Results tagged ‘ Nick Masset ’

Baker: No broken spirits

Before Sunday’s game, a reporter asked Dusty Baker about the bullpen and how it’s done vs. Albert Pujols in the series. Of course on Friday, Pujols whacked a grand slam off of David Weathers but grounded out vs. Nick Masset on Saturday.

Here is a fantastic quote:

“It’s not us against Albert,” Baker said. “It’s us against the Cardinals. Albert happens to be the grand Cardinal. He is the grand of a lot of stuff.”

Back to the Reds, this will be a pretty big week as they roll into the All-Star break with a six-game road trip to Philadelphia and New York.

“This is going to be some good baseball before the break,” Baker said. “We have the hard-hitting Phillies and the Mets. The Cardinals have the Brewers and the Cubs. Things can change rather quickly.”

After St. Louis, the Brewers will host the best team in baseball, the Dodgers, heading into the break.

None of the six NL Central teams can technically considered out of the race. Even the last-place Pirates, despite their rash of trades, are still only six games out of first.

The Reds entered Sunday 40-39 and two games out.

“There are no broken spirits yet,” Baker said. “Usually by the All-Star break, there are some broken spirits. The spirits are still alive. It makes for good baseball.”

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Strange days at GABP

This has been one goofy home stand, for sure.

There was the 12-5 blowout vs. Philly on Thursday where the Reds narrowed a 6-0 deficit to 6-5 in before giving up seven more runs. There were Joey Votto’s two homers on Saturday vs. Cleveland that were canceled out by Homer Bailey’s wildness and that was a nearly four-hour game. There were extra innings on Sunday, with the weird obstruction call on Adam Rosales in the seventh that tied the game and put the kibosh on a potential victory for Johnny Cueto.
Then there was the two-hour, three minute rain delay with two outs in the Houston fourth inning on Monday. Starter Aaron Harang waited long enough to get one out to qualify for a victory.

Somehow through it all, the Reds have won three of their last four.

Roy Oswalt is on the mound for the Astros on Tuesday. In case you haven’t seen this stat paraded around endlessly, Oswalt is 23-1 lifetime vs. them. He hasn’t taken the loss vs. Cincinnati since April 28, 2006. Against them in 2009, he has two no-decisions but a 0.69 ERA. Strangely, Oswalt is only 1-2 through 10 games this season.

Votto is back in the lineup today. How long can the Reds go with Votto and Brandon Phillips either out or at less than 100 percent?

If Votto is still bothered by the dizziness and hit two homers like he did Saturday, what will he do when the inner ear infection is finally behind him for good?

Are you worried about Jay Bruce, who enters today in a 0-for-13 funk? I wrote about Bruce on May 20 and how he was trying to be more patient at the plate. But he still keeps swinging at bad pitches (36 Ks in 158 ABs).

Reds lineup:

Dickerson CF
Hairston 2B
Votto 1B
Hernandez C
Bruce RF
Nix LF
Gonzalez SS
Rosales 3B
Owings P

In a shameless plug for myself, check out this article about Micah Owings and other NL pitchers that are very good hitters.

Additional news from the clubhouse:

  • Phillips hit some balls off the tee again today and also hit some underhand tosses. So far, so good. All signs are pointing to a return to the lineup on Friday at Milwaukee. There was a chance he could pinch-hit the next two games.

“He felt pretty good,” manager Dusty Baker said. “He’s having a little trouble throwing. He let it hang out pretty good they told me. He only felt it on a couple of swings.”

If and when Phillips does come back, he won’t be given any limitations.

“The doctor said he can’t do any more damage to it unless something insane happens,” Baker said. “Which is out of your control anyway.”

“It feels the same but the pills are working,” Phillips said. “I don’t know what I’m taking but they’re working.”

  • This is how Baker is handling the unpredictable nature of Votto’s dizziness and inner ear infection:

“He’s getting better but it’s still a day-to-day thing,” Baker said. “I check with him, check with the trainers. We’re doing the honor system thing.”

