base on the play, he likely would have scored on next batter Joey Votto’s fly ball to left field.

This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. A similar one occured in Houston last week when a routine fly became a three-run error and Phillips only reached second base instead of third.

There were gaffes last season also. In Kansas City, Phillips ignored a take sign on a 3-0 count and put his team out of a rally. On July 20 in Los Angeles he was thrown out at second base when he thought he had a routine sacrifce fly. He didn’t speed up until the ball fell in front of Andre Ethier, who threw Phillips out at second base. That one cost Phillips a game on the bench. There was also a stern rebuke from Baker that night.

“We’ve all talked to him until we’re blue in the face,” Baker said that night.

“I messed up,” Phillips said, also on that night in L.A. “That’s my second time not hustling this year. It won’t happen again.”

Keep this in mind: no one else on the Reds has a problem with hustling.

Moving on to some good:

*Catcher Ryan Hanigan made a nifty stretch and catch just before the top step of the Mets dugout on Angel Pagan’s fifth inning foul pop.

*Reliever Carlos Fisher struck out the side in the eighth — but they were no pedestrian hitters. Fisher fanned Jose Reyes, Jason Bay and David Wright. The Reyes K came on three pitches with an 82 mph changeup for strike three. The Bay strikeout was a 94 mph heater.

“He threw the ball the best he has since he’s been up here,” manager Dusty Baker said. “That’s a very positive thing for us.”

The just plain odd: Leading off the game, Angel Pagan had a bunt base hit to right field. I have a tough time believing Pagan meant to do it just like that, but it worked.

And the sad: Not game related but beloved Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell died today at 92 after a bout with inoperable cancer.

“Ernie Harwell, it goes without saying, was one of the greatest in the history of our profession,” Marty Brennaman said. “More important than that, however, he was one of the finest people I’ve ever known. I was privileged to call Ernie my friend. I will miss him greatly.”

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Pittsburgh all locked down

As Marty Brennaman said to me today, Thursday’s game is being played before an “intimate audience.” No matter what the announced attendance is here, the actual crowd inside the ballpark will be a mere fraction. The upper deck was closed and fans were told they could move to other sections.

Because of the G-20 Summit that started today, the locals were essentially told to stay away from downtown. Most of the local businesses are closed and you can forget driving to navigate a car across most of the streets on the south side of the river.

As I walked to PNC Park, there were metal detectors at the entrance of my hotel and I probably saw platoons of police marching through town in various spots. It all told me that I’m glad I’m leaving town as soon as the game is over.

Reds lineup:

Taveras 8
Sutton 6
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Rolen 5
Gomes 9
Balentien 7
Hanigan 2
Arroyo 1

At first glance, you might be wondering why Willy Taveras is already back in there and Drew Stubbs isn’t after Dusty Baker made the Wally Pipp reference the other day.

“You have to play some time,” Baker said. “Stubbs has been playing every day. We all have to earn our keep.”

Baker was asked what kind of role he envisioned for Taveras if Stubbs was the regular center fielder next season.

“I don’t know. You’re asking questions that are way down the line,” Baker said. “Willy was struggling before Stubbs got here. He’s been out a long time and the door opened for Stubbs and he really kicked that door open.”

What about Chris Dickerson? He’s been out for a month with a sprained ankle.

“He has to come back,” Baker said. “Right now, Stubbs has played better than both of them. Dickerson’s average is higher but Stubbs has been way productive. Dickerson’s upside is still tremendous. There’s a lot of competition out there and we’ll find a way to get playing time for all that will help us – the best players at that particular time and day.

“Dickerson still has action big time. I’d rather have too many than too few. They’re all pretty good outfielders and have speed. Stubbs has shown more power than almost any of them and stealing bases  and better defensively the more familiar he becomes with the ballparks.”

What the Reds end up doing with Taveras next season will be a big $4 million question. He wouldn’t make an effective bench player so I don’t see how all three of them could be kept. That’s also a lot of money to write off by just releasing him. Teams like the Red Sox and Yankees routinely do that, not the Reds.

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KC, the DH and Volquez news

Greetings from Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City — one of the few ballparks from the 1960s and 70s that was built right (actually opened in 1973). During my American League days, this was one of my preferred places to visit. The sightlines are great, the field always looks good and of course, there are the fountains. When the weather is pleasant, it’s a nice way to watch baseball.

