About Me

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

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Reds Split Squad at Arizona and Cleveland

The 2013 Reds are playing the Arizona Diamondbacks again at Chase Field.  The Louisville Bats basically will take on the 2013 Cleveland Indians at Goodyear Ballpark.

Homer Bailey, Jonathan Broxton and Manny Parra will pitch against Arizona.

Armando Galarraga will pitch for Louisville against Brett Myers and the Indians.

The lineups at Goodyear are:

Reds (Louisville Bats)

Billy Hamilton CF
Derrick Robinson LF
Felix Perez RF
Mike Hessman 1B
Henry Rodriguez 2B
Denis Phipps DH
Konrad Schmidt C
Kristopher Negron SS
Tanner Rahier 3B
Armando Galarraga P

The Indians:

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
Brett Myers P

Joel Bender of Oak Hills to Open the Season at Dayton

Oak Hills graduate Joel Bender will open the season at Dayton.

He was still on the Dayton roster as of 10:00 this morning.  The Reds have two more pitchers to send down or release.  It is possible that it would have a ripple effect that would drop Bender to Billings but it is highly unlikely.

The following is Dayton media relations specialist Tom Nichols assessment of Bender.

Joel Bender, 21, is a Cincinnati native who played at Oak Hills High School (alma mater of Pete Rose Jr. and other former Major Leaguers Bill Wegman and Scott Klingenbeck).  Bender, a left-hander, was a 27th round draft pick in 2010.  He pitched at Billings last season, going 3-4 with a 6.75 ERA in 15 games (five starts).  He finished strong, making two scoreless starts to end the season covering 11 innings.  Bender had signed to play at the University of Louisville before turning professional.

Bender had some good outings in the minor league camp this spring.  Being left-handed is a big advantage in professional baseball.

The Dragons open the season on the road April 4.  They open at home on April 11.

Reds Sneak by Snakes

The minor leaguers came through for the Reds to lift the Reds to a 2-1 win.

The starters were only scheduled to play five innings. They will also play just five on Saturday here against the Diamondbacks.

Bronson Arroyo pitched six very strong innings.  He allowed seven hits the most damaging was Jason Kubel's fifth inning home run.

Arroyo was hit on the right hand by a line drive hit by David Murphy of Texas in his last start on Sun (3/24) and left the game.

"I was just trying to throw strikes and not get hit while getting my pitch count up," Arroyo said.  "My hand is fine. It is sore to the touch but I don't feel it at all doing anything on the field. I've had a great spring for me. It doesn't mean anything but it's as comfortable as I've ever felt on the field. I might give up 16 runs in my first start. But I feel comfortable right now."

Arroyo is as sharp as he's ever been.

"Bronson was great other than the home run to Kubel," Dusty Baker said. "He had more zip on his fastball. He had great location. He's thrown the ball well all spring.  I've never seen him so sharp this soon."

J.J. Hoover, Aroldis Chapman, Sam LeCure and Alfredo Simon combined for three scoreless innings of relief.  Simon got the save.

Felix Perez, a 28-year old outfielder from Cuba, had two hits. He singled and scored on a single by Henry Rodriguez in the seventh inning.  Perez tripled leading off the ninth and scored on a slow ground ball hit by Emmanuel Burris.

Burris and Cesar Izturis were called into Baker office after the game. The Reds made a move but would not disclose it yet.

Burris hit .207 but is a switch hitter with great speed, who can be a valuable player off the bench. He can also play outfield.

Izturis is a veteran. He is 33 years old but has the experience of 1,247 big league games in 11 season.  He has lost a step but is still reliable in the field.  He hit .327 this spring.

The last of the possible bench players is Jason Donald, who has the advantage of being on the 40-man roster.  He hit .250 and trailed off at the end of spring.  Donald can also play some outfield.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Chase Field Photos

Reds Take on Arizona in the Snake Pit

The Reds will play its final exhibition games at Chase Field the ancestral home of the Diamondbacks.

It will be a full squad tonight facing Patrick Corbin. Tomorrow there will be split tomorrow with half coming to Chase Field (mostly regulars).  The other half mostly minor leaguers will play the Indians in Goodyear Ballpark.

The Red s' lineup tonight:

Shin-Soo Choo CF
Jason Donald 2B
Joey Votto 1B
Ryan Ludwick LF
Jay Bruce RF
Todd Frazier 3B
Zack Cozart SS
Devin Mesoraco C
Bronson Arroyo P

Sam LeCure, Aroldis Chapman, Sean Marshall, Alfredo Simon and J.J. Hoover will follow Arroyo to the mound.

Brandon Phillips was scratched due to illness.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Cactus League Champs Dump Reds, Two Games Left

Break up the Kansas City Royals.

The blue clad darlings of the plains waltzed to their 24th win of the spring and third over the Reds.

The Reds jumped ahead against Ervin Santana when the first three Reds had hits.

Shin-Soo Choo singled.  Brandon Phillips singled and Joey Votto doubled into the leftfield corner, but had to be awarded secondbase when he ran into a stout Billy Butler, playing firstbase for Kansas City, as Choo scored.

Both men tumbled to the ground but no one was hurt.  The umpire awarded Votto secondbase on the play as Butler protested.

 "There has to be a stopping point. I'm basically letting him go by so I can trail him," Butler said. "I'm not trying, nor do I ever try to get in his way. It is always the defender that gets the obstruction. The rule says the baserunner creates his own base path but it's got to stop somewhere."

Votto was stranded as Ryan Ludwick and Jay Bruce struck out.  The Reds scored  a run in the second inning. Ryan Hanigan doubled and scored when Mat Latos singled. The Redsa loaded the bases with one out but Votto hit a comeback ball to Santana on the mound to start a 1-2-3 double play.

The Reds had other chances, leaving runners on second and third twice.

"We should have had eight runs," Baker said. "We left second and third twice, bases loaded. We had a lot of opportunities to break that game open. It's got to get better picking up those runs. It's frustrating sometimes."

Latos was hit up for five runs in the second inning.

Alex Gordon hit his seventh home run.  Salvador Perez hit his second of the spring with two men on.  Lorenzo Cain tripled home Eric Hosmer.

 "Latos was fine," Baker said. "Before the game he was coughing. He had to get his work in. He didn't throw the ball bad."

Latos allowed five runs on nine hits and a walk but finished the third.  He still struck out five in his three innings.

The Royals added on against Manny Parra, trying to win a spot in the bullpen as the third left-hander. Parra, who signed as a free agent with the Reds in January, is trying to make the team as its third left-hander. He allowed three runs on five hits in two innings. He has a 5.28 ERA for the spring.

Professionally edited by ML Schirmer
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Reds Franchise Experience a Leap in Value

The value of the Cincinnati Reds jumped 29 percent from this time last year.

Read Steve Watkins blog in the Business Courier for the details.....

http://www.bizjournals.com/cincinnati/blog/2013/03/reds-franchise-value-soars-29-percent.html?ana=twt via @BusinessCourier/



Reds Take on Cactus League Champions

Fresh off the obligatory golf cart parade down Bell Boulevard the 23-7-2, Cactus League Champion, Kansas City Royals will grace the 11-18-2 Cincinnati Reds in Goodyear Ballpark.

