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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.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Kristopher Negron's First Career Home Run Leads Reds To All-Star Break

Kristopher Negron, a new arrival for the injury riddled Reds, hit a three-run home run off Francisco Liriano to jump on the Pirates in the second inning.

Negron's first Major League home run led the Reds to a 6-3 win, leaving them 1 1/2 games out of first place at the break.

The Reds loaded the bases when Reds' starter Johnny Cueto walked.  Billy Hamilton doubled high off the leftfield wall.  Zack Cozart walked but the threat ended when Todd Frazier flied out to right.

Cueto was nicked for a run in the fourth. 

Andrew McCutchen hit a a flare to right.  Jay Bruce tried to make a diving catch but the ball got by him.  McCutchen slid into third with a triple.  He scored on a ground out by Neil Walker.

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Liriano, who was reactivated before the game after he recovered from a strained left oblique, pitched out of another bases loaded jam in the fourth.  Cueto struck out but the ball got past catcher Russell Martin. Hamilton and Cozart walked.  Liriano rallied to strike out Frazier, in an extended at bat, and Heisey.

Cincinnati native, Josh Harrison singled home a run in the fifth after a 56 minute rain delay.

Reliever Stolmy Pimentel walked Bruce to lead off the bottom of the fifth.  Devin Mesoraco doubled Bruce home.  Mesoraco went to third on Pena's fly to right.  The Reds tried the suicide squeeze with Negron at the plate.  The pitch was outside but Martin was able to scramble to the plate to catch Mesoraco stealing.

Walker led off the sixth with his 13th home run.

Reds' shortstop made two errors in the inning.  He overthrew firstbase on Martin's groundball and booted a grounder by Jordy Mercer. Cueto was able to pitch around the miscues.
Todd Frazier's 19th home run, a two-run shot into the bullpen in the rightfield corner off Vance Worley gave the Reds some breathing room.

Jumbo Diaz pitched a scoreless seventh, retiring the top of the Pittsburgh lineup in order.

Jonathon Broxton, who could play strong side tackle anywhere, retired the Pirates in order in the eighth.

Aroldis Chapman, after a day off earned his 21st save, continuing his record string for relievers by striking out at least one batter in his last 41 appearances. 

Reds Aggressive Play Has Them In The Hunt At The Break


The Reds played a game in which the manager, thirdbase coach and the pitcher could have been second guessed based on the unfavorable outcome on Saturday with one game left until the All-Star break.

Bryan Price in his first year on the job is learning not to be as hard on himself as the fans are.

We've seen the good and the bad so far during the first 94 games of the season.  We've seen Billy Hamilton defy the odds at the leadoff spot.  We've seen the product of the coaches that have helped Hamilton's development and we've seen him use his athletic ability and instincts that simply can't be coached.


The Reds started out the season with eigh.t players on the disabled list. We've seen them strand runners and fail to come back from deficits more than two runs.  Now we are seeing an aggressive team that has shown three times this week that they can overcome leads of four and five runs.

We seen injuries resurface but now Price sees the upside of them even.

"It has given other guys some opportunities and they have seized them," Price said.

On Saturday thirdbase coach Steve Smith sent Ramon Santiago, who is a fill in for the injured Brandon Phillips, sent home on a potential game winning hit by Jay Bruce only to be thrown out.

The play was aggressive, the Pirates had to make great plays on both ends to get Santiago at the plate. Rookie Gregory Polanco had to get to the ball quickly in position to throw, make a strong accurate throw.  Catcher Russell Martin had to catch the ball, looking away from the runner, then whirl, find the runner and make a swipe tag.

"It was a sweet play, a sweet throw and a sweet, swipe tag," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said.
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Andrew McCutchen hit two home runs, the last being the game winner off J.J. Hoover.

Hoover had an ERA of 10.03 on May 15.  Over the next 18 appearances Hoover had a 2.22 ERA.  Price has asked him to pitch more than one inning in his last three appearances in a span of four days.

"That's just not right that I've had to ask him to do that,"

Why pitch to McCutchen with two outs in the ninth after he had already homered to send the game to extra innings.?

McCutchen with a .324 batting average is such a good hitter that he will only make an out 68 percent of the time.  If a team wins 68 percent of its games, they walk away with the World Championship.  The odds are so much in the Reds favor that it would be foolish to put the winning run on base.

Then there is the mental side of the game.  When you're trying to develop a winning attitude, you can not be afraid to fail.  You have to believe that you are going to get the batter out regardless of who he is, knowing there are no guarantees and that he will beat you from time to time.

The fact that McCutchen defied those odds is a tribute to his ability.
"It's what elite players are capable of doing," Hurdle said.  "When you're six years old drawing up these scenarios, the elite players are the ones that actually go do it in front of a packed house, against number one and number two pitchers, closers. With him there is no bat flip just a handshake and touch homeplate, There is no signature move.  I love that. That's how we are as a team."

Price is learning to live with the difficult decisions he has to make on a daily basis.  His only regret other than having to use Hoover in a bad situation, with no margin for error was using three pitchers to stop a Pittsburgh threat in the eighth inning;.

