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.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Billy Hamilton Gets Picked Off Against Arizona

It's A Nice Day in the Desert Let's Play Two

Ernie Banks is nowhere near Phoenix but his sentiment is alive in the Reds' camp.

Half the team will travel the 101 loop to Salt River Fields at Talking Stick to play the Colorado Rockies.  Aroldis Chapman will start there on his 25th birthday.  It will be the first day in Chapman's most recent transition from closer to starter.  He showed up in the Reds' Goodyear clubhouse wearing skinny black jeans and sparkling tennis shoes, looking like Grace Jones.

The lineup behind Chapman is:

Xavier Paul LF
Brandon Phillips 2B
Chris Heisey RF
Neftali Soto 1B
Jack Hannahan 3B
Denis Phipps CF
Zack Cozart SS
Miguel Olivo C
Nevin Ashley DH
Aroldis Chapman P

The other crew of Reds will play the Arizona Diamondbacks in Goodyear Ball Park.

Jay Bruce sat out three games with a sore right heel.  Todd Frazier sat out three games with a tight calf.
Both are playing against Arizona.  Mike Leake, who is fighting to keep a spot in the starting rotation, will make his spring debut.

The lineup is:
Shin-Soo Choo CF
Emmanuel Burris SS
Joey Votto 1B
Ryan Ludwick LF
Jay Bruce RF
Todd Frazier 3B
Jason Donald 2B
Corky Miller C
Yorman Rodriguez DH
Mike Leake P

Leake will face:
Adam Eaton CF
Willie Bloomquist 2B
Gerardo Parra RF
Paul Goldschmidt 1B
Jason Kubel LF
Rod Barajas C
Mark Teahen 3B
A.J. Pollock DH
John McDonald SS
Ian Kennedy P

Kennedy was the Diamondbacks' staff ace in 2011 with a 21-4 record and a dazzling 2.88 ERA. Wade Miley received most of the attention last season with a 16-11 season but Kennedy pitched right with him, turning in a 15-12 record, although his ERA grew to 4.02.

The Reds' Yorman Rodriguez had two hits and three RBI against Arizona on Wednesday,  Now, 20 years old, Rodriguez signed as a non-drafter free agent at the age of 16.  The youngster from Ocumare de la Costa, Venezuela apparently had a tough time adjusting to the quick wealth.

Rodriguez needed to be in camp to help him re-focus.

"Talent isn't the issue," Dusty Baker said.  "Talent was never the issue, getting the head and the attitude right was part of growing up and becoming a man.  That's why he's in camp.  He really didn't deserve to be in camp.  We're hoping being in camp with the older guys would help get him back on track."

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Young Reds Blast Diamondbacks

The man with my new favorite name, Tuffy Gosewisch, made the last out as Nick Christiani finished off the Arizona Diamondbacks at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, a 14-6 triumph.

The most important news is that Johnny Cueto was pain-free, if not effective.  The Diamondbacks scored four times in his two innings in which he expended 40 pitches.

"I was happy to get out there and throw," Cueto said.  "I was able to throw 40 pitches.  I didn't feel my oblique.  I felt nothing."

Cueto last pitched in the Division Series opener but left after eight pitches with a strained right oblique.

Only two of the runs were earned.  Brandon Phillips muffed a ground ball that he could have possibly turned into a double play.  Cueto allowed five hits and a walk.

Joey Votto's knee seems to be better too.  He had an RBI single and is hitting a cool .400 for the spring, playing every day.  He is still debating about playing for the Canadian team in the World Baseball Classic. "If he does play, he wants to be a designated hitter," Baker said before the game.

As for Cueto whom the Reds denied permission to play for the Dominican in the WBC, Baker was just pleased to see him throw pain free.

"He got the ball up which is unlike Johnny," Baker said.  "For the first time out he was happy."

"We had to get the regulars out of there to score some runs," Baker said.

A trio of youthful outfielders came out swinging.  Denis Phipps, Yorman Rodriguez and Donald Lutz were hungry.

"And they ate too," Baker quipped.  "It was good to see."

Phipps tripled and scored on Neftali Soto's sacrifice fly.  Yorman Rodriguez had two hits, including a long home run  and a walk. He drove in three runs and scored three.  Lutz, who played firstbase today, doubled in two runs in the Reds' six-run sixth inning and blasted a three-run home run in the ninth inning.

Henry Rodriguez also had three hits in three at bats.

After Cueto left, Clay Hensley pitched two scoreless innings. Drew Hayes, who had two appearances and made just two pitches, threw an inning and a third, allowing one hit and a walk. Chad Rogers and Nick Christiani had scoreless outings as well.

Daniel Corcino was the only other pitcher the Diamondbacks solved, giving up two runs because he walked four batters and threw a wild pitch.  He allowed only one hit, a double to Aaron Hill.

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Reds Take On Diamondbacks Johnny Cueto Makes His First Start

The Reds are at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick today.

