About Me

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

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Reds Come Home On A High Note Beat Tribe 8-3

The Reds finish in Goodyear with a 17-14-1 record but the best news for Dusty Baker is that he didn't lose another pitcher today.

Bronson Arroyo has mono but he conquered that.  His only problem was the Choo Flu.

Arroyo handled most of the tribe but Cleveland's Chief Nokahomer made Arroyo sneeze and weeze.

Sin Soo Choo hit four home runs off Arroyo last season, two in Cincinnati and two in Cleveland.  Now he got him twice in Goodyear.

"Bronson threw the ball great.  He's feeling better, looking better and acting better.  He's on the backside of being sick.  He threw strikes, quality strikes.  If it wasn't for Sin Soo Choo, he wouldn't have given up anything," Baker said.

Arroyo threw 100 pitches.

"I didn't have the best command.  They hit the ball hard right at some people but I got my 100 pitches in.  I'll see how I feel tomorrow.  It's a good little test for me."

Arroyo wanted to stay on the mound longer.

"That's Bronson.  He comes to pitch," Baker said.

One reason he wanted to stay is Choo.

"He hits everything I throw," Arroyo said.  "I wanted to face him a third time.  I was going to tell him everything I through to see how he'd deal with it."

Jonny Gomes struggled this spring but hit .363 in his last nine games.  He hit his fifth home run off Justin Masterson.  That tied him with Chris Heisey for the team lead.

Jay Bruce hit .327.

Juan Francisco finished with an eight-game hitting streak.  He and Joey Votto tied with 14 RBI

Brandon Phillips ended with a 10-game hitting streak and a .347 overall average.

Drew Stubb hit .296 in his last 11 games.  He hit a long opposite field home run against Jon Danks and the White Sox on Monday.

Paul Janish hit .350 with five RBI in his last seven games.

Ramon Hernandez was 4-for-11 in his last four games.

Votto hit .294 for the spring.  He is a notorious slow starter.  He hit .371 with three home runs and 12 RBI in his last 12 games.

"That's what we want.  We want our hitters hot at the same time,"  Baker said.  "Most guys can't just turn it on once the season starts.

Passion For Opening Day Is Building As Reds Head Home

Dusty Baker turns 62 in June.  When most people are looking forward to retirement at that age, Baker ain't ready for it.

He was asked this morning if he still gets butterflies.  The question barely left the lips when he responded.

"Heck yeah.  Number one I was a little nervous this morning when I left the house.  You just think spring training is over you get to start it again.  You start wondering about what will be.  You won't know how this year's going to turn out.  When I was in the car, I was thinking the next time I make this trip out here will be next spring training," Baker said.

As one phase to 2011 ends the joy of the regular season is anticipated by fans, players, coaches managers just like when they were little kids.

"Even after all these years there is still butterflies, heck yeah.  No matte how long you do this to me if you still have the same joy as you did as a kid.  You remember the opening day little league parade.  I do.  I see the joy in my son with his opener.  It got rained out and I saw the disappointment that he felt.  I feel the same emotions.  It's the best game.  It's the best life a man can have.  There's ups and downs.  There's disappointments, joy.  But it's all part of it."

Edinson Volquez, the opening day starter was all smiles. 

"I very excited.  It's big time.  It's my first time to pitch opening day, especially in Cincinnati where everyone is excited about the season to start," Volquez said.

The Reds plan to have players a red carpet in the Fan Zone walk Saturday night.  

"That sounds good," Volquez said.

Mike Leake isn't pitching on opening day.

"I'm excited.  I'm going to enjoy the game," Leake said.

Leake made the team out of spring training last year but stayed back in Goodyear until his first turn came up.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Leake Less Strength Better Outing Reds Win 9-1

The last time Mike Leake pitched he thought he was Nolan Ryan.

The harder he tried to throw the ball the harder his pitches were hit.  He left too many out over the plate and the ball didn't move as much.

He worked with Bryan Price afterwards.

"We worked on a few things.  I remembered how I'm supposed to pitch.  I'm not going to throw a fastball by anybody."

"It was good to see especially against that lineup.  They have some mashers over there.  The last time he tried to throw hard, hard, harder.  This time he changed speeds off his fastball.  He threw good strikes," Dusty Baker said.

While Leake was throttling the powerful White Sox, his mates were pounding John Danks

Drew Stubbs singled to raise his average to .273.  Brandon Phillips doubled to increase his average to .348
Ramon Hernandez had two hits as the DH.  He seems to be ok after missing a week with a sore right elbow.

Jonny Gomes hit his fourth home run.  Career minor leaguer Brian Barton hit a home run.  Mike Costanzo also homered.

Jared Burton had to be taken out of the game.

"He just didn't feel right," Baker said.  "We'll have him checked out.  He didn't hurt or anything.  He just felt he couldn't get his arm all the way back.  It just didn't feel right."

The Roster is Set

Fred Lewis and Jose Arredondo will start the season on the disabled list.

Lewis will be left in Goodyear to benefit from the warm weather.

Juan Francisco will come to Cincinnati.  He will play in the outfield only in emergencies or circumstances late in the game.

"We have guys to start in the outfield," Dusty Baker said.  "We had him play out there so he feels comfortable in a game."

Johnny Cueto threw some today.

"Knowing Johnny it won't take him long.  We have to build him back up.  It will be us slowing him down.  He wants to get out there and pitch.  He feels great but we don't want to rush him," Baker said.

Cueto and Homer Bailey will come to Cincinnati with the team.

Below will be the opening day roster unless an injury pops up in the last two days.

Starting Pitchers in this order:
Edinson Volquez
Travis Wood
Bronson Arroyo
Mike Leake
Sam LeCure

Francisco Cordero
Aroldis Chapman
Nick Masset
Matt Maloney
Jared Burton
Bill Bray
Logan Ondrusek

Ramon Hernandez
Ryan Hanigan

Jay Bruce
Drew Stubbs
Jonny Gomes
Chris Heisey

Joey Votto
Brandon Phillips
Paul Janish
Scott Rolen
Edgar Renteria
Miguel Cairo
Juan Francisco

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Reds Cut Dontrelle Willis and Jeremy Hermida Roster Takes Shape

The Reds reassigned Dontrelle Willis and Jeremy Hermida to the minor league camp.

Willis was the sentimental favorite to make the team but his last two appearances were awful.   Coming into camp the still young at 29 lefthander was struggling with control.  In his first five outings he walked three in 6 1/3 innings and allowed just two earned runs.

In his last two outings, he walked five and allowed eight runs in 3 1/3 innings.

"He had the team made until a week to 10 days ago but he regressed," Dusty Baker said.

Willis will go to Louisville to work out his control problems.  "Plus we have to stretch him out to be a starter," Baker said.  Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey will start the season on the DL.  Bronson Arroyo is battling mononucleosis.  All of a sudden the Reds starting pitching depth has been tapped.

Hermida had a good spring at the plate.  He hit .342 with three home runs and six RBI but is not among the best defensive outfielders.  He will try to find a big league job somewhere.

"It was tough to tell Hermida.  He had a great spring.  If he can find a big league job somewhere, we're not going to stand in his way," Baker said.

Fred Lewis tweaked his side on Saturday against the San Francisco Giants in which he hit a three-run home run.  He will be analyzed by doctors.

Lewis is out of options and has a $900, 000 contract.  It sounds like the DL for Lewis.

It appears that Juan Francisco will make the team.  He is a thirdbaseman but will play firstbase today and will see work in the outfield.  Francisco's bat has come alive recently.  He hit a home run against San Francisco's Tim Lincecum on Saturday.

"We're in a situation where we have to get Scott Rolen through the cold weather with his neck and back," Baker said.  "Francisco has gotten better on defense.  We can use him in the outfield if the situation calls for it. We can use his sock (power) too."

