About Me

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

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Reds Promote First Round Draft Choice Phillip Ervin

The top two draft choices from the most recent draft are now with the Dayton Dragons.

The Reds promoted first pick Phillip Ervin from Billings in the Pioneer League to Dayton in the Midwest League.

Ervin played in 34 games at Billings, hitting .326 with eight home runs and 29 RBI.  The speedster from Samford University in Alabama has stolen 12 bases in as many attempts.

Ervin joins the Reds' other first round pick Michael Lorenzen, who joined the Dragons earlier this month.  Ervin was the 27th pick overall in June and Lorenzen was the 38th pick overall.

Lorenzen, who pitched and played outfield for Cal State Fullerton, has been pitching out of the bullpen in Dayton.  He has a 1-0 record in nine games and has not allowed a run in 8-1/3 innings.  He made one start for the Reds' Arizona League rookie team before his promotion to Dayton.

Phillip Ervin Samford
Ervin and Lorenzen join the top pick from the 2012 draft, starting pitcher Nick Travieso on the Dragons' roster.

Travieso is 5-3 in 11 starts for Dayton with a 4.85 ERA.

The Reds promoted the top pick from the 2011 draft Robert Stephenson to Bakersfield in mid-July.

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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Reds Sweep Hijacked By Pirates

Dusty Baker wanted for Homer Bailey to get the win but Pittsburgh salvaged one game in the series with a 3-2 win.

The Texan loves the heat and had not pitched in nine days.  Any run support at all and Bailey would have won his first game since his no-hitter.  His stuff was no-hit quality but the Pirates put the bat on the ball just enough late to score the deciding two runs.  Bailey struck out a career-high 12 batters.


Bailey hung a first-pitch slider to Garrett Jones in the second inning.  Jones hit his 10th home run of the season and second in as many days.

The Reds' starter had the misfortune of facing, young Jeff Locke, who came into this start with a snake-belly low 2.15 ERA.

The Reds managed only an infield single by Shin-Soo Choo that extended his career-high hitting streak to 15 games.  Choo was picked off.  Joey Votto walked one out later.  The Reds scored without a hit to tie the game in the fifth.  Zack Cozart and Corky Miller walked with one out.  Bailey advanced them with a sacrifice bunt.  Cozart scored on a wild pitch by Locke.

Bailey was mowing down Pirate hitters after Jones' home run.  Michael McKenry and Locke singled and Clint Barmes walked to become Pittsburgh's baserunner through six innings.

Bailey was still strong in the seventh.  Jones struck out swinging.  McKenry fouled off four pitches in a 10-pitch, full-count at-bat before hitting a double to leftcenterfield.  The last two pitches to McKenry were 98 and 96 mph. Jordy Mercer singled past Brandon Phillips to score McKenry.  Bailey got Barmes to hit a weak ground ball to shortstop but it was too weak for Cozart to make a play.  Pinch hitter Jose Tabata singled just out of the reach of Phillips to plate Mercer.

"I wanted to get Homer the win," Baker said.  "He was dealing.  He is stronger than most. He likes the heat. He's from Texas."

There were other considerations.  The Reds are going to play 34 games in the next 35 days, including a make-up game as part of a double header in San Franciso on Tuesday.  Bailey last pitched nine days ago.

"You don't want to get upside down in your bullpen, when you have a stretch like this coming up but mostly, we wanted to get Homer the win," Baker said.  "This is a team game but let's face it we all have individual goals.  Homer deserved a chance to win."

The way Bailey was throwing, he was the Reds' best mound option.

"As far as personal goals, when we win, I win," Bailey said.  "We made some really good pitches. It just didn't work out for us.  If you look at my velocity that last inning it was pretty obvious, I wasn't physically tired.  Dusty is really good about that (checking with pitchers). At the end of the day, we were still making good pitches.  We got two ground balls that we just missed.  The game of inches played out. Then McKenry's at-bat, foul off, foul off, he took pitches he swung at in the past.  Locke threw a great game for them.  Tip your cap to them it was their day."

Bailey was particularly frustrated by Barmes' ground ball.

"I'm trying to get a ground ball.  That's what I got. A guy on first, it's hit slow enough that we can't make a play.  Those kind of things are frustrating but you don't make an adjustment on that. That's what I mean."

The Reds had an opportunity to tie the game and break it open against Mark Melancon who had a string of 15 scoreless appearances.

Pinch hitter Derrick walked to open the inning.  Choo singled for the Reds' second hit of the game. Chris Heisey walked to load the bases for Votto.  Votto grounded to Jones at first, who was able to play off the bag with the bases loaded.  The Pirates turned a 3-6-1 double play with Melancon covering.  Phillips the NL RBI leader grounded out to shortstop.

A one-out single in the ninth by Todd Frazier off closer Jason Grilli was the only threat the Reds could muster in the ninth.

Ryan Ludwick Will Start Rehab Assignment

The Reds' projected cleanup hitter is on his way back to the lineup.

Ryan Ludwick's ill advised head-first slide on opening day caused a shoulder separation that has taken three months to heal.

Ludwick will join the Dayton Dragons on Wednesday to get himself back into playing shape.

"He's worked hard," Dusty Baker said.  "I'm proud of him.  Most guys would have been frustrated.  The toughest part is to say when you're ready.  Your mind tells you your ready but you have to be careful that you don't hurt something else.  How will your body react to bending into a defensive stance 150 times a game.  Your eye, your swing and your legs, as much as anything, need reps to get back."

The Reds will try to get him enough top notch competition without having Ludwick making a lot of minor league bus trips.  Dayton and Louisville and perhaps Pensacola will have Ludwick in the lineup at various times.  A position player can spend up to 20 days on minor league rehab, the rough equivalent of spring training.

"He's a slow starter anyway," Baker said.

Ludwick started out slowly in 2012.  The 35-year old had a .201 batting average as late as June 13 .  before he took off, finishing the season with a .275 average.  He hit 26 home runs and drove in 80. stabilizing the Reds' lineup.

Cincinnati resigned the free agent over the winter and projected Ludwick in the cleanup spot.

