Results tagged ‘ Travis Wood ’

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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CF: Dickerson hot, Stubbs not

During Jamie Ramsey’s “Meet the Reds Press” just before we all came out here, I made a comment that if Drew Stubbs played himself out of center field, left field contender Chris Dickerson could easily move over if Stubbs took a step backwards in camp.

Through the early going of games, that seems to be happening. (Although in fairness, I also said in that same statement to Jamie that I didn’t think Stubbs would falter.)

Dickerson went 4-for-4 with a two-run homer in Monday’s 13-5 Reds win over the A’s. He’s batting .429 (9-for-21) this spring. Stubbs, who did not play Monday, is batting .100 (2-for-20) and has seven strikeouts.

A couple of weeks ago, Dickerson created a little dustup about his disappointment in not getting a more serious look in center field, his natural position. But now he’s backed it up on the field.

“Hey man, that’s how you do it. You play your way into it,” manager Dusty Baker said. “You don’t talk your way into it. And he’s playing. That was an outstanding job today. He’s been having a good spring.”

Baker has given Dickerson several starts in center field, so he’s definitely getting a serious look.If Juan Francisco could become the left-handed portion of left field, moving Dickerson to center field would be an even easier move to make. Besides, six good weeks in the Majors last season does not assure Stubbs of any lockdowns on the position.

Other notes:

*Mike Leake isn’t likely to get a serious look at the fifth spot but he certainly deserves more than a cursory glance. Leake allowed one hit and struck out four over two scoreless innings of relief.

“Leake was outstanding. That little dude can pitch,” Baker said.

In three games, Leake has logged five scoreless innings with two hits, one walk and six strikeouts.

*Travis Wood pitched three innings before Leake and allowed one hit, one run with three walks and four strikeouts.

*Starter Mike Lincoln came out blazing by retiring his first six batters in a row. He allowed all four of his runs and five hits in the third inning but walked none and struck out two.

“Linc looked good the first two innings,” Baker said. “In the third inning, he got some balls out over the plate.”

*During the morning workout, lefty reliever Bill Bray threw live BP and said everything was good.

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Good Monday morning

Greetings — here is the Reds lineup vs. the A’s.

Reds lineup:

Dickerson 8
Cabrera 6
Votto 3
Rolen 5
Gomes 7
Nix 9
Francisco DH
Miles 4
Castillo 2

Lincoln 1

Manager Dusty Baker was still thinking about the end of Sunday’s game when he watched Jordan Smith blow a 5-1 lead after getting the first two outs in the top of the ninth vs. the White Sox. Chicago notched four hits and four runs and the game ended in a 5-5 tie.

“It was like watching a kid get beat up,” Baker said. “You want him to learn a lesson from it but you don’t want him to get beat up too badly.”

A couple of times, Smith was one strike away from ending the game.

“It was his game. We didn’t have anybody warming up. You learn more from bad outings than you do good ones.”

Smith, drafted in the sixth round of the 2006 Draft, has been a starter his entire time in the organization. But Baker sees Smith transitioning to a reliever, possibly a closer down the road. Smith was given chances to finish Friday’s game vs. the Dodgers too.

“He has a really good sinker and he’s working on a better slider and off-speed pitch,” Baker said. “He’s got one of the heaviest sinkers in camp.”

Smith will be on the bus trip to Tucson when the Reds face the Diamondbacks.

“I think he’s got the stuff,” Baker said. “This is when you find out what a kid is made of. It’s difficult to do. The biggest thing in the life of a reliever is to forget yesterday. That’s the toughest lesson to learn.”

Both Mike Leake and Travis Wood are scheduled to see action today vs. Oakland. Both have had sensational springs to this point but have been seen as only outside contenders for the fifth spot on the rotation. Baker was asked if either of them had legitimate chances.

“I don’t know,” Baker said. “This is Leake’s first Spring Training, period, and Wood’s first Major League Spring Training. It’s like pitch first and then we’ll see what’s happening. Don’t worry about making the team. Don’t worry about not making the team. Don’t worry about nothing. Just pitch. That’s what they’re doing.

“If they’re not here when we break, they’ll be here pretty soon. If they keep pitching like they’re pitching, they’ll be here sooner than most of us probably think about, if there’s room or if other guys aren’t doing the job, different variables.”

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Miles ready, utility INF battle

Aaron Miles still has an ugly, nasty looking black fingernail on his middle finger — the proof that remains from his small fracture at the tip. Fortunately it just looks worse than it is. Miles is expected to get his first game action on Friday.

“It’s slight pain but the doctor said I’m not going to hurt it at all,” said Miles, who fractured his finger on March 2. “The fracture was in a real good spot and to go be as aggressive as I want. As long as I go out there and make the plays, I’m good to go. I can’t hurt it more.”