Johnny Cueto will pitch for the first time since he walked off the mound in San Francisco eight pitches into the opening Division Series game.

Cueto may be limited to one inning but could pitch two, if his pitch count is low enough.  Clay Hensley, Daniel Corcino, Nick Christiani, Chad Rogers and Drew Hayes will follow Cueto.

Hayes has been in two games and made one pitch in each appearance.  He gave up a bases-loaded double in his first appearance but retired the only batter he faced on one pitch Sunday.

The Reds will send the following lineup to face Brandon McCarthy, who was 8-6 with a 3.24 ERA with Oakland last season:

Billy Hamilton CF
Brandon Phillips 2B
Joey Votto DH
Ryan Ludwick LF
Denis Phipps RF
Neftali Soto 1B
Jack Hannahan 3B
Miguel Olivo C
Jason Donald SS
Johnny Cueto P

Cueto will face these Diamondback hitters:

Adam Eaton CF
Martin Prado 3B
Aaron Hill 2B
Jason Kubel LF
Miguel Montero C
Cody Ross RF
Eric Chavez DH
Kila Ka'aihue 1B
Cliff Pennington SS
Brandon McCarthy P

McCarthy was hit in the head by a line drive off the bat of Erick Aybar of the Angels on September 5th last season.  He suffered an epidural hemorrhage, brain contusion and a skull fracture.

Dr. Peter Weber at California Pacific Medical Campus in San Francisco performed surgery that night. McCarthy was released on September 11.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Reds Lose to Padres Former Reds Shine

The Reds dropped its fourth game of the spring to the San Diego Padres, 7-5.

Homer Bailey started and threw just 15 pitches in his first and only inning of the spring.

"We have an extra week in spring," Bailey said. "They don't want us to go two weeks without throwing in a game but we are slowly getting back in it.  It is a nice way to get into it.  I'm just trying to get a feel for it again.  I don't have that feel but I'm close."

Bailey issued a four pitch walk to Chase Headley but otherwise was smooth.

"I threw all fastballs but started Headley off with a split and got behind.  We wouldn't ordinarily do that but we wanted to throw one,"  Bailey said.

Chris Heisey started in rightfield and tripled off Jose De Paula.

"Heisey is making progress," Dusty Baker said.  "He's rounding out his game.  I think he'll hit for more power this year.  I see a difference from him in his approach.  He is using just one stance now.  Heisey is a valuable piece of our team.  There aren't many who can run and play all the outfield positions.  It is just that I see him as a better corner outfielder."

Big Donald Lutz started in leftfield.  The 6'3", 250 lb. prospect, who was born in Watertown, NY but lives in Friedberg, Germany, didn't play baseball until he was 16.

Lutz singled in two at bats and is 2-for-5 early this spring.

"I like big Lutz.  He's a very talented young man," Baker said. "He is very raw.  He hasn't played as much baseball as the other guys but he's getting refined in a hurry.  He's coming fast.  He is working hard in the outfield.  We are teaching him how to throw correctly."

Lutz was excited last season when his minor leaguers beat the big team in an exhibition at Great American Ball Park prior to opening day.

"I told him I'm glad you're happy but don't be clowning on us," Baker said.  "He told me he wasn't.  That he was happy they won.  He likes to compete.  He is a very bright young man too."

In addition to Bailey, Tony Cingrani, Carlos Contreras, Chad Reineke, Kanekoa Texeira and Wilken De La Rosa threw the ball well.

"The only one that got roughed up was (Pedro) Villarreal," Baker said.  "He was getting the ball up."

The Padres put six runs on the board off Villarreal.

Former Reds had hands all over the carnage.

Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal singled for the Padres.  Chris Denorfia walked in the inning.

Brad Boxberger, who the Reds packaged with Alonso, Grandal and Edinson Volquez to obtain Mat Latos, retired the four batters he faced.

De La Rosa gave up a home run to Jedd Gyorko, who hit his third already this spring.

De La Rosa, a converted outfielder.  He is left-handed.  The 28-year old Dominican native has a live arm but is still learning to command the strike zone.

Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier Out With Minor Injuries

Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier are out with very minor aches and pains.

Jay Bruce has a sore right heel.  Frazier has a tight calf.

"Bruce said he could play tomorrow but he's not going to," Dusty Baker said.  Baker has a policy that when a players tells him he is ready, he gives a player, an extra day off.  "It's that plus we only have 33 games left.

Spring training is an extra week longer because of the World Baseball Classic.

"Frazier is feeling better.  He took batting practice today," Baker said.

There was a discussion about the high sky in Arizona.  The intense sun with no clouds in the sky makes it difficult to track fly balls.

Young Yorman Rodriguez was hit in the chest by a fly ball in the game against Milwaukee on Monday.  He caught the next one.

