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.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Jeff Francis Much Better For Reds in 10-2 Win Over San Francisco

Jeff Francis was beaten, abused and tattooed by the Texas Rangers Monday night. By the end of Friday, the free agent had given up 11 runs and 11 hits.

On Saturday the lefhander allowed a single to the second batter of the game. He then retired 15 straight batters. Brandon Phillips made a diving stop and turned it into a double play.

Francis completed seven innings and allowed a home run to Joaquin Arias in his last inning. It was one of the three hits the Giants managed.

The Reds did nothing off Guillermo Mota but blasted former teammate, Jeremy Affeldt. Scott Rolen, Jay Bruce and Drew Stubbs had two hits apiece.

Todd Frazier and Juan Francisco had big hits in the fifth inning. They are in the mix to be Scott Rolen's back up. The Reds pounded 18 hits, extending a positive trend building momentum to start the regular season.

"It was the second time this week we scored some runs," Dusty Baker said. "It's important to go into the season feeling good offensively. It's good to keep winning at the end. We had a rough stretch in the middle but now we're back in sync."

The turnaround of Francis and the scoreless innings turned in by Bill Bray and Sean Marshall are meaningful. Bray missed a lot of time with a pulled groin. Marshall turned in his eight straight scoreless outing.

"Billy (Bray) isn't real sharp yet but he's getting there. I think he could be ready to start the season but I don't know if he'll be the number one lefty out of the bullpen with Marshall here."

There are 12 pitchers left in camp. The Reds won't need fifth starter the first week. Mike Leake could be optioned for another position player until his turn pops up. It is looking like
Francis may have made the team, but probably not as a starter.

"I don't know where I'm going. They haven't said anything to me. I don't know if I'll be in Cincinnnati or not. It is out of my control I will just go out and get guys out."

Francis has been a starter his entire big league career with the exception of one relief appearance.

"I've only done it (pitched out of the bullpen) in one outing but I'm ready for it."

He pitched against St. Louis while with the Colorado Rockies on the last day of the 2010 season. He gave up two runs on four hits that day.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Reds Hit Three Home Runs in 8th to Down Tribe 6-5

Todd Frazier hit his fifth home run in the eighth inning of Dan Wheeler, who was told he made the Indians team earlier in the day. The next hitter, Juan Francisco connected for his fourth and second in as many games.

The two blows cancelled home runs by Carlos Santana and Asdrubal Cabrera off Reds opening day starter, Johnny Cueto.

Frazier and Francisco are battling for the last spot on the bench. Francisco has the advantage of providing lefthanded power off the bench and he is out of options. The Reds would lose him through waivers if they tried to send him back. But he fell out of favor with Dusty Baker because he reported 12 pounds over weight. He also was slowed by a calf injury.

Frazier has options left but made his case this spring by being a better defensive player and banging out 10 extra base hits.

"They both have had plenty of at bats," said Baker, avoiding a choice on the spot.

Cueto allowed just four hits in six innings and threw 98 pitches. He walked one and struck out three

"Johnny threw the ball great," Baker said. "Cabrera hit s breaking ball up and Santana hit a fastball that was supposed to be in but was out over the plate."

The Indians scored three runs off minor league pitcher Donnie Joseph to take a 5-1 lead into the eighth.

Willie Harris another player trying to earn a job, singled and scored on Ryan Ludwick's double.

Ryan LaMarre the Reds second round pick in the 2010 draft out of the University of Michgan, hit his first home run off Wheeler.

Cueto looks ready to start the season.

"I'm ready," Cueto said through Marcus Soto, the son of Mario Soto. "I learned a lot from watching Aaron Harang and (Edinson) Volquez. I feel like I'm the number one now. I've grown a lot but I have to keep on working."

Ohio State's Beanie Wells Throws the First Pitch To Michigan Man

Former Ohio State running back Beanie Wells threw out the first pitch before the Ohio Cup Match between the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians.

Ryan LaMarre, a Michigan grad, caught the pitch

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Bad News About Colerain's Dan Osterbrock

Colerain's Dan Osterbrock was released by the Minnesota Twins last Tuesday. His left shoulder surgery did not help.

He is going to coach and have the shoulder checked to see what is wrong.

I for one wish him the best. While it is tough to have your dreams sidetracked, there is a whole lot of life left for a nice young man.

Chapman Makes a Strong Case For Undecided Fifth Starter Job

The game started at 1:05 but I got your attention.

Chapman's first pitch sailed over the lefthanded batter's box as Rickie Weeks watched it sail. It clanged off the backstop. You could almost hear longtime Brewers Hall of Fame broadcaster proclaim, "Just a bit outside." ala Major League the movie.

The Cosa Estepa, Chapman bears little resemblance to The Wild Thing, Charlie Sheen.

Chapman is no slouch at the plate either. I've seen him in batting practice this spring and he has a pretty good swing. He just doubled off Wolf. A line shot over Nyjer Morgan's head in centerfield. Juan Francisco hit a long home run, high off the batter's eye in center. Miguel Cairo doubled home a run and Todd Frazier singled him in.

"It was just something that happened," said Chapman, who is much to modest about his batting stroke. He must have picked up some pointers in Cuba from Yoenis Cespedes. He hits one out nearly every day in batting practice and tattooed the double after fouling off several pitches.

Chapman finished with five strong innings, throwing 89 pitches. He didn't walk anyone but he hit Nyjer Morgan in the back, hard. His pitches were clocked in the 94-98 range.

"It was my goal to have fewer walks," said Chapman through interpreter, Tomas Vera. "I am happy with the way camp is going. Right now I'm concentrating on my command and trying to stay ahead in the count. Maybe later the velocity, speed will increase."

Dusty Baker is pleased with what he's seen.

"I'm seeing a lot of first and second pitch strikes," Baker said. "He threw some good breaking balls and a few change ups."

Chapman threw mainly sliders for breaking balls. He worked mostly with fastballs and sliders and mixed in a split finger fastball or two. When he first signed the Reds told him not to throw split finger fastballs but since converting him, they have given him the green light.

"I am not happy with my split finger right now but I threw a few," Chapman said.

Homer Bailey, who is also competing for that fifth spot, threw six innings in against Triple A Nashville this afternoon. He allowed four hits and a walk and no runs. He struck out five.

Baker has not decided on the fifth starter yet and has grown tired of being asked everyday.

"I don't know if he is in the rotation yet," Baker said. "Quit asking please. We'll let you know. Honestly, we haven't decided yet. There are more people involved than just Chapman."

Ryan Ludwick had hits in his first three at bats, giving him four hits in as many at bats, including his game winning home run on Wednesday.

The battle of the bench was played out. There are just one or two spots on the bench with.

Francisco, Wilson Valdez, Miguel Cairo and Todd Frazier in the mix.

Valdez had two hits. Cairo scorched an RBI double. Todd Frazier had three hits, including two doubles. Francisco hit the home run, a ball up against the fence in left and a long sacrifice fly to right.

Francisco did blotch one play. He bobbled and threw late to second. If he makes the play Chapman would have been out of the inning but it loaded the bases. It was ruled a fielder's choice rather than an error.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Ryan Ludwick HIt His First Home Run to Send Reds Home With 5-4 Win Over Angels

Dusty Baker was going to send Ryan Ludwick home. Instead Ludwick sent his manager home with a win.

The man the Reds signed to revive his career in the middle of the Reds lineup, was sick for two days.

Dusty Baker tried to send him home but Ludwick insisted on playing.

The Reds trailed 4-3 when Ludwick connected off Loek Van Mil with Chris Heisey on first.

"I was wondering when we were going to hit some home runs, dang. I looked at the stats and we've been out homered 32-20."

Baker's stats were up to the minute. Vernon Wells and Roberto Lopez homered for the Angels. Lopez blow put the Angels up 4-2. Paul Janish led off the eighth with a home run off Kevin Jepsen to put the Reds in position to pull the game out.

Bronson Arroyo bounced back after an awful outing on Friday in which he walked five in giving up five runs in four innings to San Diego on Friday.

"Bronson threw the ball great," Baker said.

Brandon Phillips had two singles and scored a run as he heats up for the season. Drew Stubbs and Ryan Hanigan hit back-to-back doubles off Dan Haren. Scott Rolen hit a triple then Baker removed him from the game.

"The starters were only going to play four innings anyway and when he hit the triple (in the third inning) that was his fourth inning," Baker said.

Minor leaguer Travis Webb gave up Lopez's home run.

"Our young guys got roughed up a little," Baker said.

Cincinnatians at Spring Training

Staking out Matt Garza and Sean Marshall yesterday at Goodyear Ball Park, I met some folks from home.

I wait in the rightfield stands for the day's pitcher to come off the field. There is a bus to take departing Reds players back to the clubhouse nearly a mile away. I need to catch them for quotes before they get on a bus, so I sit in the sun for a couple innings.

On Tuesday I met Karen Binzel and her parents. Karen is a math teacher at Mason Jr. High, she was recently named the girls varsity golf coach. She is out here enjoying spring training games during spring break.

