About Me

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I am a freelance writer. I've covered the Cincinnati Reds, Bengals and others since 1992. I have a background in sales as well. I've sold consumer electronics, advertising and consumer package goods for companies ranging from the now defunct Circuit City to Procter&Gamble. I have worked as a stats operator for Xavier University, the University of Cincinnati, the College of Mount St. Joe and Colerain High School.

Monday, February 27, 2017

DeSclafani Scatched From First Spring Start





Anthony DeSclafani was scratched from his scheduled start on Tuesday with a tender elbow.

The 26-year old right-hander missed the start of last season with a strained oblique but the discomfort after pitching live batting practice is nothing to worry about according to manager Bryan Price.

“He had a little bit of elbow tenderness,” Price said.  “It is something he’s had a Florida, before. There is no red alert at this time.  We’re treating it like that.  At this point in time we don’t grave concerns that he won’t be ready for the opening day roster.  Brandon Finnegan will start tomorrow (Tuesday).  We will slot DeSclafani back in when he’s ready.”

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DeSclafani is one of the three pitchers, including Scott Feldman and Finnegan.  DeSclafani is the most likely to get the opening day start.

Zack Cozart remains on the sideline as a precaution.  He is was shut down the last 21 games with tendinitis in his right knee.

“He is running the bases today,” Price said.  “We will be getting him possibly in the game the 28th (tomorrow). I know we have some bad weather coming in.  If it’s sloppy tomorrow, I might make a change. I don’t look at him as a rehab guy.  With the long spring training, we’re just checking boxes.

Devin Mesoraco is still working on his stamina and endurance and will not appear in a game early.

“Until we’re getting closer with workload, I’d hate to target a date,” Price said.  “He’s getting closer.  He is following the plan that Steve (Bauman) and Dr. Kremchek set up for him”

Dilson Herrera, who was prevented from throwing with shoulder inflammation, will play catch today.  He was the designated hitter on Friday and Sunday.

“We’ll make sure he’s throwing at 100 percent before we put him in at secondbase,” Price said.

Reserve outfielder Ryan Raburn will be the designated hitter on today against the Arizona Diamondbacks, his first appearance.

Bronson Arroyo has been out with the flu.  He came in after the clubhouse emptied on Sunday to play catch and is due back today.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Tim Adleman And Robert Stephenson See Frist Spring Action






The Reds had another rocky start by its pitching staff in a 9-5 loss to the San Francisco Giants.

Two pitchers starting the game, Tim Adleman and Robert Stephenson were hit hard by the San Francisco Giants.

Adleman, who was released by Baltimore after two years in their system, took advantage of his enjoyment of the game to bounce back to make his Major League debut at 28.

‘I knew I could still perform at a high level and I still enjoyed playing the game,” Adleman said after allowing a two-run home run in the second inning of his two-inning stint against the Giants.

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Scott Schebler threw Joe Panik out at the plate to end the first inning and saved a run for Adleman.

“Adleman threw fine,” Bryan Price said.  “He’s working on a new pitch (slider).  He was around the plate it was a good first off the spring. I was happy they way the ball came out of his hand. It was a good first outing.”

The Reds scored four runs off Matt Moore and Matt Reynolds in the second inning.  Scott Schebler walked against Moore.  Stuart Turner, the Rule 5 claim who the Reds have to carry on its 25-man roster all season or offer him back to the Minnesota Twins for $25,000, singled off Reynolds.  Zach Vincej doubled to score Schebler.  Jose Peraza singled to send Turner home.  Dilson Herrera, who is not allowed to throw because of inflammation in his shoulder, doubled as the designated hitter to cap the four-run inning.

Robert Stephenson gave up four runs in one plus inning.  He allowed four runs on three hits, a walk and hit a batter.

Jimmy Rollins singled and Joe Panik homered. Rolling singled again in the fourth and Jarrett Parker homered off Stephenson.

“It was a struggle for Stephenson to get ahead.  When he did get ahead there was an 0-2 hit by pitch and an 0-2 single.  He’ll get more opportunities.  He just has to settle in a little bit,” Price said.

The Reds scored five runs on eight hits.

“(Adam) Duvall hit the ball hard three times,” Price said.

Blake Trahan, who is not in Major League camp, had a hit in two good at bats.