The other member of the utility infield, broken finger club is Chris Burke, who suffered a more serious injury with a fractured knuckle on his right ring finger. Burke started swinging at bat on Wednesday and was headed to the cage again Thursday morning.

Manager Dusty Baker already has some tough decisions to make with his backup infielders. It’s a crowded group with Miles, Burke, Paul Janish, Miguel Cairo, Todd Frazier and Drew Sutton.Baker didn’t know how many extra infielders the club would carry.

“I haven’t even played that shell game yet,” he said. “We could play it all day and night. Right now, we have other things. We’ll play them and we’ll see come cut time. Now cut time comes weekly.”

*The first wave of cuts went down after Wednesday’s game.

Reassigned to Minor League camp were LHP Alexander Smit, RHP Jose Arredondo, 1B/OF Danny Dorn and catchers Ryan Yarbrough and Chris Denove. The next cuts will likely come after the day-night split-squad games on March 17.

Dorn caught the manager’s eye during his time in big league camp.

“Dorn, he impressed me,” Baker said. “It’s a matter of numbers and how much playing time he was going to get. I think he recognized pitches quicker than anybody among the young players we have here. Plus, he big-time got better at first base too.”

*Some tornadoes touched down near Benton, Ark., which is very close to where LHP Travis Wood’s family resides. Wood said his parents were OK and the twisters were a couple of miles away.

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Cueto pitches, Wood impressive

Goodyear Ballpark hasn’t been the Reds friend, yet. As the road team this time, Cincinnati dropped a 4-2 loss to the Indians but outhit Cleveland, 9-7. Cincinnati is 0-2 after two games vs. the Tribe.

“We just have to get some timely hits,” manager Dusty Baker said. “It’s OK. We played better.”

Starter Johnny Cueto’s line — he allowed four runs, two earned, on five hits with a walk and four strikeouts in two innings. Cueto was burned in the first when leadoff batter Michael Brantley reached on Joey Votto’s E3 toss to the bag. It led to two runs scoring.

In the bottom of the second inning, Cueto walked Austin Kearns with a 3-1 pitch before next batter Andy Marte smoked a first-pitch fastball for a two-run home run to left field.

Overall, Cueto was pleased with the afternoon.

“It went very well today. I was working the pitches,” he said.

Other items of note:

*Five Reds pitchers that followed Cueto did not allow any runs over the remaining six innings.

*Fifth starter candidate Travis Wood had a very nice first outing with two scoreless innings with one walk and one strikeout. In the fifth, Wood retired the side in order with two routine groundballs before he struck out a batter on three pitches.

“He knows what he’s doing,” Baker said. “He’ll cut the ball in on you. He’ll run it away from you. He has a pretty good changeup.”

*Mike Leake also had his first spring action and threw a perfect one inning with one strikeout that also impressed the manager.

*Todd Frazier appeared as the DH for two at-bats late in the game. He went 0-for-2, including being called out on strikes his first time up.

*The Reds agreed to one-year contracts with their 26 remaining unsigned players. All of them are the 0-3 year service time guys that have no leverage. One positive sign is that no one was renewed. 

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Saturday morning notes

Two days after taking a 95 mph Aroldis Chapman heater to the right leg, Todd Frazier will see action in Saturday’s game vs. the Indians. Frazier had a bruised quadriceps but is fine.

Manager Dusty Baker plans to give Frazier a couple of at-bats as the DH later in the game.

“He’s champing at the bit,” Baker said. [The medical staff] had him unable to play but he says he’s able. We talked and they said he’s cool, he’s fine. That was yesterday.”

*Today will also mark the spring debuts of pitchers Travis Wood and Mike Leake. Both have eyes on the fifth spot of the rotation. Baker has never seen Wood in a game and watched Leake pitch once in the Arizona Fall League last year. He’s watched them throw in bullpens and live BP though.

“They’re not only young arms — they are pretty advanced pitching wise – location, movement, change of speeds,” Baker said. “They pitch older than their age. … I just hope they relax and throw strikes. I think they well.”

*Infielder Aaron Miles is still wearing a splint on his fractured right middle finger. Miles said he’s doing well and the fracture is at the tip of the finger (his fingernail was a gruesome black). Once he’s able to swing and throw through the pain, he will get back into action. The injury happened on Tuesday while working on double play drills. 

*Johnny Cueto will start today in his first game since last season. Cueto usually throws in winter ball but was prevented from doing that this past off-season. Will he be as sharp in the early going?

“Probably not,” Baker said. “You can tell the guys that played winter ball from the guys that don’t. Look at Asdrubal Cabrera yesterday, or Perez on their side. You look at guys like Viola, Castillo and Del Rosario on our side. They’re two weeks removed from playing. The same with Francisco.