"Rodriguez stayed in there," Baker said.  "Most guys don't stay in there after being hit in the chest the first time.  I just told him to keep the sun between the bill of his cap and the glove and use the glove.  We used to use flip-down sunglasses.  Players don't use them any more."

Baker recalled losing a ball in the sun with flip-down sunglasses firmly placed in his back pocket.

"I remember in spring training, I lost a ball.  In Ft. Lauderdale against the Yankees.  It was a cloudy sky but all of a sudden the clouds broke at that moment. I stayed and stayed and stayed.  The ball hit me in the chest.  Ed Mathews asked me where my sunglasses were.  I said back here (my pocket).  He told me to put the sunglasses on my butt. The next day during batting practice he had us doing sunglasses flip down practice.  Everybody on the team was mad at me."

"I wish theywould use flip-downs," Baker said.  "I asked somebody the other day. I said, 'hey man we need some flip-downs'. He said 'they don't carry them anymore.'"

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Homer Bailey First Reds Rotation Member Starts Against Padres

To to tune of Gloria:

Peoria, How we gonna get there?
Do we travel up the 101?
Or some other highway?
But we're going to watch the Reds.
In Peoria.

Ok it's not "Please Come to Cleves" but driving around Arizona can get to your head once in awhile.

The Reds are on the road for the first time this spring.  Also for the first time this spring one of the Reds' projected starting pitchers will toil on the mound.  Homer Bailey, who is poised to become the ace of the staff, will be the first.  He is expected to pitch two innings.

Miami University's Chad Reinke will follow Bailey.  Carlos Contreras, Tony Cingrani, Pedro Villarreal and Kanekoa Texeira will pitch as well.

The Reds' lineup:

Shin-Soo Choo CF
Brandon Phillips 2B
Joey Votto 1B
Devin Mesoraco C
Donald Lutz LF
Jason Donald 3B
Zack Cozart SS
Chris Heisey RF
Miguel Olivo DH
Homer Bailey P

They will face Anthony Bass.

The Padres' lineup has three former Reds in it.

Everth Cabrera SS
Chris Denorfia RF
Chase Headley 3B
Yonder Alonso 1B
Yasmani Grandal C
Travis Buck LF
Cameron Maybin CF
Kyle Blanks DH
Alexi Amarista 2B
Anthony Bass P

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Monday, February 25, 2013

Joey Votto Hits A Long Awaited Home Run to Beat Brewers Split Squad

Joey Votto had a big mid-season smile for an exhibition game home run.

Joey Votto hit a two-run homer, an encouraging sign that he's progressing in his recovery from knee surgery that robbed him of his power last season, and the Cincinnati Reds beat the split-squad Milwaukee Brewers 5-2 on Monday.

"What's it been eight months?" said a smiling Votto after leaving the field on Monday. "My swing is getting there.  I have a ways to go but my knee feels fine."

Votto didn't homer after June 24 last season. He missed 48 games after tearing cartilage in his knee, and was reduced to hitting mostly singles when he returned because the knee wasn't fully healed.

He connected in the third inning off Robert Wooten. Votto also had an RBI groundout off Tyler Thornburg, a third-round draft pick in 2010 who is trying to win a spot in the Brewers' revamped rotation.

"We got Joey on the board," manager Dusty Baker said. "Our pitchers pitched great.

Armando Galarraga is coming off two bad seasons with Arizona and Houston.  He pitched two scoreless innings and is expected to add pitching depth this season.  Galarraga lost a perfect game on June 2, 2010, while pitching for Detroit when first base umpire Jim Joyce called Cleveland's Jason Donald safe on what replays showed should have been the final out of the game. Joyce admitted after the game that his call was incorrect..

"Galarraga looked very good," Baker said. "He was keeping the ball down and looks healthy."

Tyler Thornburg, who is trying to win one of three open spots in the Brewers' rotation, allowed two first inning runs.  He was brought up from Double-A to make two starts after the Brewers traded Zach Greinke and Randy Wolf.

"Last year I was pretty nervous going into spring training," Thornburg said. "Being around all these guys for the first time but I spent a little bit of time with them last spring training and then a couple of months with them last year in the big leagues.  This spring training has been a lot more mind easing for me really."

Jean Segura, who is expected to start at shortstop for the Brewers, had two hits, including a double. Segura, obtained from the Angels in the trade for Greinke, is expected to start in front of veteran Alex Gonzalez.

Right fielder Jay Bruce was scratched from the Reds' lineup after batting practice because of a sore right heel.

"I felt some tightness running sprints," Bruce said. "I'm all right. It's February."

NOTES: Shin-Soo Choo has reached base and scored in the first inning in all three of his starts. The Reds had the lowest on-base-percentage for leadoff hitters in the National League...Armando Galarraga pitched two scoreless innings.  Galarraga has made just 13 starts the last two seasons...Jimmy Nelson, the Brewers 2nd pick in the 2010 draft, pitched two scoreless innings...Brewers players John Axford, Nick Bucci and Taylor Green will move to Goodyear Ballpark on March 4 as members of the Candian World Baseball Classic team. The Canadian team will assemble in the visitor's clubhouse. Canada is holding a roster spot for Joey Votto but he has not yet decided if he will participate in the WBC.