Gary Yeats, the retired baseball coach from Fairfield, pointed out one of his former players. Scott Hormann threw the winning touchdown pass against Lakewood St. Edward to down Fairfield's football championship in 1986.

Hormann now lives in Littleton, Colorado and reminisced with Yeats during Reds batting practice on Tuesday.

The Reds Trim Three Players

Catchers Corky Miller and Dioner Navarro were reassigned to the minor league camp along with outfielder Daryl Jones.

It leaves the Reds with 28 healthy players. Ryan Madson, Nick Masset and Jordan Smith are out with injuries.

The Reds have a week to cut its roster to 25.

Nick Masset Will Start the Season on the 15-Day Disabled List

The Reds lost another member of the bullpen on Wednesday. Nick Masset was placed on the 15-day disabled list with inflammation in his right shoulder.

"The trainers have a good grip on it," Masset said. "I've been told that it would be a week or two."

The Reds will be missing Ryan Madson, who signed to be the closer, for the season.

Mat Latos left the game on Tuesday with a strained left calf.

"It's a bummer because you put in all those hours in the off season," Masset said. "There is no major damage. Hopefully it will be a quick turnaround."

Masset would like to rehab in Cincinnati and be close to his teammates rather than rehab in extended spring training.

"I always want to be with the team. This is a team game. I want to be there to cheer on my teammates," Masset said.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mat Latos Leaves Game Against the Cubs

Mat Latos was escorted off the mound in the middle of an at bat by Alfonso Soriano in the fifth inning. He was scheduled to go six.

He appeared to have something wrong with his left leg, the one he lands on.

Paul Lessard and Dusty Baker went out to the mound and decided to remove him from game.

Latos was supposed to pitch six innings today but fell short, working 4 2/3 innings and allowed four hits and three runs, (two earned).

"He is day-to-day," Dusty Baker said.

The Reds flag went up three batters earlier when Latos walked opposing pitcher, Matt Garza.

"We thought it was his knee. He kept landing on the hard ground on the mound. We asked (catcher Dioner) Navarro if he was alright. He wanted to finish but we told him no. We have too many pitchers going down We're going to use caution."

Ryan Ludwick Is Out Sick, Bray Trying to Get Ready in a Hurry

Ryan Ludwick was supposed to play last night against Texas. He tried to play but was scratched due to nausea.

He reported to Goodyear this morning and the Reds sent him home.

"He was sicker this morning," Dusty Baker said. "We want to quarantine him so no one else gets sick. He tried to play last night and wanted to come in today."

Bill Bray is going to have to struggle to get ready by opening day. Does he have enough time?


"I don't know man," Baker said. "You're asking me questions that are impossible to know. We're talking about a short period of time. You have to get a certain amount of innings. Have days off in between and go back to back a couple times, plus everybody is different."

Bray said he feels better.

"I'm happy to see him back on the mound," Baker said. "He always says that (he feels better)."

Bray thinks he can and will push himself to get ready.

"I have three more games scheduled to pitch," Bray said. "I will do my best to get ready."

There is a fine line between accelerating the process and rushing him.

"You want them back but you don't want to rush them. That's counter productive," Baker said.

Texas Crushes Reds But Bill Bray Is Back Juan Francisco Coming On

The Texas Rangers scored 11 runs off Reds starter Jeff Francis in its 12-2 win over the Reds Monday night.

"It's frustrating. I've had days like this before. It wasn't my first and it won't be my last," Francis said.

"I talked to Hany (catcher Ryan Hanigan). He said that most of the balls Francis threw were down the middle. This is the wrong team to be centering the ball on. They have a juggernaut over there. They're the best I've seen....in recent times," Baker said.


He is trying to make the team as a non-roster minor league signee. The other significant pitcher was Bill Bray, who made his first appearance, he missed all of the games to this point with a strained right groin.

"Francis had a decent year last year," Baker said. "He's coming back from an injury a couple years ago. He has to be sharp and we have to catch the ball behind him. There were a couple of plays there that opened the gates."

Bray faced five hitters. He gave up a pair of singles and struck out the other three Rangers.

"It felt good once I got that first fastball out of the way," Bray said. "I have three more appearances left. I was really pleased. It will take me a week or so to come back. I haven't done a lot the last month."

The Reds have eight exhibitions left, including the Spring Showcase against top minor leaguers on April 3 at Great American Ball Park. Bray has three appearances scheduled.

"I think I'll have enough time," Bray said. "I'm going to give it my best shot."

Dusty Baker is hoping that Bray can be ready having already lost Ryan Madson for the season.

"Bray looked better. He looked better than he did the last time (minor league game). His breaking ball was sharper. His command was better, a lot better.

Baker took positives from the game though.

Francisco had two hits, including a long opposite field home run to avoid the shutout.

"We can take Francisco's night out of it. The young kid (Travis) Webb threw the ball good and Jose Arredondo threw the ball good.

"Franciso has to show us more. He hasn't had a very good spring. We're trying to get him at bats," Baker said.

Francisco had a strained calf the first couple weeks and showed up 12 pounds overweight.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Jeff Francis Was Tangled Up By Texas

The Reds hired Jeff Francis as a Geico Insurance policy. He was to provide an experienced arm and perhaps win a starters spot in the rotation in case of a repeat of last spring when both Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey started the season on the disabled list.

In an effort to prove himself as a good policy, Francis, ran into mayhem.

The Rangers, rained, hailed and pelted his parade with 11 hits and 11 runs. He only walked one if you're looking for positives. Among the near dozen hits, Ian Kinsler hit a two-run home run. Former Red Josh Hamilton doubled. Michael Young singled in the second, third and fourth.

Francis has an out in his minor league contract that allows him to seek a job with another team on the 28th of March, two days hence.

Francis, who pitched five good innings in his last effort, pitched only three of his scheduled six frames. He had allowed four earned runs in 13 innings until he took the mound in Surprise, Arizona tonight against Texas.

Reds Include Rusty Griswolds in First Night Game Festivities

The Reds will celebrate the first night game of the season on Saturday April 7 with local talent providing entertainment.

The Rusty Griswolds will perform between innings and during the post game fireworks sponsored by Trihealth.

Other events are:

All 25 members of the Reds will walk a red carpet in the Fan Zone from 5:20 - 6:10.

Loveland native, Eben Franckewitz an American Idol contestant from the 11th season will sing the National Anthem.

Josh Hutcherson from Northern Kentucky and a cast member in Hunger Games will throw out the first pitch.

And Oh Yes the Reds will play the newly christened Miami Marlins at 7:10.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Video Votto Gets The Run Home

Joey Votto singles home Brandon Phillips home against Jhoulys Chacin. The Reds lost to the Rockies 7-3. Todd Helton hit two home runs off Johnny Cueto.


Rob Butcher This Reptile Has No Press Pass

They kept the bees out but a lizard remained as a member of the media.

video

And No Rick Sweet.... Bees Delay Reds By Swarm of Bees

The Colorado PR department announced that a swarm of bees were behind home plate at the Salt River Fields

The windows were quickly closed but a lizard was trapped inside.

See Video.

video

Reds Trim Spring Roster

The Reds dropped eight from its spring training squad Sunday morning.

Moeller High RHP Andrew Brackman was optioned to Louisville.  OF Denis Phipps and IF Chris Valaika were also sent to Triple A Louisville.

RHP Carlos Fisher, LHP Ron Mahay, LHP Clayton Tanner, RHP Kanekoa Texeira, and LHP Clay Zavada were reassigned to the minor league camp.

The roster is now a 34 with a week left to whittle down to the 25 players for opening day, Ryan Madson will likely be placed on the 60-day disabled list, leaving eight more to trim.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Homer Bailey Inconsistent As Reds Fall to Giants

Homer Bailey has been on and off this spring. Sometimes within the same game.

The San Francisco Giants scored four runs off Bailey in the second inning.  He allowed six hits in 3 1/3 innings, walking a batter, striking out three, hitting a batter and throwing a wild pitch.  Gregor Blanco hit a two-run home run in the inning.

"Sometimes my pitches were working.  Sometimes the weren't working," Bailey said.  "It's been up and down."

The Giants Matt Cain was all up in his five innings.  The Reds managed four hits but couldn't score off the Giants starter.  Zack Cozart extended his hitting streak to seven games with a single.  Joey Votto followed with a single in the first but Cain picked Votto off first.  Chris Heisey had a bunt single.  Denis Phipps added the fourth single off Cain.

The Reds scored four runs off Andrew Kown with the key hit being a three-run home run by Danny Dorn.  Billy Hamilton, who stole 103 bases at Dayton, walked and stole second and went to third on a throwing error by Eli Whiteside.  He scored on a sacrifice fly by Henry Rodriguez.

"Homer's fastball was getting too much of the plate," Baker said

Bailey battling Chapman for the fifth spot was more concerned about Ryan Madson

"Everybody feels fot him," said Bailey, who in a strange way may have gotten a benefit from Madson's injury.

Chapman threw five scoreless innings againt San Diego in the other split squad game.

Baker was asked if he considered Bailey for the bullpen.  "I don't know man," Baker said.  "We need to sort that out.  Let us make a decision."

Ryan Madson Will Have "Tommy John" Surgery

Ryan Madson will not pitch for the Reds this season.