"Probably not to over-critique my decisions," Price said. "Last night was a great example because there were a couple opportunities to bunt and I chose not to because our baserunners were not real speed guys and there was a chance we could bunt ourselves into a force out and waste an out. Bunt a below-average runner into scoring position. Use three pitchers to pitch the eighth inning in a game where we were up by a run. If it was a tie game I probably wouldn't have done that, I would've gone with Parra and not brought Diaz in. These are the things you think about over the course of time, be more active with the hit-and-run. You see all these with white hair in their 40s and 50s. I'm well on my way, but trying to keep the dark tint as long as possible. Even as a pitching coach, self-persecution is something you try not to do. I want to live a nice, long healthy life".


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Reds Explosion Takes A Back Seat To Andrew McCutchen

Andrew McCutchen proved to the Reds that he is an All-Star and a clutch player.
McCutchen homered in the ninth off Jonathan Broxton to tie the game and in the 11th to win it off J.J. Hoover, lifting the Pirates to a 6-5 win to even the series.
"They outlasted us," Bryan Price said. "McCutchen got us not only with the home runs but he covered a lot of ground in centerfield.  I asked J.J, to go more than an inning for the first time in five days. It wasn't right. It was a situation where there was no margin for error. If there was a regret it was that I used three pitchers in the eighth inning.  We didn't get beat, they (Pirates) just did what they needed to do to win."
The Reds were trailing by four runs again as Mike Leake had early control problems, while his mound opponent Charlie Morton was cruising along.
"I've seen Mike a lot sharper.  We needed length out of him and he gave us what we needed and gave us a chance to come back they stranded a lot of runners when he was out there."

The Reds continued its recently found talent for comeback wins when Chris Heisey and All-Star Todd Frazier hit home runs as the first five Reds to bat scored in the sixth.

Leake created problems for himself in the first.  With one out, Travis Snider hit a groundball up the middle.  Ramon Santiago, a replacement for the injured Brandon Phillips, dived for the ball.  He gloved it by drew a visit from frequently seen trainer, Paul Lessard.  Santiago continued after shaking off his discomfort.  Leake grazed Andrew McCutchen with a pitch, then walked Neil Walker to fill the bases.  Russel Martin hit a sacrifice fly to Billy Hamilton in centerfield.  Hamilton did everything right, he lined up his body to make an accurate throw but Devin Mesoraco couldn't come up with the ball.

McCutchen doubled, leading off the third inning.  Walker's groundball moved the Pirates' centerfielder to third.  Martin, who had one sacrifice fly in 54 games, added his second of the game to put the Pirates ahead, 2-0.

Gabby Sanchez and Jordy Mercer singled to open the Pirate's fifth.  Morton bunted them over tsecond and third.  Leake threw the ball away, trying to pickoff Sanchez, who trotted home.  Gregory Polanco singled to build the Pirates lead to 4-0.

Meanwhile, Morton was slicing and dicing the Reds.  Frazier singled in the first but was stranded.  Ryan Ludwick singled but was erased on a 3-6-3 double play in the second. Santiago singled  but Jay Bruce, hitting against a shift, hit into a rare 5-6-3 double play.

Then the explosion rained down on Morton in the sixth.
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A seemingly harmless walk to Cozart started the frame.  Heisey hit for Leake and lined a pitch into the leftfield stands.  Hamilton singled, and to the surprise of no one, stole second base for his 38th theft.  Santiago drew a walk.  On a 3-2 pitch Hamilton took off to be stopped by the crack of Ftazier's bat.  He stopped short of third to watch Frazier's team-leading 18th home run sail way out of centerfield to give the Reds a 5-4 advantage.

Three Reds pitchers guarded the lead in the eighth.

Sam LeCure struck out Sanchez but Mercer and Princeton/UC grad Josh Harrison singled.  Bryan Price brought in Manny Parra to pitch to Polanco, who hit into a force at second with Mercer moving to third.  Matt Hague was announced to bat for Snider but Price brought in Jumbo Diaz into the game. Ike Davis hit for Hague instead.  Diaz got a ground out on one pitch.

Jonathan Broxton came on to rest Aroldis Chapman, who had pitched four days in a row.  He had the middle of the Pittsburgh order to deal with, McCutchen, Walker and Martin.

McCutchen hit a 2-2 pitch out to dead center for his 16th home run to tie the game. It was the first home run allowed by Broxton. Broxton struck out two to end the inning with no further damage.
Tony Watson, who had his only bad outing of the year on Friday night, started the bottom of the ninth.  Ryan Ludwick started it with a soft single to center.  Brayan Pena scorched the ball up the middle. Watson knocked it down and got the force. Zack Cozart singled.  Neftali Soto called from Louisville this morning, pinch hit for Broxton.  Soto fouled off four two-strike pitches before he struck out.  Hamilton, the Reds leading hitter with runners in scoring position, came to the plate with two outs.  He fouled out to the catcher to send the game to extra innings.

J.J. Hoover struck out two batters in a scoreless 10th.

The Reds missed a chance to end the game in the bottom of the 10th.  Ernesto Frieri walked Santiago and Frazier to start the inning.  Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle brought in left-hander Justin Wilson to pitch to Bruce, who hit home runs off left-hander pitchers in three consecutive games on this homestand.  Bruce singled but rookie Gregory Polance threw a strike to Martin to nail Santiago at the plate as Frazier and Bruce advance to second and third with one out. Hurdle ordered Mesoraco walked and Wilson struck out Ludwick and Pena to send the game to the 11th.