The opening day plan did not work as the Reds planned.  Brandon Phillips, who was supposed to hit second in the lineup, had to cover for Ludwick in the fourth spot.  Phillips led the National League with 78 RBI going into Sunday's game.  Jay Bruce, batting fifth, has 66 RBI good for fifth in the NL.

"That's the type of team we are," Phillips said.  "We fill in the gaps. I can't wait until Luddy gets back."

The Reds expected Phillips to flourish in the two hole which has been a problem for Dusty Baker with Ludwick on the shelf.  Although Phillips has performed well, he is not the typical cleanup hitter and his skills are more suited to batting second in front of Joey Votto.

"I know he is anxious to get back," Baker said of Ludwick.  "He told me that there are a lot of RBI out there."

Greg Reynolds Will Start For The Reds Tuesday

Greg Reynolds had to duck to get into his locker run cubicle at Great American Ball Park.

The 6'7" 28-year old right-handed pitcher from Pacifica, California arrived Sunday morning at the Reds' home to make the trip to San Francisco after the Reds complete the series with the Pittsburgh Pirates.


Cincinnati will make up the rained out July 4 game at Pac Bell Park against the Giants on Tuesday. Reynolds represents the extra player allowed by Major League Baseball rules for doubleheaders.

Reynolds had a bright future, dimmed by injury.  He was the first pick by the Colorado Rockies in the 2006 draft out of Stanford University.  Reynolds made his debut with Colorado in 2008 after recovering from righ shoulder problems that limited him to eight starts at Tulsa in 2008.  He made 13 starts for the Rockies in 2009, winning two of 10 decisions with a 8.13 ERA.  In 2009 Reynolds made just on start.  He began the 2010 season on Colorado's 60-day disabled list.  Reynolds made three starts and 12 appearances in 2011 for Colorado, winning three games.  He appeared in a game in Cincinnati on September 9, pitching a scoreless inning.  His last big league appearance was a two-nning relief stint at Houston on September 25.

The Reds signed Reynolds to a minor league contract on December 18.  He made 18 starts in Louisville and built a 10-2 record with a 2.54 ERA.

The Reds will make room on the roster for Reynolds.

Dusty Baker knows only what the reports say about Reynolds, who did not pitch in any big league exhibitions in Arizona.

"Reynolds lives five miles from my home in San Francisco.  He's a smart kid," Baker said.  "Sometimes it takes a while to figure out.  He is not a hard thrower but you don't have to be a hard thrower.  Look at Bronson (Arroyo).  There are a lot of hard throwers that can't get anybody out.  I used to prefer hard throwers because they were just that, throwers.  Now if you have a hard thrower who can pitch, you've got something."

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Reds Survive Rain And Pirates

Mat Latos struggled through the first inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The Reds' starter left two Pirates aboard but kept them from scoring.


Then high winds blew in and rain pelted the besieged grounds crew as they struggled to get the tarp on the field in time for an hour and 17 minute rain delay.

Pittsburgh starter A.J. Burnett was on the mound when umpires signaled the grounds crew.  Later, he took the mound and was visibly less sharp.

Shin-Soo Choo doubled to establish a career-high 14-game hitting streak.  Chris Heisey bunted for a base hit.  Joey Votto hit a ground ball toward the hole between first and second.  Jordy Mercer reached for it but it glanced off his glove for an error as Choo scored.  Brandon Phillips singled to score Heisey.  Jay Bruce struck out but Jack Hannahan was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Zack Cozart drove in a run with a fly to center.  Devin Mesoraco doubled in the fourth run.

The RBI gave Phillips the National League lead in that department.

The delay may have affected Latos.

Garrett Jones hit his ninth home run.

Latos got Mercer on a fly to left, then struck out Clint Barmes on a pitch in the dirt that Mesoraco couldn't block.  Barmes reached base and moved to second on a sacrifice by Burnett.  Starling Marte walked.  Latos appeared to escape when Jose Tabata hit a ground ball to short but Cozart's throw sailed past Phillips to allow Barmes to score.

"It was the first time I had to do that," Latos said.  "There's a first time for everything.  I pitched two simulated innings during the delay for a total of 40 pitches."

"Mat (Latos) didn't have his best stuff," Mesoraco said.  "He couldn't get his breaking ball over and he left some fastballs over the plate but we were able to minimize the damage.  He kept plugging away."

The Pirates kept coming at the Reds.

The Reds got a break in the third.  After two outs, Jones walked. Mercer hit a long fly to the gap in rightcenter but the ball bounced into the stands preventing Jones from scoring.

Andrew McCutchen hit his 12th home run with two outs in the fourth to make the score 4-3.

The Reds got a little breathing room in the sixth.  Cozart opened the inning with a single.  One out later, Cesar Izturis singled Cozart to third.  Choo struck out.  Heisey walked.  Votto worked Burnett for a walk with the bases loaded.  Jeanmar Gomez came on to face Phillips, who stepped in 9 for 11 with the bases loaded.  This time Phillips struck out swinging.

In the Pirates' seventh, McCutchen hit a ball in the rightcenterfield gap that looked like a triple but McCutchen fell between second and third and was tagged out.

The Pirates created another stir with two outs and the bases empty with Alfredo Simon pitching the eighth.  Mercer singled. Barmes doubled to close the gap to one run. Simon walked Gabby Sanchez after not getting a checked swing call.  Simon hit Marte with a pitch to load the bases.  Dusty Baker brought in Logan Ondrusek, who  retired Tabata on a ground ball to Phillips.

Ondrusek struggled early in the season but a trip to the minors to study tape and make adjustments have allowed Baker to use him in pressure situations.

"It is a confidence boost when you're manager calls on you in those situations," Ondrusek said. "There wasn't a lot of wiggle room.  We had a plan with Tabata.  We were going to make him chase pitches out of the strike zone.  He took them to make it close but I was able to execute that last pitch to get the ground ball."

The Reds brought Aroldis Chapman to the mound, looking for his 23rd save.