The lineup that will attempt to dethrone the Royals and pitcher Ervin Santana is:

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
Mat Latos P

The Royals lineup is:

Alex Gordon LF
Elliot Johnson SS
Billy Butler 1B
Mike Moustakas 3B
Salvador Perez C
Eric Hosmer RF
Lorenzo Cain CF
Miguel Tejada 2B
Ervin Santana P

Pregame talk with Dusty Baker centered around the choices for the bullpen

Logan Ondrusek:

"His command and velocity is down," Baker said. "The more you try to get velocity the less you have.  It is bewildering to some of us. It's bewildering to him."

Manny Parra:

"He has to make the team first," Baker said. "I've seen Manny better than he's been since he's been here.. We've seen him from the other side,  The need for a second lefty to take the pressure off of Marshall, when Marshall's pitched a couple days in a row or is gone from the game. That will be figured into the decision."

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Choo, Ludwick and Votto Homer as Leake Deals in Reds Win

The Reds couldn't hit former mate Edinson Volquez but knew they could wait him out.

Volquez didn't allow a hit until there was one out in the fifth inning when Shin-Soo Choo hit an opposite field home run to put the Reds on the scoreboard in its 7-3 win over San Diego.

After Volquez left, the Reds abused the Padre bullpen. Choo singled and Joey Votto doubled Choo to thirdbase in the seventh against Tommy Layne.  Ryan Ludwick came into the game hitting .208 but he walked against Volquez and singled coming into the seventh.

Ludwick blasted a pitch from Layne smashing open the 1-1 game.  Votto followed Brandon Phillips' RBI single with an opposite field home run off Dale Thayer in the ninth.

Votto walked twice against Volquez, reaching base four times in five at-bats.  He was robbed of a single on a nice play by Padre secondbaseman Jed Gyorko in his other at-bat.

"We got home runs but it starts with good pitching," Baker said. "It keeps you in the game until you hit the home runs. Leake had it going on today. He and Mesoraco were on the same page. He kept the ball down. He didn't have any walks. That's the key. We want to win (innings) 7,8,9. I mean they can win one through six but we want to win seven, eight, and nine."

Mike Leake, who retained his start in the rotation when the Reds decided to leave Aroldis Chapman in the closer's role, pitched six strong innings for Reds, giving up one run and five hits. He struck out four and walked none.

 "It was a good tuneup. I was keeping the ball down," Leake said. "I was able to change speed and working well with Mes (Devin Mesoraco). It was a longer spring this year. It will be nice to get out there and get going."

Jose Arredondo pitched a scoreless inning, giving him eight this spring in which he has allowed just one run (1.12 ERA).  Jonathan Broxton pitched 1/3 of an inning.  He was taken out with two men on in the seventh after he reached his pitch count. It was the first time he had gone back-to-back days this spring.

Arredondo and Logan Ondrusek are among the last of the candidates to open the season in the Reds' bullpen.  Ondrusek gave up a two-run home run to Dean Anna in the ninth inning.

Professionally edited by ML Schirmer
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Reds Narrow Pitching Choices

The Reds re-assigned two non-roster pitchers to minor league camp.

LHP Wilkin De La Rosa and RHP Clay Hensley were re-assigned to minor league camp, leaving 15 pitchers on the roster.  The Reds will carry 12 pitchers.

Hensley pitched in relief for the World Champion Giants last season.  De La Rosa has great stuff but as most hard throwers, he needs work on his command.  The 28-year old was an outfielder in the Yankees organization.  They converted him to the mound.

Both pitchers will add depth to a strong Reds' bullpen.

The Reds must choose 12 pitchers from the following list:

RHP Jose Arredondo
RHP Bronson Arroyo
RHP Homere Bailey
RHP Jonathan Broxton
LHP Aroldis Chapman
RHP Johnny Cueto
RHP J.J. Hoover
RHP Mat Latos
RHP Mike Leake
RHP Sam LcCure
LHP Sean Marshall
RHP Nick Masset
RHP Logan Ondrusek
LHP Manny Parra
RHP Alfredo Simon

The nine in red will make the team barring injury.

The other six need to fill three spots.

J.J. Hoover and Jose Arredondo have pitched well all spring.  Masset hasn't pitched at all.

Hoover has allowed two runs in nine innings on nine hits and one walk.  He has 16 strikeouts and at one point struck out seven in a row.

Arredondo has allowed four runs in 11 2/3 innings, allowing  nine hits and six walks.  He struck out nine. In his last seven appearances he has given up just one run in eight innings.

Simon was with the Dominican team and hasn't pitched much at all this spring.

Having talked to scouts and Jeff Brantley, look for Arredondo and Hoover to break camp with the Reds.  Masset will likely be put on the 60-day disabled list.  He has a long way to go to be able to pitch. Ondrusek has been tentative and has options.  Ondrusek could use some time in Triple-A.

Ondrusek gave up a two-run home run against the Padres on Wednesday.

He has pitched 9 2/3 innings, allowing nine runs on 16 hits and six walks.  He has five strikeouts.

The Reds would like a left-hander but Arredondo has been very effective against left-handed batters.  Parra has been inconsistent.

Hoover has options so the Reds wouldn't lose Simon if they sent him down.  The business of baseball could cause Hoover to be sent down.  The Reds may be willing to trade either Arredondo or Simon.

Professionally edited by ML Schirmer
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Reds Club Cubs With Nine Runs in the Ninth Inning

The Reds made the final trip to historic Hohokam Stadium, the March home of the Chicago Cubs. They made it a memorable one by scoring nine runs in their last at-bat, in a 11-1 win.

The Cubs will move to a new stadium in Mesa next season.

Johnny Cueto pitched six scoreless innings in his last tuneup to opening day.  He gave up four hits and a walk. Cueto struck out five, then went to the bullpen and threw some more.

"It was a lot smoother than the last time. I was more aggressive," Cueto said.

Last outing Cueto was hit hard because he was flying open with his front shoulder, causing pitches to be high and over the middle of the plate.

"I was working on that. I was talking to the pitching coach and we worked on staying on line to the plate. I know exactly what I'm doing. I will be able to correct it now," Cueto said.

Cueto singled, advanced to second on wild pitch, then scored easily on a double by Emmanuel Burris.

Todd Frazier hit his fifth home run of the spring off Hisanori Takahashi. Denis Phipps hit a single and a double for the Reds.  Jay Bruce struck out three times but tripled in the eighth inning.

The Reds led 2-1 going in to the ninth

Donald Lutz doubled and scored on a double by Cesar Izturis.  Corky Miller drove Izturis home with a single.

Bruce added an RBI single off Carlos Marmol in the Reds nine-run ninth.  Miller scored when Burris reached on an error.

Donald Lutz homered, his second hit of the inning.  Izturis also had two hits adding a single following a home run by Lutz.

Alfredo Simon pitched two innings for the first time since returning from the World Baseball Classic.  Simon pitched just once for the WBC Champion Dominican Republic team.

Simon allowed one run on three hits and a walk.

Professionally edited by ML Schirmer
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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Devin Mesoraco Earned the Backup Catcher Job

The Reds offered Miguel Olivo the $100.000 retention bonus mandated by the collective agreement.

Olivo was pushing Devin Mesoraco, who made the team out of spring training but struggled at the plate and in the field.  The Reds sent Mesoraco to Louisville after he returned from a suspension for bumping an umpire.

Dioner Navarro, who signed with the Chicago Cubs over the winter, was added to the roster from Louisville.  Navarro hit well down the stretch as the Reds won the division.