"He had to have time and make a good throw and he did," said Bruce, who has thrown out his share of runners trying to score. "McCutchen is locked in to say the least right now. I know the pitchers feel bad but he put two good swings on the ball."

Jeanmar Gomez gave up two long fly balls but earned his first career save.

The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Milwaukee Brewers this afternoon. The win by the Pirates puts the top four teams in the division within 2 1/2 games of the division lead.  The worst the Reds will be is 2 1/2 games out when the break comes.

"I think that we are a little dissatisfied with the way we played in the first half. We didn't get started until the last month and a half or so.  If you would have said in spring training we'd be within two games of first, no one would have scoffed at that. We played well but we can still play better and I think we can play better.  We hope to get healthy. One of our strengths is our bench.  Whoever we put out there we expect to win.  We just have to play baseball man. This is a good division and we're a good team. I look forward to what's to come," Bruce said.

Reds Learning To Make Comebacks


For the first two months of the season when the Reds were down a run or two the game was over.

At some point in time the squad began to believe they could come back from deficits.  The Reds erased a 5-0 Chicago Cub lead in the second game of the doubleheader on Tuesday.  They came back from a 5-1 lead on Friday night that ignited the fireworks crowd.

"If that was your first baseball game, you were hooked after that," Bryan Price said.  "You could try to reproduce it but may never be able to."

There were so many plays that went into the comeback some seem big and others in significant at the time.

Curtis Partch, who was 0-2 for his career, made what was predetermined to be his only game to give the Reds' regular bullpen time to recouperate.

The big right-hander walked the bases loaded but escaped without giving up a run.

"A 37-pitch inning without giving up a run was impressive," said Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle, who brought Ike Davis in to pinch hit against Partch.  "Davis was 4-for-8 with the bases loaded. He's the kind of guy where a walk usually comes into play during the at-bat."

Davis hit two grand slams against the Reds with two different teams.  He hit one to win a game off J.J. Hoover while he was a member of the Mets on April 5 and on April 21 off Mike Leake after he was traded to the Pirates.
Partch struck him out and it set the stage for the Reds to make an improbable comeback.
With two outs against All-Star left-handed reliever Tony Watson, Devin Mesoraco hit his 16th home run.  Ryan Ludwick blooped a single that fell between three Pirate fielders.  Ramon Santiago's single up the middle barely eluded Neil Walker and Brayan Pena fouled off a pitch that barely made it to the safety of the stands with Davis, Walker and outfielder Gregory Polanco within a foot of the ball.
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When the Reds were struggling at least one of those three events were caught, now they are going the Reds way.
Price believes that the Reds new mentality is to try to chip away at an opponents lead.
"We've found out that every run is important," Price said.  "If we get one here and another there the add up.  We now have the confidence that we've done it before."
"It is one of those fascinating things about the baseball season that's hard to explain," Price said. "Coming back against the Cubs was big for us.  Just finding ways to grind out runs, I think we weren't able to appreciate the value of a single run.  It means that you get one, then two runs the next thing you know, you're in a two run game and you can manage that.  In a couple games you can find a way to beat a closer or a setup guy.  When you're down 5-1 and you don't do anything.  You get to a point where you don't feel like you can do it.  I think you have to do it to understand that you can do it.  Ludwick hits the soft hit into the outfield, then Heisey hits a line drive, then Santiago, then Pena and you say to yourself, "where did this come from?" Then all after Mesoraco hits a two-out homer that's usually a rally killer.  That was such a memorable game. If that was truly your first baseball game, now you're hooked, you're addicted.  It was so exciting."

Is it a game the Reds can build on?

"I think you can build on both good and bad games.  We had the loss to Toronto when we had an 8-0 lead and the next thing you know they rolled on us.  That could have been one of those games that led to a lot of negative thoughts but we didn't let that happen," Price said.  "But winning gets you to anticipate winning."

Princeton and UC Grad Josh Harrison An All-Star Include Video


Josh Harrison was chosen to play in the 2014 All-Star game in Minneapolis by St. Louis Cardinal manager Mike Matheny, making his alma maters at Princeton High School and the University of Cincinnati proud.

The three-sport star for the Vikings didn't even think about being named to such a prestigious team.

"I know I can play this game and that's what I concentrate on," Harrison said.  "It is not something that I ever thought about."

The news have left his family and friends excited and Harrison himself felling happy, blessed and overwhelmed.  It is exciting. There are a lot of things that go into it, like the phone calls and the texts. It is a blessing and exciting but tiring," Harrison said. "I'm looking forward to it but we have these next to games to try and win the series first."

The 26-year old came to the Pirates in a 2009 trade with the Chicago Cubs, who drafted him.  He spent part of the 2011 season with the Pirates.  Harrison was with the Pirates for all of the 2012 season and the first half of the 2013 season. 

Harrison filled in for the injured Neil Walker at secondbase and also plays thirdbase and the outfield.  He is currently hitting .292 in 77 games with five home runs and 27 RBI.

Harrison is from an athletic family that has excelled in baseball.  His uncle John Shelby played 11 seasons in the Major Leagues and coaches.  His older brother, Vince, spent five years in the minor leagues with Tampa Bay, Florida Marlins and the New York Mets.