“One day someone is going to ask Trahan of this is his first big league camp and he could claim its his third.  This is his second year and every time he gets in a game he does something,” Price said.

Trahan was taken in the third round of the 2015 draft out of University of Louisiana - Lafayette.  He skipped Dayton and went from Billings to Daytona two years ago.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Eugenio Suarez Homers Amir Garrett Sheds Nerves But Reds Lose To Indians






Eugenio hit the Reds first home run of the spring and Amir Garrett showed signs that he is close to big league record but the Reds bowed to the American League Champions 8-2 on Saturday.


Suarez in his second year as a thirdbaseman took the Indians playoff hero, Ryan Merritt deep in the second inning,  Hernan Iribarren drove in Jesse Winker, who singled for a second run to give Garrett a 2-1 lead that didn’t hold up after the 6‘5“ former college basketball player left the game.


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It was the first time Garrett started a spring game against Major League hitters.  He pitched in two games last spring but only late in the game against minor leaguers.


“I’m not going to lie to you.  I was a little nervous,” Garrett said.  “I didn’t know what my nerves were going to be like today. I’m all calm now.  I got the first one out of the way. I’m ready to roll. It was like the first day of school.”


The Indians got to Garrett for a run in the first inning.


Jose Ramiez doubled and Edwin Encarnacion singled but he struck out two, catching Carlos Santana looking and Yan Gomes swinging.  Garrett finished with 1 2/3 innings, allowing one run on two hits and a walk.


He feels the competition for the last two spots in the rotation.  There are two spots open following Scott Feldman, Anthony DeSclafani and Brandon Finnegan in the Reds’ starting rotation.  The front runners are Tim Adleman, Cody Reed and Robert Stephenson, who have already pitched in the big leagues.


The next tier includes Rookie Davis, Sal Romano and Garrett. 



“It’s going to be tough.  All those guys are my good friends,” Garrett said.  “We’re all competing for the last spot. I can be anyone of ours (to win the job).  We all have great stuff.  We all compete. I’m looking forward to see what happens at the end.  Whoever gets it I’m happy or happy for them.”


The Reds did very little after the second inning on offense.


“We had some good at bats but didn’t get the big hit,” Manager Bryan Price said.
But Garrett was impressive.


"I like the way he was aggressive. He had a couple of strikeouts on the slider,” Price said. “It looked like right-handers had a hard time picking up the spin. We got him stretched out but got his pitch count up in the first inning."


Jumbo Diaz gave up two runs.  Jackson Stephens gave up three, including a home run to the Indians up and coming star Bradley Zimmer. Austin Brice and Ariel Hernandez gave up a run apiece. Lisalverto Bonilla pitched a scoreless inning.  Evan Mitchell and Ismael Guillon finished off the last out in two other frames.

Encarncion, Zimmer and Nellie Rodriguez had two hits for the Indians.

Their bullpen of Mike Clevenger, Andrew Miller, Shawn Armstrong, Joe Colon, Steve Delabar, Perci Garner and James Russell pitch one scoreless inning each.

Suarez and Iribarren had two hits for Cincinnati.




Friday, February 24, 2017

Giants Come Back Beats Reds In Cactus League Opener




The San Francisco Giants rallied with three runs in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Reds 6-4 in the Cactus League opener for both teams.

Chris Marrero hit a three-run home run off Kevin Shakelford to lift the Giants over the Reds’ who led from start of the game by scoring two runs off Giants ace Madison Bumgarner.

Shakelford walked Orlando Calixte to start the ninth.  Christian Arroyo singled Calixte to third and both trotted home on Marrero’s blast to left.

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The Reds jumped on a rusty Bumgarner in the first inning. Arismendy Alcantara doubled with one out.  Scott Schebler moved Alcantara to third with a ground ball to second.  Adam Duvall, a former Giant walked and stole secondbase.  Jesse Winker was hit by a pitch.  Patrick Kivelhan singled to left to score Alcantara and Duvall.

Rookie Davis the Reds’ starting pitcher gave up a single to Joe Panik and a two-out double to Hunter Pence.

“It was a breaking ball,” Davis said.  “I missed my spot on a couple, resulting in hits. I threw a breaking ball to Pence. It just fluttered in there. It didn’t have any conviction behind it. With one strike it’s got to be down in the zone.”