  • Harang feels OK the day after his unusual five-inning win on Monday.

“I think there have been times I’ve been more sore after a regular start than that one.”

  • Edinson Volquez has another bullpen session scheduled for Wednesday. Volquez threw “nice and easy” in the bullpen Monday and played catch on the field Tuesday.
  • RHP Nick Masset was activated from the 15-day DL as expected. To make room on the 25-man roster, C/IF Wilkin Castillo was optioned to Triple-A Louisville.
  • CF Willy Taveras was just given the day off. Taveras has struggled some since his 14-game hitting streak ended in San Diego.

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Why Ramirez and not Viola?

RHP Ramon Ramirez arrived today to take Nick Masset’s place on the 25-man roster. Some people were wondering why Ramirez, who was 0-3 with a 5.08 ERA, was promoted when a guy like lefty Pedro Viola wasn’t. Viola is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA but he wasn’t on the 40-man roster and Ramirez was.

“We threw around Viola,” manager Dusty Baker said. “He’s doing pretty good. He’s a little inconsistent. He’s coming fast but we would have had to take a chance on losing someone by taking them off [the 40-man roster] in order to get Viola on. There were no names we could come up with.

“Then we said if it’s not Viola, which righties get lefties out best right now? So it was Ramon. Plus, he’s had a taste of the big leagues. He’s relieved, started, gone long and done lots of things. And he pitched well for us last year.”

Viola probably didn’t help himself by allowing four earned runs and three walks over a third of an inning during his last outing on May 15. Ramirez, who will be a swing man out of the Reds bullpen, has allowed three runs on eight hits over his last 15 innings. He threw a career-high eight innings on May 10.

Here is the adjusted rotation, which puts several guys back on their fifth day after the havoc in San Diego.

Weds: Harang
Thu:  Owings
Fri: Volquez
Sat. Arroyo
Sun: Cueto

Edinson Volquez, who had back spasms on Saturday, isn’t a lock yet. But he seemed to be doing OK today.

“We’ll see. I hope so,” Baker said.

1B Joey Votto (dizziness) is still out of the lineup. Votto and head trainer Mark Mann were still at a 2 p.m. doctor appointment. I will update later when I know something.

LATE UPDATE: No real news on Votto. He has more doctor appointments scheduled and he wasn’t talking. Here is the link to the story:

3B Edwin Encarnacion (left wrist chip fracture) has started swinging with one hand. No timetable yet on a return.

Monday’s Reds lineup:

Taveras CF
Hairston 3B
Phillips 2B
Bruce RF
Hernandez C
Rosales 1B
McDonald LF
Gonzalez SS
Cueto P

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Some medical updates

This email from the Reds came a short time ago:

LHP Bill Bray was examined today by Reds medical director Timothy Kremchek, who tomorrow will perform surgery on Bray’s left elbow. Bray has been on Louisville’s disabled list since April 16 with a strained left elbow.

Tomorrow the Reds are expected to disable RHP Nick Masset (strained left oblique muscle), retroactive to May 11, and recall from Triple-A Louisville RHP Ramon Ramirez.

Masset went 1-0, 1.23 in 11 relief apps for the Reds. Ramirez (#58) went 0-3, 5.08 in 7 starts for the Bats (39ip, 37h, 27r, 22er, 17bb, 28k, 4hr).

Reds 1B Joey Votto became light-headed following yesterday’s game at San Diego. Instead of flying home with the team, as a precautionary measure he was admitted for tests at Scripps Clinic at San Diego. He will be examined again in Cincinnati tomorrow. Votto missed 5 games last week with the flu and twice more left games with dizziness.

RHP Edinson Volquez today received treatment on his back without complaint. Volquez left Saturday’s start with mild spasms in his mid-back. He is not expected to miss a start.

