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, June 27, 2012

Reds Drop Finale to Milwaukee and Head West

The Reds wanted a sweep but Zack Greinke and the Brewers had something to say about it, taking the final game of the home stand, 8-4.

"Two of three is nice but we'd have felt much better with three of three, heading to the West Coast," Dusty Baker said.

The Reds had a 3-3 home stand, now head to California for a three-city tour of the state.  They will play San Francisco for four, Los Angeles for three and San Diego for four.  They have a four-day All-Star Game break before hosting its nearest division rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals.

Milwaukee took advantage of two early mistakes by Homer Bailey to put together a 5-1 lead.

Corey Hart tripled to start the second, a ball that Chris Heisey nearly caught.  Weeks hit a long fly to center and Heisey leaped but could not come up with the ball.

Norichika Aoki singled to begin the third went second on a errant pick off attempt by Bailey and scored on a single by Aramis Ramirez.  Ramirez was caught stealing to end the inning but kicked Phillips in the temple with a late slide.

Phillips managed to single home Chris Heisey, who doubled, even though Phillps was woozy.

Cody Ransom hit Bailey's second mistake our of the confines of Great American Ball Park with two outs in the fourth to give Milwaukee a 5-1 lead.

"It was two mistakes.  Sometimes that's all it takes," Bailey said.  "Even on Hart's triple, I felt I made a good pitch.  It was on the end of the bat but in this ballpark, it went off the wall.  On Ransom's I was trying to elevate the pitch and didn't get it up high enoug

Ryan Ludwick hit a pair of home runs in his second multi-home run game of the season and 16th time of his career.  The Reds thought the had a tie game when Votto backed Nyjer Morgan up to the right field fence for a long out in the eighth with runners at first and second.

"We thought Joey had tied the game up but he got it on the end of the bat," Baker said.

The run scored on a force out by Miguel Cairo subbing for the woozy Phillips.  Jay Bruce hit the next pitch hard but Weeks made a nice back hand stop and Hart managed to keep his foot on the bag while snagging a  wild throw.

Jose Arredondo was wild in the top of the ninth, walking home two runs to put the game out of reach.

The Reds are set to fly to San Francisco with a lead in the NL Central.

"The time difference is big the first couple days," Baker said.  "You wake up at seven when you don't need to.  But you adjust.  One of the things that make it tough are all the distractions in California.  It is a trip that lots of families like to go on.  You can't do Disneyland or anything like that.  I've had guys come in with tans and sunburns from the beach.  The wives are important.  If they take the kids somewhere, while daddy gets some rest."

Brandon Phillips Leaves Game With Brewers

Brandon Phillips was hit in the head on a late slide by Aramis Ramirez on an attempted steal of second base in the third inning.

Phillips fielded the throw from Devin Mesoraco but was inadvertently hit in the head by Ramirez arm as Phillips made the tag for the out.

Phillips was able to deliver an RBI single in the bottom of the third inning but was removed from the game in the top of the sixth for precautionary reasons.

"I know what kind of slide it was.  It was a late slide or something.  Maybe he got me with his arm or something.  He (Ramirez) hit me right in the temple," Phillips said.

He was seeing stars and his balance was off.  The training staff gave Phillips some preliminary tests of his balance.

"I was getting dizzy out there.  Dusty came to me and asked if I was alright.  He said I was putting my head down a lot," Phillips said.  "I feel like I'm not all the way there right now (20 minutes after the game).  I'm alright, I think. I feel like I could have stayed in there but if I feel like I feel right now, I won't try to play."

"I was blinking my eyes when I hit that single," Phillips said.  "I don't know how I hit that ball honestly.  I was just up there swinging the bat."

Losing No-Hitter Does Not Haunt Bronson Arroyo

Bronson Arroyo held the Milwaukee Brewers hitless for 7-1/3 innings on Tuesday.

Taylor Green followed a walk to George Kottaras with a double down the right field line to break it up.

There was no disappointment visible in Arroyo's body language after the fly ball found the very edge of fair territory to prevent Arroyo from one of baseball's most heralded achievements.

Arroyo has a personality that doesn't allow for mood swings.  He is the same person whether he gives up 10 runs in an inning, like he did twice during the Reds division tittle in 2010.

But wouldn't getting so close to such a notable event be a disappointment?

"No losing the lead does.  Giving up a no-hitter doesn't even equate in the equation.  I could care less.  Losing the lead pissed me off.  If I keep it at 3-2 and Stubbs hits the home run, it's 4-2 and we win the ballgame, I'm as happy as if I pitched a no-hitter."

Winning the game eased the pain of losing the lead.

"Winning the game obviously makes it much better.  At the end of the day, at a personal level, I grind every day of the year to put wins next to my name, period.  For this ballclub to win games and for three months man, I've been throwing the ball pretty good and to have three wins, is just frustrating.  The ballclub's doing good and I'm glad about that, but the fact that I don't have a lot of wins is irritating."

The lack of wins on his record dwarfs the personal achievement that a no-hitter brings.

"A no-hitter is purely icing on top of the cake. It is all luck and chance in a damn good day, that's all.  You don't feel that way about wins and losses.  Giving up a three-run lead is just terrible. Winning 3-0 with five outs left to go in the game and to give up the lead is just ridiculous," Arroyo said.

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Aroldis Chapman Is On the Wrong Kind of Roll For Dusty

Aroldis Chapman turned two summersaults to celebrate his ninth save of the season against the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday.  The welcome event came after the fireballing lefthander blew four saves and suffered a loss in the last 10 games.

While the athletic display of gymnastics may have been Olympic Quality, there was no gold medal from Dusty Baker, only a hot lecture on the golden rule.

Baker is old school and Chapman may want to get on board.

Baker did not take kindly to a media member's attempt at humor.

"Are practicing your gymnastics?' the reporter asked.

"What are you talking about?" Baker asked  "Aroldis," the scribe said.

"That's not funny, not to me," Baker said in a most serious tone.