Madson was examined by the Reds Medical Director Timothy Kremchek on Saturday.  The ligament is torn from the bone and will require Tommy John surgery.

"We could try to rehab it but that never works," general manager Walt Jocketty said.  "The best thing is to have the surgery and shut it down."

Surgery has not yet been scheduled.  The Reds signed Madson to a one-year contract through 2012 with a mutual option for 2013.  The Reds counted on him to be its closer after they couldn't come to terms with Francisco Cordero.

'We told the team that we have to stay positive," Jocketty said.  "We have alternatives internally."

The alternatives are putting lefthander Sean Marshall into the closers role.  Although he is starting for the Reds split squad against San Diego today, Aroldis Chapman, could be returned to the bullpen.

"It's not great news but other clubs have done it in the past," Jocketty said.  "I did it in St. Louis when Issy (Jason Isringhausen) went down, (Adam) Wainright stepped up and we won the World Series.  Arizona did it. Dusty (Baker) brought up a good point. Madson got the job (as Phillies closer) because (Brad) Lidge got hurt."

Madson pitched in a simulated game on Wednesday and was scheduled was scheduled to throw again Friday ."He looked good real good," Jocketty said Wednesday afternoon.  However, stiffness in the elbow forced the Reds to cancel Friday's session.  The Reds sent him to Cincinnati to be examined instead.

'He felt fine all spring until just lately.  He feels terrible about it," Jocketty said.  "He sat out a little bit and came back.  After his session the other day it got real tight. Dr. Kremchek said with the bleeding and stuff it looked like a recent tear."

The Reds have a policy not to take out insurance on a one-year contract.  The only insurance they have now is the extra pitchers they brought into camp.

"We talk about it all the time.  You never have enough pitching," Baker said.  "We don't like it.  We know the problem now we've got to come up with  the solution.  How you handle adversity is the sign of a champion.  Invariably something always happens. I'm just glad we have the guys (extra pitchers) that we have."

Exhibition Indicates The Reds Were Taken Dusty Disagrees

Bronson Arroyo was wild, or squeezed by the umpire.  At any rate he walked five and allowed six hits in four innings.  He threw 81 pitches with 47 strikes.

Edinson Volquez on the other hand threw one more pitch and one more strike but navigated 5 2/3 innings.  He gave up an infield hit and a walk to Ryan Hanigan .  He walked Zack Cozart, who stole second, went to third on a deep fly by Joey Votto and scored on a medium depth fly out by Ryan Ludwick.

The other member from "The Trade" for Mat Latos, Yonder Alonso singled and tripled, scoring two runs.

Once Volquez left, Jay Bruce singled home Cozart who singled with one out in the sixth.  Ludwick singled him to third and Jay Bruce lined a single to score Cozart for the Reds second run.

Sean Marshall may very well be the closer since Ryan Madson appears unfit for duty this late in spring training.  Marshall has been tough in his last five outings.  He has not allowed a run in six innings, including two perfect frames against San Diego tonight.  He struck out the side in his first inning of work.

Brad Boxberger looked really sharp for San Diego in the ninth inning.  He struck out Juan Francisco and Daryl Jones.  He retired Denis Phipps on a broken bat pop to the thirdbaseman.  He had a real good split finger.

"Bronson was uncharacteristically wild," Dusty Baker said.  "He was high with his pitches and struggled with his command early but he got better as the game went on."

Baker thought Volquez was really good.

"He threw strikes.  I'm not surprised this is the second year after his surgery and he came back earlier than most from that surgery.  He will have a good year for them.  All of the guys in that trade except Grandal did well for them tonight.  Alonso had a couple of hits.  Boxberger was good.  Latos has been good for us.  Right now that trade looks good for both teams.

There is a long way to go.  Trades will show their value down the road.

Alonso and Grandal would have struggled for playing time for two years at least with Votto and Mesoraco in the picture.  Both Latos and Volquez could benefit for a change of scenery.  Boxberger could be the tipping point but the Reds bullpen is loaded with talent, regardless of the situation with Madson.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Edinson Volquez to Face Reds Tonight

The Reds will see if Edinson Volquez is making the progress they hoped he would while in its rotation first hand.

He will pitch against the Reds tonight 10:05 eastern in Peoria, AZ for his new San Diego teammates.

"I expect him to have a good year.  Most of the time the second year after elbow surgery is better," Dusty Baker said.

Volquez replacement and the man, who the Reds got for Volquez pitched five strong innings last night for the Reds against the Texas Rangers.  Latos had his second good outing in a row.

"Latos is trying to get to where Volquez was.  Volquez was an all-star," Baker said.  "We got Latos because he has a tremendous upside potential."

"

Ryan Madson Heading Back to Cincinnati To See Doctors

Ryan Madson has not thrown a pitch for the Reds.  He is heading back to Cincinnati to be examined by a doctor.  He was not forthcoming when asked about his sore right elbow recently.

He has insisted that he has had this pain in his elbow before and that it was nothing new.

"We won't know anything until tomorrow.  he's going back to see the doctor," Dusty Baker said.

If Madson can't go?

"I don't know," Baker said . "We have to see this first."

Mat Latos Shines Reds Double Rangers in 6-2 Win

Mat Latos is showing the trade was a good one if you can put a lot of faith in spring training results.  Latos became the second pitcher to work five innings for Cincinnati.  He gave up a home run to Julio Borbon, leading off the game but just three harmless hits after that.

Meanwhile, he and his teammates banged out seven doubles.  He hit his off Scott Feldman in the second inning.  Zack Cozart, Jay Bruce and Scott Rolen doubled in order to plate two runs in the first inning.  Devin Mesoraco hit two doubles and Cozart hit another double to give him six extra base hits in five games.

Paul Janish hit a two-run single and Dionner Navarro hit a solo home run off Joe Beimel.

Latos was the key though.

"He threw very well," Dusty Baker said of the pitcher that cost the Reds three number one draft picks and Edinson Volquez.  "His slider was outstanding and he located his fastball for strike one.  You can do a lot of things when you do that."

The Reds wanted Latos ability to work deep into games to save its bullpen and so far, the results indicate that he will be able to do that.  He finished five innings before his pitch count was up so he completed his work in the bullpen after he was lifted.

Nick Masset, Logan Ondrusek and Sam LeCure each pitched a scoreless inning.  Ron Mahay was touched for a run in the ninth.

Ironically, Volquez will pitch for San Diego against the Reds tomorrow night.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Ohio State - Cincinnati Meet In NCAA After 50 Years

It was March 24, 1962 a mild spring day on Tucson Court in Groesbeck.

Dick Schatz went out to the porch and flicked the porch light on and off in celebration.  The University of Cincinnati coached by Ed Jucker had just beaten The Ohio State University in Louisville, 71-59.

It was the second straight title for Cincinnati, who had also bested the Buckeyes a year earlier.  The Buckeye were playing in its third straight title game, having won it all in 1960, with now famous players Jerry Lucas from Middletown, OH, John Havlicek and Larry Siegfried, both of whom played with Bill Russel on the Boston Celtics and Bobby Knight, a bench warmer, who is now a Hall of Fame coach.

Cincinnati had a few lesser players after the great Oscar Robertson graduated.  He played on the 1960 team that came in fourth.  Paul Hogue was the center, Tony Yates, Ron Bonham, Tom Thacker and George Wilson were the others that won two titles over the Buckeyes.

The two teams meet in the NCAA regional tonight, 50 years later shy two days.  It is not for the national title but it is a step in that direction.

"I tell kids that I played on the 1962 championship team when I talk to schools," Wilson told the Associated Press. "You weren't even born then.  They tell me my parents weren't even born then."

Thad Motta and Mick Cronin, who coach Ohio State and Cincinnati respectively weren't even born then.

Since that championship game the two have played each other just once with Ohio State winning a game in the John Wooden classic in 2006 at Indianapolis.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Mariners Say Sayanara To Reds in 8-1 Win

The Seattle Mariners have one more game in Arizona before flying to Japan on Thursday.

Kevin Millwood pitched five innings trying to comeback from a lost 2011 season.  Jeff Francis started for Cincinnati and also pitched five decent frames for Cincinnati.  Francis is a longshot to make the team.  Johnny Cueto pitched in a minor league game against Charlotte the White Sox Triple A team.  Cueto threw 3 2/3 innings and gave up four runs on five hits.  He walked two, struck out two and allowed two home runs.

Francis gave up a two-run home run to Carlos Peguaro in a three run third.  Peguaro's blast followed a bloop hit by Vinnie Catricala.  Later in the inning Munenori Kaswasaki dropped a bloop hit between Ryan Ludwick and Zack Cozart.  He went to third on an bad pick off throw by Francis and scored on a sacrifice fly by Luis Rodriguez.  Peguaro added a two-run single off Andrew Brackman.

"Francis threw the ball good.  The pitch to Peguaro wasn't a bad pitch really.  He went down and got it," Dusty Baker said.  "It was a bloop and a blast."

Brandon Phillips singled twice off Millwood and scored on a double by Cozart.  It was Cozart's fourth extra base hit in four games.