The Reds got that run back against Roberto Gomez.  Tony Renda tripled to open the inning.  Zach Vincej hit a line drive back to the mound that Gomez gloved for the out.  Leadoff hitter Jose Peraza singled to score Renda.

Sal Ramano followed Davis to the mound.  He allowed a hit and walked two but struck out three in his two inning stint. 

‘Both guys were  very aggressive and just pounded the strike zone with the fastball and a mix of their breaking ball,” Bryan Price said.  “Romano walked a couple guys but it wasn’t because he was trying to be too fine.  All in all I was pleased with their first outing of the spring. We had some good at bats. Certainly Kivlehan driving in the two runs in the first inning.  Renda going to right center for the triple.  Brandon Dixon had two good at bats with nothing to show for it.”

The Giants scored a run off Wandy Peralta in the fifth.  Veteran Gordon Beckham singled following a walk to Jimmy Rollins.  Marrero, who had four RBI in the game singled to score Rollins.

The Reds extended their lead in the seventh against Cory Gearrin.  Aristedes Aquino singled to score Hernan Iribarren, who singled and advanced on a walk to Gabriel Guerrero.  Phillip Ervin hit a line drive to Beckham at secondbase, who flipped to Marrero to double Aquino off firstbase.

Lucal Luetge threw two wild pitches to allow the Giants to close within a run. He also allowed doubles to Wynton Bernard and Steven Duggar.

The Reds got scoreless pitching performances from Barrett Astin; one inning, one hit, two strikeouts, and Alejandro Chacin, one hitless inning
On Saturday;

LHP Amir Garrett will start of the Reds against Ryan Merritt and the Cleveland Indians.

RHP Lisalverto Bonilla, RHP Austin Brice, RHP Jumbo Diaz and RHP Jackson Stephens will follow Garrett for the Reds.

LHP Andrew Miller, RHP Mike Clevinger, RHP Joe Colon, RHP Shawn Armstrong, RHP Steve Delabar, RHP Perci Garner and LHP James Russell will pitch for the Indians.

Dilson Herrera Drops Out Of WBC With Shoulder Inflammation






Dilson Herrera has dropped out of the World Baseball Classic citing shoulder inflammation.

The 23-year old came to the Reds’ from the New York Mets for Jay Bruce.  He is competing with Jose Peraza for the secondbase job vacated by the trade of Brandon Phillips to the Atlanta Braves.

Herrera was a member of Team Colombia but is recovering from late season shoulder problems suffered at the end of last season.

“I made general statements about having young players in camp to show how they fit in but I would never ask a player not to represent his country,” Reds’ manager Bryan Price said.

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Herrera is cleared to hit and will be the designated hitter against the Cleveland Indians on Saturday. 

“For now he is shutdown from throwing,” Price said.  “He is fine to hit but is not ok to defend and throw.  It doesn’t make any sense for him to play defense for us or the WBC,  He won’t start to throw until Monday or Tuesday of next week.  He can take groundballs to work on mechanics and footwork.  He has taken groundballs at third but not throwing.”

Herrera got treatment on Friday and took batting practice.

“I’m not frustrated,” Herrera said.  ‘We have to be ready for everything.”

Herrera’s shoulder acted up last spring.

‘I started to feel it last year in spring training,” Herrera said.. “I did my exercises and started to play in the league.  After I started fielding again, I finished my season normal.”

Herrera was pain free coming to camp this year, intending to play for Colombia but felt the same sore feeling last week.

“This year I felt it a week ago,” Herrera said..  “I’m sad that I can’t play in the WBC but it is important to get ready for the season and stay healthy.”

Herrera hit a combined .274 in 114 games between Triple A Las Vegas and Louisville.  He hit 15 home runs with 64 RBI.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Price Wants To Keep Jose Peraza and Zack Cozart Together




New DP Combo

Reds' manager Bryan Price would like to keep Zack Cozart and Jose Peraza together as much as possible this spring.

The pair will form the double play combination that will provide the Reds' young pitching staff with defense up the middle.

Cozart will not play against the San Francisco Giants on Friday.  While Peraza will.

