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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.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Reds Free Fall Continues In Cleveland




The beatings roll on for the forlorn Reds in a 7-3 loss

The Cleveland Indians took advantage of Mike Leake's uncharacteristic wildness to drive the Reds' starter out of the game while building a 5-2 lead after four innings.

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Leake, who thrives on well placed strikes, walked five and three were in succession to bottom of the Indians batting order, Jose Ramirez (.200), Roberto Perez (.173) and Michael Bourn (.228) in a two run second. 

"There were some near misses, I guess," Bryan Price said. "He was around the zone. He wasn't able to make his pitches. You don't see too many outings like that from him but it's not unheard of that a guy like him struggles for a couple starts."

Leake hates to walk batters and just couldn't explain the lapse in his control.

"I was fine after the first inning," Leake said. "There were a couple guys in the second where I just couldn't throw the ball where I wanted to."

The Indians leadoff batter reached base in all four innings, including Brandon Moss' seventh home run to start the third inning.  Moss drove in two more with a two-out double in the fourth after Bourn singled to start the inning and Jason Kipnis walked.  Leake retired Carlos Santana and Michael Brantley but Moss came through for Cleveland.

Reds starters have been the loser in all six of the games of this losing streak.  Only Johnny Cueto turned in a quality start on the night when the Reds were shut out.

"We have to go back to 2011 when the rotation struggled like this twice through the rotation," Price said. "It's a team that's not playing good baseball right now. You should see the work that the players and coaches are putting in during the afternoon. A lot of it is on me, I'm the one who is in charge of putting the puzzle together. It will end but when you're going through a stretch like this, it is painful. You can't sleep."

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Leake knows the pain is temporary.

"We'll figure it out," Leake said. "It's a long season. It's just unfortunate we're all doing it at once."

The Reds put runners in scoring position for seven at-bats.  Todd Frazier doubled with Brandon Phillips on second for the second run. The first scored on a ground out by Billy Hamilton with Brayan Pena on third. Pena walked and sprinted to third on Jay Bruce's double.  Bruce was on base three times with the double, a walk and a single. The final run scored on a wild pitch as Bruce walked with Frazier on third.

Indians manager Terry Francona wishes the Reds struggle for a couple more days.

"You look at their team and you look at their record and don't understand it," Francona said. "I hope it continues here but they have a lot of good players over there."
Bruce appears to have snapped out of a six-week slump, improving his average to .207

Burke Badenhop walked three but turned in two scoreless innings but the Indians hung two runs on Jumbot Diaz, one scoring as Santana snapped an 0-for-25 slump with a run scoring double.

ProBall Baseball Clinics Bring The Dream To Life





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There is a big difference between a dream and a fantasy when it comes to baseball camps. The Pro Ball Baseball Clinic awaits those amateur players who dream of competing at a higher level than ever before.

In fact, “camp” is not the proper term for amateur baseball players who want to improve their skills.

Although they don't get headlines, thousands of adults with a pure love of the game play competitively in organized, recreational leagues across the country such as MSBL, NABA, and Roy Hobbs.

These players are not interested in attending the typical baseball fantasy camp, where the main attraction is rubbing elbows with their childhood baseball heroes.  These guys want a place to develop their skills to better compete in weekend leagues and in national tournaments.

Unlike a fantasy camp, the Pro Ball Baseball Clinic provides personal instruction by Major League coaches from various teams (Blue Jays, Diamondbacks, Indians, Rays, Reds and Royals, to name a few), where baseball fundamentals are stressed over an intensive 4 days of training.
Current Reds' manager Bryan Price and Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon have taught at the Pro Ball Baseball Clinic for many years. Reds’ assistant hitting coach Lee Tinsley has been a fixture at the clinic. Amateur players and coaches from across the country and even Europe (England and France) flock to the Pro Ball Baseball Clinic every January to learn from these Major League coaches. Over the past several years, teenage players have come to improve their baseball skills and take their game to the next level.

What makes the Pro Ball Baseball Clinic unique is the individual instruction players receive from the Major League coaches. Serious adult players, youngsters playing travel ball and high school baseball, as well as youth coaches gain invaluable knowledge during the 4-day clinic. 

The Pro Ball Baseball Clinic is serious about teaching sound baseball fundamentals (pitching, catching, hitting, individual and team defense, base running and the mental side of the game). While players work hard during the 4 days, the social aspect that baseball imparts is not overlooked.  Clinics foster the father-son bond and true friendships are made between players and the Major League coaches. Youth players benefit immeasurably from the professional instruction that is the hallmark of the Pro Ball Baseball Clinic.

Founder Dr. John Rubinow ( jrubinowmd@icloud.com) believes that baseball is a cornerstone of a healthy father-son relationship. "While Pro Ball started out as an adults only thing (guys playing MSBL, NABA, Roy Hobbs, etc.), over the past few years, teens have joined their fathers. The father-son bonding experience on the baseball diamond is a beautiful thing to behold. It’s something I want to foster”, said Dr. Rubinow. 
There is a significant father-son discount offered for both the Arizona and Florida clinics. Please email Dr. Rubinow for more details.
 