“It was big but it was pretty,” said Reds manager Dusty Baker, who last visited here in 1986.

The Reds last played here in 1999, and a power outage during the series opener forced a doubleheader.


kauffman stadium.jpgThe ‘K’ as it’s known, underwent a major $220 million renovation that was finished before this season. Although the grassy knolls in the outfield are gone — it looks fantastic. The video scoreboard is massive and they have the LED scoreboard in the fences also. The only complaint is they moved the press box a few floors up but it’s really nice.

“This field is way ahead of its time,” said Jonny Gomes, who played here often as a member of the Rays. “They just did that stuff in the outfield and guys think this park is brand new. A lot of guys that come here for the first time don’t realize it’s old.”

Gomes is the Reds’ first designated hitter of the season in Friday’s game and Baker said he would DH again Saturday.

“There’s nothing better than having a good day at the yard DHing,” said Gomes. “You work about three minutes and 30 seconds in the whole thing. On the flip side, you go crazy. There’s nothing worse than a bad day at the yard DHing when you’re just sitting on all your at-bats. It goes both ways and evens itself out.”

Gomes had 229 games logged as a DH over his previous six seasons. He batted .219 (174-for-794) as a DH but hit 33 of his 66 career home runs and drove in 108 runs in that spot.

Reds lineup:

Taveras 8
Gonzalez 6
Phillips 4
Nix 7
Hernandez 3
Bruce 9
Gomes DH
Hanigan 2
Rosales 5
Maloney 1

Willy Taveras, in a career high 0-for-24 slump, was back in the leadoff spot again. Baker said it was because Taveras had experience playing the Royals in past years during Interleague play. However, Taveras was 0-for-4 in his previous meeting against KC starter Luke Hochevar.

Injury updates:

RHP Edinson Volquez (elbow tendintis) threw for the first time on Thursday back in Cincinnati since he went back on the DL on June 1. Volquez long tossed, throwing 25 balls at a distance of 60 feet. Volquez, who saw medical director Dr. Tim Kremchek on Wednesday, was scheduled to throw again on Friday.

“He’ll probably take a couple of days and when we get back, we’ll see where we are as far as getting him on a mound,” pitching coach Dick Pole said. “We’ll see how he feels when we get back. He said he’s had no problem with his elbow, his forearm – nothing. He felt fine.”

3B Edwin Encarnacion (left wrist chip fracture) was slated to take batting practice on Friday. It was to be his first hitting since having a setback with soreness last weekend.

Hello, Bad Boy:

As expected, there was a Steve Stewart sighting here. Stewart, the Reds’ former radio voice, now does Royals games. Stewart is going to join Marty Brennaman in the booth for the second inning tonight. No doubt, Marty will light up his old partner a few times for

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Kent Mercker in the house

Towards the end of last season when he was injured and retirement was near, someone asked reliever Kent Mercker what his next vocation would be. Without hesistation, he said he’d be “turning vodka into urine.” Everyone around him in the clubhouse laughed.

That was quintessential Mercker, who was one of the smartest and funniest players I’ve encountered in this game.

But he’s found a part-time gig that brings him around the Reds again. Mercker is here at Busch Stadium to make his regular season radio debut working with Marty Brennaman tonight and Thursday. He’s slated to do a handful of games later in the season. I can only imagine he’ll make for entertaining radio during the games. Let me know how he does.

The reason for the change: Chris Welsh returned home for his son’s graduation and Jeff Brantley shifted from the radio booth to TV with George Grande.When Mercker first got here, he didn’t know where to go — so he went to visit a familiar face, Dick Pole, who was by the Reds bullpen — which is usually a no-no for credentialed media.

“I will light him up for that,” Brennaman said. 

A few years ago when the Reds stayed near a decepit mall in St. Louis adjacent to Union Station, the stores were all T-shirt shops and fudge stores. One day Adam Dunn was given a white T-shirt with a photo of Mercker’s smiling mug on it. Above the picture read “World’s Greatest Teammate.”

On to some news…

Willy Taveras is out of the lineup again because of a sore right hamstring. Taveras’ inability to catch up to Nick Stavinoha’s sixth-inning drive to center field let two-runs score on the double, including the go-ahead run in a 5-2 loss. Taveras spent a while in manager Dusty Baker’s office on Wednesday.

