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.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cliff Lee Stifles Reds Willis Again Pitches Well in a 3-0 Loss

Cliff Lee barely broke a sweat.

The Reds clubbed five singles and got no free passes until there were two outs in the ninth.

The Reds once got two hits in an inning but Dave Sappelt was thrown out stealing by Carlos Ruiz in the fourth as Joey Votto struck out on a 3-2 pitch.

The other three were spaced out.

Stubbs had two in as many at bats but eight straight were retired in between.

Willis pitched "good, real good," as Phillies manager Charlie Manuel is fond of saying.

He now has seven quality starts among his nine for the Reds but dropped to 0-3.

"I like the way I'm playing," Willis said.  "I could play a lot better.  I'm not frustrated.  I don't have a 'W".  Guys on the other side of the diamond are pitching well.  So I'm not frustrated especially where I came from.  I like being in those type of games anyway."

His problem was five walks and one home run ball to Hunter Pence.

"I've walked guys before and they didn't score.  I just have to make better pitches. When I walk a guy I forget about it and move on," Willis said.

"Not only did we not score but two leadoff walks scored," Dusty Baker said. "When you have pitching like they do, every run they score is huge. Their pitching staff gets paid what our whole payroll is.  They earn their money."

Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco both walked to start the game.  Two force plays got Victorino home.  The last being a botched double play as Brandon Phillips tried to cover first with Willis being late to get there. Phillips had the relay from Paul Janish in plenty of time but missed the base and big Ryan Howard barreling down the line.

Willis accepted the blame.

"It was a miscue on my part," Willis said.  "I should call off Brandon and we got there at the same time.  It was a brain miscue.  I needed to call him off to make sure he didn't feel like he had to get there."

Pence hit a home run in the sixth.

Victorino led off the seventh with a walk.  Polanco singled him to third.  Chase Utley's force play allowed Victorino to score the Phillie's third run.

There were two outs and the bases empty.  Lee was one out away from his mind boggling sixth complete game shutout of the season.

Votto hit a double over Victorino's head in center field.  Lee issued his only walk of the game to Jay Bruce.  Cairo came up next.  He fouled off the first two pitches but Lee hit him in the lower leg with a breaking ball to load the bases.

Phillies skipper, Charlie Manuel, brought on Ryan Madson to pitch to Drew Stubbs.  Dusty Baker countered with Yonder Alonso.  Alonso fouled out to Polanco at third, giving Madson his 25th save.

Reds Expand Roster Youthful Players Coming From Louisville

The Reds will reinstate OF Chris Heisey from the 15-day disabled list for Thursday's game against Philadelphia.

The Reds will promote, 3B Juan Francisco, C Devin Mesoraco, IF Chris Valaika, RHP Carlos Fisher, RHP Jared Burton, LHP Matt Maloney and LHP Jeremy Horst.

All will be eligible to play on Thursday.  All except Mesoraco and Burton have appeared for the Reds this season.  Burton went on the DL before the season started and has not appeared since.  Mesoraco will be making his Major League debut when he gets into a game.

Jeremy Hermida Claimed By Padres Clearing a Spot for Devin Mesoraco

The San Diego Padres claimed left handed hitting outfielder, Jeremy Hermida, off waivers.  The move opens a spot on the Reds 40-man roster. 
The Reds needed to open a spot to put top catching prospect Devin Mesoraco on the 40-man roster, making him eligible for the September call ups.  Teams are allowed to have an active roster of 40 players the last month of the season but the players must be on the 40-man roster.

Hermida was signed over the winter as a minor league player with an invitation to spring training.  Hermida had a good spring but did not make the team.  He cleared waivers in March.   Hermida could have elected to be a free agent but accepted assignment to Cincinnati's Triple A Louisville team.

Hermida hit .319 with 17 home runs and 55 RBI at Louisville.  He played in 10 games with the Reds this season with two hits in 18 at bats, one home run and three RBI.

Mesoraco is hitting .289 with 15 home runs and 71 RBI.  He was the Reds first pick in the 2007 draft, the 15th overall.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Reds Offense On Haladay 9-0 Phillies Win

The good news for the Cincinnati Reds avoided another no-hitter by Philadelphia Phillies starter Roy Halladay.

Brandon Phillips dumped a single into right center leading off the first inning.

Bronson Arroyo held off the Phillies until Ryan Howard clubbed his 28th home run of the season into the second row of the right field bleachers.  It was the 35th home run allowed by Arroyo this season.  Not only does that total lead the Major Leagues it ties the Reds franchise record for home runs allowed by a righthanded pitcher.  Aaron Harang allowed 35 in 2008 and Sammy Ellis served up the same number at Crosley Field in 1966.  The over all record is the 40 allowed by lefthander, Eric Milton in 2005.

Hunter Pence helped Arroyo set a new record with his 17th leading off the sixth.  The wheels fell off for Arroyo after that.  Raul Ibanez singled, the second of his three hits. Carlos Ruiz singled.  Wilson Valdez reached on Miguel Cairo's error.  Halladay matched the hits he allowed to that point with a ringing double down the right field line, driving in two.  Logan Ondrusek took over and threw a wild pitch to let the fourth run of the inning to cross the plate.

"Hunter (Pence) is kind of a strange hitter," Arroyo said.  "He hits some balls that
you think are going to bounce.  He just hit it out of the park.  You
got to just tip your hat for that.  That's the way it goes with guys
like that sometimes, you know, they're so unorthodox.  He's hitting
ball like Vladimir Guerrero hit.  Balls that shouldn't be hit."

Arroyo tried to limit the damage but Halladay spoiled his plan.

"The pitch to Halladay.  I was trying to throw a sinker to the outer
half.  The same that I threw to Valdez that didn't get any outs," Arroyo said. "A
strikeout really didn't help me because Victorino has been tough on
me.  I wanted to end the inning right there."

Haladay walked Votto one out after Phillips hit in the first.  Jay Bruce provided the Reds best scoring chance by hitting a long fly down the right field line that hook foul just at the right field foul pole.  Halladay struck Bruce out swinging on a 3-2 pitch.  Bruce was the first of 17 straight retired by Halladay.  He struck out six Reds, all looking during the streak.

"Halladay wasn't sharp early," Dusty Baker said.  "He threw a lot of pitches.  It's always
a game changer when you get on a guy like that early.  Bronson was
sailing along too.  That was a pop up that Howard hit that went out of
the ballpark."

Raul Ibanez hit a two-run home run off Ondrusek in the seventh his third hit.

Joey Votto ended Halladay's streak with a double down the left field line to begin the bottom of the frame.

Hallady hit Bruce with a pitch and with one out walked Drew Stubbs.  The Phillies ace threw the rosin bag to the rubber at about 93 mph, so upset was he with the walk.  After a trip to the mound by Rich Dubee, the pitching coach, Halladay struck out pinch hitter Todd Frazier LOOKING.  It ended the night for Halladay.  He allowed just five base runners on two hits, two walks and a hit batter.  They came in two innings the first and seventh.  He struck out nine Reds, seven of them looking.

"Halladay was getting some help at the bottom of the zone," Baker said.  "That's
where he lives.   He's getting those pitches at the bottom of the
zone, he's going to be exceptionally tough."

Arroyo finished with 5 1/3 innings allowing six runs (five earned) on eight hits and two walks.

Howard hit his 29th home run off Sam LeCure in the ninth.  It was his third multi-homer game this season and the 29th of his career.