The Pro Ball Baseball Clinic is the only instructional baseball experience where you can learn from today’s best Major League coaches. Adults and youth players 13 and older can get one-on-one instruction from some of the best baseball coaches in the world. The January clinics allow players from travel clubs and high schools to get a head start on their competition. For players trying to earn a place on their high school rosters, Pro Ball gives them the skills they need to stand out during pre-season tryout periods. Juniors and seniors with the desire to compete at the collegiate level can get that extra edge as well.

JANUARY 7-10, 2016      SAN DIEGO PADRES SPRING TRAINING COMPLEX, PEORIA, AZ

    JANUARY 15-18, 2016   BALTIMORE ORIOLES MINOR LEAGUE COMPLEX, SARASOTA, FL



For more information on the Pro Ball Baseball Clinic, visit the website at http://pro-ball.com/
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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Manny Parra Begins Rehab In Louisville






Left-handed pitcher Manny Parra will begin a rehab assignment in Louisville tonight.
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Parra was out of action with a strained neck.

Parra, who last pitched for the Reds' on April 23, is expected to pitch one inning against Norfolk.


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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Reds Lineup Change Stirred The Offense But Pitching Still Struggled






Reds' pitching kept the scoring out of double figures but the Reds' re-tooled lineup still came up short.in a 9-8 loss to the Giants.

The Reds shook up the lineup, moving Zack Cozart to leadoff and Brayan Pena to the second spot in the batting order. Jay Bruce was dropped to seventh; Billy Hamilton ninth.

After Reds pitchers allowed 21 runs the last two games, the Giants offense stayed on the attack against Anthony DeSclafani.

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Brandon Belt, who homered in each of the last two games, settled four a double in the right centerfield gap to open the second inning. Hunter Pence, who missed all but two games in spring training, singled to score Belt. Brandon Crawford, who drove in six runs Saturday, singled to Cozart, who couldn't get the ground ball up the middle to Phillips, who trapped the ball. The play held up under review as the tarp was pulled to cover the infield for 24 minutes.

DeSclafani came close to getting out of the inning. He got Matt Duffy to ground out to a pulled-in infield. Giants starter Chris Heston bunted back to DeSclafani, who looked for another out on the base paths.but couldn't find it.  Nori Aoki singled to give the Giants a four-run lead.

The Reds got to Heston in the second inning.

Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce singled to put runners on first and third with no outs.  Hamilton hit a ground ball in the hole at shortstop that Crawford turned into a force of Bruce as Phillips scored. DeSclafani struck out and Cozart flied out.

The Giants got the run back and then some.

Belt walked. Pence lined his first home run of the season down the leftfield line, just 339 ft but it put the Giants up 6-1.

The Reds loaded the bases with no outs in the third. Pena singled . Votto walked. Frazier singled. Marlon Byrd singled to score Pena. Heston hit Phillips with a pitch to score Votto. Jay Bruce just missed a grand slam. The ball appeared to be heading to the seats but it had a lot of top spin and Pence played it off the wall as Frazier scored.  Hamilton hit a sacrifice fly off Yusmeiro Petit to bring the Reds within a run. Pinch hitter Devin Mesoraco popped up to secondbaseman Joe Panik in shallow center and Cozart popped to short as Petit was able to preserve the lead.

Reds starting pitchers have given up 21 runs in 11 innings to the Giants over the last three games for a whopping 17.18 ERA.

The Giants scored a run against Raisel Iglesias in his first Major League relief appearance on a double by Crawford and a single by Duffy.

Brandon Phillips hit his second home run off Petit in the bottom of the inning, a line drive that just cleared the leftfield wall.  Hamilton singled with two outs and would have tied the game easily on pinch hitter Skip Schumaker's double but the ball bounced into the stands.  Cozart popped to the pitcher..

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Aoki's bunt single off Tony Cingrani scored Crawford, who walked to open the inning to make the score 8-6.

Bruce's third hit of the game, his seventh home run of the season off left-hander Jeremy Affeldt, got that run back.

Belt hit his third home run of the season and series off Jumbo Diaz in the eighth.

The Reds came within a run again when, Pena walked with two outs and scored when Votto hit a bloop double that eluded Aoki in left. Crawford ran it down but the throw hit Pena and bounced out of play.




Billy Hamilton Dropped To Eighth Jay Bruce To Seventh






Billly Hamilton's mother had him set the table for dinner when he was younger.  The Reds asked the 24-year old with four full seasons, one in Triple A, of professional experience to do the same thing for the Reds offense.

"It's been said that however Billy goes we go," Bryan Price said Sunday morning. "It really shouldn't be that way.  When we go its because we all go as a team."

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Price talked to Hamilton this morning and told him that he would be batting eighth in the foreseeable future, at least until he gets as comfortable in the batter's box as he is on base.

"It's like we are doing sorting out our bullpen," Price said. "We haven't gotten off to the start we'd like to offensively, so we have to try to do that.  It isn't all on Billy. We've asked a lot bringing him up from Triple A."

Hamilton is hitting .212 with 29 hits and 10 walks. His On-base-percentage is a skimpy .264. The National League average is .317.

The fleet native of Collins, Mississippi has managed to steal 17 bases in 19 tries.
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"We are going to put guys that get on base at a higher rate at the top of the lineup so the middle of our lineup can drive them in," Price said. "Zack Cozart will lead off and Brayan  Pena will bat second. Someday that is going to be Billy."