The Reds have just 28 players in camp, including non-roster catcher Corky Miller.  Ramon Hernandez has been bothered by soreness in his elbow but is in the lineup against the Diamondbacks today.

The Reds have 13 pitchers beside Homer Bailey and Johnny Cueto.  Both of them will start the season on the DL.  Edinson Volquez, Bronson Arroyo, Mike Leake, Travis Wood and Sam LeCure will be the starters.

Francisco Cordero, Nick Masset, Logan Ondrusek, Bill Bray, Aroldis Chapman will be in the bullpen.

The Reds will keep two relievers out of these three, Jose Arredondo, Jared Burton and Matt Maloney.

Arroyo Has Mono...Three Players Fight For One Roster Spot

Bronson Arroyo does not have valley fever.  He has mono which has sapped his strength for two solid weeks.

Arroyo plans to pitch threw it but will probably not be able to work as many innings as he would normally.

Fred Lewis, Juan Francisco and Jeremy Hermida are the last survivors for the last spot on the bench.

All are lefthanded hitters.  Francisco is a thirdbaseman but the Reds have used him in the outfield in minor league games and on exhibition game.  He would be important to spell Scott Rolen at thirdbase.  Lewis is on the 40-man roster and has a $900,000 contract.  The Reds would have to eat that money if he does not make the team.  They have done that before.  Several years ago, they owed Mike Stanton over $3 million and released him.

Hermida has hit well this spring. He is on a minor league contract.  The Reds would have to lose someone from the 40-man roster if he makes the team.

Devin Mesoraco, Dave Sappelt and Chris Valaika were reassigned to the minor league camp.

Sappelt hit .564 but has only a handful of games at Triple A.  His base running and fielding need work.

"All three of them had good springs," Dusty Baker said.  "They impressed us and other teams I'm sure.  They all got a lot of at bats."

Baker was asked if he ever cut someone that hit over .500

"No, but he's not the first one," Baker said..  "Bryce Harper was over .300 and they sent him out two weeks ago."

Harper was the first player taken in the 2010 draft by the Washington Nationals.

"Sappelt made the most of his opportunities.  If he keeps doing what he's doing he will be here soon enough.  He's only two and a half years out of college.  He's way ahead."

Baker had to talk to him about a base running error on Friday.  Sappelt hit a double but pulled up and wasn't watching the throw and failed to take third when the throw was bad.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Black Friday for the Reds

The Reds 10-4 loss to San Diego wasn't the worst thing that happened to them this Friday the 25th.

With the news today, one would think that it was 12 days earlier on the calendar.

Bronson Arroyo, a lifetime Floridian, was tested for a disease that can only be contracted in the desert.  Homer Bailey appeared to be healthy after his last start and never indicated anything was wrong.  Friday he was placed on the disabled list.

Edinson Volquez tuned up for his opening day start.  Statistically, it didn't look good, five innings, three runs on nine hits but he does have his health.  That is the win of the day as far as the Reds are concerned.

He left with the game tied.  Bill Bray pitched a scoreless inning and the Reds starters found the bus after the sixth inning to end their work day.   Logan Ondrusek was on the mound and allowed four hits, two of which were lost in the high sky, falling in.  An error by minor leaguer, Miguel Rojas, compounded his sorrow.

The Padres scored four runs and took control of the game.  It was a good news bad news deal.
The Reds lost but its pitchers pitched pretty well.

"The news about Homer took me by surprise," Dusty Baker said.  "There is that depth that I was talking about.  You don't think you'll need it so soon.  Putting Homer on the DL is a precaution.  We'll do what we can early in the season and be stronger at the end."

Homer Bailey Placed On the Disabled List

Homer Bailey was placed on the 15-day disabled list Friday afternoon with an impingement in his right shoulder.

"He could have pitched with it but it would have lingered," general manager Walt Jocketty said.  "Dr. Kremchek told us he should rest for seven days before starting a throwing program.  We expect him to miss two starts.  No MRI or injection is necessary."

Bailey was supposed to start against Milwaukee on April 2.  His spot in the starting rotation will go to Sam LeCure, who is pitching on Saturday against the San Francisco Giants in Scottsdale.

Arroyo Tested For Valley Fever

Bronson Arroyo's flu like symptoms lasted longer than normal.

On Thursday Arroyo had a blood test and a chest x-rays.  Doctors are looking at the tests to see if he has valley fever.

Valley Fever is a fungal infection.  It is a particular fungus that lives in the soil in desert regions.  When the soil is disturbed the fungus is released in the air.  If it is taken in through breathing, it produces chest pain and coughing.

It is treated by rest and medication.

"If the tests are positive, we can get medication to knock it out," Arroyo said.

He threw 87 pitches against a Dodger farm team yesterday.  He felt good and expects to take his normal turn on April 3 against Milwaukee.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Rolen Left Early Reds Lose 15-13

Scott Rolen was hit with a pitch by Tommy Hunter of the Texas Rangers in the first inning.

He stayed in the game but made two errors two innings later that put extra base runners on for Travis Wood.  Wood gave up a grand slam home run to Nelson Cruz in the inning.

"Rolen had stitch marks on his arm," Dusty Baker said.  "I haven't heard anything so no news is good news."

Rolen had trouble gripping the bat and the hit by pitch likely caused the miscues.

"We threw the ball around that one inning," Baker said.  "Sometimes you need help from your friends but that inning Wood didn't get any.  He threw the ball well.  He got his pitch count where we wanted it to be."

"I feel like I'm ready for the season to start," Wood said.  "My pitches are working pretty well. I'm stretched out pretty good."

The Reds battled back.  Jonny Gomes hit a three-run home run.  Wood had an RBI double to give the Reds a lead as he left the game.  Chris Heisey hit a two-run triple.  This year's spring sensation Dave Sappelt had two hits, including a two-run home run.  He is now hitting. 535.  He may still be heading to Louisville but has really turned a lot of heads this spring.

Jose Arredondo is still inconsistent as he allowed a big home run to Chris Davis.

"He throws a real good breaking ball, then throws one that does nothing," Baker said.  Arredondo is working his way back from surgery.

Bronson Arroyo pitched in a minor league game and threw 87 pitches.  He had been battling the flu.  The Reds wanted to see that to make sure he had his strength back.

Make Opening Day an Official Holiday?

The Cincinnati Business Courier reports that a drive is on to make Opening Day an official holiday.

Michael Schuster of Michael Schuster and Associates, an architectural firm has been closed on Opening Day for the last 25 years.

Schuster has enlisted 25 associates to volunteer to circulate petitions to make it an official holiday in Cincinnati.

See the URL below.   The Courier has a poll on the subject.


Ramon Hernandez to Play On Friday. Francisco to Play RF

Dusty Baker did not know how Ramon Hernandez elbow discomfort was this morning but Hernandez is going to play on Friday.

Hernandez took batting practice before the Reds exhibition game with Texas.

Baker will put Juan Francisco will get some work in the outfield..

"In my mind he could be very important," Baker said.  "He's been knocking on the door for awhile."

His defense at thirdbase has improved.

"He's been working hard.  His footwork is better.  He probably has the strongest arm on the team. I got him going to the minor league to play rightfield tomorrow," Baker said.

Drew Stubbs has been struggling.  The Reds put him at DH in a minor league game to get him extra at bats.

"He got seven at bats and got four or five hits," Baker said.

Stubbs also got hit with a pitch and Brandon Phillips has been riding him about it all day.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fred Lewis A Step Forward. Willis A Step Back

Homer Bailey was fine in a 10-7 loss to San Diego which was an open audition for five players desperately trying to earn spots on the roster. 

Bailey will start against Milwaukee April 2 in Cincinnati, unless there are injuries.

"I'm ready.  It doesn't matter if its the first game or the fifth game its all the same. "I think I'm ready for the season.  I think the last game (of the spring) will be the last hammer of the nail, if you will. I think I'm on track. The walks are down.  I'm pretty happy about that," Bailey said.