Mesoraco is hitting .361 with three doubles, two home runs and a team-high 11 RBI.

Olivo hit .167 with a home run and four RBI.

Olivo can accept the bonus and report to Louisville with the right to ask for a release if he is not added to the Reds' roster by June 1.  He could also refuse the bonus and elect free agency.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Mariners Hammer Homer Bailey and the Reds

It was the Mariners day and Homer Bailey knew it.

Jesus Montero hit a grand slam, Michael Saunders homered among his three hits and the Seattle Mariners hammered Homer Bailey in a 16-0 rout of the Cincinnati Reds on Monday.

Saunders connected off Bailey, and Justin Smoak added two hits off the right-hander, driving in three runs. Montero's slam came off Wilken De La Rosa, one of two non-roster pitchers left in Reds camp.

Bailey was scheduled to pitch five innings but lasted only 3 1-3, allowing nine runs on nine hits and two walks. He struck out five.

"It was their day, not mine," Bailey said but it wasn't as bad as it looked at least from Bailey's point of view.

"I don't think it was as bad as the line looks," Bailey said. "The hit that one home run but other than that there were a lot of ground balls that went through, dropped balls. I made some good pitches and struck a few guys out but it seemed like every time they put it in play there was a runner on. I think the catcher hit a couple of them up the middle some broken bat hits. It's kind of frustrating sometimes."

Saunders also doubled, singled and scored three times from the leadoff spot. Saunders was named to All-WBC team as a member of Team Canada. Montero was 3-for-3 and is now hitting .405 with 10 RBI, including six for the game.

Brandon Maurer continued to impress the Mariners. He gave up six hits and a walk in five innings, striking out seven. The 22-year-old is making a strong case to earn a spot in Seattle's starting rotation.

The Mariner's 23rd pick in the 2008 draft is testing manger Eric Wedge's discipline.

"We are trying to go all the way through. Part of my discipline is keep my mind open to the very end," Wedge said. "The very end is approaching quickly here. We see how the next couple days play out but it's safe to say we are close to making a decision."

Maurer pleaded his case on the mound.

"I can't think about competing for the spot," Maurer said. "I just have to concentrate on going out there and getting ready for the next start. Those guys can hit it was good to go out there and get a couple of them out."

Maurer had confidence in his change-up and curve, two pitches that needed work coming into camp.

"It was nice to go out and have a little confidence in them," Maurer said.

Wedge's opinion was reinforced by the outing that give Maurer a 0.90 ERA for the spring. Maurer has allowed 2 earned runs in 20 innings and pitched out of a bases loaded jam in spite of sitting through long Mariner at-bats.

"Maurer threw the ball very well against a good group of hitters," Wedge said. "Pitching out of that situation isn't something we haven't seen it reaffirms what we've seen. For him to pitch the way he pitched and have the time he sat on the bench today and still be effective was very impressive."

The Reds let two fly balls drop while Bailey was on the mound and commited an error.

Jack Hannahan and Zack Cozart doubled and Brandon Phillips tripled among the Reds' seven scattered hits.

"We looked kind of pitiful. We didn't catch. We didn't hit. Nothing, Dusty Baker said. "Homer didn't throw the ball that bad. They got some two out hits. We didn't help him on defense. It shows the importance of defense because it opens innings."

NOTES: Reds RHP Bronson Arroyo threw some pitches to test his right hand. Arroyo was hit on the right hand that David Murphy hit on Sunday. X-rays were negative. He is expected to make his next start on Friday....IF Jason Donald will get some at-bats in the minor league camp. He is out with a sore knee. Donald is one of three players competing for the Reds' utility role...The Mariners place RHP Josh Kinney on the 60-day disabled list. Then selected Kameron Loe to the 40-man roster....Michael Saunders' third home run of the spring. Jesus Montero grand slam was his second of the spring. The home runs give the Mariners 52 home runs one more than their previous team high set in 1999....

Last Week of Training Reds vs Seattle, Arroyo's Hand is Fine

The Reds take on the Seattle Mariners as they begin the last week of spring training.

Homer Bailey will pitch for the Reds against 22-year old Brandon Maurer, who is one of four super pitching prospects in the Mariner organization along with Danny Hultzen, Taijuan Walker and James Paxton. Don't worry if you have never heard of them. If they stay healthy, you will.

Maurer is one of five candidates for two open starting spots in the Mariner rotation along with Blake Beavan, Erasmo Ramirez, Jon Garland and Jeremie Bonderman.

The Seattle right-hander will oppose the following lineup:

Shin-Soo Choo CF
Brandon Phillips 2B,
Joey Votto 1B
Ryan Ludwick LF
Xavier Paul RF
Jack Hannahan 3B
Zack Cozart SS
Devin Mesoraco C
Homer Bailey P

Bailey is scheduled to pitch five frames to be followed by Manny Parra, Justin Freeman, J.J. Hoover and lefty Wilkin De La Rosa.

Bronson Arroyo was hit on his right hand by Texas firstbaseman David Murphy.

The sight and sound gave Dusty Baker morbid thoughts.

"My heart sank," Baker said. "I heard it first. He (Arroyo) told me it was broken. I saw the hand and that's what I thought too.  We had Latos get hit the day before.  They put that pressure bondage on it, then told me it was nothing."

Arroyo insists he will pitch again Friday against Arizona at Chase Field.

"The guy takes pride in being able to pitch," Baker said. "I've only seen a few like him, very few. He has a high pain threshold but he just loves the game. He has dedication. If everybody was like him, they'd maximize their careers."

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Reds Thirdbase Coach Mark Berry Has Cancer

Mark Berry had a conversation with his sister Michelle. It may have saved his life.

Cincinnati Reds third base coach Mark Berry says he has been diagnosed with cancer on his tonsils and neck lymph nodes.

The 50-year-old traveled to Cincinnati on Wednesday to have a biopsy taken on his lymph nodes. The results came back positive.

"I first noticed in early December. My tonsils swelled up," Berry said. "I hurt like a cold or a flu and I thought it was just that."

After two weeks Berry didn't get sick but the pain persisted.

"Then in the beginning of January the lymph nodes in my neck felt like small marbles. Around mid-January I went to see a doctor," Berry said. "Cancer was the last thing on my mind. We were going to spring training. We had an ear, nose and throat specialist examining us (at the Goodyear complex)."

The specialist suggested that Berry have two needle biopsies. One was inconclusive and the other was negative.

Berry had a conversation with his sister, Michelle Gonzalez. His sister went through the identical scenario 15 years ago.

"She told me not to be satisfied with the biopsies," Berry said.

Reds team physician, Dr. Timothy Kremchek put Berry in touch with Dr. Corey Casper of the University of Cincinnati/Hutchinson Center Cancer Alliance.

"Dr Casper told me that he thought it orginated in my tonsils," Berry said. "Wednesday they took enough of the tonsil to test it. Sure enough the test came back and it was definitely cancer."

The doctors tested Berry from the waist up to make sure it hadn't spread. It is isolated in his lymph nodes, leaving two treatment options. One is surgery to take out the two affected lymph nodes and other lymph nodes to see it there is cancer in them. A second surgery to remove his tonsils would be performed.

The other option requires radiation for 35 consecutive days.