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Jay Bruce Is Out With A Sore Right Heel

The Reds made a lineup change 90 minutes before they were to meet the Milwaukee Brewers in Goodyear.

Jay Bruce was replaced by Denis Phipps due to a sore right heel.

"I'm fine.  I was just doing some sprints and it tightened up on me," Bruce said.  "It's February."

Bruce has played in two games.  He is 0-for-4 this spring.

Reds To Face Brewers In Goodyear

The Reds will face the Milwaukee Brewers.

The Cincinnati lineup that will battle the Brewers' pitcher Tyler Thornburg is:

Shin-Soo Choo CF
Emmanuel Burris 2B
Joey Votto 1B
Chris Heisey LF
Jay Bruce RF
Jack Hannahan 3B
Zack Cozart SS
Miguel Olivo C
Derrick Robinson DH
Armando Galarraga P

Galarraga is expected to add pitching depth at Louisville for the Reds.  He pitched a near perfect game against the Cleveland Indians but a blown call at firstbase by umpire Jim Joyce allowed current teammate Jason Donald to reach base on an infield single.

Galarraga is 31 years old and struggled through two seasons at Arizona and Houston, making just 13 starts and posting a 3-8 record.

Thornburg was the Brewers' third pick in the 2010 draft.  He made three starts and had eight appearances last season with no record and a 4.50 ERA.  The righthander out of Sandy Springs, Georgia is 24 years old.

Cozart was placed in spots in the batting order for which he was not suited for last season.  He started out in the second spot but placed in the leadoff spot when Drew Stubbs was injured.

"He did a great job," Dusty Baker said.  "I'd prefer a set batting order but things happened and we had to mix and match.  There's no place to start in the big leagues than batting in front of Joey Votto.  I hope he's ready for the adjustment of batting down in the order."

Baker thinks that Cozart will have a chance to drive in more runs and use his speed more.

"Batting seventh is a spot for driving in runs and batting leadoff at the same time," Baker said.  "The seventh hitter bats a lot with runners on base, especially if your sixth hitter isn't picking up runs, or gets a lot of walks, or hits for a high batting average. I feel like I could possibly utilize his speed a little more.  Even though they are going to walk the eighth hitter but I get the pitcher to come to bat that inning.  I couldn't hardly let him run batting in front of Joey because all they are going to do is walk Joey."

Former Reds' thirdbaseman, Scott Rolen, who knows about defense, remarked that Cozart played a Gold Glove shortstop last season.  Baker agrees.

"He's as steady as they come on defense," Baker said.  "He didn't throw the ball away.  Young players have as many throwing errors as they do fielding errors."

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Reds Are Shut Out By the Indians

For the third day in a row the Reds lost to the Cleveland Indians - this time 3-0.

After scoring 20 runs on 31 hits in the first two games, the Reds had just one hit, a single by former Indian Jason Donald.   Joey Votto was on base twice with walks but didn't have to run the bases to test his surgically corrected knee.  Neftali Soto reached base via a walk in his first at bat.  Soto had four hits on Saturday.  His streak of five straight plate appearances ended on a ground out.

"Joey got on base.  We're looking good.  We didn't win but we played better," Dusty Baker said.

There was good news.

The Reds' pitching had been drawn and quartered by the Tribe in the first two games, allowing 24 runs and 31 hits.

On Sunday, Sam LeCure, Manny Parra, Jose Arredondo, Logan Ondrusek, Josh Ravin, Drew Hayes and  J.J. Hoover had shut-out stuff.

"At least we got good pitching," Baker said.  "LeCure was good. He was very good.
Manny Parra was good.  Arredondo looked good.  Ravin was pretty good.
Hoover looked very good."

LeCure, the staff Swiss army knife, was fine with his outing.

"It's always good to get out there and have some kind of measuring
stick," LeCure said  "You can throw all the bullpens and even live batting practice
doesn't prepare you to go out there and face hitters.  I was able to
keep the ball down.  That's something we've been working on anyway.
Honestly the results were probably a little bit better than I thought
I threw the ball."

The only runs scored because of a wind-blown, ground-rule double by Omir Santos off Ravin drove in two runs.  Santos scored on a double by Carlos Moncrief.

The wind was blowing out at over 30 miles per hour.  The expectation was that there would be a lot of runs scored for the third straight day.

"We had that wind-blown double," Baker said. "You know it was going to rear its
ugly head some point in time today.  We didn't win but we played better."

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Billy Hamilton's Leadoff At Bat

Wind Is Blowing Out Hard on Reds and Indians

The wind is blowing out to rightfield at Goodyear Ballpark at about 30 miles per hour.