"It's no joke to me.  It's been addressed already and it's over," Baker said.  "I know he's happy and things were going poorly for him but he's got to demonstrate it a different way.  He understands, now."

Baker was asked if he apologized to the Brewers.

"That's between us and the Brewers," Baker said.  "Aramis (Ramirez) was one of my team members (as a player with the Cubs when Baker managed them).  Ron Roenicke (the Brewers manager) was one of my teammates.  He knows me.  He knows me very well.  He knows how I am and he knows how I do things.  He was a young player when I was one of the leaders on that team, so he knows me."

Roenicke broke into the major leagues with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1981 when Baker was a veteran on the team.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Mat Latos Pitches The Game of His Young Life

The Reds gave up a lot to get him.  The quirky righthander, who thinks lefthanded pitched perhaps the best game of his 24-year old life in frustrating the Milwaukee Brewers in a 3-1 win.

Latos at one point threw 26 pitches in a row for strikes and was so dominating with his career-high 13 strike outs that manager Dusty Baker had no thoughts of going to the bullpen.

Latos finished the eighth inning with 98 pitches and a whopping 74 strikes.  In a similar situation on Sunday, Baker removed his starter, Mike Leake, in favor of Aroldis Chapman.  That move had unwanted consequences but Latos is more of a power pitcher with a larger margin for error.

"He threw strike after strike after strike," Baker said.  "Hopefully, he can get on a roll and stay on it for awhile.  He's a big old strong boy, man.  He had 98 pitches.  There have been games when he had that many in the fifth inning."

The coltish Latos was beaming by his cubicle, excited that he could justify the Reds' trade that sent three first round draft picks and former ace Edinson Volquez to San Diego to obtain Latos services.

The Reds got on the board first in the fourth inning against Yovani Gallardo.

Drew Stubbs, back from a injury that cost him two weeks, doubled to start the fourth.  Joey Votto walked.  Brandon Phillips as cleanup hitter bunted on his own.

"We've been struggling to score lately.  I wanted to try some small ball so Jay (Bruce) could hit a fly ball or something and we could get on the board ASAP," Phillips said.

Bruce obliged sending a line drive over Ryan Braun's head in left field to plate two runs.

Latos walked Norichika Aoki to start the game and Nyjer Morgan bunted for a hit.  Latos bowed his back and went to work.  He retired 15 of the next 16 batters, whiffing six of them.

"My fastball was good.  I was keeping it down," Latos said.  "I talked to (pitching coach Bryan) Price after the Cleveland game and we worked on some mechanics.  My slider was good.  I could throw it for strikes or bounce it when I wanted to.  I just kept pounding the strike zone."

His one glitch was a pitch he failed to get down to Aoki, who put the ball in the Milwaukee bullpen.

Latos nursed the lead into the ninth, escaping a one out double by Rickie Weeks in the seventh and a walk to pinch hitter George Kottaras.  He got out of the mini jam by getting Travis Ishikawa to bounce out.

"I was excited to get out of that inning," Latos said.  "Weeks had that double that caught chalk down the line.  Those can be back breakers sometimes."

The Reds put up a big run in the ninth.  Stubbs singled and stole second.  Votto struck out.  Phillips went the "big ball" route this time, hitting a double over Morgan's head to add cushion.

"That was the epitome of an insurance run right there," Baker said.

The Reds gained a game in the standings when Philadelphia downed Pittsburgh 8-3.

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Umpire Jerry Layne Returns to Work

Jerry Layne was hit in the face with a broken bat on Friday evening.  He was removed from the game and sat out the last two games of the Cincinnati/Minnesota series.

He returned to work for the St.Louis/Miami series with a bruised face.  His face is still sensitive according to MLB Director of Umpires, Randy Marsh.

Layne started the series as the thirdbase umpire to allow him three more days to heal.  With the normal umpire rotation, he will not have to be behind the plate until Thursday.

Drew Stubbs Back From DL

The Reds reinstated Drew Stubbs from the 15-day disabled list.  Willie Harris was sent outright to Triple A Louisville.

Stubbs has been out since June 6 with a strained left oblique. He will play center field and bat second in the Reds' lineup.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Aroldis Chapman Allows Game Winning Home Run to Twins

Aroldis Chapman was lights out in his first 20 appearances this season.  He's been knocked out in his last two.

For his second outing in a row Chapman was lit up by a two-run home run that turned a save situation into a desperate situation in a 4-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins..

On Tuesday Asdrubal Cabrera hit a two-run home run against him in Cleveland for a 3-2 loss.  The Twins got a home run from Josh Willingham with Joe Mauer on base to down the "Cuban Missle"

The Reds had taken a 3-2 lead on Joey Votto's two-run blast off fellow Canadian, Scott Diamond in the eighth inning.  The Twins had been tough on Votto, who leads the NL in All-Star Game votes.  The Twins held Votto hitless in seven at bats until he seared a ball from Scott Diamond into the left field bleachers with Wilson Valdez on base.

Valdez had two hits and an RBI while giving Zack Cozart a break but grounded into a force out to end the game against former Red Jared Burton who earned his first major league save.  Burton spent the last five years in the Reds' bullpen.  The Reds wanted to send Burton to the minor leagues outright last September.  The Twins signed him in November.

Mike Leake pitched eight innings but knew he was finished with 86 pitches under his belt.  The Reds trailed 2-1 in the eighth inning when Votto's blast put the Reds ahead after the Reds jumped in front when Valdez singled home Devin Mesoraco, who doubled to start the third.

Baker did not hesitate to replace Leake with Chapman.

"That's (Chapman's) job," Baker said. "Leake just came off throwing 112 pitches his last time. That was the most he'd ever thrown. Everybody's got a job. What if I send Leake out and he gives it up. The hitters coming up he would have been facing for the fourth time. He'd done enough. He did his job."

Baker believes Chapman's problems stem from falling behind hitters, forcing him to come in with his fastball. He can throw it faster than 100 miles per hour, but it's less effective when batters know it's coming.

"He is right," Chapman (4-4) said through interpreter and assistant trainer Tomas Vera. "The last two outings, I've had that issue."