Price made an important caveat in this lineup change.

"I think Billy will be an outstanding leadoff man once he gets used to handling pitches at this level," Price said."We are going to take some of the pressure off him for awhile."

Jay Bruce has been dropped to seventh for much the same reason. Bruce had two hits, including his sixth home run against the Giants on Saturday.

"He has had three or four when he put the outfielder against the wall the last few games," Price said. "One would have been a grand slam against Lincecum on Thursday. You guys have been covering the team longer than I've been here. You know how he can catch fire.'

Hamilton may have been disappointed but said all the right things about the move.

"“My confidence is still here," Hamilton said. "The reason (Price) gave me is what I wanted to hear. I’m just going to try to get better. When I start getting right, I can move back up in the order when the timing’s right”.

Hamilton may have tried to do more than he was capable as a leadoff hitter.

“It’s tough being a leadoff hitter. It comes with a lot of things. You have to take pitchers, work the count. In the 8th spot you can just play. Might get better pitches to hit now," Hamilton said.. “I’m not getting on base enough to be a leadoff hitter”.

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Saturday, May 16, 2015

Giants Hammer Leake Score In Double Figures Again




The Giants got off to a fast start and kept rolling over Mike Leake in an 11-2 spanking.

Leake had been impressive, logging 16 straight scoreless innings. Not to mention a career 5-1 record with a 1.91 ERA against San Francisco. Leake gave up nine runs in five innings, the most he has ever allowed in a game. The Reds pitching staff allowed 10 runs on Friday night to a team that was struggling to score runs.

Homer Bailey was the last Reds' pitcher to give up nine runs in a game against the Mets on July 28, 2011. Bronson Arroyo was the last to allow 10 runs in a game on June 24, 2008 at Toronto.

"Leake made some mistakes obviously but they hit some good pitches too," Bryan Price said. "You have to give them credit. They stayed in the middle of the field.  It wasn't his night. I had to get him through five."

The only bright spot for the Reds was the two hits, including his sixth home run for Jay Bruce.  Bruce sent centerfielder Angel Pagan to the fence with a 400 ft. flyout in the second inning.  In the fourth Bruce hit a ground ball off the end of his bat over thirdbase against the shift.  He crushed his home run in the sixth off Vogelsong to jump his average to .174

"I would have liked to have a couple hits in a game that was closer but hits are hard to get, you'll take them anyway you can," Bruce said. "Baseball's a weird game. I hit the ball in the first inning that I thought would get out. The first hit wasn't pretty (squibber down thirdbase line) but I'll take it."

Brandon Belt hit his second home run of the season and the second in as many days..

Hunter Pences just activated before the game, doubled in his first at bat of the year. A single by Brandon Crawford scored the hustling Pence.  Gregor Blanco hit his first home run of the season to put the Giants up 3-0 while Giants' starter Ryan Vogelsong retired the first eight batters he faced.

Leake doubled with two outs and Zack Cozart, in a rare leadoff role walked.  Marlon Byrd's smash up the middle hit Vogelsong and stopped on the mound.  Vogelsong recovered quickly and threw Byrd out at first to end the threat.

Pence and Crawford struck again in the fourth. Pence ground a single to right and Crawford hit a double into the gap in right center to score Pence. Casey McGehee singled to plate Crawford.

The Reds put two on with two outs in the fourth but Brennan Boesch, starting in place of Billy Hamilton, popped out to third.

With two outs and no one on in the fifth, Posey and Belt singled. Pence walked.  Crawford hit his sixth home run and fourth grand slam (including postseason) of his career.

The Giants added two runs against Burke Badenhop in the sixth.

And Bryan Price's reaction can be summed up by the following



Reds Investment In Sean Marshall Takes A Hit




Left-handed reliever Sean Marshall will have season ending surgery to his season that had no beginning.

Marshall came to the Reds in a trade for left-handed starter Travis Wood, outfielder Dave Sappelt and infielder Ronald Torreyes.  He had one year left on his contract but the Reds wanted to tie up the curve ball master for the next three years.  They worked out a three-year, $16.5 million extension that paid the 32-year old $4.5 million in 2013.  Marshall pitched in 16 games in relief. He was 1-0 with a 1.74 ERA.

Marshall was placed on the disabled list from April 16 through April 25.  He was placed on the DL again on May 24 through September 15.  He had a sprained left shoulder.

In 2014, Marshall was paid $5.5 million and pitched in 15 games with a 7.71 ERA.  He was placed on the disabled list to start the season with irritation in his left shoulder.  A torn labrum ended his season on June 14.

This season Marshall is owed $6.5 million.  He never was well enough to throw in a game in the Cactus League. Wednesday Marshall will have surgery to repair the torn anterior capsule on his left shoulder, performed by Mets' medical director Dr. David Altchek.

"I feel bad for Sean," Bryan Price said. "We will miss him not only from a performance standpoint but for his leadership in the bullpen. He did everything he was supposed to do in rehab. It is like Homer, who did all he could in the rehab of the operation on his forearm, then an injury happened in some other place."

The Reds paid roughly $500,000 for his 31 appearances during the contract extension.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Marquee Lights Go Out On Jason Marquis





It was less than a marquee night for Reds' veteran Jason Marquis, or the smokestack on the Riverboat replica in right centerfield. in a 10-2 Giants win.