Sean Marshall was dominant in his only inning.  He gave up a ground single and struck out the other three hitters he faced.  Marshall gave up four runs in his first two spring games but has not allowed a run in his last four outings., while striking out nine.

The Reds had more chances than the scoreboard indicated.

"We left a lot of runners on base," Baker said.

Kanekoa Texeira and Andrew Brackman combined to allow five runs.

Aaron Boone Connected With Cincinnati

Aaron Boone on Set 30 Teams 30 Days ESPN Show Airs Midnight
Aaron Boone connected with Cincinnati in a way he struggled to explain.  A native of La Mesa, California, the 39-year old Boone was named Grand Marshall of the 93rd annual Findlay Market Parade that precedes the Reds season opening tilt against the newly christened Miami Marlins on April 4.

"Some of you that know me know what Cincinnati means to me, what the Reds mean to me.  The fact that they asked me to do this is a great honor.  I happen to be doing the game for ESPN.  It ties in really well," Boone said.

Boone's reaction to being asked...."REALLY"

"I know what a big deal opening day is in Cincinnati. To be a part of it is pretty cool.  I'm excited.  I never got to experience the parade as a player.  I've been practicing elbow, elbow, wrist, wrist..(The parade wave)."

Boone, whose brother Bret played for Cincinnati at the time, was the Reds third round pick in the 1994 draft. He came through the Reds minor league system and made the big club in 1997.  He played his first six seasons of his 12-year career with Cincinnati.  He became a regular during the 1999 season.

Boone hit .271 as a Red with 86 home runs and 362 RBI.  He played under his father Bob Boone until the elder Boone was fired in July 1993 and Aaron was traded to the New York Yankees a few weeks later.

He hit a historic home run against the Boston Reds Sox that sent the Yankees to the 2003 World Series.  He played for Cleveland, Florida, Washington and Houston, until heart problems forced the end of his career.

Through his travels, his connection to Cincinnati remains.

"I don't know why I connected with Cincinnati.  I don't know if it was coming up in that organization, becoming a man, growing up, owning my first home in Cincinnati, all of the relationships I developed not only in the clubhouse, but in the organization, in the community.  It just always stuck with me and its a place that I always love going back to," Boone said.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Homer Bailey Has His Best Outing Reds Win 1-0 Over White Sox

Homer Bailey pitched four scoreless innings and is right on schedule to build his innings by opening day.

"I was able to keep the ball down, that was the big difference today.  My last outing was the only one I wasn't happy with," Bailey said.

Bailey walked one but and three hits, one a bunt single.

The Reds scored the only run of the game on a bunt hit by Wilson Valdez.

The Reds only had four hits themselves, a double and single from Zack Cozart, a single by Miguel Cairo and the bunt single by Valdez.

"Everybody threw the ball great," Dusty Baker said.  "We didn't hit a lot but got just enough to win.  We talked about winning one-run games in the meeting this morning.  Valdez is a smart player.  He wanted to stay away from the double play.  That's what the White Sox wanted."

Runners were on first and third following a walk to Daryl Jones and Cairo's single.  Valdez dropped a bunt to the right of the mound and beat it easily as Jones scored.

Nick Masset pitched in a game for the first time since March 4.

"It felt strange being out there but its good to be back," said Masset, who only threw six pitches.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Reds Drop Exhibition to Diamondbacks 8-7

Scott Rolen hit an opposite field home run off Joe Patterson and Mike Leake was effective in four innings but a poor fifth inning of Cincinnati defense cost the Reds seven runs.

Rolen's three-run home run off Joe Patterson put the Reds in front 4-1.  There was a stiff breeze but it didn't matter.

"He hit that ball hard," Dusty Baker said.  "He's hitting the ball very well."

"Leake was better.  His command was better.  He's working on that change up.  He threw the ball well," Baker said.

"Everybody threw the ball well.  Zavada was a little amped throwing against his former team," Baker said.

The defense let Zavada down too.  Denis Phipps could not find a fly ball that fell behind him for a double.  Todd Frazier couldn't come up with a catch in left and Miguel Cairo misplayed a ground ball in the Diamondbacks seven run foutth inning.  Zavada allowed five of the seven and Sam LeCure let in the last two.

Brandon Phillips doubled and scored on Ryan Ludwick's single off Arizona prospect Tyler Skaggs.  Todd Frazier hit his fourth home run of the spring off Evan Marshall in the ninth.  

Trailing by three runs Daryl Jones and Willie Harris singled off Marshall.  Cairo hit into a 5-4-3 double play in front of Frazier's home run.

Bobby Borchering, Arizona's first pick in the 2010 draft got an at bat and lined out.  He is the cousin of former Colerain quarterback, Doug Reynolds.

Mason Police Officer Scott Miller Visits Reds in Arizona

Mason police officer Scott Miller was in the Reds camp the last two days.  Miller and his wife Dana were ushered around by Gary Yeats.  Miller was a member of Yeats Fairfield High School State Champion baseball team in 1985.

Miller was hit twice by cars while on duty.  He was finishing a routine traffic investigation near Kings Island in May 2008 when he was struck by a car.  After recovering for eight months, Miller returned to duty.  He was directing traffic at St. Sussanna Catholic Church when he was hit again.  The second accident ended his career as a police officer.

Miller and his wife were Yeats guest around the Reds practice fields and the press box at Goodyear Ballpark.

Yeats coached Fairfield to two Ohio State Baseball Championships before retiring to Sedona, AZ.  The last three years he has been an assistant to Reds owner Bob Castellini.

Reds Cut 16 From Spring Training Roster Brett Tomko Among Them

The Reds optioned IF Kristopher Negron, IF Neftali Soto and RHP Josh Judy to Triple A Louisville.  IF Didi Gregorius, IF Henry Rodriguez and RHP Pedro Villarreal were optioned to Double A Pensacola.  IF/OF Donald Lutz and RHP Kyle Lotzkar were sent to high A Bakersfield.

The Reds reassigned C Tucker Barnhart, RHP Nick Christiani, RHP Daniel Corcino, C Brian Esposito, RHP Sean Gallagher, LHP Donnie Joseph, RHP Chad Reineke and RHP Brett Tomko to the minor league camp.

"This is the latest we've made first cuts since I've been in baseball," manager Dusty Baker said.  'Doubleheaders and split squads had something to do with it.  We cut a lot of guys that were impressive but at bats and innings are growing short the farther along we get into spring training."

Lutz, Gregorius and Rodriguez impressed all who saw them.

"I want them to go where they're going with confidence.  We don't want them to get big leaugitis and start acting different," Baker said.  "I told them not to do that.

Tomko, who is trying to resurrect his career after a pinch nerve cost him the 2010 season, pitched well in three starts.  Tomko pitched six innings, including three perfect frames Friday night.  He had a 4.50 ERA but the runs he gave up came in a nightmare of sun and wind against Seattle in Peoria on his first outing.

"I told them before I signed that I wanted to make the team but I would go to the minor leagues and give them depth," Tomko said.

Tomko was the Reds first pick in 1995 (2nd Round).  He has 100 major league wins over 14 seasons.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Young Players Impress Baker in Camp

Didi Gregorius, Donald Lutz and Henry Rodriguez have been impressive in spring training this season.  None of the aforementioned will make the club out of spring training but as Dusty Baker likes to say, "They are knocking on the door."

Lutz, who played hockey in Germany until he was 15, has hit well....318 with two home runs and eight RBI, tied with Todd Frazier for the most in camp. Lutz made two very nice plays against Colorado Friday night.  He robbed Carlos Gonzalez with a leaping catch and threw Chad Tracy out at home plate to end the game."

"Not only did he make a nice throw but he made a couple nice plays out there.  He's a kid right out of A ball.  He's been working his butt off," Baker said.  "

"Didi and Henry Rodriguez have been impressive too.  They've been playing a lot.  We want to see what they can do," Baker said.

Gregorius, who speaks four languages, has a very strong arm.  He has come up with some exceptional plays in the field.  He has speed and surprising power.  Gregorius is hitting .250 with a double and a triple.

"He pays attention and asks good questions," Baker said.

Barry Larkin has been working with Gregorius for three years.  "He has a very high baseball IQ," Larkin said.

Henry Rodriguez has played secondbase al lot late in games.  He has been perfect in the field.  The 22-year old undrafted free agent has been in the Reds system for five years.  Rodriguez spent his first two season in the Venezuelan Rookie League and Dominican Rookie League.  He hit .322 with the Gulf Coast League Reds in 2009.  At Dayton in 2010 he hit .307 with 14 home runs and 78 RBI.  The Reds sent him to Lynchburg at the end of the season.  He hit .340 with eight home runs for Lynchburg last season, then .302 with five home runs for Carolina after a mid season promotion.

"We want them to go where they're going with confidence," Baker said. "I've done this ever since I've been manager. You hope they don't get big league-itis and start acting different, which I've warned them not to do."

"This is a great opportunity for these young guys plus they're saving my veterans," Baker said.

The Reds and Indians Play the Fourth Installment of the Ohio Cup Challenge

The coveted Ohio Solo Cup is still up for grabs.  The Reds own a 2-0-1 lead with three contests remaining.