McCutchen beat out a ground ball to deep third.  Chapman's wild pick-off attempt put McCutchen on second.  Cozart booted Pedro Alvarez' ground ball putting runners on the corner with no outs. Russel Martin popped out to Phillips at second. Pinch hitter Michael McKenry struck out swinging. Mercer stepped in looking for his third hit of the game to tie the score but Chapman struck him out swinging.

"When you have electric stuff, you can strike your way out of trouble," Dusty Baker said. "He (Chapman) has been in trouble like that most of his life, whether he walked himself into it.  Tonight there was a questionable call at firstbase.  You guys probably saw it better than I did.  We had to keep him close to first because speed kills.  McCutchen is an exceptional player.  We had three errors and that's not like our team, especially Cozart."

Mesoraco knew what he had to do with the tying run 90 feet away.

"We couldn't play for the double play.  We either had to go for the strikeout or get soft contact.  The best way to do that is to pitch in.  That's what we did," Mesoraco said.

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Chris Heisey Back In The Lineup

Chris Heisey is in the lineup against A.J. Burnett.

Under normal circumstances, Heisey would be on the bench watching Xavier Paul or Derrick Robinson take their hacks at the Pirates' starter.


"I like the way Heisey is swinging the bat," Dusty Baker said.  "He's made some adjustments.  Ordinarily, I might not play him today.  It is who I stack him up against.  I wouldn't play him against Burnett because Burnett will throw him a bunch of breaking balls."

Todd Frazier is sitting out for the same reasons.  Burnett can eat up young aggressive hitters.

"Jack (Hannahan) has had success against him (Burnett)," Baker said.  Hannahan has six hits in 29 at-bats  (.286) with a double against Burnett.  Frazier is 1 for 10.  Heisey is 2 for 13 with seven strikeouts.  "You have to know your personnel," Baker said.

"Both Frazier and Heisey prefer the gas (fastballs)," Baker said.  "X (Xavier Paul) doesn't really like the breaking ball either.  Robinson is still a little banged up from that head first slide." (Robinson slid into home in Milwaukee trying to stretch a triple into an inside-the-park home run.)

Baker had a talk with Heisey about hitting the breaking ball (curve or slider).

"You hit it with imagination," Baker said. "You swing at where it is going to be not where you see it.  I couldn't hit it either when I first came up.  Guys that break into pro ball hitting the breaking ball don't usually make it.  You make it to the big leagues hitting the fastball.  You stay by learning to hit the breaking ball."

Heisey's time on the sideline may prove to be a benefit in the long run.

"I definitely feel my approach is better since I've come back," Heisey said.  Heisey was hitting .173 when he left the game on April 27 in Washington with a hamstring injury.  "I was  hitting the ball and not getting any breaks," Heisey said.  "If you look at just the numbers, it was bad but I wasn't swinging the bat that way.  It was tough to see that number by my name while I was out."

Sitting on the sideline and working with Brook Jacoby while he was nursing his injury changed his mindset.

"Brook Jacoby talks about it all the time. You can't chase hits in this game.  You try to get good pitches to hit. When you do that the byproduct is you're going to get hits.  It's tough when you're taking ofers home night after night and you're thinking, 'I've got to get that one hit so I can sleep' There's times when this game will get you down and is consuming your mind."

By observation, Heisey was able to see what Jacoby meant.  "I think that's been the difference for me, I've been trying to chase good pitches to hit.  As a result I've been putting the bat on the ball more."

Heisey is hitting .367 in his 13 appearances and nine starts.  He is 11-for-30 with five doubles, three home runs and seven RBI in that time.

Taking a step back and watching from a distance had its effects too.

"When you watch the game on TV, that back-behind-the-pitcher angle. The ball seems to float up there.  You get in the batter's box. You realize you have so little time to make a decision.  It's tough. There is definitely a time when you're sitting back and saying this game looks easy.  At the same time from the other side, you remember it's not because you've been there and done that."

Heisey had a chance to study the better hitters which is helping his approach.

"While I've been out, I've been watching the best hitters.  They never let the game speed up. The pitcher was throwing harder, they relaxed even more.  That's the one thing I learned just by watching.  I try to slow the game down as much as possible because things start snowballing.  You try to speed things up and the next thing you know you're in a terrible slump."

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Friday, July 19, 2013

Reds' Second Half Off To A Fast Start

The Reds met their Central Division Rivals, the Pittsburgh Pirates, in front of a sellout crowd.

Chris Heisey and Brandon Phillips drove in all five of the Reds' runs. Mike Leake kept the Pirates at bay for five well-pitched innings. The bullpen bailed him out. The Reds won it 5-3.

Heisey homered off Francisco Liriano with one out in the first inning. Heisey, who has shown some life in his bat since his return from a hamstring injury, followed his fifth home run of the season with an RBI single in the fith inning. Heisey was on base when Phillips cleared the bases after Joey Votto drew a walk. Shin-Soo Choo extended his career-high hitting streak to 13 games to join Votto and Heisey at the plate.

"Our record indicates that we have a great chance to win when we get that first run," Dusty Baker said.

Heisey is hitting .367 with three home runs since returning from the disabled list.

'It is important to start the second half fast," Heisey said.  "The teams ahead of us are playing well.  We have to keep up."

Phillips, who has been batting cleanup since Ryan Ludwick went down on opening day, has nine hits in 11 at-bats with the bases loaded.

"I didn't know that," Phillips said, although he did recall the two instances when he didn't get a hit with the bases loaded.  "My teammates put me in a position to come through and I came through.  It was fun.  Guys were jumping up and down in the dugout."

What about the two times that Phillips failed with the bases loaded?

"One time against the Nationals, I lined out to first base," Phillips recalled.  "The other time I got too greedy."

Phillips was supposed to bat second in this lineup but his ability to hit fourth in the lineup has led to the secondbaseman to challenge for the NL lead in RBI.  The bases-clearing double gave him 77 RBI on the season, matching Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt.

Although he has excelled in the role, Phillips is eager for the Reds to get back to full strength.  Ludwick is close to going out on a rehab assignment.

"That's the type of team we are," Phillips said.  "We fill in the gaps. I can't wait until Luddy gets back."