How About A Cardinals /Tigers Rematch in Florida?

Ohio rules on travel are restrictive but a rematch between the Cocoa Tigers and the Colerain Cardinals would be a lot fun.

The Cocoa team is traveling a lot this year and it is a great learning experience for their young men.  Ohio tends to overlook that aspect.  Also with the way the Harbin ratings work, it is a disadvantage to play a lot of teams within the region because too many common opponents put a drag on points needed to qualify for the playoffs.

The system makes it difficult for the schools with the more successful and sustained programs to find non-league opponents.  It forces the large GCL-South teams to schedule more games with teams in the contiguous states that only count regional games toward the playoffs.  Colerain is in the same boat.  Most years they schedule one GCL team.  The Cardinals have had games with teams from Texas, Pennsylvania and now Florida.  Their next game is also against Ryle High School out of Northern Kentucky.

As long as an entity like ESPN is willing to cover expenses or boosters are able to raise the travel funds, why deny the experience?

Cocoa coach John Wikinson would like to host the Cardinals in 2012.

"I would love to play them in the future," Wilkinson said via email.  "Maybe they can travel down to Cocoa next year.  It was a great environment (Sunday at Colerain)."

Please leave a comment and let me know your thoughts on a rematch.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Shane Victorino Ruins Homer Bailey's Performance Reds Lose to Phillies 3-2

Yonder Alonso was hoping to get a ball hit to him at thirdbase but no one was hitting anything solid off Homer Bailey.  Bailey had a season high nine strikeouts but Shane Victorino hit a curve ball into the right field stands with Wilson Valdez on base to ruin Bailey's best pitching performance of the year.

"Homer threw the ball great," Dusty Baker said.  "That's the best game he's thrown all
year, that one curve ball he hung to Victorino.  He struck him out
with one before that.  It hung up over the middle of the plate and
that's what you're supposed to do with them.  He made great pitches
all night."

Victorino's 15th home run snapped a 1-1 tie in the eighth inning.

Both firstbasemen were very lonely until the fourth inning.

Chase Utely was awarded a hit on a play that Brandon Phillips makes on most nights.  

Cole Hamels was cruising too.  

Phillips lofted a fly ball to deep right.  It looked routine but Hunter Pence slipped and fell as the ball landed safely with Phillips motoring to third for a tainted triple.  Even then Hamels was stingy.  He struck out Dave Sappelt.  He won a moral victory, getting Joey Votto to ground out to Utley at secondbase.  Phillips scored.

Pence regained his feet and singled off Bailey to lead off the top of the fifth.  John Mayberry forced Pence and barely beat a relay by Edgar Renteria to a covering Bailey at first.  Carlos Ruiz singled to move Mayberry to third.  Valdez hit a fly to left that Sappelt appeared to misplay.  The ball hit in front of him and got past him.  Mayberry scored and it put runners on second and third with one out.  Bailey pitched out of it striking out Hamels, then Victorino with a curveball.  A Curveball.

Hamels returning to the rotation after being activated from the disabled list right before the game, was on a pitch count.  He exited after the sixth, allowing just two hits, one legitimate hit.  He struck out seven in picking up his 14th win.

Bailey retired seven in a row after the Valdez double until Valdez singled to start the eighth.

After pinch hitter Michael Martinez fouled out to Votto at first, Victorino hit the game winning shot.

"We threw the ball pretty well," Bailey said.  "The one that Victorino hit was one we
both agreed on.  It was a little up but he's a good hitter.  You just
have to tip your hat in a situation like that.  We struck him out on a
curve ball before.  We thought he'd be looking for a fastball in.  We
were trying to in on him all night.  We tried to get ahead with a
curveball.  I guess great minds think alike but he hit it out."

The Reds fought back.

Ryan Hanigan got his second hit of the game one out into the eighth against Michael Stutes.  Pinch hitter Fred Lewis struck out but Phillips singled on a 3-2 pitch that allowed Hanigan to take third.  Sappelt singled hard off Valdez glove to score Hanigan and put Phillips on third.  Votto grounded to second to end the inning.

The Reds had another chance in the ninth against closer Ryan Madson.

Jay Bruce singled to lead off.  Alonso struck out for the third time.  Drew Stubbs forced Bruce but beat the relay to extend the game.  Stubbs stole his 35th base of the season while Renteria got ahead in the count, 2-0.  Madson made a great pitch that got Renteria out in front as he topped the ball to Ryan Howard at first.

Alonso's first major league start at thirdbase was uneventful.  He had no chances at third.

"He didn't get a play.  I didn't think he'd get much action with
Homer.  He's not one that guys pull on," Baker said.

Alonso wanted a play even when the Reds shifted him to short with Howard batting.

"I was ready.  It is what it is.  It was a good day defensively.  But
unfortunately, we didn't get the win and I didn't do a good job of
hitting.  I was missing a couple of pitches.  I missed about three or
four pitches today.  That's what you get when you're facing guys like
this.  They give you maybe one. Maybe."

"You've been working so you're hoping for a ground ball.  They way
Homer pitched.  One mistake and it sucks."

"I go from left field to thirdbase to shortstop when Howard was up.
That was pretty funny.  I was really hoping for a ground ball there."

Reds Try Yonder Alonso at Thirdbase

Left field didn't work.  Firstbase happens to be occupied by the NL MVP, who is having another great year.

Yonder Alonso has been an underdog before.  Even in college he cleaned offices with his father after his familty escaped Cuba.

Alonso has been working hard at learning to play thirdbase at this level.  Fans and analyst have the luxury of quoting offensive statistics but managers in the Major League's know that good bats that can't play defense can get you fired.  Just ask the five managers that were fired while Adam Dunn was here.

Dusty Baker knows the importance of defense.  No matter how well a player hits, he has to play defense.

Yet, Alonso, who has all of 65 plate appearances, has shown great potential on offense.

The Reds would prefer to convert Alonso to third in the off season.  They also have a couple other talented prospects that can play thirdbase, Todd Frazier and Juan Francisco.  Both of those players have had time in the outfield as well.  Frazier is actually pretty good defensively in the outfield.

Preferences aside, Alonso, will start against the Philadelphia Phillies at thirdbase.

"It's pretty cool," Alonso said.  "It's something I've always done.  I've played thirdbase all my life.  It is something I've definitely worked on now for three or four weeks.  I feel like I'm ready."

Alonso is more excited about facing Cole Hamels, the Phillies started.

"I like facing guys like that.  Guys that are good pitchers," Alonso said.  "It's part of the big leagues. I'm no more nervous about playing thirdbase more just being anxious to get out there."

Dusty after watching Alonso work at it the last few weeks decided to go ahead with the plan early.

"You've got to try it sometime, if you're going to try it..  Hamels gets righthanders out better than lefthanders on the offensive side.  If Homer (Bailey) throws like he normally throws, he (Alonso) will have some action but not a whole bunch of action..  With guys like Dontrelle, Leake and Arroyo, who throw a lot of off speed stuff, you need the best defensive left that you can find.  Alonso has been working hard out there.  We'll see. We're trying to find a position for him, other than the one that Joey occupies."

The timing is still an issue but Baker has endorsed it but only in pencil, not ink.

"You're not real comfortable experimenting with a new position at the big league level.  You wish you'd done it before you got here but it wasn't the plan at the time.  I remember when I was a kid, (Orlando) Cepeda and (Willie) McCovey, they tried to move both of them to left field and it didn't work.  They had to make a decision.  It's a big problem.  You've got two guys who have played the same position for a long time."