I did some double checking on Bray and was told he isn’t neccesarily having Tommy John surgery on his elbow. Dr. Kremchek won’t know the extent of the injury until he has a closer look.

March 23: Blue Jays-Reds

Here’s today’s lineup:

Norris Hopper CF
Chris Dickerson LF
Joey Votto 1B
Adam Rosales 3B
Jay Bruce RF
Jeff Keppinger 2B
Alex Gonzalez SS
Ryan Hanigan C
Edinson Volquez P

The Blue Jays will be using a DH in the game. Pretty sure that’s not fair, but what are you going to do?

A couple of notes…

  • Willy Taveras was originally slated to start in center today, but was scratched because of a sore leg. Nothing really to worry about. Evidently, he was playing catch with Johnny Cueto yesterday and got hit with one of Cueto’s throws, leading Dusty Baker to say: “You can see why he’s hard to hit; he’s hard to catch.”
  • Edwin Encarnacion has been dealing with a sore shoulder, so he’s not in the lineup today. “We have to get him right for the season to start, but we have to get him at-bats,” Baker said. He’s picked up just 27 at-bats all spring
  • All the World Baseball Classic participants are now back in camp. Jerry Hairston Jr.  had been done a while, but as has been documented, got really sick, and just got back to camp yesterday. Ramon Hernandez and Ramon Ramirez are back from Team Venezuela (Look for my story on Hernandez later on Look for these guys to start getting into game action on Wednesday. Ramirez threw only 5 1/3 innings during the Classic, leading Baker to say, “Ramirez is a little bit behind. We have to get him streched out.”
  • Nick Masset was told today that he’s back in the bullpen. Unofficially, the No. 5 starter competition has been between Homer Bailey and Micah Owings, but Masset was still officially in the mix. The right-hander has compiled a 6.59 ERA in 13 2/3 IP this spring. He had one terrific outing againt the Pirates in his second appearance, but had allowed 10 earned runs in his other four outings spanning 10 2/3 IP.
  • Brandon Phillips  wasn’t in camp again today, still recovering from the flu-like bug that sent him home on Saturday. The Reds are erring on the side of caution with those who have gotten sick to try to avoid an epidemic. Norris Hopper is finally back and in the lineup today. “Even if hes’ not sick, we want him to come in and then go back home,” Baker said. “He looked terrible. He had a temperature. He has to leave, then. This is what you don’t want. You don’t want that plague walking through here. Not this time, too close to the opener.”
  • The Reds will be announcing some cuts after the game. “It’s a tough day. I hate these days,” Baker said.   It used to be customary for cuts to be made in the morning, but Baker makes them at the end of the day. “There’s no good time to do it,” he said. “Some of the guys that are going to get cut, you don’t know who’s here to watch them. That’s how I feel about it. Personally, I’d rather let them play. They might even do well that day.” Yonder Alonso and Chris Valaika had big games the day they got sent to Minor League camp.

 That’s it for me for this morning. Enjoy your day everybody.  — Jonathan Mayo

Cordero to get more work

The Reds have devised a plan they hope will get closer Francisco Cordero back on track. Cordero will get more work and pitch in some extra Minor League games, including one on Saturday.

“Instead of being three days in between, or a couple, we’ll get him on more of a routine and see if he can get into a rhythm,” pitching coach Dick Pole said on Friday. “Right now, he just doesn’t have good flow to him.”

Last night vs. Boston was Cordero’s roughest outing yet with four runs, four hits and two walks allowed in one inning. Most of the hitters were Minor Leaguers. Pole said that Cordero’s velocity was in the 92-93 mph range in the game.

“You have to take into account getting adrenaline flowing during the course of a season,” Pole said of Cordero’s lower pitch speed. “Last year, his results were better so we didn’t pay attention as much to it. Looking back at last year, his velocity was about the same and then all of a sudden the last couple of times he pitched, he was popping up to 94-95.”