He gave up an inside the park home run to Will Venable but it was a fly ball that hit off the base of the fence and took a crazy bounce away from Chris Heisey.

Jeremy Hermida and Fred Lewis hit third and fourth in the lineup respectively.

Hermida was 1-for-5 and his spring average dipped to .355.  He is signed to a minor league contract.
Lewis was 1-for-4 and raised his spring average to .175.

But spring averages are not the only indicators.

Lewis played DH in a minor league game yesterday and got seven at bats.  He went 4-for-7.

Dontrelle Willis had as much of a nightmare outing as one could imagine.  He relieved Bailey with a runner on first.  He promptly threw a pick off throw into the seats.  He struck out Nick Hundley then lost the plate, walking Kevin Frandsen and Oscar Salazar.  Venable tripled down the right field line.  But there was a flair and a couple ground balls that got through.  He pitched 1/3 an inning, walking three and giving up five runs on three hits.

"Dontrelle got in trouble with that errant pickoff throw.  He had trouble.  He had command issues.  It was a tough sixth inning right there.  It's just a matter of inconsistency.  One time good.  One time not so good.  When he throw strikes, he's tough.  He'll get some more chances.  He'll probably pitch twice more.  He's one of the guys (5) trying to make the club.  Every time he pitches good he increases his chances.  If he doesn't it decreases his chances.  That's how it goes."

Sam Le Cure came on and got the last two outs.  He is also in a battle for one of the two bullpen spots.  Another bullpen candidate, Matt Maloney pitched an inning with a hit and a walk

."Maloney looked pretty good today.  Le Cure came in already with the gates kind of open.  Maloney started a fresh inning.  They get a chance to pitch again too."

Reds Roster in Focus

We know the starting rotation, now that Johnny Cueto is out for about two weeks.  Cueto returned from Cincinnati and wants to throw now.  The starting rotation long term is still in question but in the short term it is:
Edinson Volquez, Homer Bailey, Bronson Arroyo, Travis Wood and Mike Leake.  The order of the last three is dependent on how Arroyo's strength is after the flu.  He is supposed to throw around 85 pitches.

"Cueto doesn't understand why he has to wait so long," Dusty Baker said.  "He's not feeling any pain or nothing.  We want him to comeback without pain."

The bullpen has two spots to fill.  Francisco Cordero, Nick Masset, Bill Bray and Aroldis Chapman will be there. Two spots will be filled from among these candidates.  Dontrelle Willis, Sam Le Cure, Matt Maloney, Jared Burton and Logan Ondrusek.  Willis and Maloney are lefthanded.  Willis would require a roster move.

The infield is Scott Rolen 3B, Paul Janish SS, Brandon Phillips 2B and Joey Votto 1B.  Miguel Cairo and Edgar Renteria will back them up.  It looks more and more like Chris Valaika will make it also, although Juan Francisco may be kept because Rolen will need time off.

The outfield is Jonny Gomes LF, Drew Stubbs CF and Jay Bruce RF.   Chris Heisey will be the fourth outfielder.  Fred Lewis and Jeremy Hermida are perhaps the toughest decision of all.

"I need a ballplayer," Baker said.  "Someone I'm not afraid to put in late in the game..  Heisey has shown what he can do.  Hermida has had a better spring.  Lewis is the better athlete.  He hasn't shown what we think he's capable of doing."

The catching will be handled by Ryan Hanigan and Ramon Hernandez.  Hernandez has slight discomfort in his right elbow but it is not serious.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Reds Leake Runs in 10-8 Loss To A's But Votto Shines

Joey Votto who has a history of slow starts had three hits and four RBI against the Oakland A's.  Votto homered, doubled and singled to raise his spring average to .324.

"It's good to get you big boys swinging the bat.  Votto is swinging it well, Bruce is and Gomes is swinging the bat better," Dusty Baker said.

On the down side Drew Stubbs struck out four times and had an infield single.

"Stubbs struggling a bit," Baker said.  "We'll get him in as a designated hitter in a minor league game to get him extra work."

But Mike Leake had his worst statistical outing of the spring, allowing seven runs in 2 1/3 innings, including home runs to Coco Crisp and Daric Barton.  The worst part of the outing was four walks.

"He was just missing," Baker said.  "He was close but he was a little off and not getting the calls.  He was throwing a little too hard for him and his ball wasn't moving as much."

Votto homered and Bruce doubled off lefthanded starter, Brett Anderson, who went six innings.  Gomes also took Anderson to downtown Goodyear.

"Joey Votto is the best hitter of all times and I have to get it in my head that I can't beat Jonny Gomes with fastballs inside," Anderson said.  "But I felt good and with a tight strike zone, I didn't walk anybody.  I feel good about that."

"He was just

Baseball Fundamentals Video

The Reds worked on bunt plays this morning.  Eric Davis and Joe Morgan were watching the drills.
Eric Davis and Joe Morgan Watch Practice

Spring training is the time to work on these plays.  Nearly the entire squad was on the field.  During the season with travel and other baseball related activity, there is not a lot of time to work on these plays during the season.
Former Fairfield baseball coach, Gary Yeats told me, "It does my heart good to see them work on the fundamentals."
See the videos below.

Starters Going Nine Today

With the exception of Brandon Phillips, the Reds starters will play nine innings today.

Ramon Hernandez has discomfort in his throwing elbow but it is one of the minor aches and pains that players go through while getting ready.

"We're going to DH him in a minor league games so he doesn't lose his stroke," Dusty Baker said.  "It really doesn't hurt him to throw, you saw that rocket he fired to secondbase (on Sunday).  It's just uncomfortable."

Arredondo may start the season on the DL.  This close to surgery, he has shown flashes of great stuff but is "inconsistent and strength is a question," Baker said.

David Sappelt has hit well enough to make the team but has things to work on in the minor leagues, yet he survived two rounds of cuts.

"We want to see him some more," Baker said. "But innings are going to decrease.  Our starters are going to go nine here soon.  We have him in a pinch hit role today to see how he does.  That can be tough on a young guy but with his stroke, I think he can do it."

Baker wants to use pitchers in season type situations.  "I wanted to bring Dontrelle in with the bases loaded the other day but we didn't get him up in time.  We are going to start putting these guys in game-type situations."

A clue that Willis will make the team and Leake was going to make the team in the bullpen came when Baker mentioned both in long relief.  "They are both good with the bat. So we can leave them out there longer to get an at bat.  If we use them one day and they aren't available the next we can use them to pinch hit," Baker said.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Reds Send Eight to Minor League Camp

The Reds sent four pitchers and four infielder to the minor league camp.

RHP Carlos Fisher, Jordan Smith, Jerry Gil and LHP Daniel Ray Herrera were sent across the hall at they Goodyear complex.

IF/OF Todd Frazier, SS Zack Cozart, 2B Kris Negron and 1B Yonder Alonso were also reassigned.

"They all had good camps," Dusty Baker said.  "Alonso had a good spring offensively.  He's going back to learn to play some outfield. Cozart is coming quickly," Baker said.  "This is the first time we got a look at Negron.  He is coming quickly too."

Notes on the eight players:
: Yonder Alonso hit safely in 6 of his 7 starts (7-16, .438)....Zack Cozart in his last 11 apps is hitting .423 (11-26, 2 2b, 1hr, 5rbi)...Todd Frazier has hit safely in 3-4g (4-6, .667, 2hr, 4rbi)...Kris Negron leads the team with 4sb and in his last 12 apps is hitting .500 (8-16)...