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Bookend Home Runs by Votto Put Reds Over .500 In 14 Inning 5-4 Win

Joey Votto started the scoring with a home run in the first inning and ended it with one.

There was 5 hours and 15 minutes of sound and fury in between.

Votto led off the 14th inning with his second home run of the game, lifting the Cincinnati Reds over the Washington Nationals 5-4 Sunday.

Reds pinch-hitter Yonder Alonso opened the ninth with a home run off Drew Storen, making it 4-all.

Votto hit a full-count pitch from Collin Balester (1-3) into the left-field bleachers to push the Reds over .500 for the first time since July 3.

His second career game-ending homer sent the Nationals to a sixth straight loss, tying their season high. Votto hit a solo shot in the first and hit his 26th of the season to win it.

 "It didn't feel like a great day with the bat for me but I end up with a couple homers and a couple walks.  It's such an odd game sometimes," Votto said.

Votto has hit longer home runs but few as effective.

"The first home run just scraped out of the ballpark and then the last one kind of the same thing but I didn't feel very good today."

Washington manager Davey Johnson prefers not to pitch to Votto with runners on base, pitching around him in the seventh and intentionally walking him in the 11th. Washington took its chances with the reigning MVP leading off the 14th.

 "It's a shame there wasn't a runner in scoring position or we could have walked him," Johnson said.

Johnny Cueto and five Reds relievers combined for 19 strikeouts, tying the team record. Cueto fanned 11 in seven innings.

Bill Bray (4-2) allowed one hit in the 14th to get the win.

Washington manager Davey Johnson and bench coach Pat Corrales and Reds manager Dusty Baker all were ejected.

 The Nationals loaded the bases with one out in the top of the 10th, but Ian Desmond lined to shortstop Edgar Renteria, who stepped on second for an unassisted double play.

Cueto maintained his NL ERA lead despite allowing a season-high nine hits. He gave up two runs and finished the day with a 2.05 ERA _ up from the 2.03 figure he took into the game. Cueto hit two batters and walked one.

Washington pushed across a run with two outs in the first on a single by Rick Ankiel, Michael Morse's walk and Danny Espinosa's single.

Votto tied it in the first and Jay Bruce put the Reds ahead in the fourth with his 28th homer.

 The Nationals strung together consecutive inning-opening singles by Desmond, Jayson Werth and Ankiel to make it 2-all in the fifth.

Cueto contributed a surprising single to Cincinnati's one-run rally in the fifth. Ryan Hanigan, 10 for 21 (.476) in his previous six starts going into the game, led off with a single on his way to going 3 for 4. After Paul Janish flied out, Cueto softly lined a slug bunt past Washington starter Jordan Zimmerman's head into center field for his second hit in 41 at-bats this season. Zimmerman hit Brandon Phillips with a pitch to load the bases and walked Fred Lewis, giving the Reds a 3-2 lead.

Zimmerman, making what is expected to be his last start of the season, allowed six hits and three runs with one walk and six strikeouts in 4 1-3 innings. He had made 25 starts and pitched 161 1-3 innings in his first full season since undergoing Tommy John surgery in August 2009.

Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, 3 for 25 (.120) over his last six games, didn't start for the Nationals, but he tied it in the eighth by driving in Espinosa from second base with a two-out, pinch-hit single off Aroldis Chapman.

 "We're always talking about picking each other up," Baker said.  "The bullpen has picked us up a lot of times. We had a number of chances and they had a number of chances."

The Nationals took a ninth-inning lead when Desmond led off with a single, stole second and scored on Werth single.

 Alonso tied it with his third homer since being called up from Triple-A Louisville on July 26. Storen has blown fifth of 39 save opportunities.

"I faced him last week and he came right at me," said Alonso, who has seen limited playing time because like Votto he plays first base.  "I get a lot of work in the cage and I try to stay positive."

  NOTES: Reds 3B Scott Rolen has started taking ground balls and live batting practice and hopes to leave soon on a rehab assignment. He underwent arthroscopic surgery on Aug. 3 to remove bone spurs and fragments from his left shoulder. ... After a day off Monday in Atlanta, the Nationals open a three-game series against the Braves with RHP Livan Hernandez making his 36th career start against them, the most by any active pitcher. Milwaukee's Randy Wolf is next with 26 starts. ... Cincinnati RHP Homer Bailey makes his first career home start Monday against the Phillies after going 0-2 with a 7.00 ERA in four starts at Philadelphia.


Colerain Wins 17-7 Over Three Time Defending Florida State Champ Cocoa

The Colerain Cardinals extended its home field winning streak to 60 games with a 17-7 win over the Cocoa High Tigers.

Jackson Sorn rushed for two touchdowns, the second of which provided the final margin after Cocoa scored for the only time midway through the fourth quarter.

Colerain scored first.

Punter and linebacker, Joe Bolden threw a 36-yard pass to Andre Jones.  Sorn scored on an seven-yard run on the next play.

The score held until the half.

Bolden jumped in front of a receiver with 4:19 left.  The ball was deflected into the eager hands of Dejuan Lang and Colerain was set up at the Cocoa 24.

The drive stalled but Kevin Walker kicked a 37-yard field goal.

The third quarter ended with Colerain holding a 10-0 lead..

Tiger Quarterback Maurice Pugh is a standout basketball player and was a wide receiver last season

Under the direction of senior Maurice Pugh in his first varsity game at QB couldn't get untracked. The Tigers had not crossed into Colerain territory until Pugh executed a tunnel screen to sophomore Lorenzo Pratt on a fourth and 10 that went 85 yards to make it a 10-7 game.

The Cards responded by driving the ball downfield converting some third down and long plays.

Sorn, a JV QB last season took the ball straight up the middle from his fullback position, 27-yards for the score.  The touchdown capped a seven play, 80-yard drive that ate more than three minutes.

A second interception by Lang sealed Colerain's win.

Colerain 10 Cocoa 0 end of 3rd Qtr

Kevin Walker kicked a 37-yard field goal to give Colerain a 10-0 lead.

Colerain Leads Cocoa 7-0 at the Half

A fake punt pass from Joe Bolden to Andre Jones set up a seven-yard run for Jackson Sorn for the only score of the game between top high school football programs from Ohio and Florida.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Reds Back to .500 with a 6-3 Win Over Nationals

Three Reds sacrifice flies trumped three National home runs.  The Reds have lost 28 one-run games this season and would have sold their collective souls for a sacrifice fly in many of them.

"Hopefully, we are learning to pick runners up with less than two outs," Dusty Baker said.

Young Chris Marrero's nervousness aided the Reds cause.  Cincinnati dented the plate with a run in the first inning without a hit.  Marrero couldn't handle Brandon Phillips ground ball to open the bottom of the first. Dave Sappelt bunted Phillips to second.  Joey Votto's ground out got Phillips to third. A wild pitch from Washington starter, Ross Detwiler put the Reds in front.

Leake, who was pounded by the Nationals 12 days ago, gave up Wilson Ramos' second home run in as many days. Two outs later, Jayson Werth belted his 16th of the season to give Washington a brief lead.

The home team parlayed Marrero's second error into a 4-2 lead.  Phillips, who had hit in all 10 games in which he batted leadoff, singled. Sappelt followed with a single through the hole at shortstop.  Votto grounded to Marrero, who threw the ball into left field.  Phillips scored.  Jay Bruce walked.  Miguel Cairo and Drew Stubbs picked up runners with fly balls.