 Leake had a lapse in the top of the sixth, allowing home runs to Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen and Russel Martin. Dusty Baker went to the bullpen which turned in 3-1/3 scoreless innings with Aroldis Chapman closing out the game for his 22nd save.

"Leake started to get the ball up.  His pitch count was relatively low but he ran the bases a couple times.  It looked like the monkey jumped on his back," Baker said.  "We were hoping he could get through that inning.  Leake was due up second in the next inning, then you have to burn a pitcher and a pinch hitter."

Logan Ondrusek, Alfredo Simon, Manny Parra and Sam LeCure bridged the gap to Chapman.

Reds' relievers own a 0.88 ERA in the last 14 games.

Parra in particular has been much better after a rough start.  He has been working on a slider at the suggestion of pitching coach Bryan Price.

Parra struck out the two batters he faced to complete his 16th straight scoreless appearance.

"Parra has a lot of confidence now," Baker said.  "He didn't at the beginning of the season.  Now he has it and we have the confidence to bring him into games in pressure situations."

"I thought I had confidence coming out of spring training," Parra said.  "Now I know what I need to do. If I execute this pitch, I can have success.  For the last four years my breaking ball was hit or miss.  On the days when I did have a good breaking ball, I had success.  I now through a new breaking ball. I used to throw a curve ball that required more torque.  The slider, you just stay behind it.  It is more like a fastball. I can command it.  I can throw it inside and out."

Price came to Parra at the end of spring training and said, "Let's work on this.  I totally agreed.  It seemed like only one out of six of my curve balls was good," Parra said.

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Ryan Ludwick Is Close To Rehab Assignment

Ryan Ludwick took batting practice Thursday during the workout that followed the All-Star break.

"He looked real good," Dusty Baker said.  "He is about to go out pretty soon.  Ludwick is four months behind everybody."

Ludwick was injured in the second inning of the Reds' season opener, separating his right shoulder on a head-first slide.   The Reds' projected cleanup hitter and leftfielder wasn't supposed to return until mid-August.

It appears that he will be ready before then.

"We have to get him enough at-bats so that when he comes back, it's not spring training," Baker said.  "He wasn't supposed to be back now but this guy has worked his butt off.  He must have a strong mind to beat the clock on this.  If there is such a thing as will power, he has it."

Sean Marshall had a minor setback.  He went to see the doctor.

"He (Marshall) is going to get back to it (throwing program) soon," Baker said.  "We are all relieved.  Broxton is feeling real good too."

Marshall was placed on the 15-day disabled list most recently on May 24.  He has pitched in just 11 games.

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Cueto Is In Dominican

Johnny Cueto is following the Reds' prescribed rehab program in the Dominican Republic.


His wife is pregnant.  He is supposed to be in Cincinnati tomorrow.

"He is following the program," Dusty Baker said.  "He's gotten more and more mature.  He has worked hard and we trust him more.  We don't have to check on him."

There is no timetable for his return but the team is going to make sure that its ace is close to 100 percent before he returns to the starting rotation.

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Reds Option Tony Cingrani - Recall Neftali Soto

The Reds optioned Tony Cingrani to the Arizona Rookie League and recalled firstbaseman Neftali

Cingrani will probably start for the Reds Tuesday in the doubleheader. This game will make up the rainout from the fourth of July in San Francisco.  The Reds are allowed to expand the roster to 26 for the doubleheader, although they must designate the 25 active players for each game.  The move is not subject to the 14-day rule that dictates that a player must stay 14 days in the minor leagues after being sent down.

The Reds can use Soto as the extra right-handed hitter until Cingrani is needed.  The 24-year old was with the Reds briefly in May.  He was without a hit in his only at-bat.

Soto has played in 84 games with Louisville, hitting .278 with 11 home runs and 45 RBI.

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Reds Promote Top Pitching Prospect

Right-handed pitcher Robert Stephenson has been promoted to Bakersfield (Class: Advanced-A, California League).


Stephenson made 14 starts for the Dragons this season, going 5-3 with a 2.57 earned run average.  He was the Reds' first round draft pick in 2011 and was rated as the #1 pitching prospect in the Reds' organization prior to this season by Baseball America.  Stephenson was selected to pitch in the Midwest League All-Star game in Dayton. He was scheduled to start the game for the Eastern Division before suffering a hamstring injury.  He has made two starts since returning from the injury without allowing an earned run.

Since returning from the injury, Stephenson made two starts in which he pitched a total of  10-1/3 innings.  The 20-year old from Martinez, California allowed four hits in those two starts and five unearned runs.

Stephenson's fastball has been clocked at over 100 mph.

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Cincinnati Hosts Its First All-Star Game

Joe Schirmer would take a dime and walk from his home in Walnut Hills to Crosley Field with his knothole tickets in his pocket.

"The walk was downhill on the way to Crosley Field but the trip back was uphill.  For a dime we could ride the streetcar home," Schirmer said.


The 16-year old remembered the 1938 All-Star game won by the National League and hometown hero, starting pitcher Johnny Vander Meer.  Vander Meer pitched two no-hitters in back-to-back starts earlier in the season.

Joe was not one of the 27,067 fans that attended the sixth All-Star contest but in spite of the relative lack of promotion compared to the vast marketing of the event, Cincinnati is getting a fifth turn at hosting the Midsummer Classic in 2015.

"We didn't have television and a lot of radio coverage then," Schirmer said.  "I followed the sport through the Cincinnati Post and Cincinnati Times-Star."

The two papers published several afternoon editions, one of which was a "sports" edition which featured the Reds' games daily on the front page.  Schirmer sold the paper for two cents to earn money as he attended an automotive high school which did not hava a baseball team.  Schirmer played sandlot baseball with his five brothers.

By reading the abbreviated game stories in the papers, he knew of the All-Star game participants chosen in those days by the manager.  There were eight teams in each league.  Tha All-Star rosters chosen by Joe McCarthy (Yankees) and Bill Terry (Giants) handpicked the 24 players.

The hometown was represented by outfielder Ival Goodman, firstbaseman Frank McCormick, catcher Ernie Lombardi and pitchers Vander Meer and Paul Derringer.