 "We will probably start Zack Monday or Tuesday," Price said.  "He's fine.  He could play tomorrow but they (trainers) want to do some baserunning stuff with him to make sure his legs are under him.  They want him to be comfortable coming off the DL at the end of the year."

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There is no reason he couldn't play but they don't want to rush it with the length of this spring training.

Mesoraco Working Slowly

Devin Mesoraco has been  the victim of two years of surgery.

The Reds' are not sharing Mesoraco's workload

"I have a sense of what Mes is going to do but it isn't worth talking about," Price said.  "We don't want to set a timelind. We are probably several days away from even talking about it.  We don't want to set a timreline."

Pitchers On Schedule.

RHP Nick Travieso is being held back with shoulder soreness and Homer Bailey is shut down after surgery.

The other 35 pitchers are fine and throwing in their normal routine.

There are 21 pitchers who are in Major League camp for the first time and there are several more that are new to the Reds.

"our concern is workload for the guys that we anticipate making the team," Price said.  "The front end of spring training is a great time to see these young guys."


Position The Players To Watch.

Price is looking forward to seeing Gabriel Guerrero, Aristedes Aquino Jesse Winker and Stuart Turner.

Guerrero, 23, was claimed off waivers from the Arizona Diamondbacks in November.  He is the nephew of former Montreal slugger Vladimir Guerrero and former Red Wilton Guerrero.  Gabriel Guerrero played 34 games at Triple A Reno, hitting .212 in 34 games.  He hit ..241 in 94 games at Double A Mobile with eight home runs and 45 RBI. 

Aquino was signed to a contract as a 17-year old in 2011.  He hit .273 at Daytona with 23 home runs and 79 RBI.  He also hit 26 doubles and 12 triples.

Winker, 23, was the Reds first round pick in the 2012 draft (49th) over all.

He hit .303 at Louisville last year with three home runs and 45 RBI.  He hit 16 home runs with Dayton in 2013, 13 with Bakersfield in 2014 and 13 with Pensacola in 2015.

Turner, 25, was taken off the Minnesota Twins roster in the Rule V draft.  The Reds either have to keep him on the 25-man Major League roster or offer him back to the Twins for $25,000.  Turner adds depth to Reds' catching with Mesoraco still a question and the loss of Ramon Cabrera, who signed with another organization.

"Guerrero has always been a tools player and Aquino is a guy that has always run very good numbers except for the years he hurt his wrist," Price said.  "Aquino has put up numbers and is a spectacular defensive outfielder.  Winker has the bat.  We talk about power but I'd like to just see him hit.  Aquino is making the jump out of A ball.  With his work ethic, he's been fun to watch and he's been a performer.  It is a test to make the jump out of A ball.  A lot of time that defines your career to see how you perform in AA against better players."

Turner has an additional challenge because he has to learn the pitchers in a short period of time. The 25-year old hit .239 with six home runs and 41 RBI at Double A Chattanooga last season.

""It's tough to be a young catcher with expectations for sure.  It's tough to be a young catcher in a new organization," Price said. "Going from Double A to the big leagues is very, very challenging but we think he can do it or we wouldn't have made the claim."









Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Rookie Davis, Amir Garrett Start First Two Games. Forgotten Trade Bears Fruit





Rookie Davis will pitch the Cactus League opener for the Reds.  Amir Garrett will pitch against the American League champion Cleveland Indians on Saturday.

Reds fans have forgotten the two pitchers the Reds acquired in the last season trade with the Milwaukee Brewers for Jonathan Broxton.



They both have impressed manager Bryan Price.

Barrett Astin and Kevin Shackelford came to the Reds in the trade that sent Jonathan Broxton to Milwaukee at the end of the 2014 season.   At the time two minor league pitchers for a veteran relief pitcher didn’t cause a stir with anyone.  It was largely forgotten until both threw impressive live bullpen sessions on Monday.

Astin, a right-hander had a good year as a starter and reliever in Pensacola last year.  He was 9-3 with a 2.26 ERA in 37 games (11 starts).  Dayton Dragons fans may remember him as one of the starting pitchers for Wisconsin in the Midwest League in 2014.

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Shackelford appeared in 35 games for Pensacola and Louisville all in relief.  He had a 1.38 ERA at Pensacola in 10 games.  The right-hander had eight saves and a 2.30 ERA after he was promoted to Louisville.