The Pitchers:

2/27 at Cle        BS  1.0   3 1   1     -      -
3/2 vs WSox        -  1.0   2 3   3     2      -
3/6 vs Cubs          -  1.0   -  -    -    -      1
3/13 vs LAA    (bs)  2.0  1  -    -    -      2
3/19 at Ari           -   2.0  4  4   4    1      2
3/1 at LAA        - 1.0  2 -    -     -    1
3/4 at Sea          - 1.0  -  -    -    -     -
3/8 "B" at Cle    -  2.0 2  -    -    1    1
3/12 vs Cubs     -  1.0 -  -    -     -    2
3/16 vs KC       -  1.0 1  -   -     2    1
3/19 vs Col       -   2.0 1 -    -    -     -
DATE OPP       DEC.   IP  H  R  ER  BB  SO
3/2 vs WSox           -    1.0   -   -     -    1      1
3/6 vs Cubs             -   1.0    -   -     -    -       -
3/9 at SD                -    2.0   3   2    2    -       1
3/12 at Cubs           -    1.0   1   -     -    -       1
3/14 at Col             L    0.1   2   1    1    -       -
3/18 at Cubs           -    1.2   3    -    -    1       2

DATE OPP        DEC. IP    H   R  ER  BB  SO
3/1 at Oak              W 2.0    1    -     -     1       -
3/5 at LAD               - 1.0    3    1     1     -       1
3/9 at SD                 -  1.0    4    3     3     1      2
3/12 at Cubs           W 1.2    2    1     -      -      1
3/17 vs Cle              -  1.0    2     -     -      -       -
3/19 vs Col             W 2.0    -     -      -     1

Cueto Will Be Left In Goodyear Will Miss First Start

An MRI revealed that Johnny Cueto has mild inflammation in his right shoulder.  "Everything is structurally fine," general manager, Walt Jocketty said.  "Dr. Kremchek recommended that he not throw for a week to 10 days. Then he will begin a throwing program.  He was up to 40 pitches so it won't take long after that to get him ready."

Dusty Baker announced a tentative rotation to start the season.

Edinson Volquez is scheduled to open the season against Milwaukee on March 31 as planned.  Homer Bailey is slated for April 2 and Bronson Arroyo for April 3.  Arroyo has been sick for 10 days and was scratched from his start against Seattle this afternoon.  Mike Leake and Travis Wood will pitch the first two games of the Houston series April 5 and 6 but the order hasn't been determined.

Flu Gets Arroyo

Bronson Arroyo has been battling the flu for over a week.  He pitched five days ago with it but was scratched against the Seattle Mariners today.

Scott Carroll, who was reassigned to minor league camp on Friday, will start.

Reds Pitching Depth Needed Already

Dusty Baker was livid when a report suggested that Johnny Cueto was close to surgery.

"That guy must know more than our doctors and medical staff," Baker said.  "The pain he felt wasn't even in his elbow.  It was in the biceps."

Still Cueto has missed enough work that his first start that was supposed to be April 3 against Milwaukee will have to wait until he is stretched out.

There is no need to rush him and create more problems when, Mike Leake, Matt Maloney, Sam LeCure and yes Dontrelle Willis capable of getting outs.

"You don't want your depth to be used this soon, but you can look at it like you're lucky to have it," Baker said.

Cueto left for Cincinnati Sunday morning so that Dr. Timothy Kremchek could check him out.

"We don't want to jump to any conclusions," Baker said.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Cueto Leaves Another Start Early

Johnny Cueto was scheduled to throw 50-60 pitches or four to five innings.

He left his last start against Texas with tightness in his right forearm and biceps.  He did not throw for two days and took his regular turn against the Rockies.

Cueto hit the first batter, Seth Smith, then allowed singles to Jonathan Herrera, Ty Wigginton and Jason Giambi before he fanned, Jose Lopez for the first out.

The Rockies scored two runs.

Jordan Smith replaced Cueto to start the second inning.

Ramon Hernandez was also supposed to start against the Rockies but was scratched due to general soreness.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Reds Regulars Are Beginning to Hit in 14-13 Win Over the Cubs

The Reds clubbed the Cubs 14-13.  The Cubs did out hit the Reds 22-18 and had two on with one out but Jeremy Horst pitched out of it without giving up the lead.

"I'm glad I was wrong," Dusty Baker said.  "I told the guard in the second inning that this would be a 13-12 game."

It was a bullpen day.

"In a game like this everyone was just ok," Baker said of the pitching. "It was tough on pitching today. You're going to have those kind of games.  You have to win those, too.  We had guys trying to make the club."

Sam LeCure allowed runs for the first time all spring.  The Cubs scored six runs off him in 2.1 innings.  LeCure could win a bullpen spot with the Reds or be a part of the Louisville starting rotation.  All of his other outings were in relief  The same is true of Matt Maloney.  He allowed three runs on five hits in two innings..

Maloney tweeted, "That was brutal. Turn the page, and get after again in a few days."

"He is making the decision tough for us before spring training started," Baker said.  "He pitched well for us last year."

The Reds starters are starting to feel it at the plate.

When the game started, Drew Stubbs was hitting .207 he had two hits.
Brandon Phillips was at .167 he had two hits.
Joey Votto started at .231 he homered and singled.
Scott Rolen was hitting .250 he hit his first home run of the spring.
Jay Bruce had a .259 average, he had two hits, including a double.
Jonny Gomes broke out of a .071 funk with two doubles.
Ryan Hanigan had two hits, improving his .286 average to .333.

"That was like sweet.  Stubbs came alive some.  Gomes and Brandon.  It was the longest those guys have played,"  Baker said.  "They'll play some length today, then back them off the next day.  Then we get them ready for nine innings."

To the chagrin of my good friend, Steve Watkins, the Reds took all four games against the Cubs this spring.

Va Va Va Votto

Joey Votto just launched one off Zambrano so folks can stop worrying about the .231 average coming into this exhibition game.

It was his first home run of the spring, proving, unequivocally that he still can.

The blow knocked Big Z out of the game (or his pitch count ran out).

In for the Cubs is young James Russel.  Some of us remember his father, Jeff Russel, who pitched at Wyoming High School.

It is 6-6 at HoHoKam.

Scott Rolen Hits First Home Run of the Spring

Scott Rolen hit a three-run home run off Carlos Zambrano at HoHoKam Park.  Brandon Phillips and Jonny Gomes have hit doubles in the first three Reds at bats.

The Reds lineup is close to what it will be on opening day.

Sam LeCure is pitching for the Reds.  He allowed two runs in the second inning after shutting out opponents for his other eight innings.  One of those runs was tainted as a pop fly fell between Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips.

Homer Bailey is working on some pitches in a minor league game back at the Reds camp.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Mike Leake and Dontrelle Willis Throttle Indians 5-1

Mike Leake pitched four scoreless innings and Dontrelle Willis showed his aching right ankle was sound with a scoreless inning and triple at the plate.

Leake is still battling Homer Bailey and Travis Wood for the two openings in the starting rotation.

"I hope they look at what I did last year," Leake said.  "Nothing is guaranteed.  I'm still fighting for a spot like I was last spring."

Todd Frazier hit his first home run of the spring off Indians opening day starter, Fausto Carmona.  Willis tripled and scored on a single by Kris Negron also off Carmona.

It was the first time that the Reds let the pitchers hit.

"Before today the pitchers were only going one or two innings and wouldn't bat anyway.  Now its time to get them out there to hit.  I wanted Willis to bat because if he makes the team as a long reliever he's going to hit some.  He is a good hitter.  He can still hit and still run," Dusty Baker said.

Dusty O'Baker Leads Green Topped Reds Against the Indians

Dusty O'Baker Leads The Greens er Reds
The Reds honoring St. Patrick's day are wearing green caps.

"On St. Patrick's Day, I'm Dusty O'Baker," Baker said.  He sends Mike Leake, who threw pretty well his last time out according to O'Baker, against Fausto Carmona.

The Indians have the youngest 40-man roster in baseball.  They do not have to wear anything green since their roster is green enough.

The Reds have too many good pitchers in camp.  If there is such a thing.

"We have to make some cuts soon," O'Baker said.  "We are running out of innings.  At some point you have to get your main guys stretched out."

Homer Bailey's next outing will be in a minor league game.