"I have talked to as many people as I can. There have been a lot of people in baseball that have been through what I've been through," Berry said. "Already I've gotten input. I haven't made the final decision yet. Either way I'm going to be with the team through (March) the 30th. I'm going to fly with the team back to Cincinnati. I will make a decision and get something started during the first home stand."

Berry, who has been in the Reds organization for 30 years as a player, minor league manager and coach, told the team Sunday.

The native of Oxnard, Calif., intends to stay with the team at least for home games. He will miss some trips especially early in the season.

Berry, who has been third base coach since 2003. The  have not decided whether he will continue in that capacity or move to the bench on manager Dusty Baker's staff.

"I told the team there is nothing to hide or be embarrased about. This is a common occurence," Berry said. "If anyone wants to talk about it, I would be happy to do it. I will share my story with anybody. It might help someone else that has symptoms. My sister had it 15 years ago and she's fine. It was good to have her to lean on."

Joey Votto Gives Yu Darvish a Stiff Neck But Texas Wins

Yu Darvish tried to trick Joey Votto and paid a price. He made the Reds pay in the end.

Darvish gave up homers to Joey Votto and Todd Frazier but showed no problems with a stiff neck that forced him to be scratched from his previous start, and the Texas Rangers beat the Cincinnati Reds 6-2 on Saturday.

"Votto put a good swing. I threw him a slow curve. It was good hitting, said Darvish through an interpreter.

Votto,  looked at slow curve, two pitched before. He saw the pitch again and blasted it.

"The next at bat they started to crowd Votto. I don't know if he'll see any more of those or not," Reds manager Dusty Baker said.

Votto couldn't generate power with his surgically repaired knee when he returned after missing 48 games but hit his third long ball of the spring and gestured with his fingers to his lips as he crossed home plate. Todd Frazier hit his fourth but the Reds did little else.

"I didn't know what the gesture meant," Darvish said. "A teammate told me later in the clubhouse. I'm not too concerned. I don't have an opinion on that. The one Frazier hit, I thought it was a fly ball. I was surprised it went into the stands."

Darvish gave up three hits in five innings, including the two homers. He had to miss his scheduled start last Monday.

"Overall, I feel good. I could have pitched a little bit more," Darvish said.

Ron Washington, the Texas manager, thinks his starter from Japan is nearly ready for the season.

"His fastball had a lot of life on it," Washington said. "He just needs to continue to pitch and stay healthy."

Elvis Andrus hit a double and a two-run homer for Texas, and Mitch Moreland homered off Mat Latos. The right-hander left the game as a precaution in the sixth after Geovany Soto's liner deflected off his leg.

"Moreland is using the whole field," Washington said. "The last couple years leftfield was the only way he could drive the ball. He's good and healthy now and driving the ball to the opposite field. When he does that, he is at his best."

Latos allowed four runs in 5 2/3 innings on nine hits and two walks. He struck out six, while surrendering two home runs.

"The ball hit Latos flush on the foot," Baker said. "I don't anticipate anything He pitched pretty good. He had to keep them in the ballpark because they (Texas) can really hit."

Rangers thirdbaseman Jeff Baker left the game in the third inning with a sinus problem.

NOTES: Shin-Soo Choo is back in the Reds lineup after missing five games with back spasms....Alfredo Simon pitched in a minor league game. It was his first game since rejoining the Reds from the WBC champion Dominican team for which he made just one appearance....

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Joel Bender Has A Good Outing Against Kannapolis

Oak Hills High School grad, Joel Bender, pitched 1 1/3 innings for the Dayton Dragons against the Kannapolis Intimidators Friday on the back fields at Goodyear.

Bender, a left-handed reliever, allowed a hit and a walk and struck out two.

"I came in with runners on second and third and two outs," Bender said.  "Then I showed my weakness which is getting off the mound to cover bases.  I have to get off the mound quicker.  I had full command of my fastball, change and slider.  It went pretty well."

Bender will pitch again on Sunday.

Reds Get Tangled Up With Texas

The Reds tangle with Texas and Yu Darvish on Sunday.

Darvish was scratched from his start on Monday with a stiff neck but recently threw a bullpen session and was pronounced fit to face the Reds.

Darvish was twice the MVP of the Pacific League in Japan. The 26-year old from Osaka, Japan won 16 games and struck out 221 in 191 1/3 innings.

The Reds lineup facing Darvish is:

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

Jonathan Broxton, Clay Hensley and Manny Para will pitch after Latos, who is scheduled to pitch six innings.

Choo's back has improved enough for him to get back into action with a week left.

"Choo was rolling before he got hurt," Dusty Baker said. "We still have time to get him sharp again. We want to push some if anything he has to push back. We have to be careful we don't over extend him. We don't want him to have a setback.  Usually, you worry about a guy being lazy and not being a worker but this guy is the opposite."

Jonathan Broxton knew it was possible that Chapman would come back to his role as closer and he was prepared.

"As long as we got the win, I don't care," Broxton said. "Whatever it takes to win a ring. It's just three outs no matter where you pitch. With the game today the seventh inning is just as important. Before you get to the eighth, you have to get to the seventh. Every inning this day and age is just as important as the ninth."

Friday, March 22, 2013

Reds Put Aroldis Chapman in the Closers Role

The experiment is over.  The Reds put Aroldis Chapman into the closer's role.

Chapman auditioned as a starter during the last two seasons but ultimately moved to the closer's role.

Last year injuries forced the issue.  This year the organization recognized the move gives them the best chance to win.

In an organizational decision, Chapman, who saved 38 games for the NL Central Division champions, is going to close.

The plan for 2012 was to put Chapman in the starting rotation but injuries to the bullpen created a void which Chapman filled brilliantly, to the point that he recieved votes for the Cy Young Award.

Chapman didn't allow a run until his 16th appearance of the season.  He didn't become the closer until May 20, yet tied for third in the National League in saves.  From June 26 through August 17, Chapman turned in 23 consecutive scoreless appearances. He converted a team-record 27 consecutive save chances.

"Our rotation is Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Bronson Arroyo, Homer Bailey and Mike Leake," Dusty Baker said as if there was a drum roll in the room.

Baker and general manager Walt Jocketty had the following to say.

Baker said....

"We didn't think it was Leake versus Chapman.  That's not how it was. We set them up on the same day so we could make that decision that would give us a better chance to win and to set up our bullpen."

"It's not like Chapman didn't have success.  The guy was an All-Star and had 47 or whatever it was saves."

"He started out as a guy who pitched two innings last year. He was a set up guy remember.  We had him setup to pitch every four or five days.  Now we have to get him into situations, where his arm will rebound for back-to-back games.  We need to do it now while we have a few days of spring training.  He's the closer and on days he can't pitch, we've got Broxton. It's no different than last year. It's consecutive days like we did last year."

Baker communicated with the players involved - Leake, Chapman and Broxton.

"We talked to everybody.  We talked to everybody before we talked to you."

Chapman expressed last week that he preferred to close.

"Unsolicited, he said that. You want a guy at a comfort level.  But do you tell your boss what to do? If you do you won't be working long.  We don't care about the publicity.  It doesn't factor into the decision."

There was believed to be an division among the Reds' staff as to how to use Chapman.

"Contrary to what people think, there is no wedge between the manager and general manager.  But it seems like that for the sake of a story, it's not right."

"We're ready to get our team together and play ball."