"They helped us out early," Baker said. "We took advantage of it."

The Reds added on.  Ryan Hanigan singled in the fourth.  Leake moved him up with a bunt.  Phillips hit a line drive to the corner but was thrown out at second by Michael Morse.

Cairo doubled.  Stubbs reached on an infield hit, moving Cairo to third. Edgar Renteria hit a sacrifice fly to plate Cairo.

Leake finished with six strong innings, allowing six hits and one walk.  He got a lot of ground ball outs.

"The last time I played them they hit too many fly balls and beat me up," Leake said.  "I made a couple of mistakes that they made me pay for.  They fouled a lot of balls off but I wasn't giving in to them."

Leake won for the 11th time extending his career high.

"He's mature and improving," Baker said. "He reads swings well.  He knows his strengths and weaknesses.  He pitches like a veteran which is why we brought him straight from college."

This time last year they shut Leake down for the year to save his arm.

Phillips went to Baker and asked him if he could lead off.

"I wanted to try something different," Phillips said.  "I felt comfortable batting leadoff last year.  I asked Dusty if we could do something that got us going last year.  When I hit cleanup I was trying to drive in runs.  Now I just want to get on for the big boys (Votto and Bruce)."

Phillips is 19-for-43 with a home run and 10 RBI in 10 games. The Reds are 7-3 in that span.

Francisco Cordero earned save number 29 with a routine ninth.  He has converted 10 straight save opportunities. He tied Todd Jones for 14th on the all-time list with 319.  He is two saves away from equaling countryman, Jose Mesa.


Davey Johnson Says Larkin is the Best Player He Managed

Davey Johnson has had a lot of success as a Major League manager.  He managed the World Series Champion New York Mets in 1986 which featured Colerain graduate, Roger McDowell out of the bullpen.

He was the Reds manager during Larkin's MVP season in 1995.

"I've had some great players," Johnson said. "People ask me who is the best player you managed.  It was always Larkin.  It always came down to him.  He could hit 1,2,3.  He would take any role.  He led by example.  He was a manager's dream."

The Reds had the best record in the National League, 66-48 when the players strike cancelled the season on August 12.  The Reds won the Central Division by nine games.

"I was told Barry got hurt a lot," Johnson said.  "I had to get on him one day in Chicago.  It was 120 degrees and he was stealing bases.  I told him to take it easy, the last time I checked we were eight games ahead."

"We had fun that year we just couldn't get past Atlanta," Johnson said.  "We had guys get on but Reggie (Sanders) and Ron Gant couldn't hit (Greg) Maddux or (Tom) Glavine.  People asked me why I didn't drop them to seventh or eighth in the order.  I always asked, 'If you take a pretty girl to the dance do you quit dancing with her because she's sick?' "


Davey Johnson and Dusty Baker Were Teammates Now Competitors

Davey Johnson and Dusty Baker were teammates with the Atlanta Braves in 1973.  Johnson hit 43 home runs that season to set a record for second basemen.  Baker hit behind Johnson in the batting order.

"He was a very smart hitter," Baker said.  "He was even smarter when he came back from Japan (Johnson spent the 1975 and 1976 seasons in the Japanese League as a teammate of Sadaharu Oh)," Baker said.  "He knew how to set up pitchers.  He taught me that.  Sometimes he'd get on the plate to make them think he was looking for a ball outside.  He could back off the plate to make them think he was looking inside, when he was really looking outside."

"That year in particular he was as smart a hitter, I'd ever played with," Baker said.  "He got on a role.  His thinking was on par every day.  He was tired.  He was tired as a dog going after that record.  He was a fun guy to be around.  I was a kid then.  He was my locker partner.  He was always laughing.  Davey would crack himself up," Baker said.

"Davey is a smart guy.  He knows it.  Davey was using print outs before the computer was real big," Baker said.  "He was his own man."

Johnson was looking at statistics recently.  He discovered that the Reds and Nationals had roughly the same number of pinch hit at bats but the Reds pinch hitters had 30 more pinch hits.

"Thirty more hits and the one thing that you try to do as a manager to win ballgames is to match up your pinch hitters against the opponents bullpen," Johnson said.  "Dusty and I had a lot of fun we had.  The conversations we had with Henry (Aaron that Baker mentions all the time).  The only time he got mad at me was when I turned his stereo down. I was very fortunate to play with him.  We had fun in Atlanta, we just didn't have enough pitching.  I loved Dusty.  He was a great teammate.  He's done a great job managing.

Chris Heisey Goes to Louisville on Rehab Rolen Progressing Slowly

Chris Heisey hit yesterday and was cleared to start a rehab assignment with the Bats in Louisville.  He is expected to be reinstated when the rosters expand, if every thing goes well.  "We have a plan for him," Dusty Baker said.

Scott Rolen is just now hitting off a tee.  He is working to progress to soft toss, then live pitching.

Baker hopes to have him by the end of the season.  "We'll see," Baker said about Rolen's return.  "Louisville's season will be over before we get a chance to send him for rehab."


Friday, August 26, 2011

D Train Did Everything but Get the Win in Reds 4-3 Victory

Dontrelle Willis was as effective at the plate as he was on the mound.  Willis had three hits, two of which set up runs.  Unfortunately, of the six hits he allowed in seven innings, one by Wilson Ramos was a three-run home run. Willis walked a season-high five and one of those runners was aboard for Wilson's opposite field blast.

The Reds tried hard to get him the win but Francisco Cordero ended up with the victory in relief.

"We stuck with him through a lot of pitches.  He was lights out except for the home run," said Dusty Baker, who was not referring to the 17 minutes delay when a bank of stadium lights went out in the eighth inning. "He had a lot of base runners early that built his pitch count up.  They had some good hitters up."

Willis has seven quality starts among his nine as a Red this season.  He is still 0-3 and been the victim of three blown saves.

"I'm not worried about getting the victory personally.  Those come in spurts.  I am happy with the way I'm throwing and competing," Willis said.  "They always ask me if I'm ok and of course I'm going to say yes.  That's why you run those extra polls in the outfield so you can throw 123 pitches this time of year.  I want to thank Dusty for leaving me out there in the seventh to get those last two batters.  They were big in the game.  Getting them swung the momentum back to us."

The Red opened the scoring with an unearned run off Chien-Ming Wang.  Todd Frazier reached on an error by Ian Desmond. One out later Willis singled him to third.  Brandon Phillips singled to get Frazier home.

Willis walked light hitting rookie, Danny Espinosa to start the fourth.  Jonny Gomes singled in his return to Cincinnati in front of Ramos home run.

The Reds chipped away but couldn't pull ahead, scoring single runs in the sixth and seventh.  Paul Janish walked and Willis single for his third hit.  Phillips came up with another clutch hit to score Janish, who dived head first to beat Ramos' tag.  In the seventh Jay Bruce walked with one out.  Ramon Hernandez singled.  Frazier came through with a run scoring single with two outs.  Miguel Cairo struck out to end the inning.

"Miggy came in and said they got me once but they won't get me again," Baker said.

Cairo got the chance to redeem himself in the ninth.

Cordero set it up by throwing a scoreless top of the ninth.

Drew Stubbs singled with one out.  Frazier followed with a single.  Cairo took a breaking ball from Collin Balester for a ball.  He hit the 1-0 fastball between the left and center fielders to allow Stubbs to score easily.