"There's no particular reason.  He's working on a few things and we just thought it would be best for him." O'Baker said.

The Reds are not using the designated hitter for the first time this spring.  The Indians are using it for today.  It is intrastate charity to allow the green-in-the-gills Indians a handicap.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Keep Your Eye On The Ball Or Lose It.....

Luis Salazar, who is the manager of the Atlanta Braves Lynchburg Class A team lost his left eye.

Salazar played in over 1,300 games in the major leagues alone, and has been close to countless more.

In a spring training game last week, Braves catcher, Brian McCann pulled a foul ball that struck the 54-year old on the left side of his face.  Doctors were unable to save his left eye.

"I think about that a lot," said Dusty Baker, who intends to call Salazar.  "People want to sit in the front row but its dangerous with foul balls and bats flying.  It is amazing that more accidents like this don't happen.  People aren't always paying attention."

Baker explained that in Japan there is a screen all the way around the ballpark protecting the first row of seats.

"It is less intimate," Baker said.  "I wouldn't mind seeing that here but they're not going to do it."

McCann was so upset, that he removed himself from the game.

"It happens to all of us. You feel terrible," Baker said.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

It Was a Day-Off But........

Edinson Volquez pitched five innings for Bakersfield against the high A Diamondbacks minor league team.

Volquez is behind as far as game action goes.  He had visa problems that prevented his appearance in games with paid admission.  Volquez will pitch every five days until he faces Milwaukee on March 31, opening day.

The right hander was a little eratic, hitting three batters, a kid named Castillo twice.  He allowed two runs both on wild pitches but he only gave up two hits and a walk in his five innings.  One of the wild pitches could have been a passed ball and one of the hits was an infield hit.

The most impressive play of the day is the young shortstop, Billy Hamilton, who can flat run.

Juan Duran was in leftfield when one of the Diamondback farmhands hit a fly ball to medium deep left field that was drifting toward the foul line. Duran could not find it in the Arizona high sky with no clouds.  Hamilton ran it down from his shortstop position and caught it, diving head first with his back to the infield.

As much baseball I've seen in my lifetime that was as impressive as anything.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Miami's Chad Reineke Just Gets People Out

Chad Reineke didn't follow major league baseball as a youngster in Defiance, Ohio but he loved to play.  He well enough to pitch in college for Miami University in Oxford.

"Some of my teammates were from Cincinnati, so I guess I became a fan," Reinkeke said, after circumstances have given him the opportunity to show Dusty Baker what he can do.

"I appreciate the opportunity.  This is my third big league camp and I've pitched more games and innings than I ever had," Reineke said.

The former basketball player at Ayersville High, has four starts and five appearances in the major leagues.  He spent all of 2010 at Louisville after signing with the Reds as a minor league free agent in December 2009.  He was 9-9 and thought of as just an arm to fill the roster spot.

Edinson Volquez's visa problems gave the 28-year old a chance to start more spring training games than originally planned.

"You look at him and he doesn't have outstanding stuff," Dusty Baker said.  "But he keeps winning and getting people out.  He reminds me of John Burkett.  I don't know if Burkett had 150 wins in the big leagues but people were never impressed too much with his stuff.  He just got people out."

For my Colerain friends, Reineke was a teammate of  Mike Ferris at Miami University.

"He's a good friend of mine and a great player," Reineke said.  "I was at his house the day he was drafted."

Salt River Fields at Talking Stick

Salt River Fields Scoreboard.

For more information visit www.saltriverfields.com
This $250 million facility is top notch.  This is very close to major league.

Both the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies that share this park and training complex, were in Tucson last season.  The park is on the Pima Indians reservation outside Scottsdale, Arizona.  The Pima Indians operate the Talking Stick Casino about two miles from here.  They made the investment to attract more traffic to the Casino.
Talking Stick Logo
Salt River Fields LF

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Jay Bruce Breaks out in 6-3 Loss to Angels

Jay Bruce hit his first home run of the spring off Angels top prospect Garrett Richards in the first inning.

He was hitting .200 coming into the game with just four singles in 20 at bats.  He added a single in his second at bat.

Travis Wood cemented his spot in the Reds rotation with four solid innings.  He allowed two runs on two hits but struck out five.

"He shouldn't have given up anything,"  Dusty Baker said.  "He's throwing as well as anyone.  We were a little nonchalant on a double play or they wouldn't have scored off him."

"Jay found his stroke some," Baker said.

The Reds led 3-2 until the Angels scored four runs off Jared Burton but Baker attributed the runs to bad outfield defense.

"Jared threw the ball good," Baker said.  "The young boy (Ryan LaMarre) lost a couple balls in the sun."

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Dontrelle Willis Forced to Leave the Game

Dontrelle Willis apparently tripped on a bat while moving to back up home plate and left the field limping in Mesa, Arizona.

Willis is trying to resurrect a career that started brilliantly but dimmed drastically over the last three years.

Willis had trouble throwing strikes and it derailed his career.  The Reds signed him to a minor league contract with the hope that he might fill the void in the bullpen left with Arthur Rhodes exit to the Texas Rangers.

Willis had allowed just two unearned runs in five innings with one lone walk over his first three appearances.

Relieving Homer Bailey, Willis walked Marlon Byrd and Geovanny Soto around a single by Aramis Ramirez.   He got Carlos Pena to fly to right but Bobby Scales singled to center to score Byrd and Ramirez, while Willis was injured on the play.

No Throwing for You Johnny Cueto

Johnny Cueto left the game against the Texas Rangers after two innings on Friday.  He was scheduled to pitch four innings but tightness in his right forearm caused his removal early.

Cueto was examined by Reds team physician, Dr. Timothy Kremchek this morning.  He has tightness in his right forearm and biceps.  He will not throw for two days and will be reexamined on Monday.

HoHoKam Park Mesa Arizona

HoHoKam Right Field
HoHoKam Park is where Cubs fans root, root, root, for the Cubbies in Mesa, Arizona.

This eastern suburb of Phoenix was home to the HoHoKam Indians who lived in this desert area of the valley from here to Tucson, 100 miles to the south.

This has been the Cubs spring home for 31 consecutive springs.  Only the Giants in Scottsdale, 10 miles to the south, have been in their Arizona digs longer, 33 years.

Scoreboard Has a Mountain Background
This winter took a heavy toll on baseball icons.
Ron Santo the Cubs thirdbaseman and broadcaster passed away in December at the age of 70.

Like the Reds, Sparky Anderson, Santo wore the number 10.  The Cubs are wearing a number 10 patch and his number is stenciled into the grass behind the batting cage.

Santo last played in 1974 but remained connected with the Cubs until death.  He was part of a hard hitting lineup that featured Ernie Banks and Billy Williams.

Santo's Tribute number 10
His spot in the broadcast booth at WGN will be taken by Keith Moreland.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Reds and Texas Tie 5-5

Michael Olt hit a solo home run off Darryl Thompson to tie the Reds.

The game was called after nine because most of the players on the trip have to fly out to Las Vegas to play the Cubs tomorrow.

Kris Negron doubled to score Billy Hamilton in the top of  the ninth to put the Reds on top.

"We had a lot of good things happen, good pitching, good defense.  Thompson just got the ball up," Dusty Baker said.

After Negron's double the Reds had runners on second and third with one out but Devin Mesoraco popped out to the infield and Todd Frazier grounded out to third.

"It is the perfect example of the importance of getting insurance runs," Baker said.  "We will keep preaching and working.  If you want to play winning baseball, you have to get those runs.  If we score one of them or both, that home run doesn't mean anything."

Cueto Left Early With Tightness in his Arm

Johnny Cueto was scheduled to pitch four innings against the Texas Rangers but could only pitch too.

"My arm is a little tight but I'm fine," Cueto said.  "I felt it in the bullpen when I threw the breaking ball."

Cueto allowed two runs on four hits and a walk to the Rangers before competing two frames.