In the playoffs last season, Chapman was not involved in the last four games. Could he have had a greater impact on the playoffs as a starter?

"Where would we have been had he not been in that role?  We might not have even made it to be in that situation.  Like I told you earlier.  He had the chance to be our best starter or best closer.  What did Chapman account for 50 percent of our wins.  When you add it up with holds, wins and saves how many was he involved in 58-59 at least?"

"There's the point, that your number one starter is worth more than your closer, but how do you know if he's your number one or not.  Hopefully someday we'll find out."

Jocketty said.......

"It was like last year.  It was a tough decision. We felt what gives us the best opportunity to win this year is to leave the rotation as is. We had four guys that pitched 200 innings.  We have another guy who is capable of pitching 200 innings (Leake).  That's a very strong rotation and putting Chapman back to the closer role with Jonathan Broxton, who might close some games. It gives us a very strong bullpen. As we evaluated it, we felt it was best.  And Leake's had a very good spring. We think he's pitched very good. Dusty's been happy.  Bryan's (Price) been happy. I've been happy. We felt that he was close to where he was a couple years ago.  I think we're a better team."

"We're a team that's built for now.  We're built to win now.  This in our opinion gives us the best opportunity to do that."

"Someday he may be a starter.  But now this puts us in the best position to be successful."

Broxton's contract seemed high for a setup man, now that he is not the closer.

"What did Soriano just sign for $14 (million), Papelbon's $15. Late inning setup guys are getting in the range that Broxton is getting, Affeldt.  It was important that we sign him (Broxton) back to give us that flexibility."

Broxton is fine with his role as the setup man.

"He (Broxton) told Dusty he would pitch in any role."

Chapman's preference was a factor but only a factor.

"No way do the players tell us what they want to do but it certainly is a factor.  He was comfortable in that role. He had success in that role.  Ultimately we make the decision."

Jocketty disputes the story that there was a deep division.

"You guys (media) have made a big deal out of this.  You exaggerated the point that there was a big in-house battle.  There was not a big in-house battle.  We approached this spring exactly the same as last year.  With Chapman that he was going to be either the starter or the closer.  We waited until the end of last spring training, maybe two days earlier because of injuries but what puts us in the best position to win. That's all that we are concerned about."

Would Chapman have more impact as a starter who could pitch 200 innings or a closer that will pitch closer to 50 innings?

"We wouldn't have gotten 200 innings out of him this year.  That's a factor too."

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Cueto Hit Hard By A's Todd Frazier, Derrick Robinson and Denis Phipps Homer

Johnny Cueto wasn't sharp but insists he will be ready for opening day.

Derek Norris homered as the Oakland Athletics roughed up Johnny Cueto and beat the Cincinnati Reds 10-9 Thursday.

Cueto allowed five runs on five hits and two walks in 1 2-3 inning.

Norris added a single to increase his spring average to .379. Josh Reddick and Chris Young hit doubles in the A's five-run second inning. Jed Lowrie had two hits for Oakland.

The Reds have not announced its opening day starter, but Cueto's turn would come up on opening day. Cueto blamed his mechanics. He wasn't able to adjust in time.

"My fastball was up and out over the plate," Cueto said. "I was flying open. I knew what was happening but couldn't correct it. In the bullpen all my pitches were down."

He has no concerns about being ready for the opener against the Angels.

"I'm ready," Cueto said.

Mark Prior, trying to make another comeback, pitched a scoreless inning for the Reds. He struck out one and hit a batter.

Prior's career ended prematurely with shoulder problems while pitching for Reds' manager Dusty Baker in Chicago.

"It was good to be out there. It was fun," Prior said. "I was trying to throw strikes. I was a little up a little rushed.

It was the first time doing it in a big league environment in a couple years. It was good. Two years ago when I was in camp with the Yankees I got to face hitters in spring, nine outings that went pretty good. It was a good test for me to see if I could get big league hitters out.

The 32-year old, who hasn't pitched in the major leagues since 2006, pitched in Pawtucket in the Red Sox's organization last year.

"After pitching in minor league games in minor league camp and last year in Pawtucket, you still want to know does your stuff still play," Prior said. "My location wasn't as good as it's been in the minor league camp but I'm sure it was adrenaline and anxiety."

Baker and Prior have stayed in touch over the years. Baker helped Prior get this opportunity.

 "I'm fortunate to have the opportunity to be in this position. I'm here because of Dusty. Maybe I can surprise some people by doing something," Prior said.

"Prior threw the ball good. He's not far off from where he was before," Baker said. "His fastball had good zip on it. His breaking pitches will come in time. He hasn't been here that long. I'm glad for him. It's a matter of staying healthy. It was nice for me to shake his hand when he came off the mound."

A's starter Brett Anderson pitched for the first time in a game since March 10. He had been out with a strained right trapezius. The left-hander missed most of last season while recovering from elbow surgery.

"The results weren't awesome but I threw some good pitches," Anderson said. "I threw some not good pitches. I threw a lot of pitches I wouldn't throw in a regular season game. A lot of change-ups that got hit. I got some strike outs on my slider that was good. I got of five times and felt pretty good. The results weren't very good from the outside looking in but I gave up  eight hits, four or five were on pitches I wouldn't throw in the regular season."

Anderson pitched 4 2/3 innings, allowing six runs on eight hits and two walks. He struck out five.

Todd Frazier and Derrick Robinson homered off Anderson. It was the third of the spring for Frazier.

Denis Phipps homered off Travis Blackley in the ninth.

Grant Balfour made his first appearance of the spring for Oakland. Balfour is making a quick recovery from athroscopic surgery on his right knee on February 14. Balfour, who led the A's last season with 24 saves, pitched a perfect inning, striking out one.

NOTES: The Athletics sent LHP Ian Krol to Washington on Wednesday as the player-to-be-named-later in the trade that brought John Jaso to the A's from Seattle in a three-way trade....The A's acquired RHP Darren Byrd from Milwaukee for IF Stephen Parker on the off day Wednesday....Reds' OF Shin-Soo Choo put in full workout today. He missed five games with a back spasms....The Reds have not announced its opening day starter but Johnny Cueto's turn would come up on opening day the way the rotation is currently set up....

The Reds Play Oakland Today Where Were You in '72 or '90?

The Reds will host the Oakland Athletics at Goodyear Ballpark at 4:05 Eastern Time.

The Reds and A's met for the first time in the 1972.  Gene Tenace hit two home runs in the opening game at Riverfront Stadium as the A's took a quick two game lead in the series.  The Reds went to Oakland and battled back winning two of three in the Bay Area to force a return to Cincinnati. The Reds pounded the A's in game six. Catfish Hunter beat the Reds in Game 7, 3-2.

The Reds swept the heavily favored Oakland A's with "Bash Brothers" Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire.  Eric Davis, who has been in Goodyear coaching baserunners and outfielders, hit a three-run home run in the first inning of Game 1. Billy Hatcher, the Reds' firstbase coach hit .750 (9-for-12) in the series.  Chris Sabo hit two home runs in Game 3.  Jose Rijo outpitched Dave Stewart in Game 4 as the Reds scored two runs in the eighth to win, 2-1.

They will oppose left-handed pitcher Brett Anderson. Anderson, 25 years old, was the second round pick of the Arizona Diamonbacks in 2006. He was traded to Oakland in 2007, along with five other players, for Dan Haren and Connor Robertson.