The Reds will be working on pop ups in their daily fundamental drills this morning.

"We re-arranged out schedule," Dusty Baker said.  "You have to play in those conditions sooner or later.  When you go to Chicago, San Francisco or New York sometimes the wind is a condition you have to deal with.  The one element players don't like to deal with is the wind.  There is very little preparation for the wind.  They can take cold.  They can take heat but that wind boy."

The Reds and Indians have combined to score 44 runs in the first two games.  With the wind conditions it is going to be tough to keep the ball in the ballpark today.

The Reds' lineup is:

Billy Hamilton CF
Brandon Phillips 2B
Joey Votto 1B
Ryan Ludwick LF
Jay Bruce RF
Cesar Izturis 3B
Zack Cozart SS
Ryan Hanigan C
Nevin Ashley DH
Sam LeCure P

Following LeCure to the mound:

Jose Arrendondo, J.J. Hoover, Josh Ravin, Manny Parra, Logan Ondrusek and Drew Hayes.

The Indians pitchers will be:

Zach McAllister, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Cody Allen, Rich Gil, Jerry Gil (former Red), T.J. House, and Preston Guilmet

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Reds Lose To Cleveland in Another Slugfest

The Reds sent Alfredo Simon to the mound against the Cleveland Indians.  The Reds are using the first four games of the exhibition season to see what the young pitchers can do and keep the candidates from the starting rotation from getting too many innings.

"The big boys haven't pitched yet," Dusty Baker said.  "I'm excited to see them."

Homer Bailey will be the first of the Reds' rotation to pitch on Tuesday against San Diego.

The Reds have given up 24 runs in two games but have scored 20 themselves.

Cleveland won for the second day in a row by a 13-10 score.  There were 35 hits in the game.  Cleveland had 17.  The Reds had 18.

Reds' pitchers, however, issued six bases on balls and three home runs.

Cord Phelps hit one off Daniel Corcino.  Ryan Raburn hit a pair of two-run home runs, one off Chad Rogers and one off Kanekoa Texeira.

On the plus side, Shin-Soo Choo opened the game with a single and scored. He has been on base to lead off both games.  The Reds leadoff hitters had the worst on-base-percentage in the National League last season.

"That's what Choo is here for," Baker said.  "You can read into it as much as you
like. We like that if he gets on like this, think of the year that
Brandon (Phillips) is going to have Joey (Votto), (Ryan) Ludwick and
(Jay) Bruce. This is going to be exciting."

Billy Hamilton got into action for the first time.  He got four at bats.

He bunted into an out in his first at bat.  He struck out looking in his second at bat.  Hamilton singled in his third at bat.  The crowd and press anticipated a stolen base attempt.  On the third pitch Hamilton took off but Emmanuel Burriss singled on the hit-and-run.  Hamilton struck out looking leading off the ninth inning.

Billy Hamilton Will Play Against the Cleveland Indians Today

Billy Hamilton is not in the starting lineup.

The player that set the professional record with 155 stolen bases last year is learning to switch hit and play centerfield.  He will follow Shin-Soo Choo, who is in the starting lineup

Shin-Soo Choo CF
Brandon Phillips 2B
Jack Hannahan 1B
Donald Lutz LF
Todd Frazier 3B
Miguel Olivo C
Jason Donald SS
Ryan LaMarre RF
Chris Heisey DH

Alfredo Simon P

Hamilton will start the season in Louisville.

A visiting reporter asked Baker, who had to answer the same for the 20th time at least, if Hamilton will make the team.

"Where's he going to play?" Baker asked.  "He's young.  Tell me, where is he going to play? He hasn't had many at bats as a switch-hitter.  He hasn't played centerfield. Is he going to play in front of Ludwick?  Is he going to be in my lineup between Joey (Votto)  and Jay (Bruce)? Is he going to play in front of Choo?  Is he going to play in front of Bruce?  Now if I had like a rover.  He'd make a hell of a rover."

Young Drew Hayes was brought into Friday's game with the bases loaded and one out with the Reds holding a 10-8 lead.

Mike McCade sliced a double down the line to beat the Reds 11-10.

"I wasn't afraid to bring him in because he throws strikes," Baker said. "He has an idea.  He was trying to throw a sinker to induce a double play.  He just missed his spot.  If you have an idea most of the time you'll complete what you're trying to complete.  He wasn't afraid."

Hayes was scheduled to pitch on Saturday but the circumstances dictated that he pitch in a tough situation.

"I was an extra guy.  When you're the extra guy you have to be ready.  I tried to get him to hit a sinker.  A double play would have been the best case scenario. With a two-run lead we'd have taken an out any way we could get it.  These are the best players.  He put a good swing on a 3-2 pitch.  I tip my hat to him."

Hayes, in his first major league camp, was excited to be in the game in that situation.