"The Reds were usually in sixth or seventh place," Schirmer said. "The Reds had good pitching.  They had Paul Derringer, Red Lucas and Vander Meer.  Vander Meer was a great pitcher.  The Reds didn't have much hitting in my mind. If he pitched for a better team, he would have won a lot more games."

The 1938 Reds finished with 82 wins in fourth place after 10 straight losing seasons. The Reds were on the verge of winning two straight National League pennants in 1939 and 1940.

"Powell Crosley bought the team and brought in Larry McPhail," Schirmer said.  "The Reds before McPhail would pick up older players that they could get cheap."

The American League featured Joe Dimaggio, Bill Dickey and Joe Cronin.

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"Bill Dickey was overrated in my mind," Schirmer said. "Dickey played for a team that got a lot of notoriety but I think Lombardi was a better catcher. Don't get me wrong, Dickey was a better defensive catcher but Lombardi could hit."

The National League won the game 4-1 and included one of the oddest plays in All-Star game history.

Seventh inning play-by-play: Lefty Grove pitching and Frank McCormick hit a single. Leo Durocher of the Brooklyn Dodgers laid down a bunt to move the runner to second. When Jimmie Foxx fielded the ball, he overthrew first base and Joe DiMaggio retrieved the ball. Durocher had been circling the bases and was approaching home when DiMaggio attempted to throw him out, but overthrew the plate allowing Durocher to score.

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Monday, July 8, 2013

Oak Hills Joel Bender Earns His First Win

Joel Bender pitched a scoreless 10th inning Monday in his new role as setup man to pick up his first  win of the year.

Bender was pitching in long relief early in the season for Dayton.  He was 0-2 when the organization sent him back to extended spring to work on a change up and his curve.

"We started off a little rusty," Brnder said.  "Our whole pitching staff was a little rusty. We're coming together."


The work has paid off.

"Since I've been back, I've been pretty dominant.  I'm throwing all my pitches for strikes and my curve ball is really coming around," Bender said.

Bender has the advantage of working with Tony Fossas, who was known for is hard breaking curve ball as a lefthanded specialist.  Fossas was released four times in professional baseball in 10 years before he found a role.  He is an example to struggling pitchers and is an excellent communicator.

"I am throwing my curve ball as hard as I can.  It is my strike out pitch," Bender said. "It is all about learning.  I am still throwing the change up a little too hard. It is about 83-84. I want to get it to 81-82. It worked good tonight.  I got Drury to pop out with it."

Bender mentioned in Arizona that he needed to work on his fielding.

"This is year I've been better.  I'm 3-for-3 covering firstbase," Bender said.  "I've had a couple hit back to me.  The second game I ever pitched in the pros, I got hit with a ball that was hit at me at 98 mph.  It bothered me for about a year.  When I pitched I kind of covered and not looked because I was scared."

Robert Stephenson Back In Action In Dayton

The pain Robert Stephenson felt from being left out was worse than the pain in his leg'

Stephenson made his first appearance in a month for the Dayton Dragons.

Stephenson has been out with a strained hamstring since his last start on June 8.  Over his last six starts prior to the injury, Stephenson was 4-0 with a 0.93 earned run average.  He walked five and struck out 50 in 38.2 innings over those six starts.

"I felt so good to get back out there.  It was killing me not to pitch," Stephenson said after his Dayton Dragons teammates rallied for a 10-inning, 4-3 win.

Stephenson, 20, was the Reds first round draft pick in 2011 out of high school in Martinez, California.  Overall, he has made 12 starts for the Dragons this season, going 5-3 with a 2.97 ERA.

The 6'2" 190lb prospect, who has reached as high as 102 on the radar gun, topped out at 97 against the South Bend Silver Hawks (Arizona Diamondbacks).  His pitch count was set at 65 and he reached that with one two out in the fourth.

"It could have been better," Stephenson said.  "I was a little shaky out there, a little rusty but overall I was pretty happy with it."

Stephenson felt nothing from his hamstring.

"Physically, everything was awesome," Stephenson said.  "I took it easy the first week and started throwing.  I wanted to make sure it was 100 percent.  The two walks I wasn't too happy with but I think the next start, I will be back to normal."

Stephenson finished with 3 2/3 innings, allwing three unearned runs on two hits, although one of the hits was a questionable infield hit that firstbaseman, Seth Mejias-Brean bobbled.  He struck out three and walked two.

Manager Jose Nieves brought in Jackson Stephens to replace Stephenson, who threw 40 strikes among his 65 pitches.

It was Stephens regular turn.  The 18th pick in the 2012 draft kept the Dragons in the game with 5-1/3 innings of scoreless baseball, allowing two hits and two walks.

The Dragons took Stephenson off the hook by scoring one run in the eighth on a single by Joe Hudson, two in the ninth on a big two-out double by last year's second round pick Tanner Rahier.

Mejias-Brean singled off Jose Jose with two-out in the 10th to make a winner out of Oak Hills' Joel Bender, who pitched a scoreless 10th. 

The Reds' Single-A  also has the first pick in the 2012 draft, Nick Travieso and the supplemental pick from this spring, Michael Lorenzen.

Three errors in the Silver Hawks second inning led to three unearned runs.

Thirdbaseman Tanner Rahier couldn't handle a ground ball that opened the second, after Stephenson had an easy 1-2-3 first.  Stephenson gave up  a hit to Alex Glenn but struck out Mike Lang.

Stephenson fielded a bouncer to the mound but rushed his throw that hand cuffed Mejias-Brean.  Two runs scored on the play.  Catcher Joe Hudson later threw the ball into leftfield on an attempted pick off to allow the third run to score.

Stephenson hasn't heard anything about moving up but the presence of Travieso and Stephens indicate that he could be moved up the chain soon.

"They haven't talked to me at all about the plans.  Right now I'm just looking forward to going back out there again," Stephenson said.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Mariners Justin Smoak Send Arroyo Up In Flames

The Seattle Mariners hit home runs in the first inning of all three games of the series.

Nick Franklin hit the sixth home run of his 36-game career off Bronson Arroyo to jump start the Mariners in a 3-1 series finale win over the Reds.


