Results tagged ‘ Yonder Alonso ’

Spring game No. 1 in the books

The Reds first Cactus League game wasn’t one for the time capsule. Cincinnati fell behind 9-0 and wound up losing by a 9-2 score to the Indians.

Tough day for starter/5th spot candidate Mike Lincoln, who gave up four earned runs and seven hits in 1 1/3 innings. Most of the hits were solid shots, including the leadoff homer by Asdrubal Cabrera in the top of the first. Lincoln started Cabrera 3-0 and surrendered the long ball on a 3-2 fastball.

“The very first inning, I still had some nerves I was settling down. I felt good,” Lincoln said. “I felt really under control. I was just missing a little bit and then sure enough, next thing you know I was down 3-0 to the first hitter and then came back into him and he took me out of the park.”

It was a better day for another fifth spot contender, Matt Maloney. Taking over from Lincoln with one out in the second inning and runners on second and third, Maloney worked out of Lincoln’s mess and tossed 1 2/3 scoreless innings with one walk and two strikeouts.

“Maloney did very well,” manager Dusty Baker said. “He came and got us out of trouble and then had a clean inning the next inning. He threw the ball well today.”

Other notes –

*Baker has been impressed with the camp performance of Ramon Hernandez, who smoked a leadoff double to right field in the third inning.

*After replacing Joey Votto, Yonder Alonso had a tough afternoon defensively with two errors. There was one moment when Alonso made a nice diving stop but committed a two-out E3 with a bad toss to pitcher Sam LeCure covering the bag.

*LeCure followed Alonso’s first error by allowing a three-run home run to Nick Weglarz. All three runs were unearned.

*Miguel Cairo prevented the shutout. Cairo hit a RBI double to center field in the eighth inning that scored Ryan Hanigan. Cairo scored on a Paul Janish sacrifice fly.

*Only 4,631 fans turned out for the first game. My early review of Goodyear Ballpark is positive. It seems like a nice place to watch a game. Bring your sunscreen because shade is a premium but the sun does go behind the home plate area earlier and cools things off. It was a perfect weather day though…sunny and 73 degrees at first pitch.

 

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Monday morning notes

If you’re wondering what’s next for Aroldis Chapman, he is scheduled to throw in the bullpen today. His next camp milestone, however, should come Thursday when he appears in the Reds intrasquad game.

The list of pitchers that are to appear is as follows:

Harang, Bailey, Chapman, Del Rosario, Smith, Ondrusek, Smit, Valiquette, Viola.

*Bill Bray, working his way back from Tommy John surgery, is up to 40 pitches off of a mound in the bullpen. He probably won’t be ready to pitch when games start. The club isn’t rushing him.

*Todd Frazier has a bat that will force his way to the Majors someday soon. But exactly where remains the big mystery. Originally a shortstop, Frazier has worked out all over the diamond this spring and has played multiple positions since he was Drafted in 2007.

“He’s an interesting guy,” manager Dusty Baker said. “He can play all over and he has a really good bat. Hopefully at some point in time, we can settle on a steady position for him.”

Besides having established veterans at the big league level at every infield spot, the Reds have prospects on their way. Chris Valaika is a potential future second baseman. Zach Cozart is a future shortstop. Juan Francisco is a third baseman in waiting and as mentioned in the previous blog post,

Yonder Alonso is waiting at first base. Chris Heisey is nearing the Majors as a corner outfielder.

“There’s somebody coming at almost every position,” Baker said. “We’re trying [Frazier] at every position in case we use his value in that way.”

With Spring Training, the daily workouts usually begats the itch for exhibition games to start. But that’s mostly the writers who want to see something different. Baker wasn’t in a rush for camp to move any quicker.

“We still need to get some work in,” he said. “we didn’t get some fundamentals in because of the weather. We have cutoffs and relays today. We want to get some fundamental stuff in there.”

*And a public congratulations to Hal McCoy, who will be joining Fox Sports Ohio to cover the Reds. He will be writing stories on line for their web site and also appearing on pre-game and postgame shows. When Hal told me last week of his plans, I was naturally excited for him.

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Alonso trying third base, outfield

Many have wondered what would happen to Joey Votto when Yonder Alonso reaches the big leagues since both are good young hitters and of course, both play first base.