Anyone who saw Billy Hamilton escape a tag attempt by Gabby Sanchez on Friday was impressed The Pirates weren't quite as impressed as they have seen their All-Star escape a trap against the New York Mets a couple weeks ago.  (See Video Below)

Harrison believes that playing multiple sports at Princeton helped him in the situation to trust his abilities.

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"It was my athletic ability. I played football and basketball at Princeton," Harrison said. "Plus I played in the backyard with my brothers Vince and Shawn, where I had to get out of situations like that."

Reds Expand Louisville Shuttle


The Reds made another roster move to compensate for injuries and a bullpen on the brink of over use.

On Saturday the Reds sent Curtis Partch back to Louisville with the memory of his first Major League win.  It was a 37 pitch odyssey that would have been hard for Homer to imagine, (the Greek writer not Bailey.)

Partch was a one-day solution for a bullpen that had its core pitch three days in a row and some for multiple innings.
"Coming into the game that was the intent," Bryan Price said

Neftali Soto was brought back to replace Partch on the roster to give the Reds a four-man bench that has been taxed by the loss of Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Skip Schumaker, who was placed on the shorter term, seven-day concussion list.

"We are talking about weeks with Votto and Phillips; days with Schumaker," Price said. "Concussions are difficult.  We don't want to be reckless.  We are just hoping Skip is good to go after the All-Star break.  We have two games left and four days off for the All-Star game. We wouldn't be able to weather the short-term with out it."
Mat Latos struggle through lower back spasms to become the second starting pitcher in as many days to leave the game early.  Homer Bailey left with a strained patella tendon in his right knee on Thursday.
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"I don't think you can give at title to it," Price said of the Latos injury.  "It's just a strained back.  I'm not sure Homer could make his next start if not for the All-Star break.  Now we can put these guys on the back end coming out of the break."

Billy Hamilton Evades Tag You Can't Coach This


Billy Hamilton has shown uncanny instincts for baseball this season.

In just his second full year as a switch hitter and his second full year as a centerfielder, converted from shortstop, Hamilton is closing in hitting a season high .285 and played Gold Glove centerfield.

He leads his older, more experienced teammates with a .357 average with runners in scoring position.

All of that aside this play in which Hamilton turned a bad bunt into a single illustrates those instincts.

The irony is announcer Thom Brenamann pronouced it an easy out an instant before Hamilton turned it into a single.  It teaches us all lessons about not making assumptions.  Hamilton was just not ready to head for the bench.  That could wait a couple pitches later when he scored from first on Zack Cozart's double.
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Friday, July 11, 2014

Red Take Comeback Thriller Over Pittsburgh.

For the second time this week, the Reds came from behind late to earn a 6-5 victory over a division rival. This time it was Pittsburgh Pirates.

Ramon Santiago had three hits, scored a run and drove in two, to turn the tables on the Pirates. Like his namesake in "A Few Good Men" Santiago gave the Pirates a "Code Red."

The M A S H unit in Cincinnati is overflowing.

Add Mat Latos to the wounded, Hawkeye.  Latos left the game after five innings with lower back spasms.

"I felt it when I let loose of one pitch," Latos said. "It was like one of the middle infielders came up and stabbed me in the back.  Before that the ball was coming out of my hand good, I had a good change up. Then my velocity dropped in a hurry. I couldn't finish my pitches.  It sucks to give up four runs but the offense picked me up. I was trying to stay in after we went 12 innings yesterday but I hurt the team."

The right-hander making his fifth start since coming off the disabled list, allowed Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alverez to hit their 15th home runs of the season.  McCutchen led off the inning.  Alvarez hit his after an error by Jay Bruce, playing firstbase put Neil Walker on base and Russell Martin walked.

"We brought up (Curtis) Partch and (Carlos) Contreras because we were really thin in the bullpen," Bryan Price said.

Latos appeared to be hurt running out his failed sacrifice bunt that Martin turned into a 2-6-3 double play.  Trainer Paul Lessard visited Latos on the mound twice but the pitcher stayed in until Mike Leake pinch hit for him in the bottom of the fifth
The inning put the Pirates in the lead after Billy Hamilton pulled a Houdini on firstbaseman Gabby Sanchez in the first inning.  Hamilton bunted and Sanchez fielded it as Hamilton ran down the line. Hamilton pulled a "running back-like elusive leap" and sidestepped the attempted tag.  Zach Cozart followed with a double into the corner to drive Hamilton in and was on thirdbase after advancing on the throw home.  The Reds couldn't get him in.

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The Reds wasted a leadoff double by Ryan Ludwick in the second.  He advanced to third on a one-out single by Ramon Santiago but Latos short bunt was fielded by Martin in time to get two outs.

Hamilton singled to leadoff the third but was picked off and charged with a caught stealing.

Carlos Contreras gave up a double to McCutchen and and RBI single to Martin in his two innings of relief.

The Reds chased Pittsburgh starter Jeff Locke in the seventh.  Ludwick reached secondbase on a throwing error by Alvarez.  Santiago doubled him home.  Donald Lutz singled to put runners on the corners.  Hamilton's groundout scored Santiago.

The Reds erased a five-run deficit on Tuesday for a win against the Chicago Cubs.  This time the Reds dug itself out of a four-run hole.