Justin Smoak hit a home run to leftfield to provide all the offense that veteran Joe Saunders would need to defeat the Reds for the first time in his five career starts against them.

Arroyo finished with a quality start, allowing just the thre.e runs on five hits but didn't get any help from the Reds offense.

Saunders spread six hits over seven innings and turned the game over to Charlie Furbush and Tom Wilhelmsen, who slammed the door in the Reds' ruddy face.

Franklin hit a two-run home run in the first inning on Friday night.  Kyle Seager hit a two-run home run off Mat Latos on Saturday afternoon.

Franklin, the secondbaseman and Brad Miller, the shortstop both made their Major League debut since May.

“It didn’t surprise me," said Arroyo, who depends on setting up hitters which requires knowledge of the hitters habits. "They had a bunch of unknown guys. We don’t see a lot of the American League, especially the West. They came out and hit the ball out of the ballpark.”

Still Arroyo didn't have the command that he requires to be successful.

“I was never really in a groove. It was a hard-fought battle," Arroyo said. "They had eight left-handers in the lineup. I needed a lot of max-effort pitches. I had to take every inning as a do-or-die effort just to give us a better shot at getting back in the game.”

Dusty Baker held Chris Heisey, who is coming off a strained hamstring injury, out of the lineup until today to match him with the left-handed Saunders.  Heisey hit two doubles and drove in Todd Frazier, who also doubled, to drive in the Reds' lone run.

A rain out Thursday moved the starting pitchers back a day.  Homer Bailey was originally scheduled to make his first start after his no-hitter Tuesday.  After a discussion with pitching coach Bryan Price the Reds decided it would be best in the long run to keep the pitchers in rotation.

The resulting match up worked against the Reds.

“We knew coming in that that would be a key," said Baker, who understands Arroyo is prone to the home run.  In fact Arroyo took over the Reds' all-time lead for home runs allowed. Arroyo passed Tom Browning and now has allowed 236 home runs in his Reds' career.

"Home runs are a big part of their offense," Baker said. "It’s an American League lineup – full of left-handers. We didn’t match up right. It didn’t work out right.”

Baker watched the Reds wilt in the sun after a week full of rain.

"We couldn’t get anything going," Baker said. "We hit the ball a lot harder than the scorebook showed. We didn’t have a lot to show for it.”

Jay Bruce Understands All-Star Snub

Dusty Baker received a text from All-Star game manager Bruce Bochy this morning.

Bochy wanted Baker to tell Jay Bruce, Shin-Soo Choo, Mat Latos and Homer Bailey that they were strongly considered for the All-Star roster but especially Bruce.


Bochy was in Cincinnati earlier this week and was asked the toughest part of choosing the roster.

"This hardest part is leaving guys off. That's by far the hardest thing," Bochy said. "It goes with the territory when you pick a team.  There is more written about the snubs than the guys that make it.  There some deserving guys, I know that but we will probably leave guys off that are deserving."

Baker had the job once.

"It's a tough job," Baker said.  "I got a lot of stuff the year I did it for leaving Dontrelle Willis off from ESPN (Baker later worked at ESPN for one year). They said that MLB was trying to promote baseball in the inner city.  What they didn't know was that I got a call from Jim Tracy (then of the Dodgers) that Kevin Brown couldn't pitch and I planned to name Dontrelle to replace him."

Bruce was not even named as one of the five players for the final fan vote.  Fans can still choose who they want to see among, Ian Desmond (Nationals), Freddie Freeman (Braves), Adrian Gonzalez (Dodgers), Hunter Pence (Giants) and Yasiel Puig of the Dodgers, who will have around 130 at bats or 39 games by the All-Star game.  Bochy was adamant about it wasn't enough time to be considered.

Bruce was named the last two years and arguably is having his best half-season of his career.  The Reds' rightfielder coming into Sunday's game is hitting .274.  He hit .256 and .252 in his all-star years.  He has is sixth in the NL with 18 home runs, sixth with 59 RBI and leads the league with 26 doubles while placing second in the league with 45 extra-base hits.

Yet Bruce handled the "snub" gracefully Sunday morning.

"Things like this happen," Bruce said.  "It happened to Brandon (Phillips) last year. When people are chosen for one reason or another.  There is no time to feel sorry for myself, or anyone else to feel sorry for me either."

Bruce will definitely watch the game.  "It is something I've always loved to watch."   He could be named if someone is injured.

"I certainly don't want to wish harm on anyone to play in the game," Bruce said.

Baker wondered aloud if Puig's inclusion in the final vote was marketing related.

"Is this what it's about?" Baker asked.  "Has it turned into a marketing thing?"

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Reds Torpedo Mariners Latos Pitches and Hits Cincinnati To Win

Mat Latos repeated the start that Mike Leake had on Friday.

The Mariners scored two quick first inning runs but Latos gained his composure and came back strong on the mound and with the bat and the Reds came back to win 13-4.


One out into the first, Endy Chavez singled and Kyle Seager followed with a home run and the Marlins had a quick 2-0 lead.

Cesar Izturis and Jack Hannahan were in the lineup to give Zack Cozart and Todd Frazier some rest but more importantly to get some at bats to get sharp.

Izturis drove in three runs with a single when the Reds cut the Mariners' lead in half in the second inning.  He drove in two more with a two-out double in the fifth.

Hannahan had three hits and walked in five plate appearances.  He contributed to the first run without a hit by advancing Jay Bruce, who walked and moved up on a wild pitch.  Hannahan's ground ball to first moved Bruce to third, allowing the rightfielder to score on Izturis single.

"It's a total team game," Dusty Baker said. "You have to use all your guys.  You try to space it so they're not sitting around too long."

Latos allowed the Mariners to get the run back.  A one-out walk to Brad Miller and another single by Chavez put runners on first and third.  Seager collected his third RBI with a sacrifice fly.

But Latos more than made up for it in the fourth inning.

Hannahan was on second with a double when Eric Wedge ordered Jeremy Bonderman to walk Ryan Hanigan to pitch to Latos.

Latos ruined that strategy by lacing a double into the rightcenterfield gap, scoring both runners.  Latos scored himself on a single by Shin-Soo Choo to give the Reds a lead that they never gave back.