Today Bronson Arroyo hopes to rebound from a terrible outing.  Ubaldo Jimenez will be his mound opponent.

Fortunately for Arroyo, Sin Soo-Choo is not in the lineup.  Choo hit two home runs off Arroyo in two separate games in 2010.  He hit one in their only meeting last spring as well.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Barry Larkin Throw Out the First Pitch In Goodyear

Barry Larkin was honored by the Cincinnati Reds before Friday night's Cactus League game against the Colorado Rockies.

His former teammate, Eric Davis, caught the pitch while Hall of Famer, Joe Morgan was the ceremonial batter.

video

Don't Worry About Spring Training Results Dusty Baker Says

The Reds have lost the last five spring games and the Reds starting pitchers except for Johnny Cueto have been hit pretty hard in this last round of starts.

"You have to consider half to two thirds of the names up on the board won't be here.  ," Dusty Baker said.  "You want to do well and perform well.  I  want to win even if I'm playing jacks. We put far too much importance on spring training and spring training results; far too much importance.  A kid does great, you may not even hear from him.  Or if a kid does poorly, everybody says get him out of here and he turns out to be an all-star.  This is called training.  Let's not lose sight of that word, training."

"I bet you nobody remembers who won the ERA title last year or batting title or who won the Cactus League championship.  The Diamondbacks they said last year were the worst team in baseball.  (They won 94 games and the Western Division Championship."

"Your're in the process of sifting out.  Who's going to be here.  Who can help you.  You let a guy steal who wouldn't ordinarily steal.  You let a guy swing 3-0 to see if he can swing 3-0.  The score isn't important as I want to know if this kid knows how to steal.  Yesterday I sent Hanigan to steak third with runners on first and second see if we can stay out of a double play with 3-2 on Cozart.  I wanted to see if Hanigan can steal or that Cozart can put the ball in play.  I wanted to know if Hanigan can run 3-2 and if Cozart could put the ball in play.  I knew if he missed the ball, Hanigan would be out at third a block. He missed the ball.  He didn't pass that particular test.  I told him you have to put the ball in play in that situation."

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Albert Pujols Sees Reds Again..Wilson Valdez In Centerfield

The Reds pain in the butt, side, neck and everyother body part of the human anatomy, will haunt the Reds yet again.  Only this time it won't count.



The Reds visit lovely Tempe Diablo Stadium to face his new Angels squad.

The Reds played an Angels split squad earlier this week and Pujols played in the Angels home game.

"Of course he's playing against us today," Dusty Baker said.  "I guess he wants to let us know he still loves us."

Pujols played against the Reds in 172 games as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals.  He hit .350 with 46 home runs and 143 RBI.

Wilson Valdez is playing centerfield for the Reds.

"When we traded for him, I had some people, scouts tell me he plays a good centerfield," Baker said.
"It is rare that you can find a player that can do both, play the (infield and outfield).  The best I played with was Derrel Thomas, who was equally as good in centerfield, shortstop and secondbase.  He (Valdez) can throw.  He told me 'Popi, I'll be ready wherever you need me and whenever.'"

The Reds are also taking a good look at Denis Phipps and his play has been good.

"Phipps has done excellent.  It took him awhile to get it together.  He came on strong at the end (of last season).  He was at a turning point because he is 25, 26 years old.  It's better to get in later than not get it at all," Baker said.

Homer Is Not Sharp Against Dodgers Reds Lose 9-1

Homer Bailey doesn't have a feel for his curveball yet.

The Dodgers smoked six hits in 2 1/3 innings in what appeared to be a long night.

"It was a short night really," said Dusty Baker, who had to take him out before he could get through to the third inning.

Tony Gwynn Jr. opened the game with a single.  Mark Ellis doubled and Trent Oeltjen hit a ball into the right field corner.  Jay Bruce slipped chasing the ball down.  Oeltjen tried to score.  Bruce's relay via Henry Rodriguez to Devin Mesoraco was in time.  The rookie catcher blocked the plate but dropped the ball.  He still had time to pick it up and tag Oeltjen.

"He had the plate blocked but he should have caught the ball in the first place," Baker said.

Adam Kennedy and catcher A.J. Ellis hit two run homers for the Dodgers off Bailey.

"I feel alright," Bailey said.  "I don't have a feel for the curveball yet.  I will throw a bullpen and get it right.  It is why its spring training and we're not in Cincinnati."

"They hit mostly fastballs," Baker said.  "We would like to play better even though its just spring.  We're striking out at an alarming rate."

Cy Young Award winner in the National League Clayton Kershaw had something to do with that.  He allowed a single to Rodriguez and walks to Bruce and Paul Janish.  He struck out six Reds in his four innings.

Jay Bruce singled off Jamey Wright to extend his hitting streak to seven games.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Aroldis Chapman Looks Good in 9-4 Loss to Padres Split Squad

Aroldis Chapman gave up a home run to Andy Parrino of the Padres among the four that he allowed in three innings but that was the only run.

Chapman walked seven batters per nine innings out of the Reds bullpen last year and vows to stop the free passes.  He allowed none today.

"No one had to tell me," Chapman said.  "I knew I had to cut down."

Chapman allowed that his concentration waned at times last year for worrying about personal matters.

He is working on a split finger fastball.  The Reds asked him not to throw it the first couple years here in Cincinnati but as a starter he needs another pitch.  He is using it now in place of a change up.

Todd Frazier hit a two-run double and continues to make a case for earning a backup role with the Reds.  He leads the team with three doubles and three home runs.  He is tied with Daniel Lutz for the RBI lead with eight.

Brandon Phillips younger brother PJ shared the field for the first time in their lives for a half inning.  PJ singled in his first at bat and flied out to deep left in his other at bat.  PJ played centerfield.  He is currently listed on the Reds Triple A roster at Louisville.

Dat Dude Is Really Excited Brother

Brandon Phillips was excited about the first game of the day against the San Diego Padres.  He was so excited he put on the wrong pants, the road grays instead of the home whites.

What could make a major league player so excited about a spring training exhibition game in mid March?

Phillips is in the lineup batting leadoff and playing secondbase.  There is nothing unusual there.  Clayton Richard is pitching for San Diego.  He's faced him before.

Since the Reds are playing two games today with a night game scheduled against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the team is bringing some minor leaguers over to play the later innings.

PJ Phillips
One of them, five years younger than Brandon is his brother PJ.

"It's going to be fun.  I'm going to stay for the whole game," Phillips said.  Normally players exit the field at Goodyear Ballpark through the rightfield door to catch shuttle buses back to the Reds clubhouse a mile down the road.

"I was thinking about it all day," Phillips said.  "My parents are going to be very excited."

What Phillips does not know now is that he will be in the game at the same time.  It has never happened before.  Since there is five years between them they have never played with or against each other before.

"The closest we came is a video game, when PJ created himself," Phillips said with his huge trademark smile.

It was just an accident.  Dusty Baker was not aware that it was Phillips brother until told by two members of the media.  The members of the media also told Baker that he would like to be in the game at the same time.
"He's got it then," Baker said without hesitation.

PJ (Patrick James) Phillips was drafted by the Angels in 2nd round of the 2005 draft. He has never made it past A ball.  As of now he is on the Louisville roster but that could change when players are reassigned from major league camp next week.

PJ has played shortstop, thirdbase and secondbase in the infield and all three outfield positions.  Centerfield is checked off on his name on the roster posted in the clubhouse.  His best season for batting average was .278 at Rancho Cucamonga in 2008.  His career high of 13 home runs was at Cedar Rapids in 2007.

The Phillips boys didn't get all of the athletic genes.

Porsha Phillips
Phillips sister Porsha played basketball at Georgia.  She was a member of the Georgia team that played at Xavier two years ago.  Porsha plays for San Antonio of the WNBA and also played in Israel.

"She really liked it there," Phillips said.  "It was a great experience for her.  It was the first time she had ever played year- round basketball."

The Reds are not new to brother acts.  During Jim Bowden's Barnum and Bailey era the Reds played a game in which Aaron Boone, Bret Boone, Barry Larkin and Stephen Larkin all started in the same infield on September 27, 1998.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Bruce Drives in Three Runs But Reds Fall to Royals 7-5

Jay Bruce is still swinging a hot bat this spring.  He hit a long home run to center against Jonathan Sanchez and singled home two runs.

"Jay is ahead of the class right now," Dusty Baker said.  "Heisey is struggling a little bit.  He's pulling off the ball but he struggled some last year.  (Drew) Stubbs had some good at bats.  We scored some runs."

Stubbs walked, singled and scored two runs.

Mike Leake gave up four runs but was getting ground balls on the hard turf at Surprise caused him problems.

"I threw ok.  It was good getting ground balls but they found holes.  This is Arizona.  Everything was working, I was just dropping the elbow, getting 2-0 counts," Leake said.

"He wasn't as sharp but a lot of ground balls found holes and there were some near double plays," Baker said.  "It is hard to judge ground ball pitchers in Arizona.  We know what Leake can do.  He doesn't like it and we don't like it but sometimes you have to leave the pitcher out there to get his work in.  He's working on some things."