In an effort to see if can be versatile, the Reds have had Alonso working out lately at third base, left field and right field.

“It doesn’t matter where I play as long as I play,” Alonso said. “As long as I get a shot and prove to the guys I can play there. In my head, I know I can play. I just want to get my shot.

“I’m doing everything, and they’re trying everything, so I can go up there.”

Right now, it’s just a trial run for Alonso. He’s still primarily working out at first base.

“We just wanted to expose him to some different positions and see if he feels comfortable,” general manager Walt Jocketty said. “We’ll see how it goes. If it goes well enough, we’ll put him in some games at different positions. It would just make him more valuable to us if he can play other places.”

Lots of speculation has involved Votto being moved to left field when Alonso is ready for his promotion. Jocketty dispelled that notion.

“It will take some time to figure it out,” he said. “That’s why we want to see him at different positions. He’s got a great bat and Joey is going to be at first base for a long time. I don’t see moving Joey.”

More on this later today on MLB.com/Reds.com

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Chapman pitches, hitters guess

Aroldis Chapman faced five hitters for about 10 minutes worth of pitching in his session of live batting practice on Wednesday. By my count, he threw 32 pitches to Chris Burke, Chris Valaika, Chris Heisey, Yonder Alonso and Corky Miller.

Only one hitter — Heisey — made solid contact and that was one time.

“I haven’t thrown to a hitter in about eight months. I felt really good,” Chapman said through interpreter Tony Fossas. “I threw the ball very efficiently. I thought I had control and command of my pitches.”

Batters were talking to each other trying to figure out what they were seeing. After seeing Chapman’s changeup on his third overall pitch to Burke, people around the cage were heard going ‘oooh.’

For all of the talk about Chapman’s 100 mph velocity after his signing, it was his slider and changeup that had people in the cage talking, and guessing.

“That’s a nice little repertoire. Somebody should sign this kid,” Burke said after leaving the cage.

“I never really had a slider or changeup,” Chapman said. “The changeup is the pitch that wasn’t efficient and didn’t throw much. Since I got here, I’ve been working really hard on it and those are pitches I will be able to use.”

The session reminded me of the first time Johnny Cueto pitched live BP at camp. He showed good stuff right away and was an unknown entity. By the time spring was over, Cueto was in the rotation and essentially skipped Triple-A. (He did have four starts at Louisville the previous year).

“Chapman was very good,” general manager Walt Jocketty said. “With hitters in there, he was very comfortable and threw good pitches. He threw a lot of strikes. He threw a really good changeup. All in all, it was a good day.

“The slider was pretty nasty. Very nice. It will be fun to see how this progresses. There’s a lot of competition for that rotation.”

Wilkin Castillo, who speaks Spanish, was Chapman’s catcher this time. He called all of the pitches and wasn’t shaken off once.

“His slider was 85-88 mph and breaking a lot. It was pretty nice,” Castillo said. “His fastball? Oh my God, it was 98-99 mph and strikes, down and in.”

One other thing to keep in mind: Pitching coach Bryan Price had pitchers not use the “L” screen in front of the mound and not tell hitters what was coming. That’s not often the case in the first live BP. So hitters were really had a disadvantage on their second day of camp against all pitchers.

Chapman will pitch again on Saturday.

Here is what others had to say about Chapman –

Burke:

“Obviously, it’s dominating stuff. If he’s going to keep the ball down like that and get ahead in counts, what can you really do? As a hitter, you have to be ready to hit the fastball. It’s going to give him so much leeway with the slider and changeup.”

“If he can command the ball down in the zone like he did today, sky’s the limit for him potentially.”

“It’s a lot like Randy [Johnson] was. When Randy could really command his fastball, what could you really do? You just hoped you ran into one. His slider to me was comparable. It was sharp and came out of the same arm slot. If he can get it in like that, as a right-handed hitter, the best you can do is hope to hit a groundball hopefully through the left side.”

“First impressions were great. I was surprised with how well he seemed to be in command of his stuff.”

“I’ve been playing long enough to know a special guy. You don’t need a radar gun to see when the ball is getting there. The ball was getting there. He’s got a little herky-jerky to him, which is good from a pitching standpoint. It’s makes us even more uncomfortable.”