Anderson broke into the majors in 2009, making 30 starts, in which he was 11-11 with a 4.06 ERA.
In the last three seasons the number of starts has decreased each year.  He started 19 games in 2010 (7-6), 13 games in 2011 (3-6) and six games in 2012 (4-2).

The Reds' lineup is:

Derrick Robinson CF
Brandon Phillips 2B
Joey Votto 1B
Ryan Ludwick LF
Chris Heisey RF
Todd Frazier 3B
Zack Cozart SS
Ryan Hanigan C
Johnny Cueto P

Robinson is getting another start while Shin-Soo Choo remains out with back spasms.  Choo will have a full workout today.  "There is nothing structurally wrong," Dusty Baker said.  "I don't think we fully understand how backs work.  He has never had one before."

Cueto is scheduled to pitch five innings. Sam LeCure will follow with one inning.  Mark Prior will get into a big league game and pitch one inning. Logan Ondrusek will pitch one inning.  Wilkin De La Rosa will pitch an inning.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Reds Pound White Sox

Former Red Adam Dunn crushed a Homer Bailey pitch high off the batter's eye in centerfield with two men on but Chris Heisey and Jay Bruce connected for back-to-back home runs to beat John Danks and the White Sox 10-6

Bailey was better than the five runs (four earned) the White Sox scored off him but the Reds gave Chicago two extra outs in the first inning.

Todd Frazier dropped a foul pop up to allow another former Red, Dewayne Wise, a chance to hit a single.  Leftfielder Chris Heisey misplayed a fly ball by Dayan Viciedo to push Bailey's pitch count up.

Brandon Phillips had two hits in his first game back from the World Baseball Classic.

Derrick Robinson had three of the Reds' 13 hits, including a double.  Robinson signed a minor league contract with the Reds. He had been in the Kansas City organization. Robinson is playing in place of Shin-Soo Choo, who is out with back spasms.

Heisey had an RBI single in the first and his third home run came with two men on off Danks in the fourth.  Bruce also hit his fourth.

Todd Frazier drove in two runs with a single.  Devin Mesoraco had a single to boost his average to .440 on the spring.

Bailey gave up three in the first and two in the third.  Gordon Beckham hit his second home run of the spring and Viciedo tripled home a run.

Bailey finished with 4 1/3 innings, allowing five runs (four earneed) on nine hits and a walk. He fanned five.

"I feel good, that's the most important thing," Bailey said. "I need to work more from the stretch a little bit and my curveball. It might be me. It might be the thin air but I need the curve to get better."

Baker thought Homer did all right considering the circumstances.

"Homer looked pretty good. Our defense didn't help him. We gave them a lot of outs in the first inning. That's how his pitch count got up. He threw the ball well though. They used the DH and we didn't, that gave them another offensive player. Plus they have a good hitting lineup."  
"The main thing is we got our offense going," Baker said. "But we didn't play very good defense."   

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Billy Hamiton and Drew Hayes Sent to Minors

The Reds sent Billy Hamilton and Drew Hayes to the minor league camp this morning.

"Billy just needs to play," Dusty Baker said. "There are a lot of things he needs to learn. People are enamored with speed because there isn't a lot of it. When I was coming up if you didn't have speed you better hit a lot of home runs. He just started to switch hit. For a guy with speed he is striking out too much but he had to come here to see where his development was."

Hamilton his .174 with six hits in 17 at-bats, with two triples, including Monday night against Colorado. The 22-year old struck out nine times.  He also had a setback with a tight hamstring.

Hayes had six appearances, including an inning on Monday night, in which he gave up a home run and an unearned run.

Hayes entered the game with the bases loaded in his first two outings, throwing on pitch each time. In his first game, he gave up a bases-loaded double.  In the second he retired the batter on one pitch.

The 25-year old former Tennessee high school baseball player of the year and Mr. Football pitched 4 2/3 innings in six games, allowing three runs (two earned) on seven hits. He walked three and struck out three.

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Oak Hills Lefty Joel Bender Pitching Friday

Oak Hills High graduate from the class of 2010 is currently on the Dayton Dragons roster.

The 21-year old has made three spring appearances and had some good outings.  He is scheduled to pitch in Goodyear against the White Sox's A farm team the Kannapolis Intimidators from Kannapolis, NC.

"They are pitching me a lot," Bender said. "I've had three outings and they have been great so far.  I was on Bakersfield until the Reds' sent some down.  I am hoping it holds and I pitch for Dayton this year."

Bender stayed in extended spring last season then reported to Billings in June.  He started five games and made 15 total appearances. Bender pitched 53 innings for the Mustangs (not to be confused with Western Hills). He had a 3-4 record with a 6.75 ERA.

Reds Play White Sox Brandon Phillips is Back

(Will update after morning meeting with manager)

Brandon Phillips rejoins the lineup in a game against the Chicago White Sox and its starter, John Danks.

Phillips has been out of the Reds camp since March 4 and was playing with more intensity than the other players in camp.  Dusty Baker wants to work him with the three candidates for the open utility role to make him familiar with double play combinations.

The Reds lineup against Danks is:

Derrick Robinson CF
Brandon Phillips 2B
Joey Votto 1B
Chris Heisey LF
Jay Bruce RF
Todd Frazier 3B
Emmanuel Burris SS
Devin Mesoraco C
Homer Bailey P

Bronson Brilliant Against Rockies

Bronson Arroyo gave up a trademark long home run to Dexter Fowler leading off the game but pitched 5 2/3 innings as the Reds held on to a 4-3 win.  He allowed five hits and two walks and struck out one hitter.

"I felt good tonight – it was a night game, it felt like a regular game today," Arroyo said. "I knew I was going to get deep in the ballgame and I was going to hit and all that. It was nice. Fowler starts me off with a bomb-bomb and everything else went smooth from there.”

Arroyo paid Fowler back by hitting a ball over the centerfielder's head to drive in the equalizing run.  Zack Cozart walked and one out later, Arroyo's double sent the shortstop to home to score.

“I knew it wasn’t a homer," Arroyo said. "I was just coasting for a minute because I thought he was definitely going to catch it. Then I saw he really had to run hard to get it. I thought it might have a chance to get over his head and I got lucky.”

Arroyo pitched out of a second and third one-out situation. Chris Nelson singled but had to stop at third on a ground rule double by Jonathan Herrera. Reid Brignac lined out to Todd Frazier at third and Arroyo struck out Fowler swinging.

The Reds scored twice off Eastern Kentucky grad Christian Friedrich.  Cesar Izturis doubled.  Donald Lutz nailed a pitch that ate up secondbaseman Charlie Culbertson.  Izturis slid home safely.  Ryan Ludwick hit into a double play but Jay Bruce connected against Friedrich for a long home run high upon the berm behind the rightfield wall.

Billy Hamilton tripled in his lone at bat and scored on a sacrifice fly by Devin Lohman.

Hamilton rounds second taken by Debra Goetz Poynter

Hamilton is learning to play centerfield and Dusty Baker hasn't seen him enough to know how far he has come.

"I haven't seen enough of Hamilton because he got hurt. You'd have to ask Billy Hatcher and Eric Davis because they have been working with him," Baker said.

Hamilton beats throw to third taken by Debra Goetz Poynter
Baker roomed with Ralph Garr who was known as the "Roadrunner" when they came up with the Braves.