“That was nice, especially after I gave up two runs to the first (three) batters," Latos said. "That was a big relief that we put up some runs.”

Baker mentioned the lack of two-out hits after the loss Friday.  Saturday the Reds scored nine runs on two-out hits.

“The big two-out hits were the key," Baker said. "They came through in the clutch with big hits.”

Bruce singled to snap an 0-for-10 slump in the fifth and doubled in two runs with two outs in the sixth.

Izturis was told by Baker on Friday that he was going to start Saturday.

“It was good to go out and try to help the team win," Izturis said.  "Dusty’s always good about letting you know, and that’s good, especially when you don’t play every day. It’s definitely all mental. We’ve got people here who can help us prepare. It’s not that easy, but we know what we’re for.”

Latos got the win to improve to 8-2 and to the fans delight he struck out 11 batters so the fans will get free pizza from LaRosa's.

Aroldis Chapman's Parents Will Watch All-Star Game in Person

Aroldis Chapman defected to the United States from Cuba in July 2009.

It took 3-1/2 years to get his parents out of Cuba.  Chapman hopes the rest of his family can join him too.


Chapman was selected to play in the All-Star game on July 16.  His parents, who are of Jamaican decent, joined the left-hander, who signed a $30 million contract with the Reds, in January.

"This means a lot since it is my third year and my second all-star game.
It will feel good my parents are going to be there watching the game," Chapman said through interpreter Tomas Vera. "They came over in January and were with me in spring training.  I means a lot when you're chosen by the players."

"The rest of the family will be here soon, I hope."

"A lot of people follow the game in Cuba.  Last year someone gave my parents a video of the game."

Chapman will join Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto on the National League squad.

Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto Will Start The All-Star Game

Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto have been elected by the fans to start the 2013 All-Star game at Citi Field, the home of the New York Mets.


Aroldis Chapman was selected by NL manager Bruce Bochy.

The game will be on July 16.

The All-Star Reds had the following to say:

Aroldis Chapman.

"This means a lot since it is my third year and my second all-star game.
It will feel good my parents are going to be there watching the game.  They came over in January and were with me in spring training.  I means a lot when you're chosen by the players."

"The rest of the family will be here soon, I hope."

"A lot of people follow the game in Cuba.  Last year someone gave my parents a video of the game."

Joey Votto

"It's a real honor.  I've been elected by the fans three times.  This year it will be special because I'm playing beside Brandon."

"Every thing is finite.  There will be an end to my career.  I want to enjoy as many of these experiences as I can.  I remember sitting on my couch cheering for Josh Hamilton in that home run derby.  It was fun after having played with him..  To get to watch it on TV was really fun for me."

   On trying to get his first All-Star hit.

I'm so grateful to be a part of it.  I want to do well but it doesn't have too much meaning to me."

Brandon Phillips

"It shows anything is possible.  I want to thank the fans for voting for me.  It is a dream come true.  It is something that I can check off my goals..  I want to thank my teammates.  It's an honor."

"The all-star game is fun.  It can be a lot of work but it is fun.. It's great to represent your team.  I'm looking forward to it."

"I didn't pay attention to the vote after what happened last year."

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Friday, July 5, 2013

Mariners and Aaron Harang Sink Reds

Aaron Harang pitched six innings in a triumphant return to Cincinnati in a 4-2 win for Seattle.

The big right-hander was in tears when it became clear that he would leave the Reds after the 2010 season.

"My little girl calls Cincinnati our baseball home," Harang said at the time.

Harang won 16 games for the Reds in 2006 and 2007 but his last three seasons were rough on him.  As a fly ball pitcher, short porch Great American Ball Park did not fit his style.  He pitched one season in his native San Diego before landing with the Mariners in April of this season.


Harang caught Mike Leake on an off night.

Brad Miller tripled to lead off the game.  Nick Franklin followed with a home run.

"They came out smoking," Dusty Baker said.  "Leaky was getting the ball up.  They had a lot of lefties and a lot of young hitters that you don't know how to set up."

Michael Saunders homered in the second and the Mariners scored their final run in the fourth when Saunders hit a sacrifice fly.

Harang allowed six hits in a walk but the Reds scored just twice. Devin Mesoraco singled with two outs in the fifth.  Pinch hitter Jack Hannahan followed with a single.  Shin-Soo Choo doubled down the leftfield line to score Mesoraco and put runners on second and third.  Zack Cozart grounded out.

"We had action but couldn't get the two-out hit.  That has haunted us all year," Baker said.

The night belonged to Harang.  It was the first time that he had been able to pitch on the Great American Ball Park mound on which he had so much success in his career.

"I finally got to start on the opposing side from this mound," said Harang, who still keeps in touch with his former teammates.  "I was a little nervous but it wasn't too bad.  I give credit to Bud Black in San Diego.  He rearranged the rotation in spring training that first year so I could face the Reds.  He told me  that i would be a nervous that first time and he wanted to get it out of the way in spring training.  I faced the Reds in San Diego later that year."

Joey Votto hit a home run off Harang to lead off the sixth and that was the extent of the Reds' offense.

"I still have a lot of friends here.  I still keep in touch with my neighbors.  My wife couldn't make it and she was bummed but it was too close a turnaround," Harang said.  "I text Ludwick all the time to see how he's doing.  We were roommates at Midland (in the Oakland A's organization). I was got a no-hitter alert on my phone Tuesday and watched the end of Homer's no-hitter.  I got to see him grow up.  He was so young and tried to do everything himself.  Now he asks questions and really wants to get  better."

Three Seattle relievers finished up for Harang.

Oliver Perez struck out the side in the ninth to get the save.

Jim Maloney and John Edwards Talk Reds' No-Hitters

Jim Maloney and Johnny Edwards happened to be in town for festivities at the Reds' Hall of Fame and are speaking at a brunch on Sunday.

Maloney and Edwards were involved in two (one official) no-hitters as battery mates in 1965.  Edwards as a member of the Houston Astros came closest to breaking up Maloney's second official no-hitter in 1969.