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Only when the movie theaters showed the Titanic did a movie marquee promote such a disaster.

Alright, that was a stretch, but when the light hitting Giants got a three-run, two-out home run from Brandon Belt, his first of the season, one could say it looked like a bad night.

It was and it got worse. With Star Wars characters all over the park, the rightcenterfield smokestacks caught fire. It emitted heavy smoke for two innings until the Cincinnati Fire Department put it out. The Reds pitching staff never did put out their fires.

"Marquis just had a lot of location mistakes," Bryan Price said. 'When he's really good he keeps the ball down."

Marquis wants to figure things out but was unable to adjust during the game.

"I have to figure things out," Marquis said. "I try not to think about it during the game. I threw a sinker in to Belt. Brayan Pena said that I got it in far enough but he was able to get the barrel of the bat to it."

Zack Cozart, last year's radio talk show whipping boy, made the Reds feel a little better with a home run, his sixth in the bottom of the first. Cozart started the season 1-for-12 prompting an "i-told-you-so" looks but since then, he was 34-for-97 (.351). He hit just four home runs last season.

"Cozart has been great," Price said. "He had such a bad year last year and struggled to begin this season but he found a flaw in his swing over the winter and has worked on it. I have never seen him swing the bat like this."

The Giants tacked on three more in the third and last inning for Marquis. Buster Posey hit a two-run home run and Casey McGehee, scuffling along at a .187 clip drove in a run with a single.

Burke Badenhop appears to have turned the corner with two scoreless innings for the Reds.

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Billey Hamilton hit his third home run on the fifth hit the Reds got off World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner.  The left-hander finished with seven innings, allowing seven hits and two runs.

Hamilton played near the flaming smokestack while it was at its worst.

"I wanted no part of it," Hamilton said. "It was shaking. I saw it shake, like it was going to blow up or something. You still have to stay focused, it's like when there is 35,000 fans in the stands. You still have to stay in the game."

The Giants added three more runs off Miehael Lorenzen, making his first relief appearance, in the seventh.

Ryan Mattheus allowed a run in his Reds' debut.






Reds 2012 Nemesis Hunter Pence To Be Activated Tomorrow





Hunter Pence fractured his left forearm in the third game of spring training when Cubs' right-hander Corey Black hit him with a pitch.

Pence, who rallied the Giants troops emotionally in Cincinnati during the Giants comeback in the division series from a two-game deficit, will return to haunt the Reds this weekend.

The 31-year old outfielder will return from a successful rehab assignment that he started last Friday with the Triple A Sacramento Bees.  He had two hits last night for the Bees in Las Vegas and will arrive in Cincinnati during the Friday night game against the Reds.

The Giants have struggled to score runs this season and have missed Pence in the lineup.

"I think any offense can use a Hunter Pence. He gives you power and speed," said manager Bruce Bochy. "We miss him in the lineup and in the clubhouse.  He brings energy and enthusiasm. It will be good for all to have him back."

Jay Bruce Gets A Day Off







Jay Bruce has struggled before but this is rediculous..

After appearing in his 100th game on Thursday and going 0-for-4, manager Bryan Price is giving Bruce a day off.

Bruce did put a scare into the Giants by hitting a 400 ft. fly ball with the bases loaded in the first inning but unfortunately, he needed to hit it 402 ft., thus the ball was caught by Angel Pagan.

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“It’s a day off," Price said.  I’ve got to find my days for the other guys, too. I want to get Boesch in this series, too, get him a start. I have to pick my times with these guys, and sometimes, if it’s a tougher matchup, then I’ll do that. Nothing to read into other than a day off against a tough lefty.”

Kristopher Negron the Reds' Swiss Army Knife will get the start and bat eighth.

Bruce's struggles have continued six weeks into the season. He is hitting..162 with five home runs and 16 RBI but hasn't driven in a run in 10 games.  He is 2-for-15 in the first four games of this home stand. Surprisingly, his 16 RBI are tied with Zack Cozart for third on the team.

The Reds keep waiting for that hot streak in which Bruce carries the team for six weeks.

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“Maybe it’s just having to have that big night," Price said. "I think sometimes this game is such a mental and emotional beatdown. It really is. He’s accountable. He knows that he’s a big key to our ballclub and when he’s not performing at the level of his history, we’re not as good a team. He would be the type of guy I’m sure who would be beating himself up about not hitting better than he has, so what I would love to see is him hit a couple of balls. He’s crushed a couple of balls the last week to the wall. That would be a difference-maker for him personally. I’d love to see one of those games – hit a homer and a double and drive in five and then just keep his going. With all the work he’s put in, I just think he needs a couple of days of positive results to get back on top of his game.”

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Bloop And Blast By Byrd Shrinks Giants




Marlon Byrd's eighth home run of the season off Sergio Romo lifted the Reds' to a 4-3 win, its third straight.

Byrd drove in three of the Reds runs with a bloop and a blast.

  “I was just praying he didn’t throw that sweeping slider which you just can’t touch," Byrd said. "He just left one out over the plate and I put a pretty good swing on it”.

After a horrible April, Byrd has hit .295 since April 23 and now has 14 RBI in the month of May.