Alonso:

“I didn’t feel that bad just because I know him. He’s my boy. I told him this morning that ‘if by any chance I have to face you, just don’t hit me.’ Whoever doesn’t know him, God bless, because it’s rough.”

Pitching coach Bryan Price:

“It was terrific. He was in the zone with all three of his pitches. I thought he was sharper against hitters than he was in the bullpen.”

“These guys have seen guys that throw hard. It’s when you get a combination of a guy that’s a hard thrower that can command a finesse pitch like a changeup and has a power breaking ball. That puts you at a big disadvantage when he’s got three choices, even when he’s behind in the count. Today, he could have pitched with any of those pitches behind in the count.”

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Live BP, Chapman

Petty soon, the Reds will be holding their first edition of live batting practice. Their pitchers will throw to their own hitters/teammates.

“It’s probably one of the most unfair days there are in baseball because the pitchers are far ahead of the hitters,” Dusty Baker said. “This is mostly for the pitchers.”

At to that — Some guys might have their hands full with Aroldis Chapman, who is throwing in the session. If the board was read correctly, Chapman will face Yonder Alonso, Chris Heisey, Chris Burke and Chris Valaika.

“I’m ready. It’ll be interesting,” Alonso said. “I faced Stephen Strasburg in the fall league too. I went 1-for-3. Obviously, this will be lefty-lefty.”

Jonny Gomes has some experience facing a ballyhooed prospect. When with the Rays, he took live BP when David Price was pitching for the first time in camp.

“A 1-0 changeup and dumped it over the batter’s eye in center field,” Gomes said. “True story, ask him.”

As for Chapman?

“I can go all of camp without facing him,” Gomes said.

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Gomes' rebound season

Among the myriad of off-season decisions that need to be made will involve outfielder Jonny Gomes.

Gomes has resurrected his career in Cincinnati — he came into Sunday batting .276 with 19 home runs and 48 RBIs. Not too shabby considering he’s done that with 243 at-bats after starting the season in Triple-A Louisville. He’s played well vs. right-handers (.255/14/31) and lefties (.317/5/17). He’s one of the best clutch guys on the club with a .323 average w/RISP. He’s also been a great addition, personality-wise, to the clubhouse.

“I wanted to get on track and back on the map,” Gomes said on Sunday. “I did have a couple of 20 homer seasons in the big leagues under my belt without a lot of at-bats. The other one where I didn’t hit 20, I hit 17. Last year I didn’t have many at-bats.”

Gomes is making $600,000 at the big league level this season. The Reds could offer him arbitration, which is something he said he would accept. If they don’t and he becomes a free agent, it becomes less of a guarantee.  

Getting a chance to play, without the help of roster attrition, would be a factor.

“I think I’ve earned that opportunity,” Gomes said.

“It depends on needs, what’s out there, which kids might be ready coming up behind these guys,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said.

OK like yesterday with center field — you’re the GM. Do you bring Gomes back for 2010 and if so, does he start in left field?

Reds lineup:

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

News of the day:

OF Willy Taveras and C Ramon Hernandez have started running the bases back in Cincinnati. There is a good chance that both players could be activated this week while the Reds are home.

LHP Matt Maloney threw on the side on Saturday but still has some soreness with the blister on his middle finger. It’s not known when Maloney might get another start yet.

With Louisville one game away from elimination in the playoffs, Baker wasn’t expecting a lot of call-ups since much of the 40-man roster is already up or on the DL. When asked if Yonder Alonso might come up, Baker responded “probably not.” Alonso might need a break to get ready for the Arizona Fall League.

And in the classy move of the day, the Cubs and their writers held an informal ceremony on the field for Hal McCoy on his last time working at Wrigley Field. Among the gifts was a No. 37 from the scoreboard — the number of years that Hal covered the Reds. Lou Piniella, Cubs GM Jim Hendry and former Red Ryan Dempster were among those sent Hal off the right way.

Hal McCoy night at GABP is Wednesday.

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Wanted: run producers

Long before injuries decimated the roster, the No. 1 problem plaguing the Reds all season was run production. It’s something Reds manager Dusty Baker acknowledged on Thursday morning.

Baker was asked about his impressions of Wladimir Balentien, who hasn’t been remarkable but isn’t struggling either. Balentien has 14 walks, 19 strikeouts and a .272 average with two homers and eight RBIs entering Thursday. The manager wasn’t ready to comment much about Balentien’s future but he highlight what he’s seeking from his entire roster.