"Miggy has been unbelievable," Baker said.  "Frazier had a couple of big hits too.  His average doesn't show it but he's been clutch."

Cairo knew what he had to do.

"I prepare myself physically and mentally.  I expect to win.  I play hard because I have a job to do," Cairo said.  "That first at bat, I didn't swing at a strike.  I told myself to swing at strikes.  I always look for a fastball and adjust to the other pitches."

The win put the Reds within one game of the .500 mark.  They trail Milwaukee by 13 games and know their chances of winning the division are slim but they want to finish strong.

With Jayson Werth due to bat and flame thrower Arlodis Chapman on the mound two banks of lights on the first base side near home plate went out.

"That was a dangerous situation with Chapman throwing," Baker said.  "It was good that Chapman didn't have to sit too long."

Davey Johnson Returns To Cincinnati

The last time Davey Johnson was in Cincinnati the field was astroturf.

"There's real grass now and no dog poop," Johnson said before his Washington Nationals took the unsoiled, grass field to play the Cincinnati Reds.  Johnson is one of four managers to fashion winning seasons with the Reds since 1990.  He joins Lou Piniella, Jack McKeon and Dusty Baker among the nine who have piloted the Reds since going wire-to-wire in 1990.

Johnson took over for Tony Perez, who was fired by Jim Bowden after just 44 games.  He led the Reds to a 66-48 record in 1994.  The Reds were in first place on August 12 when the players strike forced cancellation of the rest of the season and post season.  He was at the helm when the Reds won the National League Central in 1995.

"What I remember most about Cincinnati was Marge Schott and no being able to get past the Braves," Johnson said.  The Reds lost four straight to Atlanta, the team that took the NL East crown that season.

Marge Schott fired Johnson because he lived with his wife before he was married to her.

"It is a beautiful place and good to come back here.  My wife's from here," Johnson said.

Johnson managed the New York Mets for five seasons before coming to Cincinnati.  Ironically, he was fired by the Mets in 1990 while the team was in Cincinnati.

After the Reds he managed the Baltimore Orioles, his original team as a player, to the playoffs.  He was there two seasons.  After a year off, he managed the Los Angeles Dodgers for two seasons.

Since he has been an international manager, guiding teams in Europe and Asia.

"I've been to a couple of World Baseball Classics," Johnson said.  "International baseball took a setback when the Olympics dropped it as a sport.  That was the way it was funded.  Europe is behind, the Netherlands plays good baseball drawing a lot of players from Curacao (in the Caribean) and Aruba.  But they have baseball now in Russia and France.  The Dodgers are in Italy.  Soccer is still the number one sport but they play better baseball now."

Johnson was one of the first American born players to play in Japan.  He was a teammate of Saduharu Oh, the leading Japanese home run hitter.

"Oh could have played in the big leagues.  You would think with his leg kick that he couldn't handle the change up but they couldn't get him out.  I thought there were a lot of players in the '70's from Asia that could play in the big leagues.  Now they are going back and forth," Johnson said.


Logan Ondrusek Reactivated Travis Wood Sent Back to Louisville

The Reds activated Logan Ondrusek from the 15-day disabled list.  Travis Wood was sent back to make room.

"Woody is going to come back when the roster expands," Dusty Baker said.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Reds Split DH Then Split Town Both Games One-Run

The Reds and Marlins played an accelerated three game series both teams claiming one-run victories.

Joey Votto was 5-for-8 in the double header with two home runs and four RBI.  He is now third in the National League with a .328 batting average, has 24 home runs and has 84 RBI, tied with Jay Bruce for sixth in the circuit.

He staked the Reds to a lead in the first game with a two-run home run.  He put the Reds up a run scoring single in the first inning of the second game and added to a 2-0 lead with a solo home run in the third that supplied the final margin.

Homer Bailey lasted seven innings and allowed only five hits, unfortunately for the righthander, three of those hits came in the fourth inning and two were for home runs.  Logan Morrison hit a solo shot.  Jose Lopez followed Mike Stanton's double with his fifth of the season.

The Reds tied the game but Jose Arredondo gave up Emilio Bonifacio's triple off the glove of Drew Stubbs in deep center.  Omar Infante singled Bonifacio home.  He scored when Greg Dobbs hit a double that put the Marlins ahead 6-3 going into the top of the ninth.

Drew Stubbs doubled high off the tarp in left field off Edward Mujica.  Todd Frazier hit his fifth home run.  The Reds were down a run with no outs.  One out later Yonder Alonzo walked but the Reds could not bring him around.  Steve Cishek gor Dave Sappelt to bounce out to the mound to end the game 6-5.

Votto singled home Phillips and Bruce doubled home Dave Sappelt.in the first inning of the night cap. The Reds had two runs in, runners on second and third with no outs.  Miguel Cairo topped a slow ground ball to Infante at second base.  Bruce expected Votto to score on first contact and took off for third.  Infante threw home to easily double off Votto while Bruce sprinted to third.  Votto closed out the Reds scoring with a home run again to left field for the game winner.

Bronson Arroyo picked up his eighth win.  Arroyo pitched eight shut out innings, allowing six hits.

Francisco Cordero finished the job but gave up two runs, one earned to pick up his ninth straight save, leaving the tying run stranded   It was the 28th of the season, the 318th of his career.  He is now tied with Rick Aguilera for 15th all-time and one short of Todd Jones for 14th on the list.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hurricane Alonso Blows Away Marlins 8-6

The Florida Marlins cancelled the game Thursday night to avoid Hurricane Irene but they could not avoid Hurricane Alonso Wednesday night.

Yonder Alonso Homers in the second inning
The Miami resident and former University of Miami Hurricane star, Yonder Alonso, teamed with fellow rookie Dave Sappelt to rally the Reds past Leo Nunez and the Florida Marlins.

Alonso, homered, singled in a run and hit a two-run double to cap the Reds four run ninth inning.  Sappelt doubled earlier in the inning to plate Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips.  Former Reds manager and current Marlins skipper, Jack McKeon elected to walk Jay Bruce, who hit his 27th home run with a man on to keep the Reds in the contest.

Alonso's home run in the second initiated the scoring.  He drove in the Reds second run with a single in the third to put the Reds up 2-0 with ace Johnny Cueto on the mound seeking his 10th win.

Cueto had trouble with the mound and his control on this sticky South Florida night.  His first pitch was a strike but he slipped when his foot landed on the wet mound.  He never looked comfortable.  He allowed just four hits in five innings but he walked six, including the Marlins young slugger Mike Stanton three times..  He threw over 100 pitches in just five frames.  He also threw 11 pitches while striking out Gabby Sanchez in the third inning to build his pitch count too quickly.

The Marlins had just one hit entering the fifth but Emilio Bonifacio, who was a pest all night singled to open the inning.  Bonifacio took third when Cueto's pick off attempt eluded Alonso at first base. Cueto fanned Bryan Peterson but walked Stanton for the third time.  Greg Dobbs hit a sacrifice fly to left center.  Sappelt made a rookie mistake by not yeilding to Drew Stubbs to make the catch. Stubbs was in better position to make the throw, still Bonifacio barely beat the tag by Ramon Hernandez, triggering a mild argument by Dusty Baker.  A friendly call would have ended the inning without a run scoring but Omar Infante singled and Sanchez doubled to give Florida a lead.

The Reds pulled another reverse Houdini routine by loading the bases with no out but failing to score.  Hernandez lined to shallow center to keep Miguel Cairo on third.  Paul Janish hit a one hopper right at thirdbaseman Dobbs, who was even with the bag, he stepped on third and easily threw out Janish.