"It was a fun situation to get into," Hayes said.  "Obviously, I wish
we could have held on for the win.  These are the best players you're
going to face.  I just wanted to go in there and attack.  I just tried
to throw the ball over the plate and see what happens."

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Friday, February 22, 2013

The Cleveland Indians Come Back To Win Over Reds

The Cleveland Indians mounted a ninth inning rally against young Carlos Contreras to beat the Reds 11-10 in the exhibition opener for both teams.

The Reds sent nine batters to the plate in the first inning and scored five times against Giovanni Soto. 

Shin-Soo Choo showed early signs of his ability to get on base by drawing a walk to open the game.  Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto singled.  Ryan Ludwick walked.  Zack Cozart and Ryan Hanigan doubled to get the Reds off to a great start.

Votto showed no signs of his injury, getting two singles in three at bats.

"Joey looked great actually.  He ran the bases well and didn't show signs of anything," Dusty Baker said.  "Joey swung the bat well too."

Tony Cingrani allowed three runs in the bottom of the first.  Both teams took turns taking the lead.

Curtis Partch gave up the lead as the Indians led 7-5 after three innings.

While Clay Hensley held the fort with 2 1/3 scoreless innings the Reds came back.  Miguel Olivo hit a solo home run to make it 7-6.  Devin Mesoraco hit a two-run home run to put the Reds up 10-7 after five.

Pedro Villarreal allowed one run on two hits and a walk. 

Carlos Contreras assumed a 10-8 lead.  He pitched a scoreless eighth but walked two batters in the ninth inning, exhausting his pitch count.  Drew Hayes was supposed to make his first spring appearance on Saturday but was called on to bail Contreras out of a bases loaded, one-out jam.

Mike McDade doubled into the leftfield corner to give the Indians the win.

First Pitch Spring 2013

Reds First Lineup Tony Cingrani Starts

The Ohio cup Arizona edition gets under way at 3:05 Cincinnati time.

The Reds will start with Tony Cingrani on the mound against Cleveland's Giovanni Soto, a non-roster invitee.

The Reds projected rotation won't pitch in games until next week.

Cingrani is probably going to start the season in Louisville but has an outside chance to crack the rotation if there are injuries or a trade.

"Cingrani is in the mix," Dusty Baker said this morning.  "He's confident enough to think he could make this club.  As a player, you don't worry about who is ahead of you or behind you.  You just go play.  He performed well last year when he came up in a pennant race."

The lefthander pitched five innings for the Reds late last season, allowing a run on four hits.  He struck out nine batters of the 15 he retired.

"You don't see too many power pitchers that are lefthanded," Baker said.  "He can pitch off his fastball.  He knows how to pitch."

The 23-years old was born in Evergreen, Illinois.  The Reds took him in the third round of the 2011 draft.  He pitched at South Suburban College in South Holland, Illinois after graduating from Lincoln-Way High School in 2007.  He also pitched at Rice University.

Baker is sending his projected regulars to face Soto.

Shin-Soo Choo CF
Brandon Phillips 2B
Joey Votto 1B
Ryan Ludwick LF
Jay Bruce RF
Todd Frazier 3B
Zack Cozart SS
Ryan Hanigan C
Miguel Olivo DH
And Tony Cingrani P

Asked if he was excited to see Choo, Baker downplayed it.

"I don't get too excited about seeing players," Baker said.  "There is a long way to go.  If I got excited now, I'd be excited out by the time the season started.  I just want them to go play.  I don't give any signs early in the spring.  I want to see who knows what to do and who doesn't.  I want to see who can hit 3-0, who knows when to steal.  I just let them play."

The Indians lineup that will face Cingrani are:

Michael Bourn CF
Asdrubal Cabrera SS
Jason Kipnis 2B
Nick Swisher 1B
Michael Brantley LF
Carlos Santana C
Mark Reynolds DH
Lonnie Chisenhall 3B
Drew Stubbs RF
and Giovanni Soto P

Stubbs is being converted into a corner outfielder for the Indians this spring.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Reds Set Up Pitching For the Exhibition Games

The Reds have set up it's pitching rotation for the first exhibition games.

There are seven extra games scheduled because of the World Baseball Classic. 

Tony Cingrani will start against the Cleveland Indians when the games begin on Friday.

"The young guys are probably the most ready.  We have to set up the rotation at some point in time. We have an extras seven games," Dusty Baker said.  "You want them to be sharp and ready but you don't want them to put the extra innings on.  So, early we will put a lot of it on the young guys."

As of now the Reds have six starters competing for five spots in the rotation.

Bronson Arroyo, Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey and Mat Latos are locks.  The last spot is between Aroldis Chapman, who is converting to starting from closer and Mike Leake, who was the odd man out when the playoffs began last season.