 Chapman, now 8-for-12 in save opportunities, denied that he was bothered by lower-back problems that Baker had previously mentioned.

"I haven't thrown one pitch where I was feeling a problem," the Cuban said. "I've been feeling good."

Leake had no problem with Baker's decision.

"If they had said (the ninth) was your inning, I could've gone out there, but the guy throws 100," Leake said. "It was a pretty good decision to put a fresh arm in there. It just didn't work out."

 Chapman struck out Darin Mastroianni to start the inning and Reds' fans stood as the Cuban born lefthander got ahead of Mauer 0-2 but Mauer laid off a couple sliders to get to a full count before fouling off four pitches before smacking a double off the left field wall.

"I tried to stay short.  It's tough in interleague because you haven't seen the pitchers before and you don't know how the ball moves," Mauer said.  "The guys got a heck of an arm and has good movement on his pitches.  I was trying to put the barrel on the ball.  A guy that throws that hard supplies most of the power."

 Chapman struck out Darin Mastroianni to start the inning and Reds' fans stood as the Cuban born lefthander got ahead of Mauer 0-2 but Mauer laid off a couple sliders to get to a full count before fouling off four pitches before smacking a double off the left field wall.

The Cuban Missle main problem is with his command of the strike zone. Baker believes Chapman's problems stem from falling behind hitters, forcing him to come in with his fastball. He can throw it faster than 100 miles per hour, but it's less effective when batters know it's coming.

 "He is right," Chapman (4-4) said through interpreter and assistant trainer Tomas Vera. "The last two outings, I've had that issue."

Chapman, now 8-for-12 in save opportunities, denied that he was bothered by lower-back problems that Baker had previously mentioned.

"I haven't thrown one pitch where I was feeling a problem," the Cuban said. "I've been feeling good."

Willingham hit a 3-1 pitch out to give the Twins another lead.

"It was fun to watch Joe's at-bat. It set the tone for the inning," Willingham said. "I was looking for something over the middle hard and the pitch was over the middle and it was hard. I tried to stay short with my swing. You don't swing early but just try to make it shorter."

The Reds mounted a mild threat in the bottom of the ninth off Burton.

Former Reds pitcher Jared Burton worked the ninth for his first career save.

Burton and lefthander Glen Perkins are covering for closet Matt Capps, who had a set back with his sore shoulder.  Burton spent the last five seasons in Cincinnati. He elected free agency when the Reds wanted to send him to the minor leagues outright last September; then signed with Minnesota two months later.

Burton earned his first major league save.

"The last out was pretty intense.  I had a little extra adrenaline going but I tried to tell myself the pressure was on the hitter because they were the ones losing," Burton said.

Burton walked Todd Frazier to start the ninth. Willie Harris sacrificed Frazier to second base. Burton walked pinch hitter Scott Rolen but retired Chris Heisey on fly out and Wilson Valdez hit into a force out.

"I had to be careful with Rolen," Burton said.  "He's a professional hitter.  I felt like I made good pitches the rest of the inning."

Pittsburgh lost to Detroit leaving the Reds' lead in the NL Central at one.

Scott Rolen Tutors Reds on Baserunning

Scott Rolen is the Reds' best baserunner according to manager Dusty Baker.

Rolen is not the fastest runner but along with his Gold Glove defensive skills, he brings other things to the Reds' winning effort.

The Reds' coaches have Rolen talk to teammates about baserunning.

What does it take to be a good baserunner, other than speed?

"Number one, you have to want to be a good baserunner.  You have to know where everybody's playing on the field. You've got to know which guys shallow up or come in with two strikes.  You have to know which guys charge the ball which guys lay back on the ball.  You have to know the arm strength and the accuracy of those guys.  You have to put all that into your equation," Baker said.

"Scotty talked about it.  I asked him to talk about it with the guys in spring training.  Sometimes when you hear a different voice, a voice of your peers.  Sometimes the words of coach's or manager's don't fly.  He gave a great dissertation on 'your job is to get to the next base.'  That's what baseball is all about.  Don't let the ball stop you.  You have to know where the ball is.  You have to work on this stuff."

"Look at Pete Rose, he (Rolen) reminds me of Pete.  Pete wasn't that fast.  He was a great baserunner.  I've seen other guys that were fast but didn't know what to do with that speed.  It's how you cut the corners at the bag.  We have a couple guys, we're trying to cut that wide turn down."

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Reds' Ace Johnny Cueto and Veteran Scott Rolen Stop the Bleeding

The Reds' season-high, four-game losing streak came to an end with what manager Dusty Baker hopes is the start of another winning streak.

"Losing streaks start with one loss and winning streaks start with one win," Baker said.  "Johnny Cueto did what aces do."

Cueto throttled the Minnesota Twins on three hits in seven innings, while contributing two RBI in the Reds' 6-0 victory.

Cueto has pitched following a Reds' loss seven times and the Reds have won all seven.  Cueto is 5-0 in those games.

Scott Rolen, five games off the disabled list, had two hits, including his 507th career double that put him ahead of Babe Ruth on the all-time list.  Rolen had three hits in the Reds' loss on Friday, including a two-run home run.

"Scott is a big part of our team," Baker said.  "He's valuable in a lot of ways. Scott came up with some big hits and some big base running plays.  He is probably our best base runner.  He goes from first to third as well as anyone."

It is not Rolen's speed that allows him to run the bases well.  It is his experience, judgement and instincts.

Rolen scored a run after going from first to third on a single from his replacement, Todd Frazier, who was in left field in the game.  With Cueto at the plate ready to bunt, Rolen followed the thirdbaseman down the line, knowing that he had to charge the bunt.  When Cueto put the ball in play, Rolen, scored easily.

"It is a hard play to defend," Rolen said of the situation.  "I feel like I've had a good year the last four games."

Frazier had two hits.  He replaced Rolen at thirdbase while Rolen was injured.  He earned playing time.

"We are going to play them all," Baker said.  "That's how you keep the team sharp and strong throughout the season.  We have a long way to go."