As often happens when a team misses a chance like that, the Marlins scored right away.  John Buck topped a ball off reliever Sam LeCure that died in the grass in front of Cairo for a single.  Bonifacio lined a hanging breaking ball from LeCure into the right field stands to extend the Marlins lead to 5-3.

Jay Bruce hits his 27th home run in the seventh
The Reds made up for the blown chance with two outs and the bases empty in the Sappelt singled, the second of his three hits.  Bruce followed with his home run.

The Marlins got a run back in the eighth in Nick Masset's second inning of work and Bonifacio completed his three-RBI night with a sacrifice fly after Masset balked Buck into scoring position.

Aroldis Chapman matched Irene's speed in blowing away Peterson with one pitch at 98 (category one), three at 99 (category two) and one at 100 (category three) to record the strikeout to earn his third win.

Francisco Cordero saved the game for his 27th of the season and 317th of his career.  He needs one more to tie Rick Auguilera for 15th place on the all-time list.  It extended Cordero's current streak to eight straight in as many appearances.

Hurricane Irene is expected to reach the area on Thursday in time to threaten the third game of the series.  The Marlins scheduled that game as part of a Wednesday doubleheader beginning at 4:10.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Cocoa Tigers Impressed but Do Not Fear Colerain

Cocoa Stadium Home of 5 Time Florida State Champs
The Cocoa Tigers biggest concern is hurricane Irene, the challenge of playing one of Ohio's top football programs is the challenge they are eager to face the Colerain Cardinals at Colerain Stadium aka "The Cage" on Sunday at 3pm.  The game will be broadcast on ESPN.

The team plans to fly to Cincinnati Saturday and hoping that Hurricane Irene doesn't hang around until then so they can face Colerain.  They are looking forward to the trip and wishing hard that weather doesn't rob them of the chance to compete.

Senior quaterback, Maurice Pugh responded quickly and descisively.  "Oh yeah,"  when asked if he was looking forward to the challenge.

"Colerain is pretty good.  They're big.  They run the veer offense. They have a couple really fast guys in the backfield.  They have a good football team."

Cocoa has won Florida State Championships the last three season.  They traveled twice last season in similar pre-season challenges.  They defeated Thomas Jefferson of  Jefferson Hills Pennsylvania near Pittsburgh at Woodland Hills High School on the road last season, 43-7.  The team traveled to Texas and beat Abilene High 24-21 last season for two of its 14 wins, including the state championship game against a very good, Glades Central, 14-13.
Tigers Prepare for Showdown With Cardinals

Coach John Wilkinson is in his seventh season at Cocoa.  He owns a 70-10 record, while winning three straight titles.  The Tigers roster of 31 players include 12 returning starters with six on offense and six returning on defense.  In spite of the small roster size by Colerain's big school standard, the Tigers have no players playing both ways.  The school has 950 students in grades 9-12.

"We've very fortunate.  In the first year when we won it (state championship), we had 27 players on the team and nobody went both ways.  So it's one of those things where we train them.  Now, with injuries obviously our backups are our starters.  Our running back will back up the secondary.  Our secondary will back up our running backs," Wilkinson said.

Wilkinson is a graduate of the University of Florida after graduating from Merrit Island High a few miles from Cocoa.  Wilkinson did not play collegiately.  "No ones was looking for 5'10" offensive guards," Wilkinson said.

Wilkinso and his team have done their homework.  They know that Colerain hasn't lost at home since 1999.  They were watching Colerain's 24-23 loss to St. Xavier in the Region 4 semi-final game last season outside the coaches office prior to practice on Monday.

Coleain coach Tom Bolden flew down for Cocoa's spring game against Dr. Phillips High from Orlando.  Trey Griffey the son of baseball great Ken Griffey Jr. plays defensive back for Dr. Phillips.

"Watching Colerain on tape, they are disciplined well coached and a good football team," Wilkinson said.

Tarean Folston, who wears number 10, is the featured running back in the Tigers' wing-t offense.  Folston is a junior started last season as a sophomore.  He has offers from 20 schools, including Cincinnati. 

Folston has been also offered by Florida, Florida State, Notre Dame.  Folston was hesitant to name the schools, so Wilkinson helped, "He is trying to be humble which I like but he has a lot of offers."

Folston rushed for 1,247 yards and 13 touchdowns last season.  He knows that Colerain star linebacker and Michigan recruit will be trying to stop him but doesn't plan to backdown.

"He'a a big guy but you know everybody is blockable.  Everybody makes mistakes.  I'm going into this game hoping he makes some but if he doesn't it is my assignment to block him on certain plays. I'm just looking forward to playing ball," Folston said.

Pugh is moving to quarterback after starting after starting at wide receiver last season. The 6' 175 athlete has traveled the country as an AAU basketball guard.  He is hoping his senior season running the wing-t will create interest in his football career at the collegiate level.

"We runs some spread out of the wing-t.  I'm concentrating on Colerain," Pugh said.

Linebackers, Michael Ferguson (52) and Grady Redding (5) are returning starters for the Tigers' 3-5 defense. 

"Colerain has a real good fullback and two quarterbacks that came from a rival school is battling the JV quarterback," said Ferguson, who is a Miami Hurricanes fan and wears the number of former Hurricane and his favorite player, Ray Lewis.  "They like to run but they'll pass if they have to.  They run the same offense as Merrit Island.  I've watched tape from last year and a lot of the players that impressed me have graduated.  I havn't seen a lot of their new players."

Ferguson 6' 0, 205lbs has played basketball and ran track but is concentrating on football.  He has drawn interest from some colleges.  He would love to play for Miami or the Naval Academy.  Temple University has shown interest.

Redding 5'10' 175 Mike linebacker has studied the Colerain offense, "They run the ball a lot.  They like to get to the edge with their speed.  If we contain, we'll be alright."

"They remind me very much of Merrit Island," said Redding, who has started on the last two state championship teams. Redding has offers from Georgia Southern, Illinois State, Eastern Illinois, UMass, Jacksonville State and Bethune Cookman.

Redding is a big fan of former Red outfielder Deion Sanders.

Florida High School football doesn't start the regular season for a week but the play rivals in the area this week.  The storm has already forced the high school "Classics" which are treated as scrimmages to be advanced to Wednesday as Irene is expected to blow through late Thursday or early Friday.

The Colerain game as a Kickoff Classic does count as a regular season game.  Cocoa has 11 weeks to play 10 games.  One bye is already built in so they will get two weeks off during the upcoming season.

The Colerain will be the Tigers first competion since its May 27th spring game against Dr. Phillips.  Fall scrimmages are prohibited by Florida State High School Association rules.



Two Reds Farmhands Selected for Player of the Week

Juan Francisco was named the International League Player of the Week. 

Fransicso has recently recovered from a knee injury. 

"He's played his best baseball, offensively, defensively and base running," Louisville manager Rick Sweet said.

Franciso had a whopping .958 slugging percentage for the week with three home runs, 10 RBI, with a .500 batting average. He had four multi-hit games this past week.

Dayton Dragons pitcher, Daniel Corcino was the Midwest League Pitcher of the Week

Corcino turned in six scoreless innings.  He allowed just three hits and walked a batter, while striking out 10.