MVP Battle

Joey Votto the National League MVP and Josh Hamilton, the American League MVP are going head-to-head in Surprise, Arizona as the Reds take on the American League champion Texas Rangers.

Both had RBI singles in the first inning. Votto doubled in his second at bat.  He was hitting .125 coming into the game.

"He's started out slow since I've been here," Dusty Baker said.  "I'm not worried about Joey Votto.  I've seen guys kill it in spring training, then as soon as they put that third deck on the stadium, nothing."

Hamilton, the former Red, is hitting .240 with two RBI and no home runs.

Votto is making the trip to Las Vegas against the Chicago Cubs rather than playing the other split squad Cub game in Mesa, Arizona .  Baker isn't taking a lot of veterans because he feels they can get more work at the Goodyear facility.

"They asked foi Votto," Baker said.  "It's part of being the MVP.  He is going to deal with that a lot this year. He will have to learn how to save time for himself and the team."

The promoters of the game in Las Vegas have been using Votto's name in advertising.

Stubbs Is the Leadoff Hitter Until the Leadoff Hitter Is Ready

Dusty Baker is leaning toward using Drew Stubbs in the leadoff spot when the season starts in three weeks.

"If it doesn't work, I'll try someone else," Baker said.  "Our best leadoff hitter so far, isn't ready for the big leagues yet."

Dave Sappelt has shown a lot of the qualities that a good leadoff hitter needs to be successful.  He has a good swing as indicated by his .500 batting average this spring.  But Sappelt needs to work on other facets of his game, namely baserunning.

Baker has used Stubbs, Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce, Edgar Renteria, Fred Lewis and Sappelt at leadoff so far.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

World Champs Beat Reds 7-0

Andres Torres, Freddy Sanchez and Cody Ross homered of Bronson Arroyo in the third inning and the Reds couldn't score off 2010 rookie sensation Madison Bumgarner and five relievers.

The Reds managed five hits, four singles and one double by Scott Rolen.

Bronson Arroyo felt good in spite of the three home runs.

"I felt good.  They hit three off speed pitches out," Arroyo said.  "I needed to work on it.  I got a little tired after three innings and threw all fastballs in my fourth inning to build arm strength."

Edinson Volquez got his visa problem cleared up and flew all day to arrive in Phoenix at 10:30 pm on Wednesday night.  He will pitch to minor leaguers on the Reds day off on the 15th.  He will pitch the 20th, the 25th then has six days off for opening day.

"My arm felt good but my body was tired from flying all day," Volquez said.  "I was happy to get into a real game."

"He was pretty good for not getting here until late last night," Dusty Baker said.  "I'm just glad he's healthy."

Volquez gave up two runs on two hits and a pair of walks.

Aroldis Chapman allowed a run in two innings on two hits but he struck out three.

"He had a good change up that he's been working on," Baker said.  "He threw it for strikes.  We wanted to give him something to get guys off his fastball.  He looked a lot better this time out than he did last time."

The Mayor in Goodyear

Sean Casey 2005
Cincinnati's favorite mayor is in Goodyear.  Not the rag armed Mark Mallory but the hard hitting, affable former Reds' firstbaseman, Sean Casey.

The Mayor gave a speech to an assemble group of minor leaguers about hustle and pride in wearing a uniform.

"I want to see you sprint to firstbase every time," Casey said with his rapid chatterlike delivery.  "It doesn't take any talent to hustle."

It made a jaded old guy like me want to grab the flag and lead the parade.

The Reds bring former players in, who have been there.  Barry Larkin was present.  These are the guys that minor league age kids grew up watching on TV or whose cartoon likenesses were on their video games.

Their fathers may remember, Dusty Baker from his playing days but the minor leaguers more closely identify with Casey and Larkin.  Sure Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench, Jack Billingham, Jim Maloney and even Eric Davis are here but the 19 year olds in Reds uniform, identify more with Casey and Larkin.  They can be told 100 times to hustle by their authority figures, the coaches but Casey had their attention.  The Reds hope his version sticks.

I hear people complain about how much money a professional athlete is paid.  What they fail to realize is the filtering process which is at times brutal and cruel.  Of the 120 or so minor leaguers in Goodyear maybe two or three will ever play in a major league game.  That is not counting the Triple A roster.  The Reds have a prospect at every position.  That is rare.

"We have a good thing built and we're still building," said Dusty Baker in the morning press conference that included three national writers.  "Our young kids are impressive.  They're not intimidated.  They feel comfortable.  Our guys make them feel comfortable.  We have a good group of guys here."

Baker was asked his biggest concern by a national writer.  Baker said, "I don't have any."

The follow up question, "So every thing is clear?"

"No," Baker said.  "Things are unclear but not a concern.  The only concern is who you're going to keep and what to tell the guys, you don't keep."

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Volquez Will Not Start Tomorrow After All

Edinson Volquez's first start has been pushed back until March 10.  He will also throw on the Reds off day on the 15th.

Chad Reineke, from Miami University in Oxford, will start.

"Reineke is the most stretched out of that group (scheduled to pitch on Wednesday).  We can keep Volquez on schedule with the off day (on March 30)," pitching coach, Bryan Price said.

Volquez was supposed to make his first start on Wednesday in front of paying customers.  He had a travel visa and was not permitted to pitch in a game in which an admission was charged.  He went to the Dominican on Sunday to get a work visa and scheduled to pitch on Wednesday against San Diego.

He will get three live starts in exhibition games and will probably pitch in a minor league game on the 15th.

Harang Gets the Start Tomorrow

Aaron Harang will make the start on Wednesday when the Reds play the San Diego Padres.

Edinson Volquez will also start.  Harang now with his hometown San Diego club will pitch against Cincinnati for the first time since he beat the Reds on June 21, 2002.  He pitched six innings for Oakland that day, allowing one run on  five hits.

Volquez will pitch his first "live" game, assuming he arrives this afternoon with a valid work visa.

Sappelt Coming

Dave Sappelt leads the Reds in hitting so far this spring but is not quite ready for the big leagues yet.

He has two home runs to go with his .533 batting average and had two hits in the "B" game today.

"He can hit. He is swinging the bat good." Dusty Baker said.  "Not to slight the kid at all, he's hit great.  But there is more to being a big leaguer than hitting.  There are some things he needs to work on.  He's coming.  Keep swinging and keep working.

Sappelt was the Reds minor league hitter of the year.

Surprise Surprise....Home of the KC Royals and Texas Rangers

About 20 miles due north of Goodyear is a complex shared by the Kansas City Royals and the Texas Rangers.

Plenty of shade for the fans and a good spacious area for the media to work..

The Reds play Kansas City today and we return three days later to play the reigning American League Champions, the Texas Rangers.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Reds Opening Day Rival Pounds Out 25 Hits in 15-2

"This game is hard to figure," Dusty Baker said.  "As good as it was yesterday it was that bad today."

Rob Butcher, who has day-by-day spring training records dating back to 1997, could not find a game in which the Reds gave up more than 20 hits prior to Monday, Milwaukee had 25.

The Brewers belted three home runs.  Granted there was a 29 mph wind blowing out to right.  Brandon Boggs used the jet stream to pop one out against Homer Bailey, who was one out away from completing his scheduled three innings, but three straight Brewer singles sent him to the bench.

Mike Leake couldn't get the ball down and Milwaukee scored four runs off him on nine hits.

"Homer threw the ball well. He came out only giving up one run," Baker said.  "Leaky couldn't get the ball down and they didn't miss them.  They flared some balls.  They hit some hard.  It was a long day."

Rickie Weeks had two hits.  Boggs had four with a home run.  Erick Almonte, who couldn't crack the Yankees roster, had four hits and a long ball.   Carlos Gomez hit one out but didn't need the wind on a long fly to left.