“He’s about the same,” Baker said. “I had a long talk with him today. We’ll hopefully try it again this weekend some time against the Cubs.”

Chris Dickerson started in center field but Jerry Hairston Jr. was back in the lineup and moved up to the leadoff spot. Hairston missed the last two games with a stomach flu. Why was Hairston moved up?

“No. 1, I wanted to split up right-left-right-left,” Baker said. “No. 2, last year Hairston was an outstanding leadoff man.”

The Reds were 25-19 last season when Hairston led off.

“Hopefully we can get some of the same,” Hairston said. “Whether I leadoff or hit second, I know my job is to get on base. Obviously hitting second, I may take a few more pitches to give the guy in front of you an opportunity to steal a base.”

Alex Gonzalez was also given a rest after he made the last 11 starts. Paul Janish got a start at shortstop.

“He’s been playing a lot,” Baker said. “I don’t want Janish to be out too long. I thought about doing it tomorrow but that’s not fair to Janish getting one start and he has to face [Cardinals Thursday starter Chris] Carpenter.”

Almost forgot to mention — no starter was named on Saturday yet. Baker said it was definitely not someone already up here. That seems to all but point to Matt Maloney to get the start vs. the Cubs.

Reds lineup:

Hairston 5
Dickerson 8
Phillips 4
Bruce 9
Hernandez 3
Nix 7
Hanigan 2
Janish 6
Cueto 1

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Thankful for roof, RIP Harry Kalas

As I walked through wet and blustery downtown Milwaukee for lunch with temperatures in the 30s and 40s, two thoughts were on my mind:

1. I’m thankful Miller Park has a roof. Otherwise, it would be a miserable night for fans and everyone involved and I’m not sure the game would be played.

2. I finally got around to watching the series finale to “Life on Mars” online and it left me in a considerable funk. Not a good ending to reward my faithful viewing.

But that all paled in comparsion to the news I heard when I returned to my hotel — Phillies iconic radio voice Harry Kalas died today. He was found passed out in the broadcast booth not long before the game at Nationals Park.

Kalas, 73, was to Philadelphia as what Marty Brennaman means to Cincinnati. To a generation, Kalas was the voice of NFL Films, especially when watching the weekly installments of HBO’s “Inside the NFL.” I feel for the Phillies and their fans for losing their voice. I can’t help but wonder how hard it is for Kalas’ broadcast partners to get through the game today without their friend.

Reds lineup:

Taveras, cf
Dickerson, lf
Votto, 1b
Phillips, 2b
Bruce, rf
Encarnacion, 3b
Hernandez, c
Gonzalez, ss
Volquez, rhp

Brewers lineup:

Weeks, 2b
Hart, rf
Braun, lf
Fielder, 1b
Hardy, ss
Cameron, cf
Hall, 3b
Kendall, c
Gallardo, rhp

News you can use:

  • Seventh hitter Ramon Hernandez is 1-for-15 this season entering the night and eighth hitter Alex Gonzalez came in 0-for-12. Obviously, Dusty Baker would like to see them get going at the plate.

“Hernandez is swinging a little better than Gonzalez,” Baker said. “He doesn’t have too many hits to show for it. We need them at the bottom of the order to roll the lineup around. They’re better than they’re hitting. I know that.”

  • Struggling Jay Bruce has been fouling off a lot of pitches lately and came in 4-for-20 (.200) in his five games.

“I don’t think he’s pressing as much as his timing is off,” Baker said.

  • As expected, Marty Brennaman was sad to hear about Kalas’ passing.

“It’s ironic we talked five days ago,” Brennaman said. “We had the kind of friendship where we didn’t talk every week. Sometimes, we’d go two months without talking. But we’d always stayed in touch. I don’t do that with too many guys, not that I don’t like them all, but we had a certain relationship that we really liked one another.”

Hairston sick, lineups & news

It’s a breezy morning in Port Charlotte, where the Reds and Rays will play at 1:05 p.m.