 “I have to prove to the people who believe in me," Byrd said.. "This organization, Walt, and Bryan Price for putting me out there after the April I had. It’s easy to try and go in another direction, which he could have done. But he kept faith in me.”

   “I feel comfortable with my mechanics. Not sure what happened in April. Donnie Long has known my swing since 1999. That’s a big plus for me. We just kept working.”

It was the second night in a row the Giants were done in by an eighth inning.  Jeremy Affeldt allowed a game-winning home run to George Springer of the Houston Astros before the Giants jetted to Cincinnati.

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The Reds squandered chance after chance, running themselves out of two innings but they managed to stop Giant's starter Tim Lincecum's scoreless inning streak at 18 to overcome a 2-0 deficit.

The Giants took advantage of a slow start by Johnny Cueto.

“That wasn’t his typical game," Bryan Price said. "He had a lot of off-speed pitches, and he was erratic from side to side. That got his pitch count up. I was shocked that I was able to send him out there for the seventh after that early pitch count. We ask a lot of him. He’s starting to become that guy who, as the game goes on, he gets better. As the game goes on, he tastes the finish line. He never panics. He finds a way to get out of his messes.”

Gregor Blanco singled to open the game, an infield hit to substitute secondbaseman Skip Schumaker, who is replacing Brandon Phillips and his injured toe.  Joe Panik followed with a walk.  Angel Pagan's slow ground ball advanced the runners. Buster Posey's sharp single to center scored Blanco but Billy Hamilton got to the ball quickly to freeze Panik at third. Brandon Belt struck out and Panik was caught in a rundown on a steal of home to extricate Cueto from the inning.

Cueto's fourth balk of the season with runners on first and third scored Blanco, who doubled. On pitch later Posey grounded back to Cueto, who shook his head in disbelief.

I can't explain it. I was felling aggressive all game," Cueto said.. "Pena and I were talking before the game and we decided to use more fastballs. But I am throwing the same way I've always thrown."

And the balk?

"It was a balk. I got my hands caught in my shirt and couldn't get them out without committing a balk," Cueto said.

Meanwhile, Lincecum walked a tight rope of walks and line drives at various and sundry fielders. The Reds aided the extension of Lincecum's scoreless streak with risky base running of their own.

With two outs and bases empty, Lincecum walked Joey Votto.  Votto stole second.  Todd Frazier walked and stole second while Byrd walked.  Struggling Jay Bruce sent Pagan against the centerfield fence to haul in Bruce's bid for a grand slam.  Earlier Pagan had to flag down Zack Cozart's bid for an extra-base hit.

In the third Cozart walked and was thrown out stealing standing up as home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez made a tardy strike three call on Votto.

The Reds got their first hit in the fourth on Frazier's inning opening double. Byrd walked again. Bruce struck out. Pena, leading the team with a .347 average singled to score Frazier.  Schumaker scorched one to Pagan, who caught it on the run and doubled up Pena at first.

The Reds chased Lincecum in the fifth. Cueto bunted for a hit. Cozart, returning to the lineup after missing two starts with a sore left wrist, singled. Votto struck out  Frazier was hit with a pitch to load the bases. Byrd dumped a bloop single into rightfield to give the Reds a lead.

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Cueto left after seven innings with a one-run lead. He struck out seven batters in the fourth through sixth innings.

Tony Cingrani came on to protect the lead.  He walked pinch hitter, Andrew Susac, but promptly picked him off, a call that stood up under the Giants' challenge.  Panik sliced one down the leftfield line and Byrd couldn't come up with the sliding catch. Panik raced to third with a triple, then trotted home with the tying run when Pagan singled off Votto's glove at first.

Jumbo Diaz got two outs to preserve the tie and earn the win.

Aroldis Chapman earned his seventh save after pitching in tie games in his last three outings.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Raisel Iglesias Shuts Down Braves May Have Earned A Permanent Spot


Reds rookie Raisel Iglesias may have pitched his way on to the Reds' roster.

Iglesias pitched eight innings of two-hit baseball in his second career start and Todd Frazier connected for his 12th home run of the season, leading Cincinnati to a 5-1 win over the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday and possibly earned a permanent spot on the staff if not the rotation.

 "There is a scenario that he can stay with us," manager Bryan Price said after the game. "He has a better understanding of where he needs to go with his pitches than most pitchers his age." Iglesias and Michael Lorenzen have both made their debuts in the early going. Either can work out of the bullpen when not started to control the number of innings.

 Marlon Byrd added a solo homer, his seventh of the season and fifth in his last 10 games. The Reds won the rubber match of the three-game series and seven-game season series between the teams. ¶ The Braves have lost five of their last six.

 Iglesias (1-0), a Cuba native, was recalled from Triple-A Louisville before the game. He took a no-hitter into the sixth inning. Pinch-hitter Eric Young Jr. broke it up with a leadoff bloop single to shallow center field. Another pinch-hitter, Pedro Ciriaco, became the first batter to get past second base when he led off the eighth with a triple and scored on Nick Markasis' groundout.