“Our coaching staff talked a lot about Astin being a true ground ball pitcher last year,” Price said.  “He is a very polished guy.  He made strides last year to put himself on the roster.”

“When we traded Broxton, we weren’t even pulling from their top 20 prospect list when we made that deal,” Price said.  “You know so little about the other organization’s prospect to begin with.  To have both guys in the conversation to be able to help this team, shows we got a nice return.”

Astin, 25, was taken in the third round by Milwaukee in 2013.  Shackelford, 27, was chosen in the 21st round by Milwaukee in 2010.

Astin is a ground ball pitcher which will play well at Great American Ball Park.

“I consider myself a groundball pitcher, “ Astin  said.  “I throw a hard sinker. I rely heavily on it.  It gets me a lot of groundballs.”

Astin changed teams right after his first season of professional baseball.

“I didn’t think to much on it at the time,” Astin said.  “Looking back on it.  It gave me a great opportunity to get to the big leagues with a fresh start.”

Mesoraco Taking Building Stamina

Devin Mesoraco has no limitations but the Reds are being cautious with the catcher who has been in 39 games total for the last two seasons.

“It’s a longer spring there is no impetus to speed things along,” Price said.  “We’re just building stamina.  He hit in the cage early and tracked pitches in the live batting practice.  We don’t want him to do too much, too soon.”

Duvall and Schebler Expected To Boost Offense

Adam Duvall took the leftfield job from Scott Schebler last spring.  The pair were platooned early but Schebler struggled and was sent back to Louisville to get more at bats, while Duvall made the All-Star team.

Schebler was ready by the time Jay Bruce was traded to the Mets.    Schebler hit .329 in his last 44 games of the season.  Duvall hit 33 home runs and drove in 103.

“Corner outfielder are run producing positions.  As much as I talked about the defense of Duvall in leftfield and Schebler in rightfield,  I’d be thrilled to see them to continue on from what they did last year,”  Price said.

Let The Games Begin

Price is eager to start the slate of exhibition games.

“It will be nice to talk about something on the field besides guys fielding grounders,” Price said.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Bronson Arroyo And Reds Back Together Again




Arroyo Pitches Live Batting Practice

Bronson Arroyo threw live batting practice after missing 2 ½  years with elbow and shoulder injuries.  He hasn’t faced live hitters since July 2 of last season, the second of two rehab starts with the Washington Nationals.
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Three young players were in the group that he faced; Gabriel Guerrero, Brendon Dixon and Aristides Aquino.  Guerrero is the nephew of former Montreal slugger Vladimir Guerrero and former Reds' infielder Wilton Guerrero.

“When Bronson throws batting practice, it really looks like he is throwing batting practice,” manager Bryan Price said.  “He uses a screen.  Most pitchers don’t.  He throws all fastballs.  He just gets the ball and throws it.  As long as he’s been in the game he has developed a routine that works for him.”

The young hitters faced a pitcher they’ve heard about.

“It’s a neat experience for the young players,” Price said.  “Sometimes you get lost in the moment, you don’t think what it’s like for young hitters to face Bronson Arroyo or Johnny Cueto, guys that have been accomplished as a big league pitcher.   Those guys cost the team some money yesterday, hitting the ball over the fence on field six.  It was a joke.   But facing a guy like Bronson is a hurdle they have to get over.”

Click for video below.


 https://youtu.be/s3nikSQiRTI

Monday, February 20, 2017

Drew Storen Feels At Home In Cincinnati





Familiar surroundings are important to Drew Storen.

Storen found a home in Washington with the Nationals in 2010, changing roles while helping his team to the playoffs in 2012 and 2014.   He was the Nationals first choice in the 2009 draft and made his Major League debut less than a full year after the draft, making brief stops at all every minor league level along the way.  Storen signed on June 10, 2009 and pitched a scoreless 2/3 of an inning against St. Louis on May 17, 2010.

The 29-year old righthander, who is a bit shorter than the 6’1” listed in the Reds’ media guide, became a huge presence on the mound for the Nationals in the late innings

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He had little time to settle in anywhere in the minor leagues but once he advanced to the big club, he flourished.  Storen was 4-4 with a 3.58 ERA in 54 games, earning five saves his rookie years.  The next season, Storen notched 43 saves in 73 games with a 6-3 record and a 2.75 ERA.   He missed 89 games after having bone spurs removed from his elbow in 2012 but recovered to pitch 37 games building a 3-1 record with a 2.37 ERA and four saves for a team that surprised prognosticators to win the National League East Division.