Corcino owns a 9-6 record with a 3.25 ERA in 23 starts on the season.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Even In 11-8 Win Gloves Show Value

The Reds and the Pittsburgh Pirates slugged it out on Friday night.  Three Reds home runs and some timely hitting kept the Reds in front and the Pirates playing catch up all night long.

Joey Votto hit his 21st home run, Brandon Phillips connected for his 12th with two men on. Phillips drove in four runs total on three hits.  Ryan Hanigan hit his sixth home run and drove in three, including two big insurance runs in the ninth inning.

Pittsburgh never led but tied the game twice.   The Reds pulled ahead against Kevin Correia but Pittsburgh fought back against Homer Bailey and the bullpen.

Pittsburgh would tie the game in the bottom of the eighth inning against an angry Nick Masset.  He made two good pitches that resulted in base runners.  Garret Jones doubled into short left field on a good pitcher's pitch and Ryan Doumit was jammed and reached base on a ball that Phillips charged but could not field cleanly.

Andrew McCutchen hit a single to left to score the tying run on a ball that appeared catchable but Dave Sappelt chose to play it on a bounce rather than go for the catch.  He got caught in between the catch and playing it on the hop but at least recovered in time to throw the slow footed Jones out at the plate for the first out. 

Travis Wood replaced Masset and walked Neil Walker to load the bases.  Ryan Ludwick hit a fly to center field.  Drew Stubbs charged this one to catch it cleanly and fire home to get the speedy McCutchen trying to score from third.  Stubbs can save the pitching staff a couple of runs a week and makes a lot of catches look routine that are not.  Defense isn't glamorous.  Good defense wins games.  Poor defense keeps you out of the playoffs.

Coco Cordero earned his 25th save of the season and 315th of his career with a perfect ninth.

Fans and talk show geeks wring their hands, mop their brow and wonder why Dusty Baker sticks with a guy that strikes out as much as Stubbs does.  Maybe they got a clue last night.

Fans and talk show geeks wonder how you can cut Dave Sappelt from the major league roster when he hit .584 in spring training.  They wonder why Yonder Alonso and his potent bat wastes away in Louisville until August.

They understand batting average but defense is hard to quantify.  It just doesn't lend itself to statiscal analysis, so the armchair managers ignore it.  Many wonder how a pitcher has an ERA in the high fours in the minor league but pitch much better that that in the big leagues.  The reason: there are no gold gloves in the minor leagues.

Sappelt had to learn to play defense.  He also had to learn to run the bases.  Baseball players can get by with just athletic ability or one outstanding skill in amatuer baseball but not so in the professional ranks.

Anyone who read this blog in spring training was forewarned by Dusty Baker....You can not just hit and stay in the big leagues.  You have to be on top of your game in all phases.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Season Long Pattern Beats Reds in Washington 3-1

Get em on, get em over, get em in.  That is the mantra that hitting coaches preach around the batting cages everyday.  The Reds keep missing the last step.

It has gotten beyond a statisitical anomaly.

The Reds have been lacking the clutch hit all year.  They wasted a quality performance by Bronson Arroyo.  They kept young Jordan Zimmerman on the ropes during his 5 2/3 innings the Reds stranded seven.  For the game the Reds left 10 on base and five of those were in scoring position.

The lone run they scored crossed the plate because Henry Rodriguez compounded an error by Ian Desmond by throwing two wild pitches.  Pinch hitter Fred Lewis scored when Brandon Phillips grounded out.

Arroyo was pretty good in his six innings.  He allowed three runs on seven hits. One of those hits was Jesus Flores first home run of the season.  The home run was the 34th allowed by Arroyo.  One more and he will equal the franchise record for righthanders and is six shy of the overall team record set by Eric Milton in 2005.

The largest insult to the Reds injuries was the person that provided the winning margin. Jonny Gomes, who Reds fans are familiar with, was hitting .178 with runners in scoring position.  With two outs and the bases empty, Arroyo walked Michael Morse.  Jayson Werth singled.  The Reds could have gotten out of the inning but Phillips could not come up with a smash up the middle by light hitting rookie, Danny Espinosa.  It was ruled a hit but Phillips has made plays like it before.  On this night it was off his glove.  Gomes drove a 1-0 pitch to left for a two-run single.

Gomes also took a hit away from Joey Votto with a nice running catch in the fifth inning.

Given the Reds inability to get runners home sealed their fate.

The Reds bullpen held the Nationals to give the Reds offense a chance to make a statement, unfortunately that statement was inaudible.

Ryan Hanigan singled to open the ninth.  Yonder Alonso struck out looking batting for Paul Janish.  Ramon Hernandez lined out batting for Nick Masset.  Phillips kept the Reds alive with a single to right.  The Reds hopes were pinned on young Dave Sappelt.  Sappelt came into the at bat without walking in 40 major league at bats.  Drew Storen got behind in the count to Sappelt 2-1 but hit the outside corner with strike two.  As Votto waited for his turn, Sappelt popped up a pitch out of the strike zone to end the game.

   Bleachers: A Summer in Wrigley Field

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Rick Sweet on Reds Triple A Prospects in Louisville

I went to check up on the Louisville Bats and in particular Devin Mesoraco and Chris Valaika.

Louisville manager Rick Sweet was insightful concerning Cincinnati prospects learning their craft.

The game Tom Cochran dueled Indianapolis lefthander, Jeff Locke, who was making his first start at the Triple A level.  Cochran was with the Reds briefly this season but did not appear in a game.

The Bats trailed 1-0 but put together some good at bats to score four runs to take the lead and the game.

Sweets comments on the game and the Reds prospect follows:

"You look at the last two or three weeks we've had leads in the seventh and eighth innings and lost them so they say the game comes around but I don't like that saying.  I'd just as soon like to win them all."

On Carlos Fisher who got the win....

"They are not supposed to get anything off Fisher.  He's one of the top pitchers in the league.  He pitched well.  A couple times he pulled the ball.  He's got good stuff but depends on the consistency when he can throw it over (the plate)."

On Tom Cochran, who has had problems in the first inning.

"When you start looking at stats, you would think he has trouble in the early innings. He's been a guy that we've taken in and out of the rotation.  He was tremendous for us early in the season when he was in the regular rotation.  Then we started taking him out (for rehabbing ML pitchers) and when you do that it happens at every level, you don't have that good command early in the ballgame.  He never said a word about it but its more our fault as an organization. That's just the way things happen sometimes but he's been solid."

Cochran allowed one run in six innings against the Indians.

On Chris Valaika

"He got off to a tremendous start and went up to the big leagues and played very well up there for the big club.  He came back down and he struggled when he came down.  It's taken him up to about the last couple weeks when he started swinging the bat.  He hit a couple of balls very hard tonight.  He had a big at bat late in the ballgame for us.  He's back to where he was early in the year.  It's unfortunate, especially young guys that go to the big leagues and come back.  They just don't have that 100 percent focus.  They physically put in their time but sometimes mentally they're not really focused on their game.  They're still thinking about the big leagues.  You know 'I've got there, I've been there.  I can do that again'. They lose that sharpness."

On Devin Mesoraco

"Has been solid all year.  He's getting a little tired.  He's running out of gas.  I gave him another night off tonight.  That happens especially with a young guy that mentally has had so much to learn here.  He's really progressed well mentally.  Physically he has a lot of tools but his game calling, handling of pitchers has just gotten better and better the more he's played."

Do you think he's ready?