Curtis Partch, just recalled from Louisville this afternoon walked the bases loaded in the eighth but struck out Martin and pinch hitter Ike Davis to get out of the mess.

Devin Mesoraco made it a one-run game with his 16th home run of the season off his name on the ribbon scoreboard in leftfield 419 ft from home plate with two outs off Tony Watson.  The Reds tied the game on consecutive singles by Ludwick, Chris Heisey and Santiago, who is replacing the injured Brandon Phillips at secondbase.  Bryan Pena put the Reds in front with a pinch hit single, chasing Watson from the game.

"It has to do with the guys are not trying to get it done at once time," Price said. "The kept chipping away. It shows that the guys are all in.  We battled through the first two months. To do it against a guy like Watson, who throws missiles, is special.  That guy is really good."

Santiago wasn't getting much playing time but has improved his batting average to .260 with three hits in four at bats.
"You don't want to lose more guys," Santiago said. "I am getting more opportunities.  I have always tried to stay prepared by working everyday. I take ground balls at different positions.  I take extra batting practice in the cage with the hitting coach."

The veteran was a member of the Tigers'  team from 2006 through 2013. Santiago appeared in one World Series, two AlCS and one division series.

"We talked about it a lot," Santiago said. "We stay in the game because anything can happen.  Early in the year we would get down and not come back.  I think the mentality changed.  The crowd can feel it.  The crowd gave us so much energy tonight."

The rally allowed Partch to earn his first career win.

Aroldis Chapman struck out Jordy Mercer to become the first relief pitcher since at least 1900 to strike out at least one batter in 40 consecutive appearances.  Chapman struck out pinch hitters Michael Martinez and Matt Hague to earn his 20th save of the year.

Reds Use Fat Bullpen Skinny Bench Schumaker Out Lutz In

It doesn't have everything to do with Jonathan Broxton and Jumbo Diaz but the Reds have loaded the bullpen for the final three games before the All-Star break against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The other side of the equation, the bench is as barren as Northern Montana in winter.

The Reds placed Brandon Phillips on the 15-day disabled list after he had successful surgery to repair the ligaments on his left thumb. 

Third catcher Tucker Barnhart was optioned to Triple A Louisville.


The Reds summoned Carlos Contreras, who was sent down yesterday but never made the drive to Louisville.  Curtis Partch, who last pitched when he earned a save in the Bats win over Toledo, was recalled for his third trip to the big club.

“Really, our situation was we had a bunch of guys who’d pitched three days in a row," Bryan Price said.. "So we’ve got some challenges, so today, the two additions to the bullpen were just necessary pieces. If for any reason, if we had to play 15 innings, we couldn’t do that. By tomorrow, for those guys who don’t get in there today, a day of rest should help us feel good for the remaining two days of the series and get us another position player. We’ll have to wait and see how we get through today.”
The moves leave Kristopher Negron, Brayan Pena and Skip Schumaker, who was banged up trying to catch Luis Valbuena's game-winning triple on Thursday.

As this post was being written the Reds announced that Skip Schumaker was placed on the seven-day concussion list and Donald Lutz was recalled from Louisville.

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‘He’s a little banged up," Price said of Schumaker this afternoon before the decision was made to disable him. "We’re still kind of kicking the tires there over the course of the work day. We’ve kind of weathered the storm. We’re going through some rough weather right now with the roster the way it is. We’ll have 3 bench players tonight and we might do some juggling through this weekend series.”

Three guys are left on the bench.
“Creativity is in order, for sure," Price said. "Those are the challenges of the season. We went through them the first couple of months and now we’re back there again. The timing couldn’t be better with the four-day break coming up, not just to nurse some injuries but to assess where we are. The starters should be rested, which might not necessitate an eight-man bullpen and allow us to have a little more bench strength.”

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Brandon Phillips Will Have Surgery On Friday


Reds' second baseman Brandon Phillips is expected to miss six weeks after he has surgery on Friday to repair torn ligaments in his left thumb. is expected to miss six weeks.

Phillips injured his thumb diving for a ground ball in the eighth inning Wednesday night and an MRI Thursday morning revealed torn ligaments in his left thumb. The Reds' former Gold Glove secondbaseman was hitting 272 at the time of the injury.

"It is a big blow. Brandon is a big two-way player. He has hit in the middle of the order most of the year. Defensively, he has been spectacular. It is a blow but we'll weather it," Reds manager Bryan Price said.

Phillips was moved to the third spot from the second spot in the batting order when Votto missed 15 days earlier in May.

The 32-year old former All-Star was hitting .272 with seven home runs and 40 RBI in 86 games.

The Reds purchased the contract of infielder Kristopher Negron from Triple A Louisville earlier in the day before they got the results of Phillips MRI.

"We'll use Ramon Santiago there," Price said. "Skip Schumaker will play there and all over the place."

The team placed former MVP Joey Votto on the disabled list earlier in the week with soreness in his left thigh.
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The Reds lead the major leagues in defense with the fewest errors in the Major Leagues, 37. Phillips made just one error in 378 total chances, which is fifth in the National League.

Zack Cozart, the Reds' shortstop, will be affected most by Phillips absence.

"It is going to be tough for our team," Cozart said. "Brandon and I work well together up the middle. Injuries happen. Joey's (Votto) hurt. We have to figure out a way to win."