Cueto woke up knowing the team needed him to pitch well.

"When I woke up this morning, I felt good.  I wanted to go out and win for my teammates," Cueto said through interpreter Tomas Vera.

Brandon Phillips hit a two-run home run to get the Reds started off Brian Duensing in the fourth inning.  Jay Bruce singled and Rolen doubled him home, eclipsing Ruth's career double total.  Rolen scored the fourth run of the inning on Cueto's sacrifice bunt.

Rolen scored again when Cueto grounded out with the bases loaded in the sixth.  Bruce's second hit, a ringing double off Matt Capps in the eighth, was followed by a walk to Rolen.  Frazier's high bouncing ground ball eluded Twins' thirdbaseman, Trevor Plouffe, allowing Bruce to score.

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Friday, June 22, 2012

The Reds Lose Fourth Straight Game in Loss to Twins

Untimely walks and untimely strike outs caused the Reds to run out of time and outs in a 5-4 loss to the Minnesota Twins.

The Reds jumped in front on a two-run home run by Chris Heisey before starting and winning pitcher Nick Blackburn retired a batter.

Homer Bailey had a hard time with Ben Revere who was playing in front of his folks up from Lexington.  Revere had four singles and a key sacrifice fly.  A former nemesis from the Pittsburgh Pirates, Ryan Doumit, had four hits too, including his seventh home run.

The Twins took the lead on Doumit's fourth inning blast.

Newly activated Scott Rolen got the lead back in the bottom of the inning with a two-run home run, the first of his three hits on the night.

Following Rolen's blast, Devin Mesoraco hit a broken bat ground ball to shortstop but umpire Jerry Layne was struck in the face with the barrel end of the bat.  Layne had to leave the game.  Bob Davidson replaced him.  Layne will miss the rest of the series for precautionary reasons.

The umpire change appeared to have an adverse effect on Bailey.

The Reds righthander gave up a one-out single to Revere, then walked Josh Willingham and Justin Morneau.
Bailey pitched out of the inning with the lead intact but his pitch count was rising.

"In every game there are a few questionable calls but I don't think the umpire makes the difference," Bailey said.

The sixth started badly for Bailey. Doumit singled to lead off.  One out later Jamey Carrol singled. Bailey then issued his third walk to injured catcher, Joe Mauer.

"I had a lot of pitches in the middle innings but there were a lot of hits that were just placed that I couldn't do anything about."

Bailey lobbied Dusty Baker to stay in the game but the manager went to Bill Bray, who was reinstated from the disabled list hours before the game.

"I did what I had to do.  Homer wanted to stay out there but they had some lefthanders coming up.  I had hoped to use Bray in a less pressurized situation but you don't want to use Sean Marshall that early," Baker said. "We certainly didn't want to use our bullpen that much on the first game of 17 in a row."

The walk to Mauer set up the Twins with the bases loaded and one out. "That walk was the key," Baker said.

Bray walked Denard Span to force home the tying run. Revere put the Twins in front for good with a fly out to right that plated Doumit.

The Reds spent the rest of the game scratching and clawing for the equalizing run.

In the sixth, Brandon Phillips led off with a single.  Jay Bruce lined deep to left.  Ryan Ludwick walked.  Rolen hit a one-hop single to center that was fielded too shallow to allow Phillips to score.  Mesoraco was caught looking at a third strike and pinch hitter, Todd Frazier, flied to shallow center.

The last gasp for the Reds was in the ninth.  Rolen singled for his third hit off substitute closer
Glen Perkins.  Wilson Valdez moved Rolen to second with a sacrifice bunt.  Pinch hitter, Ryan Hanigan, singled sharply to center and like Rolen's single in the sixth, it was right to Span in center.  Rolen had to hold at third.  Perkins then struck out Zack Cozart looking and Chris Heisey swinging and the result was the Reds' season-high fourth straight loss.

"We had opportunities which is what you want but you have to find a way to make contact in those situations," Baker said.  "These one-run losses are starting to mount up.  We don't want these to haunt us."

In the Reds' last six losses, five of them have been by one run.

Pittsburgh defeated Detroit to get to within one game of the Reds.

Umpire Jerry Layne Injured by Broken Bat

Devin Mesoraco grounded out to the shortstop, Brian Dozier, but the barrel end of his bat broke off and hit home plate umpire Jerry Layne in the side of his face in the bottom half of the fourth inning.

"Jerry was hit with the bad end of the bat," Director of Umpires for Major League Baseball, Randy Marsh said.

Layne did not lose consciousness and was examined by the Reds' Medical Director, Dr. Timothy Kremchek.

"Dr. Kremchek didn't think he was concussed," Marsh said.  "We are taking him to Good Samaritan Hospital for an MRI to make sure there is no damage to the orbital bone.

More umpires are wearing a "hockey" style mask that protects more of the face but some umpires still wear the traditional mask that Layne used.

"I tried to use the new mask," Marsh said.  "But I couldn't get used to it.  I guess I was old school."

Layne is the crew chief with 23 years of experience.  Layne is a native of Kentucky but graduated from Elgin High School in Marion, Ohio.

 Veteran umpire Bod Davidson took over behind the plate and the umpires will use the three-man rotation system for the rest of the game.

There is a pool of substitute umpires from which a replacement will be brought in for as long as necessary.

"We have umpires that we take to spring training with us.  Some of them have 300 games at the major league level," Marsh said.

Bill Bray Comes Back J.J. Hoover Sent Out Drew Stubbs Rehabs

The Reds reinstated lefthanded pitcher Bill Bray from the 15-day disabled list.

To make room for Bray, righthanded reliever J.J. Hoover was optioned to Triple A Louisville.

"It was a very tough decision to make," Baker said.  "J.J. did a good job for us.  He progressed faster than we thought.  We thought we'd see him later in the season but he was pressed into action.  He will be back.  He has good stuff."

The rookie's demeanor pleased the manager as well as his arm.

"J.J was really quiet," Baker said.  "He was seen but not heard. He was the epitome of that. Like an old school player."