"I don't know if he is as fast as Garr but Ralph was the second fastest man I've seen play," Baker said. "Deion Sanders was the fastest."      

J.J. Hoover pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings. Clay Hensley pitched a quick 1-2-3 frame.

Ben Paulsen hit a line drive home run off Drew Hayes to lead off the ninth.  Hayes gave up a single to Yorvit Torrealba but Tyler Colvin hit into a force play.  Colvin went to second on a third strike in the dirt that Nolan Arenado swung through. Colvin scored when Emmanuel Burris threw a ground ball hit by D.J. LaMahieu past young Travis Mattair at firstbase. Burris threw out Corey Dickerson to end the game.

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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Reds Club and Flub in a Tie With Cleveland

Reds clubbed four home runs but made four errors to let Indians catch up.

Xavier Paul and Todd Frazier homered in Cincinnati's five-run first inning against Cleveland opening-day starter Justin Masterson before the Reds and Indians tied 7-7 in a game called after nine innings Sunday.

Paul connected after singles by Zack Cozart and Joey Votto. Frazier's shot followed a walk to Jay Bruce. It was the second home run of the spring for both players.

"It was an odd game really," Dusty Baker said. "We jumped them early. Then didn't get any more for awhile. They jumped us. Then we jumped them again. We made four errors that gave them four extra outs. They hurt. They made a couple errors too."

Masterson, the Indians opening day starter, got through the rocky first and pitched shutout ball from there. He went four innings, allowing four hits and two walks while striking out six. The right-hander whiffed four of his last six batters.

He was able to adjust his delivery on the fly to finish his outing.

"I walked Xavier Paul throwing sliders," said Masterson of the third inning. "I was pulling my pitches. I closed my hips a little bit and sure enough my pitches had more depth to them. I got some quick innings after that."

First year manager Terry Francona sees Masterson as the staff leader.

"Masterson has embraced being the leader of this staff," Francona said.

 Reds starter Mat Latos, who struggled early in his previous two starts, retired his first four batters. But he gave up an unearned run in the third and two runs in the fourth. Latos went five innings, yielding six hits and striking out three.

The 25-year who cost the Reds four players in a trade, is a notorious slow starter but is working on a change up which he used to his advantage against Cleveland.

"I felt comfortable in the first inning," Latos said. "It was like spring training all over again. Everything felt real good today. My curveball felt real good coming out of my hand. The changeup I've been working on was good. I've had a crappy changeup my whole career. I've been working on it with Mario Soto. I'm starting to get a feel for it. I got a lot of swings and misses and some ground balls."

Latos was 1-2 in five April starts with a 5.97 ERA but was 13-2 the rest of 2012.

 "There was some pressure when a team trades four players to get you," Latos said. "Maybe I should have pitched in the WBC and got April out of the way."

Chris Heisey and Denis Phipps hit back-to-back home runs off Cody Allen, who was told he was opening the season in the Cleveland bullpen. Heisey's second spring homer and Phipps first gave the Reds a 7-4 lead going into the ninth.

Non-roster player, Omir Santos hit a solo home run and minor leaguer Carlos Moncrief hit a two-run home run off Reds' minor leaguer, Daniel Wolford to tie the game.

NOTES: Reds centerfielder Shin-Soo Choo is getting treatment for back spasms....Indians catcher Yan Gomes is sitting out with a tight right hamstring...Reds 2B returned from the World Baseball Classic but was given the day off by Dusty Baker...Indians RHP Chris Perez will throw a bullpen on Monday. He is recovering from a strained right shoulder. "The intensity of this bullpen will be monitored," Terry Francona said. "After that his side sessions will be normal."...Indians 1B Nick Swisher left the camp for personal reasons...Scott Kazmir pitched in a minor league game against the Texas Rangers A team. Kazmir in the mix for the number 5 starter job, pitched five innings, allowing four runs on eight hits and a walk. He struck out five...

Reds and Indians Meet on St. Patrick's Day

The co-tenants at Goodyear Ballpark meet fourth the fourth time this spring on a sunny afternoon.

The game is televised in both Cleveland and Cincinnati.

The Reds are the home team today.  Shin-Soo Choo will not play against his former teammates.  He is getting treatment for back spasms.

The pitching duel is set up between the Indians opening day starter, Justin Masterson and Cincinnati's Mat Latos.

Latos is expected to pitch five innings to be followed by Pedro Villarreal, Jonathan Broxton and Wilkin De La Rosa.

The Reds lineup is:

Derrick Robinson CF
Zack Cozart SS
Joey Votto 1B
Xavier Paul LF
Jay Bruce RF
Todd Frazier 3B
Jason Donald 2B
Devin Mesoraco C
Mat Latos P

The Indians will use the designated hitter in their lineup that includes:

Michael Bourn CF
Drew Stubbs RF
Michael Brantley LF
Cord Phelps 3B
Mat Carson DH
Chris McGuiness 1B
Juan Diaz SS
Luis Hernandez 2B
Brian Jerolomon C
Justin Masterson P

Brandon Phillips has returned to Goodyear from the World Baseball Classic.  Manager Dusty Baker told him not to come in today and just take a day off.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Aroldis Chapman Prefers to Close

Aroldis Chapman had always been a starting pitcher in Cuba.  He was comfortable as a starter, but after becoming the closer last season, he likes the adrenaline rush when the game is on the line.

Since Chapman and his radar-gun-spinning fastball arrived in the Reds' organization, there has been debate on how best that fastball could be used.

He started 13 games for Louisville, then moved to the bullpen.

The 25-year old has 137 big league relief appearances under his lean belt.

There is division within Reds' management about whether to leave Chapman as a star closer or develop him as a dominating starter.

A decision must be made soon.  Should the Reds' continue with 2010 first round choice Mike Leake or replace him in the rotation with Chapman.

Until today, the competition has been extremely close at least when you look at the stat sheet.

Leake took five innings of one-run baseball into a game against Milwaukee Saturday afternoon.

Chapman pitched four innings allowing one run.

Leake was hit hard, allowing seven runs (five earned) in 3 1/3 innings.  Chapman allowed one run in four innings.

Dusty Baker watched Chapman, who got himself into trouble by walking the first two batters of the game, then allowing a single.  Chapman adjusted and finish the outing with three scoreless innings.

"He got some balls up that they missed, sliders," Baker said.  "You can get away with that when you throw as hard as he does."

Chapman explained through interpreter, Tomas Vera.  Miguel Olivo, the Reds catcher noted that Chapman was rushing to the plate and dropping his elbow.

The pitcher who has thrown pitches as fast as 105 mph.  As a starter, he would need to pace himself and change speeds more.

"As the season comes up, you catch up with your speed," Chapman said. "I know it will happen so I'm not worried about how hard I throw right now.  When you're a starter you use your pitches in a different way.  You try to save energy.  When you save energy, you use the speed as the game demands.  If you enter late in the game, you can throw harder because the game demands that you do."

Chapman expressed several times that he will pitch in whatever role the team decides but would like a decision so the he could better prepare for the season

"I'm waiting for the decision so I can concentrate on what I have to do," Chapman said. "It is not a distraction because when you're pitching, you don't think about those things.  It's always good to know what you're going to do."

The Reds were planning to find out if Chapman would be a starter last spring but bullpen injuries dictated that he returned to the bullpen.  Eventually, he became the team's closer.