Didi Gregorius made another spectacular play.  He dived to his left to snare a hard ground ball on this rock hard turf and turned it into a double play.

Sam LeCure allowed a home run in two innings but Baker said his outing was better.

"He got better as the game went on," Baker said.  "He had a fastball get away inside.  The one thing these guys are ready to hit is a fastball."

Sean Gallagher pitched another scoreless inning, giving him six in three appearances.

Bronson Arroyo Is Singing at Woodjock on Thursday

Jake Peavy of the Chicago White Sox has organized a concert that benefits Major League Charities RBI Program.  (Reviving Baseball in the Innercity). The event will be held at Toby Keith's I Love That Bar and Grill in Mesa, Arizona.

Grammy nominee Joe Nichols (Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off) will perform along with the Reds Bronson Arroyo and former Reds draft pick and Cleveland  Indians player Ben Broussard.

Nashville recording artist, Keni Thomas, a former Army Ranger and Hollywood Yates along with Lyle Lovett guitarist, Herndon Brothers.

Arroyo who picked up a guitar for the first time as a Double A minor league player, will not play guitar but will sing some Pearl Jam tunes.

"It should be a fun time," Arroyo said.  "I have some friends coming into town. Some professional musicians who play with me a lot of times in Boston.  We don't have time to rehearse.  We have 15-20 minutes to sing four or five songs.  We never have had a name for the group."

"We're playing all Pearl Jam stuff so we're going to be ripping off Eddie Vetter," Arroyo said.  "I'm bringing in buddies to play for me because my fingers go numb from holding a pick with my carpel tunnel.  After holding a pick for years and years it causes my fingers to go numb it's really weird.  It keeps me from throwing a breaking ball and having command so once the season get going I don't play."

"I consider myself a musician because I've played a lot," Arroyo said.  "Barry Zito's played a lot and Jack McDowell (former White Sox pitcher) did too.  I wouldn't have been one if I didn't play baseball because I didn't pick up a guitar unitl I'd been playing a few years.  I do love it though.  I play the guitar every day until I stop because of my hand."

Jay Bruce Hits First Home Run of the Spring

Jay Bruce hit his first home run of the spring off Jonathan Sanchez of the Kansas City Royals.

Bruce lost 16 pounds to help him make it through the season and be a little quicker and more agile.  Although the home run is his first, Bruce has looked good at the plate.  He was hitting .500 with a pair of doubles and four RBI in 12 at bats.

His batting practice group partner, Joey Votto, has been riding him all spring about losing weight.

"You hit 33 home runs last year, why did you drop the weight?" Votto said.  During batting practice Bruce hit a ball that landed on the warning track,  "See now you only have warning track power,"

Unfortunately for Bruce, he can't pull a "take that" on Votto.  Votto is working out at the Goodyear complex.  Votto didn't play on the road trip to Mesa yesterday and didn't make the trip to Surprise today.

"He's just working on some things in Goodyear," Dusty Baker said. "He is going to play in the night game tomorrow.  There is plenty of games left."

Baker is concerned about a guy with a short swing like Votto's peaking too soon.

"He's like Barry Bonds," said Baker who managed Bonds in San Francisco.  "They have a short stroke and if they peak too soon, they get bored.  I've seen it happen."

Baker also talked about timing for working on base stealing and hit and run plays.

"You don't do too much of that early in the spring before their legs get used to playing," Baker said.  "You take your risks in the middle of spring and then take fewer risks toward the end.  I don't care how much you train in the off season it takes awhile to get your legs in playing shape."

Monday, March 12, 2012

What Does Wildman Walker and Ronnie Woo Woo Have in Common?

Wildman Walker and Son Petey (21)
Ronnie Woo Woo

Both took in the Reds/Cubs game at Hohokam Stadium on Monday.

Zack Cozart Getting Lessons on Leadership

It is rare that rookies are in such important positions of leadership.

Zack Cozart is not only in the key defensive position but will likely be in the most important part of the batting order.

The shortstop is involved in every play on defense.  The number two batter in the order is a cerebral position.

Dusty Baker wants his young shortstop to lead the infield.

"I've had Joe Morgan talk to him about some things.  I'll have Lark (Barry Larkin) talk to him about being a shortstop and what it entails leadership wise," Baker said. "Lark was in that same boat.  Lark came on when the Reds had guys Ron Oester.  I don't care if you're a rookie sometimes you're expected to take charge because that's your job.  You're expected to bring some energy. I was talking to Jim Maloney about Johnny Bench.  He (Bench) was 19 or 20 years old and took charge right away."

"Not everyone has that personality.  This is what the shortstop has to do, it's their job, especially when you have relatively quiet guys around the infield.  Scotty's (Scott Rolen) is quiet, Joey (Joey Votto) is quiet and Brandon (Phillips) isn't quiet but he can get introverted too. It's hard to believe but it's true.  There has to be a certain comfort level.  He has my blessing and my backing."

Cozart talked to Morgan and will talk to Larkin tomorrow since he is not going on the trip on Tuesday.

"I talked to Joe (Morgan) about batting second and stealing bases.  I talked to Eric Davis.  Larkin told me 'I'm here for you kid'," Cozart said.  "I talked to them and picked their brains.  It's not so much a physical thing. "

"It's important playing up the middle to be a leader," Cozart said.  "It's a little weird being a rookie. You've got Gold Gloves all around you.  You have veteran pitchers.  With Mesoraco (also a rookie at a leadership position) we have to lead by example.  We have to let the guys know they can trust us out there.  We're going  to be in the right spot at the right times."

"The shortstop involved in every single play and that's why I love it," Cozart said.  "No matter where the balls going, you're following it.  I am looking forward to it.  I know I'm a rookie but I'll take it as a challenge."

Dusty Baker Hates Losing to the Cubs

Two years ago at Hohokam Stadium, Dusty stood in the dugout while the PA played the Cubs victory song, "Go Cubs Go".

"The worst thing about losing to them is listening to this song," Baker said.

Asked if there was any feelings about playing the team that he managed from 2003-2006, leading the Cubs to a rare Division Title in 2003.

"I hate losing to them," Baker said.  His reasons had more to do with how he was treated than the lousy postgame song.  Baker hates to lose to anyone, including the San Francisco Giants for whom he managed from 1993-2002.  "I don't like to lose to anyone, especially to where I've been before," Baker said.  "But not the Giants as much as the Cubs.  I was treated better in San Francisco."

If it sounds like a grudge, it is.  Was it the media, the fans, the front office that treated him badly?

"Everybody.  I mean I was treated pretty good by some people but I got treated pretty poorly by a lot of people, especially at the end but that's ok.  It's all good.  Whatever you go through where you've been, it makes you better and stronger where you are now.  I was always strong but I'm much stronger now.  My faith is stronger."

Since Baker left the organization, the Cubs are now on their third manager, their second front office and their second ownership group.  They had one more division title under Lou Piniella but the Reds have also had one under Baker.

"They would probably have been better off if they left me there but in the end it wouldn't have worked because everything I did was wrong," Baker said.  "When you get to that state, you have no choice."

It was not that way with the Giants.  Leaving San Francisco was Baker's choice.

"Right now I'm one and one," Baker said.  "It's the rubber match here (in Cincinnati)."

Dusty is on the last year of a two-year contract extension.  A decision on next season needs to be made soon.

"Right now it's my decision as well as their decision," Baker said.  "I don't have an option in my contract but it's my decision too.  I can come back but it depends if I'm asked back.  If they ask me back, I could turn it down too, depending on a lot of things.  When you get to a certain point in you life it is your decision as well as your employer's.  Before the season ends it depends on how things go.  No matter what, life is good. Life's very good."

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Reds Beat Pujols less Angels 5-4

Matt Latos allowed a home run but showed a sharp breaking ball that delivered three strike outs in three frames.

"Fine", said Latos when asked how it went.  He wanted to get on the bus for the mile trip to the clubhouse.  He kept his answers short.

"He threw the ball good except for one pitch," said Baker of the pitch that minor leaguer Alexi Amarista."  He threw some outstanding curve balls, especially for down here in Arizona," said Baker. The lack of humidity in Arizona cuts down on the effectiveness of curves and sliders.  "He located some fastballs well."

Jay Bruce tied the game with a sharp single and hit the ball hard in two other at bats.

His loss of 16 pounds makes him quicker to the ball.  The early results are good. Bruce has hit safely in all five of his appearances and carries a .500 batting average.

Miguel Cairo singled home a run.  Donald Lutz continues to hit lacing a double that gave the Reds a cushion.

Logan Ondrusek gave up two runs in the ninth but held the fort, stranding two runners when the Reds recorded the final out.

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Albert Pujols Is Not Here but Hal Morris Is

The Reds are playing a game against the LA Angels of Anaheim split-squad.  The only names of note are Chris Iannetta, who came to them via the Colorado Rockies and Bobby Abreu, who is known more as a former Yankee even though he had very good seasons in Philadelphia.

Many fans here in Goodyear are probably disappointed that Pujols is not here but Hal Morris is.  Morris, who was a member of the 1990 Cincinnati World Championship team.  Morris is now the Angels director of pro scouting.