The Reds hitting star was Dave Sappelt, who hit his second home run, is now 8-for-14 this spring.  He will probably start the season at Louisville to work on other parts of his game. Paul Janish had two hits for the second straight day, although the first was a pop up that thirdbaseman, Zelous Wheeler, couldn't track in the wind.

Reds Camp Full of High School Stars

I was enjoying the Enquirer's Gallery of the top 100 multi-sport high school stars in Greater Cincinnati history this morning.

As I was reading the profile on Barry Larkin at no. 4, I heard his voice.  "Eerie" I thought but he was actually in the hall way near the media room.  He told me that his son, Shane, is going to playing Big East basketball at DePaul next season.

"His team lost in the state finals," Larkin said.  "I can't believe he's leaving home and going to college already."

His brother, Byron, was also on the Enquirer list at 23 and brother Mike was also considered.

Bill Doran from Mt. Healthy is on the list.  He is also coaching in Goodyear.

Tom Popplewell from Fairfield is also on the list.  His high school coach works security at Goodyear Ballpark during spring training.

There are several athletes that I competed against in one sport or another, not necessarily in high school but knothole baseball and youth football and basketball.

Steve Grote from Elder, Dave Sensibaugh of Lockland, Greg Stemrick from Lincoln Heights, Leon Murray from North College Hill, Dave Parker from Courter Tech, Steve Bell of Wyoming, Steve Niehaus from Moeller, Rick White of Princeton, Buddy Bell from Moeller, Mike Sylvester from Moeller and Don Hasselbeck from LaSalle.

New Day - New Leadoff Man

Jay Bruce will lead off today.  Saturday it was Brandon Phillips, Sunday it was Edgar Renteria.

Dusty Baker is trying to mix and match.

"We don't have a true leadoff hitter," Baker said.  "That's the hardest thing to find in baseball.  There was only one Ricky Henderson."

The Reds rise to the Central Division title with a farm system full of prospects, creates fewer Who questions and more Where questions.

"Everybody wants the perfect lineup.  We're in the process of building this thing.  There is no perfect solution.  You have to deal with what you've got," Baker said.

Drew Stubbs has the most potential to leadoff but he struggled in the role last year.  The 0-for-5's mounted and Baker took some of the pressure off him to drop him in the batting order.  Critics say that Stubbs strikes out too much to bat leadoff.  But Baker pointed out there have been others that had the same makeup as Stubbs.

"Look at Bobby Bonds," Baker said.  "He had speed, some power and he struck out a lot."

"You want a high on base percentage guy in the leadoff spot but if he can't run he clogs the bases.  With Rolen and Votto hitting doubles, you want someone who can score," Baker said.

The only spots that he won't consider for Stubbs is second and seventh.  "If he bats second he can't run and if he bats seventh and he runs they just walk the eight hitter," Baker pointed out.

Bruce had success hitting leadoff last season but it was a "small sample"

"You said it right.  It was a small sample," Baker said.

Today we get a preview of what Bruce can do from the leadoff spot.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Reds Beat Some Cubs 10-0

The Reds beat the Cubs split-squad 10-0.

Juan Francisco and Chris Heisey drove in two runs each.  Zack Cozart hit a home run.

Edgar Renteria played secondbase, his first start at that position.  He had two hits.  Paul Janish, who will start the season as Cincinnati's starting shortstop followed Renteria with two singles both on the hit and run.

Johnny Cueto looked sharp in three scoreless innings and allowed an infield single and Reds pitchers' first walk in  11 1/3 innings.

"We got good pitching.  We had no errors and timely hitting," Dusty Baker said.  "The most important thing is we got all the young guys in the game.  We wanted to give them a chance to play.  We have to make some decisions on who to keep and who to send out, shortly."

Cozart is playing well but will likely start the season at Louisville.  "He's looking very good," Baker said in his 8 am meeting before the game.  The Reds will have a prospect at every position at Louisville.

Edgar Renteria at 2B

Edgar Renteria, a world champion shortstop, will be starting and playing secondbase today against the Chicago Cubs.

"I want to prepare Renteria now," Dusty Baker said.  "With Brandon at secondbase, he doesn't figure to play much but what if Brandon gets hurt?  He is going to play some shortstop too."

The Reds have Paul Janish penciled in at shortstop.  It is his job to lose.

"We have a guy behind him (Zack) Cozart is looking pretty good too," Baker said.

Baker does not plan to use Renteria at thirdbase though.  "We have (Juan) Francisco, (Chris) Valaika, (Todd) Frazier and (Miguel) Cairo there for backup.  I talked to Edgar.  He doesn't feel comfortable at third. It is a lot closer (to the plate).  As you get older your reaction time is less, especially if you have never played there.  Cairo has played there a lot."

Renteria was the World Series MVP with San Francisco last season but found himself without a job until the Reds signed him.  He had a six-year working relationship with general manager, Walt Jockety, from their days in St. Louis.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Bruce is Back - Phillips Leading Off

Jay Bruce missed two games with illness and general soreness.

He is in the lineup today, batting sixth.

Brandon Phillips is leading off but don't read anything into it.  "It's spring training," Dusty Baker said.  "I'm going to try Bruce there some.  Some games I just want to get a guy three at bats with less innings in the field."

Yasmani Grandal is the designated hitter.

"Catchers get fewer at bats than the other guys," Baker said.  "I try to get position players 50-70 at bats.  Catchers sometimes only get 35."

Camelback Ranch Home for Dodgers and White Sox

University of Phoenix Stadium in Background
Up highway 101 from Goodyear, this complex also holds two teams.  The Dodgers joined the White Sox about three years ago.  It is actually in the Phoenix city limits but is close to the Glendale suburb which is the home of the Arizona Cardinals NFL team.
Right Field View
Dodgers Clubhouse

Aroldis Chapman Pulled a Ryne Duren

We all know by now how hard the "Cuban Missile"  (take that Ozzie Guillen) can throw a baseball.  We also are  aware that he doesn't always know where its going.

On Thursday night, young Dodger hitter, Trent Oeltjen came eyeball to eyeball with a heater.  Chapman's pitch was high inside and Corky Miller couldn't get his mitt up in time.  The ball hit the screen behind home plate sending scouts to the aisle.

After, Chapman's offerings were much better.  He struck Oeltjen out and the next hitter too.

Ryne Duren was a pitcher that threw hard in the 50's and 60's before radar guns.  He was also wild to the point that batters refused to dig in.  Adding to the fear factor,  Duren would throw the ball to the backstop.  It was debated whether or not the wild throw was deliberate or not.  It had an effect regardless.  He also wore thick glasses which compounded the fear.

He pitched for the Reds in 1964.

Playing Catch Up Peoria Ballpark Home of the Mariners and Padres

Peoria Park
It is a nice enough park but it seems to be in a wind tunnel between mountains.  Last year Ken Griffey Jr beat Kip Wells with a ninth inning grand slam.  It ended Wells career and turns out to be the last home run that Griffey hit.  He didn't hit one the rest of the spring and none before he retired later in the season.

The Reds pitchers looked good for the second day in a row.  Dontrelle Willis, "threw strike after strike," as Dusty Baker said.

The Reds young prospects are impressive.  Shortstop Billy Hamilton made a very nice play for the second time in as many games.  Juan Duran, 19-years old, 6'7" of outfielder, has a nice swing and can run for a man his size.  

My biggest complaint was the city provided internet access but filters out sites and for some odd reason it prevented me from getting on my blog.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Bench Joins Reds in Goodyear

Johnny Bench observed batting practice this evening prior to the Reds exhibition game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Bench joined, Joe Morgan, Jack Billingham, Jim Maloney and Eric Davis as an extra set of eyes and ears for the coaching staff.

It was suggested to Dusty Baker that there weren't too many pitchers that hit with power, but the fourth year Reds manager, rattled off a list of names, including Bench and Roy Campanella.