Full of Schatz: Tempers Flare In Reds Cubs Game

Full of Schatz: Tempers Flair In Reds Cubs Game: http://donatelifeohio.org/ Anthony Rizzo, who was hit by Homer Bailey in the first inning, rushed toward the Reds' bench to ...

Tempers Flare In Reds Cubs Game


Anthony Rizzo, who was hit by Homer Bailey in the first inning, rushed toward the Reds' bench to be met by Reds' players before he any punches were thrown

The bottom of the ninth started after umpires, Mark Wegner, Mike Winters, the crew chief, Andy Fletcher and Toby Basner discussed the incident.

Both benches and bullpens emptied but no punches were thrown.  There were no ejections.

It looked like two huddles, one Cubs blue and one Cincinnati red.

Catcher John Baker was also hit by Bailey in the fifth inning Nate Schierholtz was at the plate when two pitches by Aroldis Chapman came up and in.

"Two pitches got away from me," Aroldis said through interpreter Tomas Vera.  "Their bench started to say something to me and their firstbaseman came over to our bench."

Alfredo Simon intercepted Rizzo on the field.

Zack Cozart was hit by a pitch from rookie Kyle Hendricks in the sixth inning.  Hendricks was making his Major League debut.
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Rizzo, who hit three home runs in the series, was booed by Reds' fans as he was intentionally walked by Jumbo Diaz in the tenth inning.

"There was a lot of testosterone on the field," Bryan Price said after the game.  "That is the way baseball is. We hit Rizzo, certainly unintentional.  Cozart got hit in the hand certainly that was unintentional. Chapman had the ball get away from him up and in and things got a little testy.  It's baseball  We're trying to win every game we can as are the Cubs. I just think it was an overflow of testosterone."
Cozart was holding ice on his swollen left hand that was hit by Hendricks pitch.
"I knew they would be frustrated.  We're frustrated," Cozart said. "Whether it's on purpose or not, no one likes having balls coming at them."

Homer Bailey Leaves Reds Game In Fifth Inning


Cincinnati Reds right-hander Homer Bailey left his start against the Chicago Cubs on Thursday in the sixth inning with pain in the patellar tendon of his right knee.
Bailey was delivering a 1-2 pitch to Starlin Castro, but he didn't throw the ball while gingerly completing his motion. After a visit from trainer Paul Lessard and manager Bryan Price, during which Bailey pointed to a spot on the mound, he walked off the field and was replaced by the right-hander Sam LeCure.
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The Reds were leading 4-3. Bailey, who entered with an 8-5 record, allowed three hits and two runs with two walks and three strikeouts. He also hit two batters while throwing 71 pitches.

The Reds had center fielder Billy Hamilton and second baseman Brandon Phillips leave Wednesday's victory over Chicago with injuries. They are day-to-day.

Kristopher Negron Fills Bench


The Reds have been playing with a short bench for the last two weeks but minor injuries to Brandon Phillips and Billy Hamilton forced the Reds to make a move this morning.

Infielder Kristopher Negron's contract was purchased from Louisville.  Negron had been on the Reds' 40-man roster but was assigned outright to Louisville last season.  Negron had a good spring as a non-roster invitee.

The Reds designated right-handed pitcher Brett Marshall for assignment to clear a spot for Negron.
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Carlos Contreras, who was brought up to help the Reds' battered bullpen two weeks ago, is being optioned to Louisville.  He was recalled from Pensacola when the Reds' bullpen was under water and needed an extra pitcher.

"That will help support our bench," Bryan Price said. "He's played all over. Played SS last night, went 2-for-4. He's played all outfield positions, second, third, and short. He's everywhere in Spring Training. He had a really outstanding spring but started slow at Louisville, he's up to .265 or so. Has a little bit of power. Had a nice season".

Negron was reassigned to Louisville the day before Opening day. He hit .269 with the Bats in 75 games with three home runs and 25 RBI. Negron hit 15 doubled and three triples. He stole nine bases.

Contreras appeared in three games, pitching 4 1/3 innings. He allowed one run on one hit and three walks.

"I was very happy with what he brought to the table<" Price said. "He got the opportunity to come up from Double-A and gave us a look at what we have going forward. I don't think he was scared. He's got three quality pitches. It is good to know we have something to look forward to if we have any setbacks with our bullpen".

Alfredo Simon On Standby For All-Star Team


Alfredo Simon, to the surprise of everyone except himself, is tied with the New York Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka for the Major Leauge lead with 12 wins.

Simon dropped his Earned Run Average to 2.70 in beating the Chicago Cubs to gain his 12th win against three losses.  He allowed one run in 6 2/3 innings. It is the 12th lowest in the big leagues.

Simon was left off the All-Star team in spite of having the statistics to warrant selection.  That is subject to change.

Teammate Johnny Cueto, second in the Major Leagues with a 2.03 ERA was chosen but he pitches on Sunday which will make it impractical for him to pitch in the All-Star Game on Tuesday.
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Wednesday was the last start for Simon.  He could pitch Tuesday as he deserves and that is in the works according to Simon.