Barry Larkin 2012 Hall of Famer Helps With Bakersfield

Larkin Watches Behind Cage

Barry Larkin will be in the Reds camp this week.  He is on a mission to transfer his knowledge to the prospects at Bakersfield managed by Ken Griffey Sr. on Sunday.

Larkin has been working with Didi Gregorius for three years.  "He has a great baseball I.Q," Larkin said.  Larkin and Dusty Baker are on the same page there.
Larkin Helping Ken Grifeey Sr.

Young Reds Prospects Pay Attention

Dusty Baker can spot talent.

"I can pretty much see an athlete run or walk and can tell what position he plays," Baker said.

There are athletes every where.

"When you get here( major league camp) everybody's an athlete.  They were all probably the best player on their team, in their neighborhood.  I also look at baseball I.Q."

The Reds traded six young players to get two pitchers this winter.  Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal, Brad Boxberger went to San Diego for Mat Latos.   Travis Wood, Dave Sappelt and Ronald Torreyes were traded for Sean Marshall.

The Reds have youth left that will make Reds fans forget the sacrifice the team made this winter.

Didi Gregorius, Donald Lutz and Neftali Soto are on the fast track.  All were added to the 40-man roster to protect them from the envious eyes of the other teams.

"I've seen a lot of kids with physical skills but Gregorius watches movements, he pays attention.  I see him and Lutz at the end of the bench.  I tell all the players, don't be messing around during the game.  Pay attention, learn, ask questions.  Those two guys more than any other kid, maybe Soto too but he's quieter.  They're talking baseball during games and picking up on things.  Everybody here was a star where they came from but to get to the next level, you have to be smarter or at least have the ability to think on your feet."

Gregorius was born in Amsterdam but grew up in Curacao in the Caribean, a Dutch protectorate island near Venezuela.  Gregorius speaks, English, Spanish, Dutch and Papiamento.  Lutz was born in Watertown, New York but lives in Germany with his mother.  He didn't start playing baseball until he was 15 a scant eight years ago.  Soto, 23,  has been in the Reds system for five seasons.  He is a firstbaseman and was one reason the Reds were willing to trade Alonso.

"You can tell them something and doesn't always have that comeback, or answer," Baker said.

"Lutz and Gregorius hang out together," Baker said.  "I'm really impressed with him. He hasn't played a lot but he's better than some that have played a lot.  He's still raw but he's coming very quickly.  He works hard.  I told him he's got a little bit of love handles.  He told me he's working on that.  He's a lot lighter than he was before.  He's taking care of himself.  He asks good questions.  I gave him a couple things to read and study.  He also speaks a couple languages.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Yoenis Cespedes First At Bat




Cuban sensation Yoenis Cespedes faces Johnny Cueto

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyOLeF6YMm8&list=TL0c3HXUbbetU





http://www.wiedemannbeer.com/



Aaron Boone Grand Marshall of Findlay Market Parade

The Reds announced that Aaron Boone will be the Grand Marshall of the Findlay Market Parade which commences at 1pm on Thursday April 5.

It is the 93rd Parade that precedes the opening of baseball season.

The former Red thirdbaseman is currently a commentator for ESPN.

Aroldis Chapman's Teammate Yoenis Cespedes Makes Cactus Debut Against the Reds

Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, who like Aroldis Chapman, defected from Cuba.  After establishing residency in the Dominican Republic he touched off a bidding war.

The Oakland A's signed Cepedes and Manny Ramirez to free agent contracts on March 3.  Cespedes reportedly got a four year deal worth $36.

Phoenix Municipal Stadium A's Home
Cespedes, 26, is built like a running back, reminding baseball people of Bo Jackson.  His mother Estela Milanes was a softball pitcher on the Cuban National Team in the 2000 Olympics.

The Reds make the trip to Phoenix Municipal Stadium to play Cespedes and his new teammates this afternoon.

Former Reds, Adam Rosales, Jonny Gomes and Grant Balfour are members of the A's.

A's general manager Billy Beane is the subject of the movie "Moneyball" based on a book of the same name.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Big Lutz Homers...Homer Dominates in Reds 5-1 Win

Donald Lutz hit a three-run home run following Scott Rolens' RBI single to back up Homer Bailey's three scoreless innings.

Josh Judy pitched two scoreless innings.  Andrew Brackman and Nick Christiani pitched one each.  Pedro Villareal allowed one run in two innings.

Rolen is now 5-for-9 this spring and moving well in the field.

"I'm not worried about my health or seeing the ball," Rolen said. He fouled off two 3-2 pitches before he singled to score Joey Votto, who singled with two outs.  Jay Bruce singled to right to set up Rolen's at bat.

"Scotty is almost there," Dusty Baker said.  "Homer threw the ball great.  All the guys threw the ball good.  We had timely hits and Big Lutz's was the biggest."

The other Reds squad lost to San Francisco across town in Scottsdale.

Todd Frazier hit his second home run of the spring.  Frazier, Juan Francisco and Danny Dorn drove in runs for the Reds.

Aroldis Chapman struck out two batters in two hitless innings.  Danny Corcino allowed one run on four hits in two innings.  Clayton Tanner pitched a scoreless frame.  Sam LeCure had a rough two-inning stint allowing four runs on five hits, including a home run to Melky Cabrera.

Corky Miller Crushes the Ball in Early Batting Practice

Crash Davis with the fu manchu, Corky Miller, was punishing the ball in batting practice off Billy Hatcher.

Reds 1962 -66
They call him Buzz.  Hatcher issued challenge after challenge and Buzz responded.  With every home run, Jim Maloney would say, "It got up in the jet stream."   A typical pitcher's reaction.

I was standing between Maloney and Johnny Bench as they talked about the old days.  Maloney and Marty Keough, who played for the Reds in the early sixties, shared a house during spring training.  Maloney taught Matty Keough, who grew up to be a major league pitcher, how to fish.  "I'd get finished early on days that I didn't pitch and Marty had to play in the games," Maloney said or the Reds spring training in Tampa.  "I would drive separately and get home before Marty."

The pair of Reds lived across from Mt. Airy Forest during the season.  Matt played knothole baseball in Mt. Airy.  The younger Keough was hit in the head with a line drive while in the Oakland A's dugout.

Marty is a scout for St. Louis Cardinals.  He hit .242 with 43 home runs an 176 RBI in 11 seasons.
Matt pitched for nine season with a career record of 58-43.  His best season was with Oakland in 1980, he was 16-13 with a 2.92 ERA in 32 starts.

The Mayor and the Manager

Sean Casey was playing home run derby with his sons Andrew 10 and Jacob 8 at the Reds, Goodyear complex.

Casey among the fan favorites gave a speech to the Reds players at the request of Dusty Baker.  Then took the time to tell Pete Harnisch stories.  The problem....none of them can be put into print.

The popular Casey know everyone and I mean everyone by name.

Baseball Greats

One of the bonuses of spring training is seeing the former Reds greats that observe and contribute.  Eric Davis, Joe Morgan, Lee May, Jack Billingham and Jim Maloney spend a week or more in Goodyear.

Here Hall of Fame sportswriter, Hal McCoy has a conversation with Maloney.

Maloney threw three no-hitters as a fire balling righthander.  He pitched two 10-inning no-hitters in 1965 against the New York Mets on June 14, he gave up a home run to Johnny Lewis in the 11th inning.  He pitched his second on August 19 against the Chicago Cubs a game in which he also walked 10 batters.

The Fresno California native threw another no-hitter on April 30, 1969 against Houston.  Maloney, 72, won 134 major league games, all with the Reds (he pitched in 13 games for the California Angels in 1971).  He struck out 1,605 batters in 1,849 innings.

Maloney still follows the Reds on the baseball package.  He told McCoy "If I was still pitching and (Prince) Fielder and (Albert) Pujols left my league, my arm would feel a whole lot better."

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Video Mike Leake Pitches to Ryan Braun

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VsKNAzWSDkg

Bray Injury Could Put Chapman Back in the Bullpen

Bill Bray has a groin injury.  He tried to throw a simulated game to Didi Gregorius and Chris Valaika on Wednesday.  The Reds thought they had given Bray enough time to heal but he had to stop the simulated game.

Ryan Madson has tightness in his elbow and Nick Masset has some discomfort also.

"Worry does no good," Baker said.  "Every camp has somebody hurt.  Plus the doctor told us there was nothing serious. Madson's had it before.  One is a groin (Bray).  One said it isn't hurt.  It's just tight (Masset).  Bray is probably the most serious at this point. Like they say you never have enough pitching."

There are still 27 days until the season starts but the Reds will need to make a decision soon.  Bray being lefthanded is an important piece of the bullpen.

There will come a time when we have to determine if he'll be ready in time or not.  We could move Chapman back if we need to.  That's a pretty good backup plan.  We have six starters as it is," Baker said.

Zack Cozart is "ailing" according to Baker.  "We are taking it slow with him.  He has discomfort in his throwing arm."  It is not the arm that had the elbow surgery.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Yonder Alonso Thankful for the Opportunity

Yonder Alsonso didn't want to leave the Reds organization but knew it was likely.  He shed 25 pounds over the winter to take advantage of his chance to play every day.  With the Reds he was blocked by Joey Votto and was trying in vain to learn to play left field.