Baker is using most of his regulars tonight.  He wants his "big boys" to get used to night baseball.  Jay Bruce was in the lineup but felt ill and was replaced by Danny Dorn in rightfield and the sixth spot in the lineup.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Ozzie Guillen Claims the Missle For Ramirez Not Champman

"The missile is our stuff.  Don't be trying to call Chapman the Cuban Missile," Guillen fumed in mock anger after the game.

Guillen calls shortstop Alexi Ramirez, his shortstop also from Cuba the Missile.

"Create your own stuff, don't take it from us," Guillen said.

Ramirez won the Silver Slugger Award and Guillen believes that he should have won the Gold Glove.

"I'm going to have to start promoting this guy," Guillen told the Chicago Tribune.

He is starting by claiming a copyright to the Missile.

Reds Beat White Sox 7-6

The Reds used an error to score five runs to open scoring in the fifth inning and Devin Mesoraco hit a long home run in the bottom of the eighth off Freddy Dorsi to pull it out for the Reds.

Unfortunately, Carlos Fisher, Jose Arredondo and Daryl Thompson struggled with control to let Chicago tie the game at 6-6.

"They are trying real hard to make the team," Baker said.  "Fish was overthrowing.  We have to calm them down.  Arrendondo hasn't been out there in a while it is expected he would have problems.  Thompson was better.  He missed a lot of time too.  It will take them awhile."

Fred Lewis singled home the first run.  Jeremy Hermida hit a long blast to put the Reds up five runs.  Both are trying to win the fourth outfielder job and lefthanded hitter off the bench.

"Mesoraco hit the ball a mile and a half.  Hermida hit one a mile," Baker said.

Homer Bailey pitched two easy scoreless innings, allowing only an infield hit to Juan Pierre.

"I just tried to stay in the zone," said Bailey, who is out of options and has an advantage over Mike Leake and Travis Wood for one of the two open starting spots.

"Homer has showed flashes of brilliance," Dusty Baker said.  "I think he's going to be a big winner.  His body type and his attitude is like most successful pitchers I've known.  Most very good players are a little stubborn as long as you're not stubborn all the time."

Bailey is excited about showing what he can do when he's healthy.

"I think you try to improve every year.  We're all excited about this year.  We know what it takes to make the playoffs.  We have some unfinished business," Bailey said.

Before The Machine Star Jim Maloney

My good friend Mark Schmetzer has written a book about the 1961 Reds, a team that came from sixth place to win the National League pennant and face the New York Yankees, Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle in the World Series.

Fifty years ago this spring, Maloney was a 21-year old fresh off his "bonus baby" year with the Reds.  Before the amatuer draft, a player that was signed for over a certain amount had to be carried on a team's roster the entire year.

Maloney was behind the batting cage this morning as one of the Reds former players, who help out in spring training.

Throwing a fastball estimated over 100 mph in the days before radar guns, Maloney was a raw talent.  Much like the hard throwing, Homer Bailey, who is starting for the Reds against the White Sox today, Maloney was a raw talent that needed three seasons to become effective.

He broke through in 1963 with 23 wins and struck out 265 batters.  He pitched two no-hitters and lost one in the 11th inning of a game with the New York Mets when Cleon Jones hit a home run off him.

When he was with the Reds, I was a kid playing knothole baseball.  My coach, Gene Jesse asked me to pitch batting practice.  I didn't throw very hard and my teammates made fun of me hurting my feelings.  Gene told me not to worry about it.  "One day you will throw as hard as Jim Maloney."

When the Reds opened the Museum next to Great American Ball Park, Maloney was invited for the ceremony.  There is a speed pitch booth in it and Maloney threw 46 mph.  I tried and hit 53 mph.  The first thing I did was to email Gene Jesse at LaSalle High School to tell him he was right.

Citizen Hernandez

Ramon Hernandez left the Reds spring training camp on Monday.

He flew to Ft. Lauderdale to take the test for US citizenship.  He answered the required six questions successfully.  The last step is to take the oath.

"My wife is a citizen.  My kids are citizens.  I was the last one," Hernandez said.  The 34-year old catcher lives in Oakland Park, Florida year round.

"Countries are changing the rules all the time," Hernandez said.  "Every year you hear about what happens to the immigrant people."

Arizona has been in the news for its tough stance on illegal immigration.  Hernandez, who intends to live in the US, wanted to insure that he will have no trouble with authorities.

Hernandez thinks he will have to surrender his Venezuelan passport.

"I don't care.  I'm going to live here.  My life is here," Hernandez said.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Cueto Sharp In Spring Debut in Spite of 2-1 Loss

Johnny Cueto had little trouble with the Los Angeles Angels.

He breezed through the first two innings so fast that the Reds sent him out for the third.

He allowed a pair of hits on 1-2 counts and hit two batters but other wise was sharp.

"I am very happy with my first outing," Cueto said.  "I had good location.  I threw everything.  They hit a double (Brandon Wood) on a change up.  I wouldn't have thrown it during the regular season but I need to have it ready."

Wood's double, preceded Cueto's second hit batter of the game.  Erick Aybar singled Wood home. With Peter Bourjos went to third and scored on Bobby Abreu's sacrifice fly.

"Johnny threw the ball great.  He had those two 1-2 hits and the hit batsmen.  That was the difference in the ball game.  Other than that he three the ball great," Dusty Baker said.

David Sappelt kept hitting.  He singled to leadoff the game and stole secondbase.  Joey Votto singled to drive him home.  The Reds offered little offense after that.

"Sappelt has a good compact swing.  He doesn't over swing.  He reminds me of Bill Madlock and Larvel "Sugar Bear" Blanks.  He has surprising power.  He just has to play.  He needs to work on other parts of his game but he's coming."

The Reds brought a split squad to Tempe and two miles away the other half of the team beat the Oakland Athletics, 7-6.  Jonny Gomes and Yonder Alonso hit two-run home runs.  Devin Mesoraco drove in two runs with two hits.  Mike Leake pitched two innings and allowed a run.  Lakota West's Matt Klinker pitched three innings and gave up five runs on four hits but only three were earned.

Lovely Tempe Diablo Stadium

Left Field View

I changed living quarters last night and couldn't get the internet to work so the report from yesterday was delayed.

Centerfield View
Now on Tuesday morning, I am sitting in Tempe Diablo stadium awaiting the Reds arrival.  The stadium a couple blocks from the Arizona State University campus is in a neat setting.  On one side there is a hill that depicts the western topography and the other side you see I-10 in the background.  It reminds me of Crosley Field with I-75 rolling past the terraced centerfield wall.

Indians Thump Reds 12-0

The Cleveland Indians spoiled Sparky Anderson Day for the Reds.

The tribute to the Reds Hall of Fame manager was the high-point in the Reds' day on Monday.

Bronson Arroyo was very good in his two-inning stint.  A home run by Travis Buck officially made him the losing pitcher but he was pleased with his performance.

"Command wise that was as comfortable as I've felt in my first outing," Arroyo said.  "The most important thing is to stay healthy.  You can't simulate the adrenaline rush.  You're doing things that you haven't done in four months so you have to stay in tune with your body or you can hurt yourself."

Arroyo hasn't missed a start since he came to Cincinnati.

Aroldis Chapman pitched on his 23rd birthday.  He threw hard but wild.  He walked three and struck out two.

"He was collapsing his back leg," Dusty Baker said.  "It was a rough day.  Our pitchers had a rough day, we made five errors.  As good as we looked yesterday, we looked that bad today.  That's what spring training is for.  Hopefully, we leave these games down here."

Baker stopped to watch the tribute to Anderson.

"I used to call him when I first started managing about different things," Baker said.

Dontrelle Willis pitched also with mixed results.

"He threw some quality pitches but hurt himself with an errant pickoff throw," Baker said.  "Then he was trying not to give up a run.  I don't have a role for him yet.  He has to make the team first."

Willis has had three bad seasons and was asked about his comeback.

"I didn't go anywhere.  I was just terrible," Willis said.