"I probably have about 10 guys out there that are ready.  When you ask that question and I say yes he's ready.  Then I'm not saying he's the only one ready..He can go up there and play.  I've told Walt (Jocketty) that before.  Yes he's ready.  He can go up there and play.  Does he have to? No.  Is there more things he can learn here? Absolutely.  He needs to play.  I'm not sure the Reds are in position to put him in there everyday. That wouldn't be a benefit to him  As long as we have an opportunity for him to play here.  He'll play here.  Is he ready to go up and play at the major league level? Yes he is."

On Juan Francisco who had a great at bat taking pitches he's been know to swing at and selecting a pitch he could hit.  Francisco knocked in the tying run.  He had three hits all off lefthanded pitching.

"His at bats. I will tell you since he's come back from the knee injury, I have never seen Juan Francisco play better, offensively, defensively, baserunning.  He's playing very good baseball right now.  He went to Arizona and worked very hard.  He got back into shape ahead of schedule. He's played very well since he's come back here. It was a great at bat against a very tough pitcher. (Daniel Moskos) All three of his hits were off lefthanders."

On Corky Miller

"You always know Corky is going to do something right.  He hasn't got to play that much but his knowledge of the game is why he's here. He still can play but his knowledge these young guys need to learn."

Do you compare him to Crash Davis from the movie Bull Durham that was signed to tutor a young pitcher?

"That's what he is.  Absolutely."

"You hear me talk all the time about quality at bats.  I thought throughout the game we had quality at bats but we didn't put them together back-to-back until the eighth inning.  It was against some of their better pitchers.  They've got a very good team over there.  It started with (Michael) Griffen (who singled on the first pitch). A great sacrifice by (Kristopher) Negron.  Valaika had a great at bat and it went on from there."

Teddy Power made a minor adjustment to Cochran's delivery to get the lefthander back on track.

"Teddy Power does a great job making minor adjustments with these pitchers.  He's done it time after time after time. Cochran got off to a great start and he got out of his game a little bit.  He and Teddy made a little change in the bullpen in between his starts.  Cochran text me after his bullpen and said "I've got it."  Teddy told me when got here that he was going to have a great game.  He went out and had a great game.  Just a small adjustment.  That's all it takes."

On Chad Reineke

"He is another guy that went up to the big leagues and came back and really struggled.  He had four or five bad games and we took him out of the rotation for awhile.  He got himself straightened out again and right now he's on top of his game again.  His stuff's good.  His command's good.  He is right on top of everything."


Rick Sweet Should Get a Shot at Managing in the Majors

One of the most difficult jobs in baseball is not at the major league level.  There is the constant pressure to win on a daily basis to be sure but imagine the challenges of a Triple A manager.

Part of the team is made up of young players anxious to move up.  The other part is veteran players on the fringe or on the way down, who are frustrated.

The emphasis is not on winning but development, still the Triple A manager is expected to win.  How does he develop players, who are more likely to fail while learning new techniques?  How do you keep everyone positive in the face of a perceived lack of rapid progress.

Rick Sweet deals with this dilemma on a daily basis.  Few do the job better than Sweet.

Sweet was drafted out of Gonzaga University by the San Diego Padres in the third round of the 1975 draft as a catcher.  He played in 272 games over parts of three seasons with San Diego in 1978, the New York Mets and Seattle Mariners in 1982 and 1983.  He hit .234 and totaled six home runs and 57 RBI.

The native of Longview, Washington has been a minor league skipper since he managed the Seattle Mariners Class A team in Bellingham, Washington in 1987.  He was Ken Griffey Jr's first professional manager.

Sweet joined the Reds organization as the manager of the Reds top farm club in Louisville in 2005.  He has had a winning record every year after the first season while helping to develop much of the corp that is the Reds of today.  Cincinnati suffered through dark years under Marge Schott and Jim Bowden in which the minor league system produced very little.  The heart of the 2010 NL Central Champions played under Sweet at Louisville.

The 58-year old may be his own nemesis when it comes to being promoted because he has bee so valuable to the organization in his current role.

Still the insightful and likeable Louisville manager deserves a shot at a big league job.


Johnny Cueto Dictates ro Washington in a 2-1 Reds Victory

Johnny Cueto is 5'10" and his 25-year old body has some baby fat among his 220 lbs.  Yet, he has worked to be in the best shape he can be in and it has paid off.

"You see him out running in between starts," Dusty Baker said.  "You will see him running the stadium steps.  Running, not on the bike inside but running outside in the heat.  It has paid off for him.  That's why he's going deep into games.  He is just as strong at the end."

The Reds signed Cueto to a contract this winter for $27 million that will keep him under contract through 2014.  The Reds also have an option for 2015.  That may prove to be a bargain as the native of San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic continues to establish himself as one of the best pitchers in the Major Leagues.

Cueto qualified for the Major League ERA lead at a stingy 1.88 with Wednesday's one-run, six hit performance against the Washington Nationals.  With the Reds leading 2-0 and the bases loaded in the eighth inning, Baker allowed Cueto to bat.  Yonder Alonso was in the on deck circle watching Paul Janish walk to load the bases but it was just for show.  Cueto was going out to pitch the ninth with a chance to complete a shutout.

Ryan Zimmerman hit a home run on the first pitch by Cueto to cut the lead in half.  In spite of some finger nail biting moments in the bottom of the ninth, Fracisco Cordero relieved Cueto.

Joey Votto hit his 20th home run of the season in the first inning, one of his two hits.  Cueto made it seem like a 10-0 lead.  Cueto pitched out of a jam in the fourth inning, that included three shattered Washington bats.  Cueto was almost too good in that inning.  He shattered the bat of Jayson Werth on a pitch that wasn't hit hard enough to turn a double play.

He then retired 17 of the 18 batters that he faced to cruise into the ninth inning.

The Reds built a threat in the eighth.  Votto singled and advanced to third on a single by Jay Bruce.  It was a golden opportunity for the Reds than turned more towards quartz as the inning wore on. Miguel Cairo hit a hard one-hopper to the mound that Sean Burnett stabbed.  Burnett threw home to get Votto.  Drew Stubbs walked and his speed on first produced the eventual winning run.  Stubbs beat Danny Espinosa who was too late to force Stubbs at second but threw Ramon Hernandez.  That put the Reds up 2-0.

After Zimmerman homered to get Washington close. Francisco Cordero finished them off  in spite of loading the bases with one out to collect career save number 314.  He tied Dick Nen for 16th place and preserve Cueto's ninth win in 14 decisions.

Cueto signed as an undrafted free agent in 2005 at the age of 19.  His first year was rough.  Cueto pitched for the Gulf Coast Reds and the Sarasota Reds that year and was 2-3 with a 4.78 ERA.  In 2006 he was 15-3 with Dayton and Sarasota.  He was 12-9 the next year pitching at Sarasota, Chattanooga and Louisville.

He had just four Triple A games at Louisville in 2007.

Cueto made the team out of spring training in 2008.  He struck out 10 Arizona batters in his debut and allowed just a solo home run in eight innings.  He lost three straight decisions after that.

He battled, control issues and a temper.

Cueto used to get upset and anxious when opposing hitters were on base.  Now he coolly pitches out of trouble and doesn't try to strike out everybody.  His ERA drops with his strike out total.

2008 158 strikeouts 4.81 ERA
2009 132 strikeouts 4.41 ERA
2010 135 strikeouts 3.64 ERA
in 2011 he has struck out just 78 in 120 innings with his MLB leading 1.88 ERA.

    The Comeback Kids: Cincinnati Reds 2010 Championship Season