Baker now has more flexibility in the bullpen with a third lefthander working out of the bullpen.

"There were times we wished we had more than one lefty (excluding Aroldis Chapman, who is the closer.)," Baker said.  "We are getting back to our original plan."

Bray missed time this spring with a strained right groin.  He fought his way back in time to start the season but went back to the disabled list on April 19.  He just completed a rehab assignment in Dayton and Louisville.

"It feels great to be back," Bray said.  "It took a long time to get back.  I changed my mechanics to over compensate and started to have back pain.  Now, I have no pain at all.  I'm 100 percent."

Drew Stubbs will rehab in Dayton this weekend.  The Reds hope to have him back on Monday when they play Milwaukee.  He is recovering from a strained left oblique.

"A lot depends on how he feels," Baker said.  "It's the first time he's been hurt.  He never says anything when he's dinged up.  He had to be really hurt to say something."

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Drew Stubbs Rehabs at Dayton Friday Night

Reds' centerfielder Drew Stubbs will play for the Dayton Dragons Friday on a rehab assignment.

Stubbs strained his left oblique fouling off a pitch on June 5.  He was removed from that game in the eighth inning and has been out since.

Stubbs is a former Dragon.  He hit .270 with 12 home runs and 43 RBI in 129 games for Dayton in 2007.
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Baseball Humbles Reds and Aroldis Chapman in Cleveland

Just when a team thinks they have the game mastered, baseball has a way of making them humble.

The Reds came to Cleveland on a roll with a six-game winning streak.  They left on a slide with a three-game losing streak.

The Indians outslugged the Reds in the first game, 10-9.  The Reds statistically better; bullpen was out pitched by Cleveland's lesser pen in a 3-2, 10-inning loss on Tuesday.  Justin Masterson  mastered the Reds in an 8-1 Reds' loss on Wednesday.

After the Reds crossed the plate nine times in the series opener, the Tribe's Josh Tomlin and Masterson allowed the Reds to find home plate just three times in 19 innings.  The Reds needed a GPS and a guide dog to find the plate at Progressive Field.

The Reds will retain the NL Central lead when they face the Minnesota Twins on Friday by two games over Pittsburgh.  The Pirates defeated the Reds' next opponent, the Minnesota Twins.

The Reds ace reliever Aroldis Chapman has come back to reality.  Chapman kept the opposition away from home plate until June 7.  Since, he is 0-3 with a 10.13 ERA, allowed six runs in 5 1/3 innings.  He has allowed a .304 batting average to opposing hitters.  Chapman still struck out seven but as Jack McKeon once said, "He struck out the wrong guys.  He should have struck out the ones that scored."

Let this be a lesson to all my friends who were all over Francisco Cordero when he had a few rough outings in a row.  This is the major leagues.  Everyone has their ups and downs with the possible exception of Joey Votto it seems.

Votto, who has been dubbed "Vottomatic" by teammates, has hit a whopping 30 doubles.  The major league record is 67 set by Earl Webb in 1934.  The Reds' record is 51 by Frank Robinson in 1962 and Pete Rose in 1978.

Votto is flirting with a .370 batting average.  He sits at .367 now.  The Reds' record is .377 set by Cy Seymour in 1905. The next highest batting average for a season is .351 by Mike Donlin, "Turkey Mike", in 1903 and Ed Roush in 1923. There have been just 12 Reds' batters that hit .340 or higher in a season. The last player to hit for an average above .340 was Pete Rose in 1969 (.348).

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Todd Frazier to Get a Start in Left Field

Todd Frazier will be batting eighth again in game two of the Reds/Indians series but this time will play left field with Ryan Ludwick as the designated hitter.

Scott Rolen will play thirdbase as the Reds have the luxury of the extra bat.

Frazier's best defensive position is left field according to Rick Sweet, who managed him with the Louisville Bats.  Frazier's preference is thirdbase but he also has experience at shortstop and secondbase.
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Indians Outslug Reds But Scott Rolen Returns

Home plate umpire Jim Wolf  is the brother of Milwaukee Brewers' pitcher Randy Wolf.  One would think he'd be a "pitcher's" umpire but his narrow strike zone contributed to a 10-9 slug fest in which the Cleveland Indians outscored the Reds.

His strike zone was consistent.  Both starting pitchers were forced to center the ball in the middle of the plate.  It was bound to be a hitter's night.

The feud between Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker and Lowe was a non-factor.  For now at least the bean ball war that developed last week has been forgotten.

Joey Votto, who was one of the catalyst of the feud, hit his 13th home run in the first inning. Lowe hit Votto in the back two years ago and Baker did not forgive Lowe and had him "buzzed" Wednesday night.

How hot is Votto?

The Reds' superstar leads Major League Baseball with a .368 batting average, a .491 on-base-percentage and is second to former Red, Josh Hamilton, with a .667 slugging percentage, just .007 off the pace. Votto also hit his MLB leading 29th double. Votto is on a pace for 71 doubles.  Not only would that shatter the Reds' record of 51 set by Frank Robinson in 1962 and matched by Pete Rose in 1978, it would surpass the MLB record of 67 set by Earl Webb in 1931.

Shin-Soo Choo matched it with a leadoff home run off Reds' starter Mat Latos. It was Choo's sixth of the season and the seventh lifetime against the Reds over 22 games.

The Reds continued to swing the bats better.  Cincinnati banged out 14 hits.  Scott Rolen, who returned from the Disabled List after an absence of 35 games, had two singles and two RBI.  Votto had two hits, Brandon Phillips had three, Jay Bruce had three, including his team leading 16th home run.  Ryan Ludwick hit two doubles. Ryan Hanigan hit two singles.

The Reds added two runs in the second inning to take a 3-1 lead off Lowe.

Cleveland responded with three runs in the second with Lonnie Chisenhall providing the big blow with a two-run home run off Latos, his third.

The Reds took the lead back in the third inning with two runs.  Ludwick doubled home a run and Hanigan delivered a run that put the Reds on top, 5-3 in the third.