Reds lineup:

Taveras CF, Dickerson LF, Votto 1B, Phillips 2B, Bruce RF, Encarnacion 3B, Jones DH, Keppinger SS, Hanigan C

P Volquez (Micah Owings, Jared Burton, Bill Bray and Arthur Rhodes will also get work)

Rays lineup:

Bartlett SS, Crawford LF, Aybar 2B, Pena 1B, Burrell DH, Gross RF, Kapler CF, Ensberg 3B, Hernandez C

P – Hammel

News you can use:

  • We learned late that Owings will not be here. He remained in Sarasota to pitch in a Minor League game. Results will be posted when I get them.
  • IF/OF Jerry Hairston Jr. is done with the World Baseball Classic now that Mexico is out. But Hairston is sick with a viral infection he picked up down there and manager Dusty Baker it would probably be Friday, maybe Thursday, before Hairston arrives.

“I told my trainer I don’t want him,” Baker said. “That’s the worst thing that can happen, especially this time of year, you can get a plague going through your clubhouse. I know he’s champing at the bit. I haven’t called him because I know he’ll try to convince me if I call him.”

  • Jacque Jones got a lot of extra at-bats as the DH in a Minor League game Tuesday. As you likely saw above, Jones is in today’s starting lineup. He’s entering the day batting .077.

“Jacque got seven or eight at-bats and hit the ball pretty good,” Baker said. “He hit a home run to left field, which is his stroke, and a couple of other hits. You can work on some stuff when it doesn’t count.”

  • Baker was asked about the comparisons people are making about the Reds being like the Rays of last year.

“A lot of people are going to compare you to the Rays if you have a young team,” he said. “It took them a while to get to this point, and a whole bunch of No. 1 draft choices to get to this point. But here and now, they have a good man at the helm and a good coaching staff. The Rays have given a lot of mid-range payroll teams hope.”

  • In the something I haven’t seen before at a ballpark department, a local animal control officer was in the seats behind home plate trying to catch a raccoon during BP. Using one of those long rods with a noose, he eventually caught the raccoon with the device and stuffed him safely inside a crate.

“He’s probably going to make raccoon stew,” joked Marty Brennaman.


Chilly Sunday's lineups and notes

For envious folks in colder climates, you aren’t going to be missing much, weather-wise, down here. A front has moved in Sunday morning with gloomy gray clouds, rain and wind. When it’s finished, we’re looking at highs in the 50s and low 60s for a few days. Snow is predicted in very southern spots like New Orleans, Atlanta and possibly northern Florida.

“I learned for the first time that snow and Florida could be used in the same sentence,” joked pitcher Homer Bailey.

It’s not a lock yet that the Reds-Yankees game will start on time, or at all. Here is the Reds lineup:

McDonald CF, Rosales SS, Votto 1B, Phillips 2B, Dickerson RF, Keppinger 3B, Alonso DH, Hopper LF, Hanigan C 

P – Harang

Yankees lineup:

Gardner CF, Jeter SS, Teixeira 1B, Rodriguez 3B, Cano 2B, Nady RF, J. Rodriguez LF, Ransom DH, Cash C

P -Aceves

  • Alex Rodriguez was supposed to meet with MLB officials today but now he wants the meeting pushed back. His appearance here was interesting for friend Yonder Alonso.

“That’s one reason I’m playing Yonder today,” manager Dusty Baker said. “He’s DHing so A-Rod can see him play.”

“It’s going to be nice. I can’t wait. Hopefully we can get this game in,” Alonso said.

  • It turned out that Saturday wasn’t Joey Votto’s last game before the World Baseball Classic. He’s obviously in the lineup and will head to Dunedin, Fla. to meet up with Team Canada after the game.

“He wants to play,” Baker said. “His point of destination is a lot shorter than the rest of the guys.”

  • The Reds are targeting to have Alex Gonzalez start at DH on Wednesday night vs. the Netherlands WBC squad. Gonzalez will run the bases and slide a couple more times before that game to test his knee. He told me he’s sore in the muscle above the knee but that the knee itself feels fine.


  • Former Reds GM Jim Bowden resigned from the Nationals this morning. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Marty Brennaman so giddy.
  • The Reds agreed to one year contracts with Bailey and RHP Nick Masset.


Finally, friend and Boston photographer Brita Meng Outzen sent me this picture from Saturday’s game in Fort Myers. I thought it was pretty cool.

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