The difference between last year and this year is Cordero is trying to return from right ankle surgery. That is the pitcher’s push off foot and the source of his power.

“He’s going to get more action,” manager Dusty Baker said. “He didn’t throw a lot this winter to get his arm strength up. He couldn’t because of his ankle operation and he’s a little behind. We still have two weeks and he’ll get some consecutive days. The more he throws the stronger he’ll get.

“It doesn’t do any good to get concerned. All you can do is figure out how to get him back. Concern helps no one and worry helps even less. You just have to go to work.”

Maybe, but is anyone wondering whether Cordero will be ready for start of the regular season? He has has an 18.00 ERA (12 ER over 6 IN) with 17 hits and four walks allowed in his six games. If he isn’t improving, would a stint on the DL and some extended spring training help? That would mean David Weathers would step up and be the closer.

FYI — both Pole and Baker both said that Cordero’s ankle is healthy.

Postgame news you can use:

  • Johnny Cueto gave up two earned runs and six hits over five innings. No walks, one strikeout. A majority of the hits were bloopers and not hard hit. The exception was pitcher Russ Ortiz’s RBI single to center field off of Cueto in the second. After, he faced the minimum and retired eight of his last 10 batters, getting a double play and a caught stealing along the way.

“He threw the ball good. He had good location, good movement,” Baker said.

  • Nick Masset gave up two earned runs and three hits over three innings with three walks and one strikeout. The outing didn’t start well. Masset began by giving up Darin Erstad’s double and Lance Berkman hit a 2-2 pitch to the right field corner for a two-run homer ruled just inside the pole. Then Carlos Lee walked.Masset’s final two innings were mostly smooth.
  • Norris Hopper was scratched from the lineup because of bronchitis.

Masset discussion, bullpen for Bailey?

It’s getting late in spring and in the previous blog post about the probable starters, Nick Masset’s name was nowhere to be found. Nothing has been determined officially, but all signs are pointing to him no longer being in contention for the rotation’s fifth spot.

Masset has a 6.75 ERA through four games, including three starts, totalling 10 2/3 innings.

“We have to sit down and talk about it,” manager Dusty Baker said. “We might be making some decisions soon because there are not enough innings without ‘B’ games or split-squad games.”

It’s likely down to Micah Owings and Homer Bailey, who have both pitched well this spring. Owings has been nearly unstoppable. Baker caught the last couple of innings of Bailey’s minor league outing Monday (see previous post for line) and liked what he saw.

The big mystery could be the last bullpen spot. Masset, who has been a long reliever for a couple of years, is out of options. Bailey has no history as a reliever but isn’t out of the question to do it if Owings beats him for the fifth spot.

“Possibly. It’s something we’ve discussed,” Baker said. “It’s something that depends on what’s better for him in the long run – do we pitch him or make him the fifth guy? With the Dodgers and Giants, a lot of our top young guys started out as long guys – Dave Stewart, Bobby Welch, Pedro Martinez.

“A lot of it depends on who has options left and who doesn’t. There is a lot that goes into consideration as well as how you’re pitching.”

More news you can use:

  • Jay Bruce hasn’t hit well most of spring (batting .200 entering the day) but Baker wasn’t too worried.

“He kind of started this way last year too,” Baker said. “He was getting some hits early, but they were groundballs between first and second. His stroke isn’t really there because he’s fouling off pitches he would ordinarily put into play. He’s close. When you see him going to left field or up the middle that means he’s right there because he is not a pull hitter. When he starts trying to pull, that’s when most hitters get into trouble.”

  • Jacque Jones and Daryle Ward, who are both struggling offensively, were kept back in Sarasota to DH in Minor League games.

“They stayed back and hit extra and try to hope we can find their strokes.”

  • Alex Gonzalez and Norris Hopper will likely do the same thing on Wednesday while the Reds are in Port Charlotte.
  • Infielder Danny Richar probably had an outside chance at best to make it as a backup infielder. But despite some nice defensive plays, Richar entered batting .111 and was honest about his state of mind.