Latos, who has won five straight decisions, gave the lead back.  Michael Brantley doubled to lead off.  Casey Kotchman hit his sixth home run.  Chisenhall tripled and scored on Choo's double.

The Reds evened the score again the next inning with a pair of runs.  Votto doubled and Phillips doubled too but the ball went through the legs of Johnny Damon as Phillips circled the bases.  The game was tied at seven runs.

Neither Latos nor Lowe were around to get a decision.

Sam LeCure gave up two in the bottom of the sixth.  Carlos Santana singled.  Damon doubled. Kotchman got a run home with a ground out.  Chisenhall singled Damon home.

Bruce homered with two outs in the seventh off Joe Smith.  The Indians got it back on Michael Brantley's sacrifice fly.

The Reds saw Indian closer, Chris Perez, for the first time this season.  Perez got two quick outs but Phillips singled and advanced on the second on defensive indifference.  Bruce knocked in his second run of the game with single but Ludwick struck out looking.

It cost the Reds a half-game in the standings.  Pittsburgh was idle.

It was that kind of night.

The Reds, with the luxury of  designated hitter, were able to get Rolen in the lineup at third base.  Todd Frazier, who has excelled while Rolen was out, filled the DH role.

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Scott Rolen Off the DL Kristopher Negron Sent Back

The Reds activated Scott Rolen from the 15-day disabled list.  Kristopher Negron was optioned to Triple A Louisville.

Rolen was inserted immediately into the starting lineup against the Cleveland Indians.  He has been taking batting practice and fielding ground balls for two weeks.  Rolen just completed a weekend rehab assignment in Louisville where he was 2-for-6 with a home run.

Rolen will play thirdbase against Derek Lowe and the Cleveland Indians and bat seventh.  

Todd Frazier, who filled in at third during Rolen's absence will be the designated hitter and will bat eighth..  

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Mentally Tough Reds 10 Games Above 500

The Cincinnati Reds overcame some adversity to win five straight games and climb 10 games above the .500 mark, leading the NL Central by four full games over the Pittsburgh Pirates and arch rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals.

First of all the Reds dropped two of three to the Pirates, then in three very close and tightly contested games,  dropped two out of three to the Detroit Tigers.  The last was potentially devastating as the usually reliable bullpen gave up a four-run lead.

Then during an off day on Monday, several Reds went to Kings Island.  Some of them came back sick.  On Tuesday the team was down to a bench of two players.  Drew Stubbs, Devin Mesoraco and Chris Heisey each had injuries that caused them to miss time but the Reds put together a winning streak anyway.

"I'm glad my guys are as mentally tough as I thought they were," manager Dusty Baker said after the Reds swept the Cleveland Indians in a three-game set.  Now they've arrived in New York and taken two games from a Mets team that had just swept the Tampa Bay Rays in the Rays' home park.

Dusty Baker has a reputation of being a player's manager and admits that he hates to lose.  Yet after the meltdown of his bullpen on Sunday night, he didn't rant, rave and throw things.

When I walk into the Reds clubhouse, I can't tell whether the team has been winning or losing.  The players all go about their business.   That is a reflection on Baker.  They will hear it from Baker when they make avoidable errors or make the wrong decisions during the game but it is delivered in a tone that is conducive to learning rather than punishment.

"Why put any more pressure on the team than there already is," Baker has said.  "Why would you do that? I don't need to yell and scream to get my point across."

Baker also is very keen at picking up a players' strength and weaknesses.  He realizes that each player has them and that some players have more ability than others.  Baker has been there and remembers what it's like.

When Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips signed their big contract extensions early in the year, Baker anticipated the pair might struggle for trying to live up to the size of the contract.

"I have to have a talk with them," Baker said.  "That money ain't spinach.  You can't eat it to get better."

There is a lot of criticism of Baker's patience with Stubbs.  It is heard everywhere: "Stubbs strikes out too much.  Stubbs needs to cut down on his swing, bunt more, use his speed."

Baker knows that is not the answer.  He knows how valuable Stubbs is doing the things he does well.  He provides the Reds with such range in the outfield that he tracks down easily balls that others have to make all-out efforts to catch.  Chris Heisey dived for a pair of fly balls this week that Stubbs would catch easily.  Heisey himself is an above average outfielder.

Baker knows that no matter how hard Stubbs tries he is going to strike out a lot.

"I don't want him to try to be something he's not," Baker said.  "Everybody isn't Joey Votto."

There are things that very few people can do with a bat and the ability to focus that Votto does.

Sean Casey, the popular former Reds' firstbaseman, backed up Baker on the MLB broadcast with a statement about Stubbs and Mets centerfielder, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, whom the Mets would like to see cut down on his swing and misses.

"You may want them to cut down on strikeouts but you don't want to make them a Judy (a players' term for a player that has little power in his swing);" Casey said.

The team will go through tough times again but now know that they can rise above it with the proper leadership.

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Reds Sweep Indians in a Blowout

Mike Leake started off as if the flu still haunted him

Shin-Soo Choo hit a home run to open the game and Asdrubal Cabrera doubled right after that, scoring on a pair of ground outs but the Reds circled the wagons and Joey Votto played cavalry.  The Reds' pushed the Tribe virtually to the reservation with a five-run fifth to complete the rout in a 12-5 win..

The day started with anger and allegations of bean balls, drinking and lack of respect tossed between Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker and Wednesday night Indian starter, Derek Lowe.

The lightning rod for the hostilities was former Indian farmhand,  Brandon Phillips.  Lowe hit Phillips with a pitch on Wednesday night after Dusty Baker ordered his pitcher, Mat Latos to, "make him (Lowe) feel uncomfortable" in the batter's box.  Joey Votto was also plunked by Lowe in the back, two years ago.

"Brandon is starting to get hot," Baker said.  "It's just a matter of repetition.  He missed some time (with a strained hamstring).  People want me to hit someone else cleanup.  Everybody looks at statistics now.  Brandon's hitting around .290 there. He has close to 40 RBI (44).  Everybody isn't Joey Votto.  If you look at his career, he's hit 30 home runs before.  Had close to 100 RBI (98 in 2009).  The guys they want me to put there instead are just getting there.  Brandon's already done it. Next to Votto, he's up there in hitting with runners in scoring position."