The 25-year-old Iglesias, who left with no decision in his debut on April 12 against St. Louis, allowed three walks and struck out five. "It is a great achievement for a baseball player to get a win over a great team like the Atlanta Braves," Iglesias said through interpreter Tomas Vera. "The emotions were the same as my first start but I had the confidence to go deeper in the game from what I worked on in Triple A. I have a personal rule. I have eight players on my side and only one against me. I wasn't thinking about a no-hitter. I was thinking about them putting the ball in play so I could pitch longer and save the bullpen."

The Braves had two runners on base in one inning just once. Iglesias threw 103 pitches, 74 for strikes. He acknowledged the applause of the crowd of 17,747 by waving his cap as he walked into the dugout after the eighth inning. "He (Iglesias) kind of reminded me of El Duque with that high leg kick and different arm angles," said Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez, who is also a native of Cuba. "We only had him on the ropes once and he got out ofit. They got to Stults pretty quickly."

 Joey Votto followed Zack Cozart's first-inning double with a run-scoring line drive up the middle that glanced off of Atlanta starter pitcher Eric Stults' glove on its way to center field.

That run was the first allowed by Stults (1-4) in the first inning in six starts this season.

Byrd led off the second with a 343-foot homer into the first row of the left field seats. Frazier made it 4-0 in third with his second homer in as many nights, a 432-foot shot to center field that tied Washington's Bryce Harper for the National League lead. Billy Hamilton tripled and scored on Cozart's sacrifice fly in the fifth.

Stults (1-4) allowed six hits and five runs with one walk and three strikeouts over five innings. He's lost his last three starts.

"His balls are over the plate," Gonzalez said. "He doesn't have the velocity to get away with being out over the plate. Byrd's gotten him twice on balls over the plate."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Braves: Left fielder Kelly Johnson left the game in the top of the first inning after suffering a right oblique strain while batting. Jonny Gomes pinch hit and stayed in to play left field.

Reds: Zack Cozart returned to shortstop after missing two games with a sore left wrist. Kris Negron moved from shortstop to second in place of Brandon Phillips, who left Tuesday's game with a sore left big toe.

 UP NEXT

Braves: The Braves on Friday open their second three-game series of the season at Miami, where they swept the Marlins to open the season.
Reds: Right-hander Johnny Cueto hopes to extend his mastery over the Giants in the opener of a four-game series on Thursday. Cueto is 3-1 with a 1.98 ERA in five career starts against San Francisco.

SAD FAREWELL

Darrel Doc Rodgers died after a five-year battle with cancer on Tuesday. Rodgers worked in the Reds organization for 14 years as a player, instructor or front office executive. He was an Assistant General Manager from 1997-2002. He also worked as an executive in the Baltimore and Detroit organizations.

 CUBAN PETE

 Osvaldo Fernandez is the last Cuban starting pitcher to win a game for the Reds when he defeated Houston on May 18, 2001 Aroldis Chapman was the winning pitcher on Tuesday, making the last two Reds' pitchers to win a decision are native Cubans.



Typing Through My Tears Baseball Will Miss Darrel Doc Rodgers







It was an early evening before a Reds' game in 1994.  I was seated in the press dining room with Charles Henderson from the Reds media relations department.

A tall young man with a shaved head asked permission to join us.  As he smiled and sat down he immediately joined our baseball conversation.  It was clear he had advanced knowledge of the game but I had never met Darrel Wayne Rodgers before that day.

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I didn't know he was an assistant in the player development department in the Reds' front office.

After a pleasant conversation and our meal was finished, he got up and walked away.  Charles Henderson, who worked in the tiny over worked media relations department with Joe Kelly,  tapped me on the shoulder.

"That is Doc Rodgers. He and John Allen have been like a breath of fresh air in the office," Henderson said.

I would often see Rodgers, who was born in Walters, Oklahoma on October 6, 1962.  He was drafted in the 36th round by the New York Mets in 1981 as right-handed pitcher out of Eisenhower High School.  Rodgers chose to pitch at the University of Oklahoma.  He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 38th round in 1984 but returned for his senior year after which he was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 16th round.

Doc Rodgers pitching in the Mexican League
Doc spent three seasons in the Giants organization, never advancing past A ball. He signed with the Reds and won 14 games with Cedar Rapids in 1988. He was teammates with Reds' coach Freddie Benevides and former Reds' starter Scott Scudder.

He finished his playing career at the age of 27 in 1990 but the Reds' recognized his baseball intelligence and kept him in the organization as a minor league pitching coach.  He worked in the Reds' front office from 1997-2002. He became a director of player development in Baltimore and Detroit.

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Rodgers moved back to Cincinnati and hosted postgame shows on 700WLW. He got his real estate license and refereed high school basketball.

Doc and I would often talk baseball.  He taught me so much about the game-withing-the-game, the individual battle between the batter and the pitchers.  Doc was always free to talk and answer questions.  He would tell stories about life in the minor leagues and he would point out little things about players on the field that were oblivious to me.

I wish that I had the chance to say goodbye.  When I saw him at a Colerain girls game in January, he told me he was feeling fine. I honestly believed he had beaten cancer.  How sadly  and painfully wrong I was?


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Aroldis Chapman Rebounds With An Exciting Win Over Braves





For the third day in a row, Aroldis Chapman entered a tie game in the ninth inning.  After two failures, victory smiled on the native Cuban in a 4-3 win..