The early  pitching rotation follows:

Tony Cingrani               Feb 22  vs. Cleveland
Alfredo Simon              Feb 23  vs. Cleveland
Sam Le Cure                 Feb 24 vs. Cleveland
Armando Gallaraga       Feb 25 vs Seattle
Homer Bailey                Feb 26 vs San Diego
Johnny Cueto                Feb 27 vs Arizona
Mike Leake                  Feb 28 vs Arizona SS
Aroldis Chapman         Feb 28 vs Colorado SS
Mat Latos                    Mar 1 vs Kansas City
Bronson Arroyo          Mar 2 vs Chicago White Sox

All of the starters are scheduled for two innings for the first start with the exception of Homer Bailey.  He is listed for 1 or 2 innings depending on his pitch count.

Alfredo Simon will be pitching for the Dominican team in the WBC.  He will leave camp on March 4 to join them.

Armando Gallaraga is the pitcher that came within a bad call of pitching a perfect game.  Replays showed that umpire Jim Joyce made an incorrect call that allowed Jason Donald, now a teammate with the Reds, to reach base on an infield single.

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The Reds Block Johnny Cueto From Pitching In The World Baseball Classic

The Cincinnati Reds used the appeal process to prevent ace Johnny Cueto from pitching for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic.

 A 19-game winner last season, Cueto strained his right oblique eight pitches into the opening game of the Division Series in San Francisco.

"I wanted to pitch for the Dominican but the team said no. It's all right," Cueto said. "I am going to work to get ready for the season. I was ready to pitch. I'm 100 percent. I talked to my agent they said no, so no problem. I understand they worry about my oblique. I will be watching the Classic and rooting for the Dominican."

Manager Dusty Baker agrees with the team's stance.

"I'm not sure happy is the right word. I'm more relieved." Baker said. "I understand the pressure for the Latin player to pitch for their country. If he was a 10-game winner instead of a 19-game winner there wouldn't be as much pressure."

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Todd Frazier Gets His Shot At Thirdbase For Reds

Todd Frazier waited for a chance to make the team a year ago; now he has a chance to start at thirdbase for the Reds.

The Reds left for Cincinnati with Frazier last March but the day before the season opened he was sent to Triple-A Louisville. The Reds' bullpen had lost some pitchers to injuries. The Reds used the last roster spot by claiming righthanded reliever Alfredo Simon from the Baltimore Orioles. Frazier was the odd man out.

The 27-year old from Todd Frazier led the team with five home runs and 15 RBI last spring but was going to back up Scott Rolen, the encumbent at thirdbase.

When Simon became available the Reds elected to send Frazier out to play every day and use veteran Miguel Cairo as the infield back-up.

 Cairo went on the disabled list on April 17, and Frazier was summoned. He spent the rest of the season in Cincinnati, filling in for Rolen at third and Joey Votto at firstbase.

 "Frazier is in a totally different situation than he was last year at this time," Dusty Baker said.

 "We hoped that he would be in this situation. He's paid his dues. He's earned his way which is what you like a young man to do." Frazier took the opportunities provided by injuries to the established players. He was third in the Rookie of the Year voting and named to Baseball America's All-Rookie team. Frazier's .273 batting average was 10th among rookies, his 19 home runs were third and his 67 RBI was second among rookies in baseball.

 "In the world of give-aways, we give them a lot, but he's earned it." Baker said.

 Baker wanted Frazier to spend the winter getting a quicker first step to help him field hot ground balls at thirdbase. Frazier played shortstop at Rutgers University and has played secondbase and leftfield. Frazier made one appearance at firstbase in 2011 but started 36 games at firstbase when Votto missed 48 games with a knee injury.

 Rolen is not currently in baseball and Cairo has retired to take a front office job with the Reds, leaving Frazier as the main candidate to replace Rolen, who had eight Gold Gloves in the major leagues.

 Frazier has big shoes to fill.

 "I told him to go home and work on his lateral range and first step and he did it," Baker said. "I suggested that he go home and take ballet. I don't know if he went that far but I can see improvement."

 Frazier, who was married during the winter, worked with Ed Hefernan, a high school track and field coach in Tom's River, New Jersey. "I worked on my footwork. I worked on reacting to the ball going left and right," Frazier said. "Hefernan trained Oympic athletes. Taking a quick first step is the biggest part to winning a race. We worked moving laterally with that first step."

 The pair worked an hour and a half every other day and Frazier believes it has paid off. "It took me a couple weeks but we finally figured out the right drills, to change from the la-di-da move to boom," Frazier said. "I'd hop over these little links, left, right, left, right, then I'd run after a ball, he rolled. He timed it and once we got a time he liked we'd do it over and over. We worked side to side and do a box jump with quickness. He would tie a string to my feet and we'd work on getting my legs up as well." It was a lot of hard work. "I complained to him a couple times. I told him 'you're making all this stuff up.' He is old school and would tell me to quit my whining. He put the pressure on me which I needed."

 At thirdbase there is less time to react than at the other positions Frazier plays.