Phillips is fine hitting cleanup.

"I'm not a typical cleanup hitter  I try to do my job.  I'm not going to do it every day and earlier I wasn't coming through," Phillips said.  "I've been doing better lately.  I need to protect Joey a little bit."

Phillips was shipped out of the Indians organization for his perceived bad attitude and has made the Tribe pay ever since.

Votto hit his 12th home run after Chris Heisey and Zack Cozart singled to start the game off Josh Tomlin to put the Reds ahead 3-2.  Phillips took over from there, hitting his eighth home run.  Phillips singled to drive in two more runs in the fourth and singled home another run in the fifth.  The Reds' secondbaseman also turned in three nice fielding plays.

Phillips is hitting .356 with 10 home runs and 30 RBI against his former team, since leaving in 2006.

"I try to do my job against every team but deep down, I like to beat the Indians," Phillips said.  "It's hard to hold it against them, the guys I had a gone.  They are going in the right direction.  Manny Acta is a great manager.  I knew him from my days with Montreal."

Ryan Ludwick, also a former Tribesman, launched a two-run home run in the five-run fifth inning off hapless, Scott Barnes.

Mike Leake, weakened by the flu, didn't last long enough to qualify for the win. He gave up Choo's second home run of the game and walked Carlos Santana to bring the tying run to the plate with a 6-3 lead.  Baker removed Leake in favor of Jose Arredondo, who closed out the inning  with the lead intact.

"We tried to get him a win there.  He had 73 pitches but we needed to get the win for the team," Baker said.

Leake is feeling better.

"I could have kept going but he felt at the time it was the right move to make to preserve that three-run lead," Leake said.

Heisey was pulled from the game for precautionary reasons with a slight groin pull.  Kristopher Negron got his first Major League hit in the five-run fifth. Devin Mesoraco left in the eighth inning.  He felt something in his side.

"I felt my groin when I scored in the fourth," Heisey said.  "They can be tricky.  I've had some of it this year.  It's a little tight. They decided to give me today.  Tomorrow I will come to the park and see how it feels."

Scott Rolen Is Close To Returning

Scott Rolen has been taking batting practice and ground balls the last week.

Rolen had been "actively" resting an aching left shoulder that was repaired with an operation last September.

The veteran thirdbaseman will go on a rehab assignment with Louisville and plans to join the team in Cleveland on June 18.

"We hope he's ready.  First we had to determine if he needed a rehab assignment or not.  Since he missed so much time, the minds got together and determined.that is was best that he get at least a couple days in before joining us," Dusty Baker said.  "Louisville is very convenient for him and so is Cleveland.  I hear its a beautiful drive there."

There was laughter at the thought of that drive up I-71.

"I'm not being facetious, I've heard it was a nice drive," Baker said.  "It's paradise compared to the southwest, right?"

Drew Stubbs has been missing 10 days with a strained oblique and he was one of the flu victims this week.

"We haven't made a decision on Stubbs yet.  If he's feeling better we hope he can hit today," Baker said.

Stubbs can be disabled retroactive to June 5th, if he is not used in the meantime.

Manny Acta Lightens Mood With Bull Durham Quotes

Following a heated exchange about the war of words between Derek Lowe and Dusty Baker, Cleveland manager Manny Acta lightened the mood while addressing the assertion by Lowe that it's the end of a long road trip and players get tired and cranky.

Lowe was not talking about the beanballs exchanged last night that has caused controversy this morning but offering a reason that the Indians have played poorly in the first two games of the series.

Acta isn't buying that.

"No I'm not going to give you the quotes from Bull Durham but I believe in pitching, catching the ball and hitting doubles with the bases loaded.  I don't believe in that.  No one claimed to be cranky or tired when we went into St. Louis and took two out of three. We have faced very good pitching and they have played better so give them the credit," Acta said

"Besides we have a lot of these trips during the season."
The Bull Durham reference invited the question of Acta's favorite quote from the movie.

"Ah winning is like better than losing.  That's my favorite one.  Lolly gagging you know what that makes you?  Lolly gaggers."

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Derek Lowe and Dusty Baker Exchange Words

Derek Lowe came to bat last night and a pitch was tight.  He later hit Brandon Phillips with a pitch.

Lowe told Cleveland writers that after the close pitch he looked at Dusty Baker.

"He shook his finger to tell me that he had nothing to do with it," Lowe said.  Yet he hit Phillips anyway.  "It is the first time I've come to the plate with no one on in two years so he waited for the first time I did."

That wasn't true.  Lowe singled in his first at bat after Mat Latos retired the first eight Indian batters.

When asked about it today, Dusty was visibly angry.  His eyes glared.  His teeth were clenched and he said that he knew what was coming.  He had either read Lowe's comments or was told about them.

"Well, I mean, he had some words for me," Baker said. "That's not something that I really wanted to make a public thing or public spectacle. I mean, he's the one who brought it up. He had some rather choice words for me, but I really don't care if he respects me or not, I dont care really what he says. It doesn't matter. The situation that, number one, you've got to ask him why he hit Joey Votto in the back two years ago. And then yesterday he took exception to a ball inside that didn't hit him and it's down, then he hit Brandon Phillips later after that.  I'm not denying nothing. I didn't order anybody to hit him, but I told him (Mat Latos) to buzz him and make him uncomfortable. That's what happened, understand what I'm saying? Nobody hit him, but then he hit our guy. and what he was talking about was something that he said and did a few years ago. You've got to ask him what that was. Understand? And he got a lot of people involved in the situation that didn't need to be involved in the situation, it didnt come from them. You go ask him since he made it public. Go ask him what he did or what he said. ...  so i'll let it rest at that. Since he's such a big man, wants to run his mouth, tell him to run his mouth about himself."