“I’m looking for some dudes that drive in some runs and hopefully don’t strikeout so much because we have enough strikeout people,” Baker said. “We’ve got four or five guys that are 1-to-3, 1-to-5 [strikeout] ratio guys. That’s a lot, especially if you’re not hitting the ball out of the ballpark a lot.

“We are striking out too much for me. That really bothers me because you have no chance to do something to help anybody. We need some guys that can drive in some runs. We need some RBI men. That’s what I’m looking for. If you look at our driving in runners in scoring position, we have some very low numbers.”

Some offensive stats:

The Reds are tied for last in the Majors (with the Padres) by batting .242. They are ranked 15th out of 16 teams in runs scored. They are 15th in hitting with runners in scoring position (.241). They are 11th in strikeouts and 15th in on-base percentage (.311).

Reds lineup:

Stubbs 8
Janish 6
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Gomes 7
Balentien 9
Rosales 5
Hanigan 2
Wells 1

It’s just a day off for Scott Rolen. Baker spoke to him and Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston after the trade and breaks when there are day games after night games will be common.

“We’ve got three straight day games in Chicago and no day off until another week after Chicago,” Baker said.

1B Yonder Alonso was promoted to Triple-A Louisville for the International League playoffs. In his first game, Alonso was 0-for-4 with a walk and two strikeouts. The Bats lost an 8-4 game to Durham. It’s a best-of-five series.

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Leake, Phillips, Owings, etc.

It’s getting down to the final stretch to sign 2009 Draft picks before the Aug. 17 midnight ET deadline. GM Walt Jocketty seemed optimistic the Reds could get their first-round pick, RHP Mike Leake, signed.

“We’ve had several discussions lately,” Jocketty said. “I think we’re getting closer. Hopefully, we’ll get something resolved this week. We’ve only got 10 days.”

Last year, the Reds didn’t sign their top pick, 1B Yonder Alonso, until about 15 minutes before the deadline.

“I hope it doesn’t take that long,” Jocketty said.

Jocketty also downplayed any notion that he was considering moving 2B Brandon Phillips to shortstop because Double-A Carolina prospect Todd Frazier was moved to second base. A report on Tuesday indicated that Jocketty was open to the notion even though it hadn’t been discussed.

“He’s played left field all year,” Jocketty said of Frazier. “We know he can play shortstop. We know he can play third base. We want to see if he can play second base. We’re trying to develop players to play different positions. It has nothing to do with Phillips.”

Frazier has started Carolina’s last five games at second base.

Phillips has had no discussions with the club about switching to the other side of the infield.

“Nobody has said anything to me,” Phillips said.

Phillips was originally a shortstop as he rose through the Expos and Indians systems. He’s played there a couple of times for the Reds.

“I will do whatever the team wants me to do,” Phillips said. “I won a Gold Glove at second base. If I have to go somewhere else, I will try to win a Gold Glove there. I will let them make the decisions.”

RHP Micah Owings, on the DL with right shoulder tightness, threw a 75-pitch simulated game today and faced Reds hitters Adam Rosales and Chris Dickerson. Owings used all of his pitches and had no issues.

“I felt pretty good and keyed on working on a couple of things,” Owings said. “I feel like I got some good work in today.”

Owings said his next step was to pitch on a rehab assignment for Triple-A Louisville. Manager Dusty Baker left open the possiblity that the minor league outing might not be needed. Owings could possibly start for the Reds on Tuesday, the day he is eligible to be activated, if he doesn’t go to the Louisville since that would be his normal day.

3B Scott Rolen is back in after a two-game absence aftering beaned in the head on Sunday.

RHP Jared Burton went to Class A Dayton today for the beginning of his rehab assignment. Burton has been on the DL since July 26 with right shoulder fatigue and asthma. He is eligible to be activated on Sunday.

Dickerson can also return from the DL on Tuesday. Having him, Burton, and Owings return would give the beat-up Reds some much needed reinforcements.

“It would help, big time,” Baker said.

In the minors, Alonso began a rehab assignment with the GCL Reds on Tuesday. Alonso broke the hamate bone in his right hand with Carolina on June 19 and had surgery on June 23.