"I'm happy with the way I've pitched," Simon said on Wednesday. "They didn't pick me but it's no insult to me.  I didn't decide yet what's going to happen. I want to go there because it is going to be big for me. So we will wait and see what's going to happen. They told me to stay behind. I'm not really sad because I have the numbers to be there. I would love to go for sure."

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Reds Roll Cubs Rollover


The Reds put themselves in position for the first five-game sweep of any team  with a 4-1 win. Not since 1976 when the  Reds' beat the San Diego Padres in five straight in 1976, have they swept a five-game series.  The Reds swept the Cubs in five straight when Hack Wilson roamed centerfield for Chicago in 1931.

The Reds turned a two-out walk to Brayan Pena, the firstbaseman du jour, and a double by Ramon Santiago, who gave Todd Frazier a breather, into a second inning run.

Alfredo Simon, who became the only 12-game winner in the National League, allowed Anthony Rizzo's 20th home run of the season and third of the series but nothing else.  He stranded a pair of Cubs in the first and second innings but rolled through 13 straight Cubs before issuing a walk to Wellington Castillo, the last batter he faced.  "The situation dictated the pitching change," Bryan Price said.  "Simon pitched a great game. He had 118 pitches. At that point in time the Cubs are like us, playing with a four-man bench. It made sense to force their hand."

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The Reds got to young Dallas Beeler, who is part of the Cubs rebuilding project, since trading two starters earlier this month.

Simon wasn't named to the All-Star game but really wants to go and has been told to standby in case someone can't pitch. This was his last start before the break and he could easily pitch next Tuesday.

"I have the numbers. I would like to pitch in it. I'm happy with the way I've pitched.  It is no surprise.  I have the arm. I have good stuff. I just have to do my best," Simon said.

The fifth inning started out tamely for Beeler.  He got Santiago to pop out to the catcher.  Zack Cozart extended his hitting streak to six games with a bloop single.  Simon bunted him to secondbase.  Billly "the hero" Hamilton increased his batting average with runners in scoring position to .367 when he drilled an RBI hit into the right centerfield gap. It eluded CF Justin Ruggiano and Hamilton rounded third with a triple.  Skip Schumaker walked.  Brandon Phillips drove Hamilton home with his second hit.  Jay Bruce drove in Schumaker with a single.

"I wanted to go home but you have to listen to him (thirdbase coach Steve Smith).  I always think I can make it.  This time it would have taken a perfect throw."

Manny Parra relieved Simon and fanned Nate Schierholtz.  Jonathon Broxton extended his scoreless appearance streak to seven games with a scoreless eighth.

Hamilton and Phillips left the game in the eighth.  Hamilton with a tight right hamstring and Phillips with a sprained left thumb.  X-rays on Phillips were negative.

"I felt the same thing I felt in spring training," Hamilton said.  "I told them about it today.  I felt it batting right-handed.  It's a couple day thing.  I will see what happens tomorrow. I messed it up in spring training it came back a couple days ago, knowing what happened the last time."

Aroldis Chapman saved his 19th game in 21 tries while striking out Junior Lake, Justin Ruggiano and Mike Olt.  It was the 38th straight game in which Chapman struck out at least one batter.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Reds Battle Back Against Cubs In Nightcap


Billy Hamilton's single in the bottom of the ninth brought the Reds all the way back for a 6-5 win and doubleheader sweep over the Chicago Cubs.  The Reds came all the way back from a 5-0 deficit to pull off its first doubleheader sweep since 2009.

"Without a doubt that was the most exciting win," Bryan Price said.  "It is not about me but as a group we're really excited about this game."

Hamilton was mobbed by his teammates.

"I usually don't let them catch me but those old guys just played two games," Hamilton said.  "We have to save them for tomorrow.  I could play all day.  I'm ready to go right now.  Let's go.  Let's play three."

The odds are against sweeps no matter who the two combatants are, lofty leader or lower-than-a-snakes-belly cellar dweller.

"With Hamilton up there the way he is swinging the bat with runners on base, we were really confident," Price said.

The Reds have cut the deficit against the Brewers in half in the first six games of this home stand.  They are now 3 1/2 games behind Milwaukee, who lost to Philadelphia.  They closed to with 1/2 game of St. Louis and passed Pittsburgh in the standings.

There were a pair of wild cards, two pitchers called up from the minors expressly to pitch the second game of the doubleheader.

The Reds 22-year old left-hander David Holmberg to the mound.  The Cubs countered with 33-year old Tsuyoshi Wada for his Major League debut.  Wada was a star in the Japanese League but struggled with his health stateside.

Holmberg wasn't sharp and the Cubs handled him.  Red hot Chris Coughlin followed a walk to Mike Ott with his second home run of the day and fourth of the season in the second inning. Coughlin hit one off Johnny Cueto in the first game.  Holmberg ran into more trouble in the third.  Anthony Rizzo hit his 19th to lead off the inning.  Starlin Castro singled and one out later Ott hit his 12th.

"He pitched from behind a lot. He wasn't sharp.  We know he's better than that," Price said.  "As an organization, we know he's going to help us."

Wada survived a double by Ryan Ludwick and the first of Zack Cozart's two singles in the fifth. Ludwick had to be held as centerfielder Junior Lake got to the ball quickly.  Wada made an athletic stab of Tucker Barnhart's bid for a single up the middle to keep the Reds scoreless in the second.