Man i dont care if people don't respect me," Baker continued. A  lot of people don't respect me. He don't respect himself because the word was that whatever he did and said, there was probably a good chance he was drinking at the ballpark at that time three or four years ago.  So he don't remember what he said or what he did, OK? He said I shook my finger at him to tell him I didn't have nothing to do with it."

Baker shook his finger from side to side ... "That means don't mess with me or my team.  That's what that means. So he better learn the sign language.  That's the end of it from me."

Derek Lowe had a meeting in Manny Acta's office when he arrived at the ballpark.  He took the back hallway away from reporters to get to his locker.

As reporters from Cincinnati and Cleveland approached Lowe told them, "I'm not saying anything about it.  I'm aware of what he said.  You can stand there and watch golf if you want.  I don't care what he said, I'm not saying anything about it."

Lowe came to the Indians with the Atlanta Braves after the World Series last season.  Indians manager Manny Acta claimed he knew nothing about the rift between Baker and Lowe until last night..I assume you are aware of what Dusty said to Derek Lowe.

"No, I'm not. (aware)," Acta. " My thoughts are that I'm not into gossiping.  This is my first time managing Derek and I'm not aware of anything going on.  All I can do is stand by my team and my players.  I'm not gossiping so anything you want to get you go to Dusty or to Derek because I'm not aware of what's going on."

"I said I'm not into gossiping and if you don't have any baseball questions, you are going to walk out of my office or I am."

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Brandon Phillips Scalps His Former Teammates

Brandon Phillips had an RBI single with two outs in the first inning, singled and scored in the fourth, was hit by a pitch in the fifth and iced the game with a two-run home run in the seventh in the Reds 5-3 win.

Phillips' talents have never gone unnoticed.  The Montreal Expos picked him in the second round of the 1999 draft out of Redan High School in Stone Mountain, Georgia.

The Indians thought so highly of Phillips they traded, then ace Bartolo Colon to get him along with Cliff Lee and Grady Sizemore.

Phillips and former manager Eric Wedge did not get along.  Phillips played 112 games for the Indians in 2003 but just 12 games total in 2004 and 2005.

Out of options and fed up with the talented but immature shortstop, the Indians cut him loose in the waning days of spring training, 2006.  He was designated for assignment, giving Cleveland 10 days to ask waivers, release him or trade him.  They were in a bad bargaining position at that point.  Then Cincinnati Reds general manager Wayne Krivsky offered Jeff Stevens and the Indians accepted.

The Reds move Phillips to secondbase and he has been an All-Star in Cincinnati.

From time to time Phillips expresses bitterness toward Wedge and the Indians organization.  Dusty Baker wants him to use that bitterness for motivation.

"You have to use every edge you can get," Baker said.  "I told him before the series started, you know you playing the Indians.  He sort of smiled.  Even if you pretend its a grudge."

Phillips didn't act like a player with a grudge post game.

"To tell you the truth I don't know why I've hit better against the Indians," Phillips said.  "I just was out there trying to do my job. It feels good to win. I'm playing in the city I've always wanted to be in.  It feels good beating the team you just came from and stuff like that.  They're a great organization.  I wish them all the best but when they come to Cincinnati, we have to let them know that we're here.  You want to be the best team in Ohio.  That's the best thing about it."

Mat Latos, needing to save the Reds' bullpen for possible extended use on Thursday afternoon, pitched seven innings and gave up just two runs on seven hits and a walk.  Mike Leake was pushed back a day with the flu.  It was important for Latos to pitch deep into the game in case Leake is not up to pitching or is ineffective.

The key inning for Latos was the fourth.  The Indians loaded the bases with two singles and a walk but Latos escaped with only one run allowed when Casey Kotchman hit into a force play.

"That was huge," Latos said.  "Of course I'd have liked to get out of it without giving any runs.  I think any pitcher would.  There have been a couple games, I've given up two, three runs right there and my pitch count goes way up. It potentially could cost us a game. So, it was good to get out of there with just one scoring."

The escape saved the bullpen for his manager, who told him in the middle of Tuesday's game that he would be pitching a day early.

"We were holding our breath.  The fourth and fifth have been his nemesis.  In the seventh they had some good hitters coming up," Baker said.  "This is the best game he's thrown."

Marshall pitched a scoreless eighth.  Aroldis Chapman earned his seventh save in spite of allowing a two-out solo home run to Jose Lopez.

"It was good for Marsh to have a clean inning other than the error," Baker said. "We have some length in the bullpen tomorrow."

The Pittsburgh Pirates lost to the Baltimore Orioles.  The Reds lead is back to two games.

"Hopefully, we can get rolling now that we're two (games) up," Baker said.  "We've been at seven games over (.500) many, many, many times.  I'd like to get over that hump."

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Flu Hits Reds Hard

Mike Leake was supposed to start against the Cleveland Indians but a flu bug loose in the Reds' clubhouse caused the Reds to push his start back to Thursday.  Mat Latos started instead.

The other flu victims are Drew Stubbs, Zack Cozart, Logan Ondrusek, Brandon Phillips, Todd Frazier and Joey Votto.  These players went to Kings Island on the off day Monday but the exact cause is unclear.

Votto is playing.  Cozart is missing his second straight game.  "Zack is better but we want him to stay out another day," Dusty Baker said.  "It is hot today and we have a day game tomorrow which doesn't help much when you're weakened."

Stubbs is out his ninth day of a strained oblique.  Stubbs had been running and was supposed to take batting practice Wednesday but that was scratched.

On Monday the Reds were down to a two-player bench.   "We don't want to use Stubbs because if we need to disable him we lose the nine retroactive days," Baker said.  A player can be put on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to the day after his last game.  If he plays, the 15-day clock starts over.

If Leake is not feeling up to pitching on Thursday, one of the Reds options is a bullpen day.  To carry this off, the Reds need Latos to pitch deep into the game on Wednesday.

Dusty Baker would not say what the commonality was among the effected players but Phillips did.

"We went to Kings Island.  I was with Todd Frazier.  He threw up a little bit and I had diarrhea," Phillps said.  "A couple guys had IV.  I wasn't as bad as they were."

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