Reds lineup:

Taveras 8
Gonzalez 6
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Rolen 5
Balentien 9
Nix 7
Hanigan 2
Lehr 1

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Dickerson starting, Inbox open

I am planning on doing another edition of the Reds Inbox (formerly called the Mailbag) for Monday. Please click on the comments section below this post to send a question that might be included. You can also e-mail them to mark.sheldon@mlb.com. Just put ‘Inbox’ in the subject area.

The Reds lineup is out and Willy Taveras is not leading off or playing today. It’s Chris Dickerson in the top spot and playing center field.

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

Reds manager Dusty Baker said it won’t be an extended break for Taveras, who is on a 1-for-45 clip at the plate and 8-for-94 (.085) over the last 23 games. The White Sox have lefty starters the next two games.

Baker revealed some displeasure with the second-guessing of his decision to stick with Taveras.

“I know he’s struggling but we tend to jump from one guy to the next guy on who we want to play or who is not playing or whatever,” Baker said. “First everybody wanted [Laynce] Nix to play instead of Dickerson or somebody instead of somebody else. They want Dickerson instead of Taveras. It’s a long season. You have to go with a guy’s track record too.

“Quite honestly, I’m getting a little tired of justifying who I play and how long and when. We’re doing what we can do right now.”

Speaking of Laynce Nix, this weekend he will get to play against his younger brother Jayson Nix, a bench player for Chicago.

“I don’t really get excited about too much but getting to play against him and see him in uniform, it will be good to spend some time with him,” the older Nix said. “It will be fun.”

Joey Votto, who went 0-for-2 for Class A Sarasota on Thursday, got six at-bats during an extended spring intraquad game in Sarasota today. It was believed he had two hits.

What’s the plan for Votto ahead? Sarasota is off for the Florida State League All-Star game.

“We’ll have to talk with him and see,” general manager Walt Jocketty said. “He’ll probably be out on a rehab for a while. He’ll probably move up a level or two.”

It’s highly possible that Votto could go to Double-A Carolina, who will be at home for five games starting on Monday. Class A Dayton is home this weekend but then breaks next week for the Midwest League All-Star game.

“I think he’s leaving today to go to Dayton,” Baker said.

Carolina seems even more viable a stop now that first baseman and 2008 top draft pick Yonder Alonso broke the hamate bone in his right hand. It happened while swinging at a pitch in the nightcap of a doubleheader at Tennessee. He is on Carolina’s disabled list.

“We’ll probably bring him here to be looked at. That usually requires surgery  but I haven’t heard for sure yet.”

UPDATE at 7:05 p.m.: Alex Gonzalez was a late scratch because of right elbow tightness. Paul Janish started at shortstop and batted eighth. Ryan Hanigan was moved up to bat seventh.

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Progress of Reds No. 1 picks

While I was dutifully following the MLB Draft Tracker today for later round Reds picks, Jamie Ramsey of the Reds sent an email detailing the progress of the past five Reds first-round picks (not counting 2009 selection RHP Mike Leake)

2008: 1B Yonder Alonso, 22, (AA-Carolina) overall this season is batting .285 with 7 HR and 41 RBI in 56 games with AA-Carolina and A-Sarasota…this is his first full pro season.

2007: C Devin Mesoraco, 20, (A-Sarasota) batting .211 with 4 HR and 18 RBI in 46 games this season with A-Sarasota.

2006: OF Drew Stubbs, 24, (AAA-Louisville) batting .291 with 2 HR, 19 RBI, 21 R and 19 SB this season with Louisville.

2005: OF Jay Bruce, 23, is the Reds starting right fielder.

2004: RHP Homer Bailey, 23, (AAA-Louisville) twice this season was named International League Pitcher of the Week…has made 18 Major League starts.

Are you happy with the Reds recent string of Reds first-round picks? Taking Jamie’s work a step further, here are some of the other previous Reds first-rounders that were flops:

2003: RHP Ryan Wagner (retired a few weeks ago)

2002: RHP Chris Gruler (injured and out of baseball without reaching MLB)

2001: LHP Jeremy Sowers (did not sign, re-drafted by Indians in 2004)

2000: SS David Espinosa (never reached MLB, in independent ball in 2008)

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