"Ed is well known in the Northeast. He tried to eliminate the time I was on the ground before I took my first step," Frazier said. "I've always had quick feet; now I feel much stronger and quicker. It helps with base running, everything."

 As quick as he's become in the field, Baker wants him to slow down his swing at the plate to improve offensively. "He's got to slow down at the plate," Baker said. "At the plate slow down and in the field speed up."

Frazier was hitting .298 on August 24 but the league started to figure him out. He hit just .186 with one home run over the last 28 games.

 The Reds are counting on Frazier as a leader too. Rolen was a leader in the clubhouse and Frazier will miss his leadership. "It's going to be tough for me. Scott was a good guy to talk to every day about thirdbase," Frazier said. "I would like for him to be here to get more knowledge of him for sure."

 Teammate Sean Marshall believes Frazier could fill that void too.

"Todd Frazier is a guy who leads with his voice and how he plays. He has big shoes to fill," Marshall said.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Topps Baseball Cards Bring Out The New Set

David Reel of Mason, Ohio was signing players to the contract to use their likeness on baseball cards this morning.  Reel is the Director of Sales for Topps Company, the oldest publisher of baseball cards.

He brought a box of samples for the new set.  The slogan for the set is "The Chase".

There is a career chase written for every player in the set.

"We have an editor write the back of the cards," Reel said.

Some are a little over the Topps, if you will pardon the pun.  The card for Tony Cingrani, for instance had the Career Chase: "With nine strikeouts, Cingrani is 5,705 away from Nolan Ryan's all-time record of 5,714"  Oh brother, talk about pressure.

What else can an editor say about a 23-year old with five innings in the big leagues.

"Tony relishes the toughest of challenges; as a high school senior, he threw a 20-strikeout no-hitter against the top-ranked team in Illinois.  These days, wielding a whistling fastball and solid change-up, the 22-year old led the Minors in ERA in '12 to earn a late invite to Cincinnati.  The line in his debut: three innings, one hit, zero walks, five whiffs."

I was wondering what tune his fastball whistles.

The Reds players have been opening packs of the cards and had them strewn around the newspaper table in the middle of the clubhouse.  Todd Frazier opened a pack with one of our childhood wishes.  "I hope I get some Reds," Frazier said as he removed the cards.  He got no current Reds.  The first card in his pack was Yonder Alonso. A  Drew Stubbs card was later in the deck.  Stubbs' card is in a Reds' uniform but he has been traded to Cleveland.

Dusty Baker remembers collecting cards.  "As a kid you kept the good players in the box and the bad players on the spokes," Baker said.  "You did that too?" Baker asked some of the writers in the room.  "You tell a kid you put them on with clothes pins now, they won't know what you're talking about."

 "I remember when I signed my contract with them," Baker recalled.  "They gave you the choice of   $500 or a set of golf clubs.  I took the $500.  I remember my rookie card.  I was on with Don Baylor and Tom Paciorek.  It shows you've arrived."

Baker referred to baseball cards as 'bubblegum" cards but they no longer put bubblegum in a pack of baseball cards.

"It leaves marks on some of the cards," Reel said.

That ruins the resale value in this age when collecting and selling cards is more important than "souping up"  a bicycle.

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Dusty Baker Looking At Areas of Improvement

Be proud of your accomplishments but never be satisfied.

The Reds' 97-win season that ended one run short of the National League Championship Series was a great accomplishment but left the club feeling disappointed and dissatisfied.

"You don't get over those that quickly," Baker said.  "It was hard for me because I live in Giants country (Granite Bay, CA, near Sacremento),"

The Reds went on the road in San Francisco and won the first two games.  They took the whopping advantage home but could not score more than a first-inning run in the third playoff game.

Among the areas that Baker would like to see better:

Todd Frazier

"We have to slow Fraz down at the plate and speed him up in the field," Baker said.  "I told him to go work on his lateral movement.  I told him to take ballet.  I don't know if he went that far but I've seen improvement."

Brandon Phillips

"I'd like to see him keep the ball off the ground with men on first," Baker said.  "He's improved that a lot since I first got here."

Phillips grounded into 26 double plays in 2007.  He hit into 19 last season.

"I told (Zack) Cozart and Brandon that I'd like to see them turn more double plays," Baker said.  "That's not a criticism.  It's just an area for improvement."

Jay Bruce

"We are working with him, still.  He is still trying to figure things out.  There are some things that don't need to figure out," Baker said.  "That's the tough thing for a young player.  It is tough to decide when to be natural and when to think about things.  Jay gets himself in trouble by fouling off pitches.  He has to learn to center the ball.  He fouls off pitches and gets himself into strike out situations."

Joey Votto

"I don't worry about Joey," Baker said.  "We may have to straighten him out a little from time to time but he's established.  Once a player like that is established, you move on to other guys.   Working with a guy who is established becomes a waste of time."

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