“No one expected us to do anything in DC and things just clicked,” said Storen, who believes the same thing coud happen in Cincinnati.  “We have some hungry guys here (in Cincinnati).”

He was 1-1 with a save in the playoffs against the Cardinals but gave up four runs in the ninth inning of the deciding game five.

Storen experienced the playoffs again in 2014 after leading National relievers with a 1.12 ERA in 65 appearances.  In his last three years in Washington, he collected 43 saves in 191 appearances.

.The business of baseball took Storen out of his comfort level.  The Nationals traded him to Toronto for centerfielder Ben Revere in January, 2016.  Storen suffered through 38 games with the playoff bound Blue Jays with a dismal 1-3 record with a 6.21 ERA and three saves.  Toronto sent him to Seattle near the trading deadline for Joaquin Benoit.

“It was a big thing for me last year,” Storen said.  “You take for granted that comfort zone of knowing everybody.  You have to start over its different.”

The Reds signed Storen to a one-year deal on January 3 and Storen used his familiarity with Tucker Barnhart, who was his catcher at Brownsville High School near Indianapolis.  He went on the Reds’ winter caravan at the end of the month.

“It is like buying a house.  You have to check off a lot of boxes,” Storen said.  “I talked to Tucker Barnhart a lot.  I knew what I was getting into.  I knew some of the guys coming in and going on the caravan helped.  I’ve been learning everybody’s name.  It’s been good so far.”

Reds’ manager Bryan Price has Storen, Raisel Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen and Tony Cingrani in mind including Storen for late innings work and doesn’t necessarily want to designate a “closer.”

“At this point I want to say no (to naming a closer),” Price said.  “Should there be a recipe that plays out, typically you want a one inning or one plus inning guy because you might have three or four games in a row.  With multiple inning guys like them, you don’t need to designate a closer.  I would really like to look at the end of the year and see Storen, Iglesias, Cingrani and Lorenzen in particular to have some saves.  It is asking a lot for four guys to be comfortable pitching in the last inning.”

Storen and Cingrani have done it.  Iglesias had some save opportunities last season.

“Lorenzen didn’t have a lot of chances but I think he’s built for that,” Price said.

Storen is looking forward to the opportunity and is fine with an undefined role

“We have a young bullpen,” Storen said.  “Hopefully, I can help those guys out.  I get a chance to get some big outs late in the game.  You’ve seen the evolution of the bullpen.  You’ve seen the how important they view all those last three innings.  We have a unique situation with Iglesias and Lorenzen, who can go multiple innings.  It’s going to be a fluid situation.  Whatever gets me the ball in a big spot late in the game, is fine with me.”
The diminished expectations of a young team didn’t deter his decision to come to the Reds.

“I think we really do have the ability to surprise people,” Storen said.  “We have young talent mixed with a veteran presence.  People don’t have expectations for us.  We can get out there and do our thing.  I’ve learned throughout the years that worrying about expectations can only complicate things.  You have to take care of stuff in the bubble.  You take care of the guy next to you.  You need to make sure everybody is pulling in the right direction.”

 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Indians James Russell Has Cincinnati Roots





Indians left-handed pitcher James Russell is getting a chance to revive his career in Cleveland.

Russell was born in Cincinnati in 1986 but attended  Heritage High School in Heritage, Texas. His father Jeff graduated from Wyoming High School near Cincinnati.

The older Russell was lucky enogh to be drafted fifth by the Reds and pitched for his hometown team.  The Reds traded him to Texas Rangers for another Cincinnatian, Buddy Bell.

Jeff lost a National League high 18 games in 1984.  The Rangers converted him to a closer and he led the American League with 35 saves in 1989.

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James  was drafted in the 14ht round by the Chicago Cubs in 2007 and made hsi Major League debut with them in April 2010 as a left-handed reliever. He appeared in 316 games for the Cubs with a career-high 77 in 2012

Russell was traded to the Atlanta Braves for Victor Caratini and made 22 appearances with Atlanta under Colerain High School grad Roger McDowell, the Braves pitching coach.