With ironic timing, Maloney arrived in Cincinnati on Monday night and watched Homer Bailey pitch his second career no-hitter on Tuesday night.

Maloney, who is uniquely qualified as a no-hitter expert, saw after four innings that Bailey had a chance.

"I was visiting friends from Amberly.  After four innings I said to my wife, 'this guy's got overpowering stuff tonight.  I didn't know if he was going to pitch a no-hitter or but you could see those hitters couldn't function against him at all," Maloney said.

Maloney, who threw close to 100 miles an hour, sees great things ahead for Bailey.

"He's got a good arm," Maloney said.  "He's capable of throwing a no-hitter every time he goes out there.  I hope he keeps going and wins some ballgames to get to the pennant."

When Dusty Baker took over as Reds' manager in 2008, Maloney was invited to Reds' spring training.  The 73-year old Fresno native and resident spent a lot of time with Bailey that spring.

"Dusty said I want you to go out and talk to this kid.  His name is Homer Bailey," Maloney said. "We sat in the bullpen down the rightfield line in Sarasota.  I sat there and talked to him about how I prepared for a game and how I liked to pitch.  He sat there and listened. I did what I was told to do."

Maloney pitched 10 hitless innings against the New York Mets on June 14, 1965 at Crosley Field.  Mets' rightfielder Johnny Lewis opened the 11th inning with a home run.  Roy McMillan singled later and Maloney was on the wrong end of a 1-0 game.  It was considered a no-hitter for a long time but no-hitters were re-defined later.

Later that summer on August 19, Maloney pitched 10 hitless innings against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.   This time Reds' shortstop Leo Cardenas hit a home run in the 10th and Maloney closed it out but not without a lot of effort.

"He threw 186 pitches that day and was wilder than a church mouse," Edwards recalled. "He walked 11 (actually 10)," Edwards said.

"I hit two batters too," Maloney chimed in.

"Every time I looked up, there was a man on third," Edwards said.  "He'd walk two and someone hit into a force play. All I could think about was this guy's going to throw a wild pitch and I'm not going to be able to block; we're going to lose the damn game."

Maloney recalls how he used to beat Edwards up with short curveballs.

'You know I roomed with him for six or seven years. I used to snap off a lot of 56' curve balls and bounce them off of him all the time," Maloney said.  "He never ever said, 'come on get the ball up. You're killing me back here.' That's why he was a great catcher."

After Cardenas homered in the top of the 10th, Maloney had to get past Doug Clemens, then Billy Williams and the great Ernie Banks to complete to game.

Maloney's 10th walk of the game went to Clemens, leading off.  Billy Williams flied out to left.  Banks hit a sharp ground ball to Cardenas, who threw to Pete Rose.  Rose relayed the throw to Marty Keough to end the 1-0 game.

"When he got it, I ran to the mound," Edwards said. "One of my favorite pictures is me jumping on him.  I don't know how I had the strength. I was so tired. I went to the clubhouse and fell asleep, I think."

Edwards played high school baseball for West High in Columbus.  He was the state's second team all-state catcher behind Jack Nicklaus.

"Nicklaus was a great catcher," Edwards said.  "He  was all-state catcher his sophomore year. I was a year older but he won the Ohio Open and his dad made him quit baseball, so I could become all-state my senior year."

Edwards went on to play baseball at Ohio State. Nicklaus played golf on a team with Tom Weiskopf.  Edwards was on the baseball team with Frank Howard, John Havlicek (later Boston Celtic player), Galen Cisco, who played quarterback on the football team, then pitched in the major leagues.  The father of Fox Sports Ohio personality, Jeff Piecoro, John Piecaro was Edwards' backup at catcher.

Edwards left the Reds after the 1967 season but was involved in Maloney's last no-hitter on April 30, 1969 at Crosley Field

Maloney faced a Houston lineup that included Joe Morgan, Cincinnati native Jimmy Wynn, Denis Menke, Edwards and future Red Cesar Geronimo, who pinch hit.

Johnny Bench caught the third (2nd official) no-hitter.

Edwards nearly broke it up.

"He almost got a hit off me," Maloney said.  "He hit a line drive that (Darrell) Chaney laid out for.  That was the only one that was supposed to be a hit."

"Jim was good that game," Edwards said.  "He didn't throw many pitches."

Maloney was asked which of the three was his best.

"The one I got beat was the best really, if you want to know the truth," Maloney said.  "That first one in '65, I had 18 strikeouts I think but they hit a home run off me in the 11th inning."

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Fox Ratings Hit Homer on Bailey's No-Hitter

Steve Watkins from the Business Courier reports that Fox Sports Ohio reaped the benefits of Homer Bailey's no-hitter.



The network had no fallout for Bailey's choice of language in the post-game interview.  Live TV has those risks.

Wednesday night Thom Brennaman erroneously mentioned the wrong sponsor in an on-air promotion.  The question is whether there would be more fallout from that.

When one thinks about it, Homer's word hurt no one.  Brennaman's gaffe actually had a victim.

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Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Reds, Giants Lose Bid To Wait Out The Rain

The Giants only trip to Cincinnati resulted in a three-game sweep for the home team.


Earlier statements from the Reds were that the teams were going to wait longer than normal to try to get the game in.  A meeting was held at 3 PM to discuss the possibility of an acceptable start time.

The rain won.  The game was called after waiting two hours and 21 minutes.

"There are options they discussed for a makeup - August 29 in Colorado," Bruce Bochy said.  This would be a rare game at a neutral field.  The Giants are completing a series with the Rockies on the 28th.  The Reds are scheduled to start a series with the Rockies on the 30th. Another possibility would be to fly to Cincinnati for one day.  Neither team would like that because in addition to the extra travel, both teams would play 34 days without an off day.

"September 30, the day after the season, we would come here (Cincinnati). They discussed a split doubleheader at our place," Bochy said. "I never heard the day after the All-Star break discussed (July 18). The players association has to approve the rescheduling."

The players association fought hard to add Thursday to the All-Star break.  Many of the players would have to spend an entire day traveling to play on that Thursday.  It would virtually eliminate the day off on Wednesday, following the Tuesday All-Star game.

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