The Reds loaded the bases in the fifth on three straight singles to start the frame.  Wada struck out pinch hitter Chris Heisey.  Billy Hamilton the team's leading hitter with runners in scoring position flied to shallow right.  Skip Schumaker started down the line but held.  Lake's throw hit the mound and bounded toward first.  The error allowed Schumaker to score.  Rookie Tucker Barnhart got a taste of his own medicine. Barnhart is adept at picking runners off from his catching position.  This time he was the victim of Wellington Castillo's peg to first to end the inning.

"We looked like we would get back in that inning," Price said. "It could have been a letdown but it wasn't."

Carlos Contreras and J.J. Hoover kept the Cubs off the scoreboard for 4 1/3 innings with Hoover striking out six Cubs.

"The starters have been taking the innings away from the bullpen," Price said. "It was a big game with a lot of big moments."

"Today it was more about the team," Hoover said.  "I'm definitely well rested.  There is nothing to complain about with the way the starters have pitched.  It think the day as a whole was the best of the season."

The pair allowed the Reds offense to heat up against the Cubs bullpen.
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Todd Frazier opened the sixth with a double off Brian Schlitter.  Groundouts by Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce brought him home.

Wesley Wright walked Schumaker to start the seventh.  Carlos Villanueva walked Cozart and Barnhart.  Devin Mesoraco batted for Hoover.  He hit a bullet right at the feet of Castro at short, who turned it into an easy double play with Schumaker scoring.  Hamilton tripled high off the fence in rightcenter, inches from his sixth home run to narrow the margin to 5-4 as Cozart trotted home.  Frazier was picked by Castro again to allow Chicago to hold the lead.

Logan Ondrusek allowed a single to Rizzo in a scoreless eighth.

Pedro Strop gave up the lead after the first two batters in the bottom of the inning.  Phillips singled and Bruce doubled into the leftfield corner to take young Holmberg off the hook. Strop struck out Ludwick swinging and Schumaker looking.  Cozart's bid to break the tie, died in the rightcenter field gap and Justin Ruggiano ran it down.

Ondrusek struck out two in the ninth.

Hector Rondon came in to pitch for the Cubs.  Brayan Pena fresh off paternity leave hit for Ondrusek to start the ninth.  Pena dumped a bloop single down the leftfield line.  Mike Leake ran for him. Mesoraco singled him to third putting runners on the corner with two outs.  Hamilton finished off the Cubs with a broken bat single to left.

"They made it easy for me," said Hamilton, who now leads the team with a .353 average with runners in scoring position.  "I broke my bat but it died a warrior.  It was fun. I want to be the guy up in that situation.  They took the bunt off and that made it easier for me that I didn't have to worry about it."

Frazier Chosen For All-Star Home Run Derby


The magical year continues for Todd Frazier.  He became a father for the first time and made the All-Star team in his third full year in the Major Leagues.

As for icing on the cake, the "Toddfather" will be sending "Blakeblasts" (home runs named after his newborn son) into the Minnesota night next Monday.

Troy Tulowitzki invited Frazier by text to participate in the Home Run Derby.

"It's pretty cool. I want to thank Tulowitzki for inviting me it's going to be a lot of fun. I  was excited about making the All-Star team and now going there the day before is pretty exciting. I hope I don't put a goose egg up there and represent," Frazier said.

"He text me," Frazier said of Tulowitzki.  "I thanked him for considering me.  He told me the next day, "You're the man.""

The affable 28-year old thirdbaseman who is tied for third in the National League with 17 home runs will make it a family affair.
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His older brother Charlie, who played in the Marlins organization for five years, will pitch to him.  His brother Jeff will be there as a witness.  Jeff played in nine games for the Detroit Tigers in 2010 will be there also.

"My brother Charlie is going to throw to me," Frazier said.  "He throws to me at home. That will be pretty cool having your brother throw to you.  You hope he doesn't fizzle up. I hope both of us can figure something out and get going. Jeff will be there but when he throws, he's got the yips a little bit. He knows that. He's a good thrower but Charlie would be the person. I talked to him and he's pumped. He'll get the Frazier jersey and that will be cool for our family."

Frazier doesn't worry about the notion that participating will ruin his swing.

"No I'm not worried about it ruining my swing at all," Frazier said. "When you're asked to do something like this you don't even think about your swing.. I can come back the next day in New York and swing for hours if something happened."

"It's pretty cool. I want to thank Tulowitzke for inviting me it's going to be a lot of fun. I  was excited about making the All-Star team and now going there the day before is pretty exciting. I hope I don't put a goose egg up there and represent," Frazier said.

"No I'm not worried about it ruining my swing at all. When you're asked to do something like this you don't even think about your swing.. I can come back the next day in New York and swing for hours if something happened."

'He approached me by text message. I thanked him for considering me. He got back to me the next day and said, "You're the man."  I can't wait to see the excitement and nerves in the building. It will be pretty cool."

"My brother "Charlie" is going to throw to me.  He throws to me at home. That will be pretty cool having your brother throw to you.  You hope he doesn't fizzle up. I hope both of us can figure something out and get going. Jeff will be there but when he throws, he's got the yips a little bit. He knows that. He's a good thrower but Charlie would be the person. I talked to him and he's pumped. He'll get the Frazier jersey and that will be cool for our family."