Brayan Pena's third hit of the game in the bottom of ninth after Chapman pitched a scoreless top half.  Michael Lorenzen ran for Pena.  Pinch hitter Devin Mesoraco jumped on Jason Grilli's first pitch and lined it into the leftfield corner as former centerfielder and present starting pitcher raced around the bases and slide home with the winning run.

It was the first time in his career that Mesoraco had a game-winning, walk off hit. A hip problem has prevented Mesoraco from squatting, essential for a catcher but it does not affect him when he runs or swings the bat.

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"Devin is a potent bat," manager Bryan Price said. "Choosing when to use him has been one of my challenges. No one anticipated that it would take this long to get him to the point where he could catch again. He has taken some fly balls, not that he could be out there soon."

"I just bought an outfielder's glove but I would need a lot of work to play the outfield but I bought it in case of an emergency," Mesoraco said.

Mesoraco wants to contribute and got his chance as a pinch hitter.

"I went about a month without a hit," Mesoraco said. "I meant a lot for me to contribute. I knew Grilli would come right after me. I was ready for a fastball.. It was my first walkoff hit. I've had chances before where I wished I had gotten a hit."

Pena was also happy to contribute as Mesoraco's back up.

"I am thankful to Bryan (Price) for giving me the opportunity to contribute," Pena said.

Not known for his speed, Pena was lifted for a pinch runner, pitcher Michael Lorenzen, who has enough speed.  Lorenzen started in centerfield for Cal-State Fullerton just two years ago. He knows how to run the bases and the knowledge was fresh in his memory.

"They told me around the seventh inning to be prepared," Lorenzen said. "I went in and changed shoes and went beneath the stands to warm up. When Devin first hit it, I thought I was going first to third. I didn't think the ball would get to the wall. I turned second too wide and thought, oh no, but I watched (thirdbase coach Jim) Riggleman and he was waving me."

"Lorenzen played centerfield not long ago," Price said. "It was a no brainer."
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Two young starters battled to a draw through seven innings.

Atlanta's Mike Foltynewicz, acquired in a trade with Houston, allowed three runs, two earned on six hits over his 6 2/3 innings.  Cincinnati's Anthony DeSclafani gave up three runs on seven hits and three walks in six innings.

With the game tied at three, the bullpens took over.

Todd Frazier hit his National League tying 11th home run in the first inning with Joey Votto on base via a walk. The blow would have hurt more but Billy Hamilton was thrown out stealing as Marlon Byrd struck out on a 3-2 pitch.

DeSclafani held the lead until the third.  Andrelton Simmons singled with one out. Freddie Freeman hit one past Votto at first. Kelly Johnson doubled home Simmons and Alberto Callaspo delivered Freeman with a sacrifice fly.

The Braves took a lead in the fourth.  Jace Peterson doubled and two outs later Nick Markakis doubled.

The Reds chased Foltynewicz in the seventh.  Brayan Penas, who extended his hitting streak to five with a wasted two-out double in the fourth, singled to open the inning. Zack Cozart, who missed his second straight game with a sore left wrist, pinch hit for J.J. Hoover. Cozart attempted sacrifice bunt was thrown into centerfield by Foltynewicz.  Hamilton moved the runners up with a bunt and Byrd's sacrifice fly tied the game, 3-3.

Raisel Iglesias To Start Wednesday For Reds Against Braves






The Reds will summon Cuban born Raisel Iglesias to start against the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday.

The Reds don't want any of its pitchers to start on three days rest and former starter Tony Cingrani has had an increased role out of the bullpen lately.

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Jason Marquis would have started on Wednesday but his start was backed up by Friday's rainout in Chicago.  The Reds will throw Johnny Cueto to open the four-game series against the World Champion San Francisco Giants that starts on Thursday.  Marquis will back up to Friday.

Iglesias started the April 12th game against the St. Louis Cardinals, a 7-5 loss in 11 innings.  Iglesias pitched in place of Homer Bailey, who has since had season ending elbow surgery.  He allowed three runs on five hits over five innings before he was sent back to Louisville to continue development. Iglesias was 1-2 with a 3.80 ERA in four starts at Louisville.

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"Everyone in the system is excited about his development," Bryan Price said. "He has been throwing strikes and working on consistency with his arm angle."

Monday, May 11, 2015

Wild Pitch Sinks Aroldis Chapman And The Reds






For the second day in a row, Aroldis Chapman was hittable and wild in the Reds' 2-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves.

Entering the ninth inning with the score tied 1-1, pinch hitter Phil Gosselin singled up the middle with one out. Nick Markakis followed with another solid single to center.  Gosselin took advantage of Chapman's attention to Andrelton Simmons by stealing third. While striking out Simmons, Chapman threw a wild pitch that allowed Gosselin to speed home with the lead run

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Kristopher Negron saved a run by smothering Freddie Freeman's ground ball up the middle but left the Reds with a one-run deficit to make up.

Atlanta brought Jim Johnson in to protect the perilous lead. Phillips singled with one out bringing a struggling Jay Bruce to the plate. Bruce worked the count full but struck out swinging as Phillips stole second. Negron grounded to short to end the game.

The pitch that cost the Reds the game upset Barnhart.

"There was no crossing up. It was outside and I didn't catch it. No excuses," Barnhart said.

Bryan Price understood that Barnhart took responsibility but sited other factors that led to the Reds 17th loss in 32 games.