“I don’t feel like I’m playing the way I’m used to playing. I don’t feel confident,” Richar said. “I need to get that back. I’m trying to do too much. I need to play my game. Right now, I don’t feel like I’m playing my game.”

The Reds are wearing green hats for St. Patrick’s Day and several players had green shirts among their street clothes, including Brandon Phillips and Baker.

“Erin Go Braugh my brother,” Baker said to Phillips — both men laughed.


Cueto and Bray return

For the most part, Johnny Cueto looked pretty decent as he returned to action for the Reds following his stint for the Dominican in the World Baseball Classic.

Cueto gave up one earned run and four hits with one walk and two strikeouts against the Blue Jays.  The 23-year-old threw 73 pitches, with 42 strikes. Batters received first-pitch strikes 11 of 18 times.

A long first inning, including a nine-pitch at-bat with Scott Rolen, had Cueto use a total of 24 pitches. Cueto got Rolen to strikeout on a fastball outside the strike zone and returned to throw nine pitches total in the second inning.

“Johnny looked good,” catcher Ryan Hanigan said. “I was impressed with his ability to throw his fastball under the hands of righties on a consistent basis when we needed that pitch. He changed speeds well. I would have liked to see him get ahead a little bit more but what was positive for sure was when he did get into trouble, it wasn’t often, he didn’t panic and made pitches. He didn’t make mistakes when guys were on base.”

  • Reds manager Dusty Baker said the other day that Cueto would be the Reds’ No. 4 starter.
  • Question for you — does anyone think Cueto will move forward in his sophomore season? Any concerns after he went 9-14 as a rookie?
  • Reliever Bill Bray followed Cueto and worked one scoreless inning with two hits, one walk and one strikeout. Bray hadn’t pitched in eight days before he was bothered by a sore left hamstring. The last outing was his first one because he started late with a sore shoulder.

“The hamstring is great. Everything is good,” Bray said. “My shoulder was good 2 ½ weeks ago. I decided to go running in the outfield one day and it popped. I was kind of like ‘what next?’ But I couldn’t control that. It’s just great to be back out there.”

  • Nick Masset, the fifth starter candidate behind Owings and Bailey, gave up two earned runs and four hits over 2 2/3 innings. Masset walked three and struck out four. Not a great line but I can’t offer much insight since I was in the clubhouse during much of his outing. But that’s three lackluster games in four tries and I have to imagine he’s pitched himself out of the picture for the No. 5. He has a 6.75 ERA going so far.
  • Toronto won the game, 5-4, in the 10th inning. Carlos Fisher gave up a walk-off homer in the bottom of the 10th. It was the first run Fisher gave up after working 3 2/3 scoreless innings over his previous three appearances. 


Sunday in Dunedin

It’s a little patch of Florida with the Labatt’s beer flows and the Canadian maple leaf flag flies proudly — Dunedin. Unfortunately, it’s not one of the finer ballparks in the Grapefruit League and the ball is prone to flying out without much effort on the hitters part. I remember one day when the wind was blowing out and Eric Milton was pitching…you needed an abacus to keep score.

Until the bus gets here, this is the Reds’ lineup:

Hopper CF, Dickerson LF, Votto 1B, Phillips 2B, Bruce RF, Encarnacion 3B, Nix DH, Gonzalez SS, Hanigan C.

Cueto is the starting pitcher and Nick Masset is expected to follow from the bullpen. Bill Bray, who hasn’t pitched since he was up here eight days ago, is also on the travel roster.

Blue Jays lineup:

Inglett SS, Hill 2B, Bautista CF, Millar 1B, Rolen 3B, Lane DH, Snider RF, Barrett C, Adams LF

P Mills

Updated news you can use:

  • Dusty Baker still hasn’t defined specific late-inning bullpen roles but he is leaning towards carrying 12 pitchers early in the season, instead of 11. 