After Russell's  release he was resigned with the Cubs for 2015.

Russell was granted free agency at the end of the season and got a call from Indians' manager Terrry Francona, who played against his father.  He signed with Philadelphia instead.

It didn't go well for Russell.

I just had a rough stretch in April, a rough five or six innings," Russell said.  "They were in a rebuilding process.and brought up a younger kid who did well.  It wasn't in their deck of cards for to come back up. It's part of the business.  There is nothing against the Phillies.  They treated me well."

This winter Russell was ready to sign with another team when Francona called him again.

"Terry told me they had a spot for me in big league camp," Russell said.  "I was happy they thought about me again.  This is a great group of guys. It's a great place to be. It's a team that wants to win now"

The Indians have lefties Andrew Miller and Boone Logan in camp.  Miller is going to pitch in theWorld Baseball Classic.  Cleveland also signed LHP Chris Narveson.

"We told him there was a spot or two in the bullpen," Francona said.  "He was ready to pitch.  We told him to come in.  We didn't have a lot of pitchers in camp.  Things happen.  We'll be honest with you.  If it isn't us, there are scouts at every game. He's going to get a chance to pitch. We wouldn't bring them in if they weren't going to pitch.  James isn't too far removed from having some pretty good years.

Russell still has roots in Cincinnati.  He grandfather Don owns SmoQ on 275 Pictoria Drive off Dixie Highway in Fairfield.



Saturday, February 18, 2017

Veteran Ryan Raburn To Get A Tryout For Reds Bench





A heavy rain curtailed the Reds workout on Saturday as the team awaited another player to compete for a spot on the Reds bench, one of a handful of roster spots up for grabs.

Ryan Raburn is expected in Goodyear on Sunday to take a physical and formally sign a minor league contract with the Cincinnati Reds.

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The 35-year old who has played every position except shortstop and catcher.  He has even logged 1 2/3 scoreless innings as a pitcher.

Raburn played for Detroit, Cleveland and Colorado in his 11-year career.  He is a .253 lifetime hitter with 91 home runs and 352 runs batted in.  Last season, Raburn was .220/.309/.404 with the Rockies with nine home runs and 30 RBI in 113 games.

Raburn a right-handed hitter is expected to compete with Arismendy Alcantara, Desmond Jennings, Hernan Irrabarren and Jesse Winker for a spot on the Cincinnat bencb.  Winker would have to play his way onto the team and is expected to go back to Triple A/

Manager Bryan Price is seeking versatile players, who can play several positions to give him flexibility off the bench.

Raburn fits the criteria.

“We are bringing him in for competition and depth,” Price said.  “Ryan is a guy who has been successful against left-handed pitching.”

The native of Tampa, who grew up in Plant City, has a batting average of .261 against lefties, just above his career average.

His competition outside of Jennings is also versatile in the field.  Alcantara has played shortstop, thirdbase, secondbase and the outfield in three seasons with the Cubs and Oakland.  The switch hitter has a .195/.249/.337 line with 10 home runs, all of them for Chicago in 2014.  Alcantara played 16 games for Oakland last season, hitting .211.

“He plays multiple positions and runs well,” Price said of Alcantara who is out of options.

Jennings spent seven years in Tampa Bay, hitting .245 with 55 home runs and 191 RBI.

Irrabarren, 32, bats left-handed and played well for the Reds late in the season.  He hit .311 with no home runs and two RBI in 24 games in Cincinnati.

Winker has an uphill battle to stick with Major League club.  The 23-year old was picked in the first round (49th overall) in 2012, out of Olympia High School in Orlando.  Winker has battled injuries since he signed. He bats left-handed and is expected to hit with power when totally healthy.

“He will be an organizational decision,” Price said. “If a young player isn’t playing full time or in a platoon position, it is generally more helpful for him to play everyday.”

The Reds have a shortage of left-handed hitters on the bench.  Winker could provide that if he pushes for playing time this year.
“I would like Jesse to press us to consider him,” Price said.  Winker his .303 with three home runs in 106 games in Louisville last year although he has hit as many as 16 in the lower minor leagues.

“We spend too much time talking about power,” Price said.  “I’d like to see him continue to hit for a high average.”

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