"We didn't play well," Price said. "When you have chances to score and don't you put yourself in a position where on mistake beats you."

It was the second loss in two games for Chapman, who also entered the ninth inning of a tie game on Sunday, allowing three straight singles after two outs to lose to the Chicago White Sox.

"They're putting the ball in play against him," Price said. "He struck out two in the inning but they got the ball in the air and through the infield, they took advantage of a slow delivery to steal a base. Barnhart feels bad but its tough when a guy throws that hard and you expect the ball to sink and it sails. It's tough."

Two of the hottest pitchers in the National League hooked up in a good ole good one at Great American Ball Park.

Shelby Miller, the Atlanta Braves starter, had a 4-1 record with a tiny 1.66 Earned Run Average.

The Reds starter Mike Leake, 2-1, had two straight eight-inning scoreless outings.

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The Reds threatened Miller in the first inning.

Billy Hamilton walked and pilfered second base for his 17 stolen base.  He went to third when Miller wheeled to pick the thief off but no one covered.  As he started to throw, he tried to take it back and the throw resembled a ground ball through shortstop into centerfield to put Hamilton on third with no outs.

Miller bowed his neck and struck out Marlon Byrd and Joey Votto.  Todd Frazier grounded out to end the threat.

Leake pitched around a double by the newest pain-in-the-butt, Andrelton Simmons in the first.

The Reds scored in the second.  Brandon Phillips was on through an infield single and advanced to third when Jay Bruce grounded a single to rightfield.  Kristopher Negron, who replaced Zack Cozart, was hit by a pitch to load the bases.  Tucker Barnhart hit a sacrifice fly to end the inning.

Cozart was in the original starting lineup but was scratched as his injured wrist caused him pain.

Leake stretched his scoreless streak to 19 innings until Simmons hit his third home run of the season, leading off the fourth.

Leake worked out of bases loaded jams in the fourth and sixth innings, plus a first and second threat in the fifth to preserve the tie as Miller kept the Reds at bay by retiring 16 straight, including Barnhart's sacrifice fly.

The Reds threatened in the seventh.  Phillips walked and Bruce backed rightfielder Nick Markakis the the rightfield wall. With two outs, Barnhart singled Phillips to third but pinch hitter Skip Schumaker grounded out weakly on a squibber the catcher fielded.

Kevin Gregg Designated For Assignment Reds Recall Pedro Villarreal





Kevin Gregg was designated for assignment.

The Reds hoped the veteran who had success in his Major League career could help the bullpen over the six-month season but it
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didn't work out

The Reds replaced him with Pedro Villarreal, who was drafted by the Reds in the seventh round of the 2008 draft.  Villarreal has been with the club in parts of the last three seasons. He has been on and off the 40-man roster in that time.

"It is a shame the fans never got to see the Kevin Gregg that had so much success in the big leagues," manager Bryan Price said.  "In the six weeks he was with us in spring training, he threw the ball very well with velocity and command. Unfortunately, when you struggle at this level, the isn't enough opportunities to allow a pitcher to work through those things."

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The Reds brought up Villarreal for the doubleheader in Chicago because he was throwing the ball very well.  The Reds have been looking for a pitcher to fill the long relief role that Alfredo Simon did when he first came to the team.  Villarreal, a former starter can pitch in longer stretches.

"Pedro is a guy that can pitch three innings. He pitched three innings in Louisville the other night, took a night off and pitched again.  He deserves that opportunity. He could have gone elsewhere but chose to stay in the organization," Price said. "He didn't have a good game in Chicago but this isn't one of those things where if you have a bad outing, you're going back to Triple A.  You can't run a team like that."

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Research Shows Jay Bruce Will Be OK








For some reason modern Reds' fans, perhaps spoiled by the Big Red Machine, has trouble grasping the fact that baseball is a game of failures.

Thirty-one games into the season Jay Bruce is struggling at the plate.  That is obvious. The proposed remedies from the caring but misguided fans are just plain goofy.

Bruce was hitting .172 through May 9 with five home runs and 16 RBI.  There is no doubt the results are undesirable, but not uncommon to very good baseball players at some point in their career.

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The solutions from Facebook and Twitter are: trade him, release him, bench him,  Fire the manager, general manager and the hitting coach.

It didn't take long to find examples of very good players who struggled to the degree that Bruce is now.

Pete Rose had several 30 game periods in his career in which he hit in the lowly .200's without Bruce's power and production.  Rose was also surrounded by great hitters which helped him get good pitches to hit.

But the most relevant comparison by age, time of service and past success was found in Hall of Fame shortstop, Barry Larkin's 1992 season.

Both players were 28 at the start of Bruce's seventh eighth season and Larkin's seventh season.  Both had been to the All-Star game more than once.  Both had earned MVP votes at that stage of their career.

On May 9, 1992 Larkin was hitting .167 with one home run and only five RBI.

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Had Reds' manager Lou Piniella and general manager listened to Twitter and Facebook, dumping the 28-year old Cincinnatian as has been suggested for Bruce, Larkin may not have been around for his MVP season in 1995. He may have never been elected to the Hall of Fame.

It provides a lesson that baseball fans must endure frustrations before they reap rewards. It may not be easy but sometimes the facts of life are difficult to understand.