" I was a little bit surprised by the trade. I kind of  knew Walt (Jocketty) was going to do something," Alonso said.  "You just  didn't know when. When it finally went down, it was a relief.  I am going to take advantage of the opportunity.  Buddy (Black, the San Diego manager) runs a good camp.  All the guys are about my age, so I have no problem fitting in."

Alonso, Yasmani Grandal, Brad Boxberger and Edinson Volquez were swapped for righthanded starter Mat Latos.

One of the ironies is the trade prevented former summer league teammates from reuniting in the major leagues.

"I've known Mat Latos since high school.  We were on the summer league team, the Florida Bombers.  I played first base while he pitched. He's such a good pitcher.  He could be a number one on any team.  He's young just like me.  It's a good trade overall.  San Diego got what they wanted.  And they (Reds) got what they wanted in a good pitcher. He throws absolute pellets."

Alonso doubled and Grandall singled against the Reds on Wednesday.

Concentrate On What Stubbs Can Do....Dusty Baker Says

The question came up again today.  What can be done to cut down on Drew Stubbs strikeouts?

Dusty Baker would like to cut down on strikeouts not just Stubbs.  Baker has said when you strikeout you have zero chance.

With that said Baker full heartedly believes in the Reds top draft choice out of Texas.  Below is what Baker told a group of  media members this morning.

"It's just time, experience.  Most times when you're striking out a lot, you're taking a good pitch or you're swinging at a bad one or you're fouling off a pitch you should put in play.  Some of its concentration, some of its focus, some of it could be a visionary thing.  Who knows?  Everybody is different.  We're trying to find out.  Without beating a dead horse.  He knows it.  We know it. Everybody points out Stubbs but it ain't just Stubbs.  Bruce struck out 160 something  (158) times.  Heisey was on a pace for 150.  Joey (Votto) struck out 100 times (129). We've got some strike out guys.  Its just that Stubbs leads the band of K's right now.."

"Let's focus on what the kid can do.  All he hears about is strikeouts, you know what I mean, if somebody tells you you're crazy long enough, you start to think you're crazy.  We are trying to delete the negatives and concentrate on the positives.  I don't know why he didn't win the Gold Glove.  He's the best centerfielder in baseball or in our league.  I don't know of another centerfielder that can out throw him.  He has a high stolen base percentage.  This guys a potential 30-30 guy easy to me.  There's not many more talented guys around.  I hear the guys around the league talking about him 'oh man this dude can fly'. "

"He's got (the burden of) that dangerous word potential.  No matter what he does there's always more that potentially they think he can do.  How many years does he have in the big leagues a year and a half. (2 1/2)?
That's nothing.  He'll figure it out.  He's a smart kid man.  You watch him do that New York crossword puzzle.  That's a pretty good indicator to me.  Wasn't he an honor student too? (Twice named Academic All-American).  He'll figure it out.  Any body here got that tittle (Academic All-American)?  Anybody? John (Fay)?  Doc (Paul Daugherty) I know you got it. (No he does not).

Stubbs didn't work on anything different during the off season.

"I went home and cleared my head," Stubbs said.  "I tried not to think about it (striking out over 200 times) but I did."

So to Dusty's challenge of looking at the positives besides the defense mentioned above.

Stubbs established career highs in doubles, walks, and stolen bases.  He became the first Reds player to steal 40 bases since Deion Sanders did it in 1997.  He scored 92 runs.  Only four players in Reds history have stolen 40 or more bases and scored 100 or more runs in the same season. (Bob Bescher 2, Bobby Tolan, Joe Morgan 6 and Eric Davis the most recent, 1987).

Yonder Alonso Visits Goodyear Today Grandal is the DH

The Reds got a glimpse of what Mat Latos can do yesterday.  Today they get a glimpse of what they gave up to get him.

Yonder Alonso will make the 15 minute trip from Peoria, AZ to the Reds camp as part of a San Diego's travel squad today.  The early lineup had him playing firstbase.

He and Joey Votto will be going head-to-head.

Yasmani Grandal is the designated hitter.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Latos Fine Tomko Has Some Tough Luck Mariners Win 8-6

Brett Tomko and Mat Latos made their first spring appearances against the Seattle Mariners in lovely Peoria Stadium on Tuesday.

Latos pitched two innings as scheduled.  He allowed two hits and a walk but escaped being scored upon.  One of the hits was a pop up by Ichiro Suzuki that Willie Harris in left and Paul Janish at short lost in the high sky.  (Seriously, I can never find the ball off the bat out here.)

Latos walked Munenori Kawasaki and Suzuki singled as described above.  Justin Smoak hit one hard to left but Kawasaki and Suzuki translated the hit differently.  Suzuki wanted two bases.  Kawasaki couldn't follow the ball either and took a big turn at third.  Thirdbaseman Wilson Valdez turned to find two runners at third. Suzuki was tagged out.  Latos easily retired the next four batters.

"It was exciting to face live hitters swinging the bat," Latos said.  "Every thing was coming out of my hand good.  The slider was good.  The curve ball had bite to it.  The fastball was live.  The delivery, mechanics every thing felt good," Latos said.

Tomko didn't pitch as badly as his line indicated.

One inning, three hits, five runs, three earned, one walk, one strikeout.

Adam Moore started the trouble with a bloop hit.  Tomko walked Chone Figgins.  Kawasaki bunted to move the runners along but no one covered first.  Miguel Cairo had no play.  Kawasaki was awarded a hit on the play. Suzuki followed with a low line drive just out of Janish's reach. Smoak hit a fly to deep center.  Daryl Jones got to the ball and dropped it.  Two runs scored and runners were left on second and third.  The next two batters hit sacrifice flies.  Tomko finished strong, striking out Alex Liddl.  Without the fielding faux pas, Tomko could have been out of the inning with two runs.

Felix "King Felix" Hernandez was throwing well.  He hit Kris Negron leading off, then retired nine straight four  by strikeout.

Ryan Ludwick singled home a run off Shawn Camp.  Denis Phipps hit a three run home run off Hong-Chih Kuo.  Neftali Soto singled and scored on a bloop single by Chris Valaika.  Donald Lutz hit a long home run off lefthander Lucas Luetge.

Nick Christiani allowed a run on one hit and a walk.  Mark Brackman walked two and gave up two hits, including a double high off the centerfield fence to Adam Moore.

Juan Francisco had his first two at bats.

"He is behind but has enough time to catch up," Dusty Baker said.  "He had two calf injuries and was one of two players that reported overweight.  He was 10 pounds over.  Injuries kept him from working out hard but then you have to stop eating (as much)."

Mat Latos Faces Ichiro Suzuki

Mat Latos in his Reds debut pitched two scoreless innings.  The Mariners managed two hits including this pop up that Willie Harris and Paul Janish lost in the high sky.   He walked one.

video

Reds Lead in the Ohio Solo Cup Over Cleveland

Country Star Toby Keith Hold Ohio Solo Cup
The coveted Ohio Cup is the prize for the winner of the regular season series between the Reds and Indians.

Since spring training results are less meaningful the members of the press have dubbed the six meetings between the Reds and Indians the Ohio Solo Cup Championship.  A sharpie has been taken to an authentic red Solo cup with the scores from each game.  It will be prominently displayed in the press box  at Goodyear Ballpark.

The Reds and Indians just completed a crucial three-game red Ohio Solo cup series in which the Reds won two of the three and tied the other.  The opener ended in a 6-6 tie, Sunday Cincinnati won 8-6 and Monday the Reds prevailed 12-7.

On Monday the Reds pounded Cleveland opening day starter, Justin Masterson.  They scored six runs off the Indians ace.  Joey Votto and Jay Bruce had two RBI in the five run second inning.

Bruce had two hits and a walk.  Corky Miller hit a two-run home run.  Drew Stubbs significantly had a bunt single.  Stubbs has seven plate appearances with four hits.  He has not struck out in three games.

"He's been working on it (bunting).  He's been working on it ever since he got here," Baker said.  "It just takes a couple of hits to get the confidence in it.  I don't know what it is the guys make an out and feel like they wasted an at bat.  In the meantime they're hitting .250 with a 75 percent chance of making an out.  You look at most guys that bunt.  They bunt four or five hundred. Bunting keeps you out of slumps. Then like yesterday (Kris) Negron fakes a bunt.  The thirdbaseman comes in and he hits a high hop over his head.  If he's at his regular position he might have made that play.  Plus if you bring them in their reaction time and range isn't as good."

The Reds defense was solid and they  made three outstanding plays.  Willie Harris made a diving catcn, Chris Heisey recovered from a bad jump to make a nice diving catch.  Didi Gregorious turned a bad hop ricochet off pitcher Chad Reineke, the Miami product. Reineke was the beneficiary of all three plays.

"I'm really excited about the defense we played," Dusty Baker said.  "Usually that's the last thing to come.  I'm sure we'll have a couple games where we kick the ball and throw the ball around but defense usually comes last."