“Johnny looks great. He looks in great shape. He’s throwing the ball great.”

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Thursday morning notes

The players had their annual closed-door meeting with MLB security this morning, which limited the access a little. But workouts are scheduled to begin shortly and on schedule.

Fifth starter candidate Travis Wood had a nice situation during his off-season workouts in Arkansas. He got to train with fellow lefty Cliff Lee, who lives only a few miles away. Lee starred for the Indians and Phillies last season and is now with the Mariners.

“He’s a great, a good mentor and a great guy,” Wood said. “It was nice to have somebody of his stature to workout with and pick his brain. He’s a soft spoken guy. If you talk to him, he’ll carry on a conversation like he’s your best friend. He likes to keep things pretty low key and mellow.”

*Each spring, the Reds video crew will shoot young players for “down on the farm” segments that are shown between innings at Great American Ball Park. The videos are for the fans but someone else apparently has been watching — Dusty Baker.

“I remember all of those guys’ things,” Baker said. “It’s interesting to hear kids’ evaluation of themselves. [Pitcher] Sam LeCure, I found his interesting. They asked him about his best repertoire of pitchers and he said the best pitch in baseball was a well-located fastball. That’s how I was taught.

“I heard one guy say ‘I’m a good outfielder and I’ve got speed’ and never once mention hitting. I asked that young man why? You don’t think you’re a good hitter. You mentioned everything but the No. 1 thing. I guess you’re going to be a bench player.”

Baker has just given the younger players one more thing to be worried about as they try to impress their way up the system.

“I don’t look for stuff. I just don’t miss much,” the manager said.

*The temperatures are headed back into the 70s today as pitchers do another session of live BP. If history is any guide, it appears that the desert weather is going cause some issues for pitchers this spring.

“The pitchers are really going to have to be patient with their breaking balls,” Baker said. “They don’t tend to break as well down here in his dry air and lack of humidity. The balls are chalkier and slicker because of the lack of humidity. Guys that haven’t been here before commented on it. it makes it a little tougher to judge pitchers here than in Florida.

“It’s easier to hit here generally. High sky, hard surface, big wide fields. The fields are a lot larger than normal to offset the way a ball carries.  It’s a little tougher to judge a sinkerball pitcher.

“It’s going to get smoking. Those infields – you can’t water them every inning – you’re going to think you’re on highway 10 out there. It’s hard to judge sinkerballers because balls will get through that don’t normally get through. It’s hard to judge fly ball pitchers because the ball carries tremendously. You’ll probably see some pretty high batting averages and high ERAs. You have to take that into consideration when you’re evaluating somebody, offensively or defensively.”

*Homer Bailey, Aaron Harang, Bronson Arroyo, Nick Masset and Francisco Cordero are among those who throw live BP today.

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Quiet, for now

The postseason has kept the news largely focused on the teams still playing and those with managerial vacancies. The Reds have been largely under the radar.

Some stuff to think about in the coming weeks:

The 40-man roster has to be set by Nov. 20. Among the prospects that will need protection are Chris Heisey, Travis Wood and Chris Valaika. Players drafted and signed at age 19 or older get four years in the minors before they have to be protected on a 40-man roster. The wait is five years for players taken at age 18 or younger. That means the Reds can wait one more year on Todd Frazier, who taken out of college in 2007.

“We’re in the process on developing a plan,” Reds GM Walt Jocketty said on Thursday. “We have a number of players to protect on our 40-man roster, which means we have a lot of tough decisions on guys to keep on the roster or not.”

The $8.5 club option ($1M buyout) must be exercised or declined on catcher Ramon Hernandez. That doesn’t have to be decided until soon after the World Series. My take: the Reds won’t pick up the option but will try to re-negotiate for a lower-priced deal.

The shortstop situation is still fluid. Look for the Reds to scan the trade market.

Here are some other key dates:

Dec. 1, 2009
Last date for former Club to offer their free agents salary arbitration to receive compensation.

Dec. 7-10, 2009
Winter Meetings, Indianapolis. The Rule 5 Draft is Dec. 10 before everyone bugs out.

Dec. 12, 2009
Tender deadline

I was out of town when Bryan Price was named the pitching coach on Saturday. It sounds like a decent hire to me. Price was in Arizona with Brandon Webb and Dan Haren (and Micah Owings) and was in Seattle when young ace Felix Hernandez came to the Majors.

Jocketty liked Price’s ability as a teacher of young pitchers that can also handle the veterans well.

“He has experience teaching at the minor league level as a coordinator and coach and he’s had success at the Major League level,” Jocketty said. “He’s not a household name but once people see the work he does and how he relates with the pitchers, they’ll see why we liked him.”

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