"I would like to be a closer, but it's not in my hands," Chapman said.

Baker planned to talk to him after the outing about Chapman's input into the decision.

"I was going to talk to him for that purpose," Baker said.  "You hear all kinds of stuff.  You hear from this camp.  You hear from people who think they're in the know. I wanted to hear from him. We are going to do what's best for the organization and for him. It makes it a lot easier if you get the person's blessing about it.  I use it to my advantage when I ask a guy where he likes to hit (in the lineup). A man in the middle is a man in constant turmoil. We have to discuss it. I'm happy he finally expressed something."

The small sample of spring training is not enough to go on according to Baker.

"It's hard to say in spring. You can't go on one or two outings.  There are guys that look great for three, then bad for two.  He only gave up one run today but he didn't throw a lot of quality pitches. They helped him out by swinging at a couple of pitches when his pitch count was getting high. The swung at the first or second pitch.  He is going to wild sometimes when he throws that hard.  Randy Johnson was. Sandy Koufax was. J.R. Richard; Nolan Ryan was. But they also had the ability to strike themselves out of trouble.  A power pitcher can walk three like they can't find the plate then bam put three pitches on the black and strike the next guy out."

Reds Send Five Players to Minors

The Reds optioned RHP Curtis Partch, RHP Pedro Villarreal,  IF Henry Rodriguez and IF Neftali Soto to Triple-A Louisville.

1B/OF Donald Lutz was optioned to Double-A Pensacola.

The Reds spring training roster is down to 39 players, including 11 non-roster invitees.

LHP Wilkin De La Rosa, RHP Armando Galarraga, RHP Drew Hayes, RHP Clay Hensley, C Corky Miller, C Miguel Olivo, IF Emmanuel Burris, IF Cesar Izturis, OF Billy Hamilton, OF Denis Phipps and OF Derrick Robinson are all non-roster invitees, who are still in the major league camp.

Reds Take On World Champion Giants in Scottsdale

The Reds play the World Champions in the ritzy section of Phoenix.  The press dining silverware was plastic like it is in Goodyear but it was silver and had the look of real silverware.  The epitome of putting on the ritz.

The high-rent Giants will send left-hander Madison Bumgarner to face the Reds. Don't allow the first three letters of his surname to fool you.  This classy lefty won 16 games for the World Champs.  He has been in the league for three full seasons and won't turn 24 until August.

Bumgarner faces this lineup:

Billy Hamilton CF
Emmanuel Burris SS
Donald Lutz RF
Ryan Ludwick LF
Mike Hessman 1B
Jack Hannahan 3B
Jason Donald 2B
Miguel Olivo C
Aroldis Chapman P

Chapman is scheduled to pitch four innings, which means we will get to see him bat.

Chapman can swing the bat quite well.  He is one of the best athletes on the Reds.

"Now that Stubbs is gone, he's probably the fastest runner on the team," Dusty Baker said. "You look at him and he looks like an athlete.  Like Darryl Strawberry and Dave Winfield, he looks like he is built for any sport."

Billy Hamilton showed his speed in the first inning by hitting a triple to the rightfield corner.

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Johnny Cueto Goes Six Innings But Todd Helton Homers

Johnny Cueto is the first pitcher to pitch six innings and was the first to bat.

Cueto was not a sharp as he wanted to be but he is feeling no effects from the strained oblique that knocked him out of the Division Series against San Francisco.

Cueto gave up a double to Dexter Fowler, the first hitter of the game.  Fowler came around to score on two ground outs. Todd Helton hit a two-run home run.  Cueto allowed three runs on five hits and no walks.  He struck out five.

 "Cueto looked pretty good. He was animated because he wanted to be sharper," Reds' manager Dusty Baker said. ""He was kind of fighting himself. His stuff was good it was a matter of location."

Cueto is the only pitcher to hit this spring.  He was the only pitcher to bat March 4 against Arizona but was instructed not to swing the bat.  Baker and Arizona manager Kirk Gibson disagreed on the use of the designated hitter.

Now that Reds pitchers are going deeper in the game, the Reds want pitchers to start swinging the bat in games.  Cueto singled in his first at bat against Jeff Francis.

After the game, Cueto felt better about his work on Friday.

"I feel good," Cueto said. "I don't know how many pitches I had, 65-55, but I felt strong. I'm not feeling any pain. I'm ready for opening day. I've been working hard on my hitting."

Jeff Francis was a candidate for the Cincinnati rotation last spring. He exercised a clause in his contract that allowed him to be a free agent if he wasn't on the Reds' roster by a certain date. The Rockies' organization brought him back to the team for which he won 17 games in 2007

 "I was fighting for a job last year. I was still going out to get people out. There just was not a spot for me last year," Francis said.

Offensively, the Reds were less than prolific.

They managed just five hits and hit into three double plays.

"We hit into three double plays that six outs on three pitches," Baker said.  "We left some runners on thirdbase too.  It's frustrating."

Neftali Soto doubled with two outs in the first.  He left the game after that with a mildly strained quadricep.

Emmanuel Burris, Miguel Olivo and Cueto hit singles.

The Reds lone run scored after Jason Donald was hit by a pitch. Minor league infielder Bryson Smith forced Donald at second.  Smith scored on a triple by Derrick Robinson.

Burris and Donald are locked in a three-way battle for a job as the utility player with Cesar Izturis.

Baker assessed the competition before the game.

"Each brings something," Baker said.  "Burris has some things that is hard to find, speed and athleticism.  Izturis has slowed some but has very good hands.  Donald has hit well and has an advantage because he is already on the (40-man) roster.  You won't lose a player to put one of the others on it."

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Friday, March 15, 2013

Reds Play Colorado Under the Lights

While bands will be cranking up in Cincinnati from the Mt. Carmel Pub to the Knotty Pine, the Reds will be getting their game together against the Colorado Rockies at 10:05 Cincinnati time at Goodyear Ball Park.

Johnny Cueto is scheduled to pitch five innings.  Armando Galarraga is slated for three innings.  J.J. Hoover will pitch the ninth, if all goes according to plan.

Left-handed pitcher Jeff Francis will pitch for Colorado.  Francis pitched well enough for the Reds last spring to make the team but was caught up in the numbers game and sent to Louisville.  He was the Rockies number one pick in 2002 and pitched for them for six seasons, winning 17 games in 2006.  Francis went to Kansas City for the 2011 season.  He was signed a minor league contract with the Reds for the 2012. That contract allowed him to be a free agent if he was not on the Reds' major league roster by a certain date.  He re-signed with Colorado and finished the season there.

Francis will face:

Shin-Soo Choo CF
Emmanuel Burris 2B
Neftali Soto 1B
Ryan Ludwick LF
Jay Bruce RF
Todd Frazier 3B
Miguel Olivo C
Cesar Izturis SS
Johnny Cueto P

The Reds's starters pitched 42 2/3 innings without allowing a home run until Michael Morse connected off Homer Bailey in the game with Seattle on Thursday.

The game was tied at 7-7 when catcher Mike Zunino belted one off Drew Hayes in the eighth to provide the winning margin for the Mariners.

Denis Phipps hit a pair of doubles for the Reds.  Neftali Soto, Chris Heisey and Henry Rodriguez also hit doubles. Zack Cozart had two hits and drove in two runs.

Professionally edited by ML Schirmer
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