“We have to get Francisco Cordero together and see who our long man is,” Baker said

  • When asked if infielder Jeff Keppinger was in danger of not making the team because of a slow spring, Baker gave little indication that was possible. Keppinger had two hits on Saturday but came into Sunday batting .179 (5-for-28).

“He has a track record. That helps big time,” Baker said. “Kepp is a guy that plays a lot of positions. Things are always subject to change but you never really feel comfortable in this game. You have to continue to produce. I wasn’t worried about Kepp hitting. He can hit. He didn’t have his stroke. Everybody doesn’t get their stroke at the same time. You hate to make up your mind on spring Trainings only. You can get fooled. You have to go on track record, if he has one, and what he’s doing now. If he’s not hurt, there’s a good chance he’ll come pretty close to what he’s always done.

  • If Baker wanted to go in a different direction, Adam Rosales or Paul Janish would be two top alternatives. Both can play multiple infield positions. Rosales is batting .222 but Janish came in batting .300 and has made improvements offensively. He batted .188 in 38 big league games in 2008.

“I think I mentally took on the approach to slow it down,” Janish said.

Baker believed there to be more to it than that. Janish has put in the work the club asked of him.

“I’ve noticed that he looks stronger,” Baker said. “Every time I go in the weight room to work out, he’s in there. He’s working on his hands and his forearm strength.”.

Talking to Jones, Volquez, Baker

After Friday’s game, the Reds will be 15 down and 18 to go in the Grapefruit League pre-season. That means we’re about at the point where ‘it’s still early in spring’ or ‘it’s only been 20 at-bats’ no longer suffices. Currently batting .100 (2-for-20) in 11 games entering the night, non-roster outfielder Jacque Jones realizes things have to improve if he wants to be with the team in April.

“You have to do something to get on the team,” Jones said.

“I still feel like I can do it. I’ve been a little too quick. I’m trying to slow the game back down. The confidence is there. That’s not the problem.”

“You have to learn how to play and succeed when you feel like you’re not at your best. When things are going good, everything is OK. But I’m playing and things aren’t going the way you’d like them to go.”

Jones is one of several people trying to get a foothold on the vacancy in left field. Two of the other candidates, Jonny Gomes and Chris Dickerson, are having fantastic springs. Jones has a few things going for him, including a successful track record with the Twins and Cubs. He played in Chicago for Dusty Baker in 2006.

“I know he can play,” Baker said. “It’s a matter of just doing it and getting his confidence back through performance. For whatever reason, sometimes you lose your stroke. I’ve seen him play. It’d be different if I hadn’t seen him play.”

But Baker also made it clear that Jones has to show he can improve in order to make the team.

“You’ve almost got to find it,” he said. “If you’re one of my regulars, then you’re not as worried about finding it. But when you’re trying to make the team, you don’t have much choice.”

  • Edinson Volquez got teased a little bit when he walked into the clubhouse after getting off the bus. Volquez’s Dominican team was bounced by an underdog Netherlands squad this week in the World Baseball Classic. 

“You weren’t gone long enough for us to miss you,” one player joked to Volquez.

Despite the early exit, Volquez loved his experience with the Dominican team.

“It was unbelievable playing with those guys – Big Papi (David Ortiz) and Pedro Martinez.”

His favorite moment?

“Being with Pedro,” Volquez said. “He doesn’t teach anybody but you can learn from him. He doesn’t tell you anything about the game. He said ‘just watch me pitch and you can get something.”

Volquez is slated to pitch three innings tonight.

Volquez’s countryman, Johnny Cueto is slated to pitch either as a starter or reliever on Sunday against the Blue Jays. Nick Masset was originally slated to start but Baker might change the order.

“I’d probably be leaning towards starting Cueto,” Baker said. “He’s only warmed up as a starter and Masset knows how to warm up as a starter and a reliever.” 

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