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.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Reds Even Steven After Taking Fifth Series In A Row


For the first time in the series, the Reds did not get off to an eight-run lead. They only needed two in taking the series with a 4-3 win. The Reds are 37-37 with the season's numerical halfway point seven games away.

With 2012 Cy Young winner R.A Dickey pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays and Johnny "Beisbol" Cueto pitching for the Reds both teams knew runs would be at a premium. They'd have to earn them.

Two days before his 52nd birthday Bryan Price asked for two outings from his starters of at least seven innings to save his overworked bullpen.

Mike Leake and Cueto wrapped the present, game and series in a bow and handed it to their manager.

"Leaker and Johnny really picked up our bullpen," said Price on his 52nd birthday. "Someone is taking care of me. I don't know if it's my mom sending good vibes."

Well maybe not earn them. The Reds scored an unearned run in the first but fell seven runs short of the leads in the previous two games.

Skip Schumaker was hit by a pitch to open the Reds game offensively. Todd Frazier forced Schumaker at second.  One out later, Brandon Phillips was safe when a pair of former Reds couldn't complete a play on Brandon Phillips slow roller.  Juan Francisco fielded the ball and threw low to first where Edwin Encarnacion dropped it.  It was originally scored as a hit but Encarnacion was later charged with an error.

The Reds kicked, dropped and threw the ball away in the Toronto third.

Joey Votto's toss to Cueto covering on a ground ball sailed over Cueto's head all the way to the plate. Melky Cabrera singled.  Jose Bautista reached to load the bases when Cueto fumbled his nubber to the thirdbase side of the mound and threw late.  Encarnacion hit a flair to shallow left that appeared to be a bloop hit but Zack Cozart caught up to it.  Colby Rasmus singled to plate two unearned runs.

"After that play I knew I had to get a groundball," said Cueto through interpreter Tomas Vera. "I felt better. I kept the ball down and was more aggressive."

The Blue Jays needed replacements for two players.  Starting secondbaseman Brett Lawrie was hit by a Cueto pitch and left the game with a fractured index finger.  Bautista felt tightness in his left leg and will have an MRI on Monday in Toronto.

Jay Bruce doubled off the glove of Bautista's replacement in right, Steve Tolleson, an infielder by trade. Tolleson dove for the ball in vain.  Ryan Ludwick singled sharply to center, his second hit, sending Bruce to third.  When Brayan Pena hit into a well executed double play in which Lawrie's replacement, Jose Reyes robbed Pena of a hit as Bruce scored the first earned run of the game.

Cueto opened the fifth with a slow roller that eluded Dickey, who rolled himself trying to field it.  Skip Schumaker bunted to Dickey and Cueto reached second.  Frazier hit a fly to right that carried into the stands for his team-leading 17th home run.  Cueto started to run, then went back to the base to tag, but the ball carried into the stands.  Cueto limped around the bases and visited with trainers in the clubhouse but came back out to pitch.

"A knuckleball is pretty hard to hit," Frazier said. "It was crazy it was 2-0. I didn't think I hit it enough to get out."

"I went back to tag on the ball Frazier hit,m" Cueto said. "I made a quick step and felt it. It was just a cramp."

Frazier homered off Dickey on August 15, 2012 in the Reds 6-1 win during the pitcher's Cy Young Award season with the New York Mets.

"I hit that one off the boat.  You remember those," said Frazier.

Cueto breezed through the sixth and seventh but old pal Edwin Encarnacion hit his Major League leading 23rd home run of the season and third of the series to make it a one run game.

Cueto struck out two of the next three batters including former teammate Juan Francisco on a called third strike on a 3-2 pitch to end the eighth.

The Reds bullpen needed another long outing by a starter and got just that.

Arolidis Chapman worked the ninth, striking out all three batters in the inning to earn his 13th save.

Brandon Phillips left the game in the fifth inning with a bruised heal. He hit his heal with the bat on a backswing in the third inning.

"Those things are the types of things we deal with every day as a manager," Price said. "You have to protect your players you can't take them out every time those things happened.  After watching him in the field, I decided he couldn't play with it.  He didn't want to come out.  Cueto's was just a cramp.  Even then you have to be careful he doesn't hurt something else."

Knuckleball Gives Hamilton A Day Off


Billy Hamilton is getting a day off from manager Bryan Price for two very good reasons.

Hamilton has never seen a knuckleball like R.A. Dickey the Toronto starter throws and Ryan Ludwick and Skip Schumaker have.

Ludwick is 3-for-11 against Dickey and Schumaker is 3-for-8.

"Ludwick is 2-for-6 (actually 3-for-11) and Schumaker is 3-for-8 against Dickey.  Its nice to have someone with experience against the knuckleball. “But yes a day off for Billy isn’t the worst thing,” said Price.

“My concern isn’t that he can’t do it, but we know there will be a lot of wear-and-tear on a young center fielder who plays with energy, steals bases, covers a lot of ground in center field who is 160 pounds. He will play into the late months that he hasn’t done, playing into September — and maybe October.” There is the residual effect. The way Billy plays there is some wear and tear.  At 160 pounds and he'll be playing longer into the season than he's ever played," Price said.

The knuckleball is rare and a novelty in baseball.

Price was asked what his advice on how to hit the knuckleball.

"I said a long time ago that I don't get into hitting.  I must have the world's longest slump.  I guess it is like a catcher, you have to wait for the ball you can't go out an get it.  So i think you want  to stay back.  Then again I could be talking out my ass.."

"When I was in Arizona we had Tom Candiotti on our radio team.  We played an interleague game against Tim Wakefield.  Candiotti threw batting practice and we didn't hit him or Wakefield."

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Reds Score Eight Runs And Hold On


For the second straight game the Reds jumped on a Toronto Blue Jay's starter for eight runs. They improved to 1-1 when leading by eight runs with an 11-1 victory over Toronto.

This time it was J.A Happ who was the hapless starter.

The Reds took advantage of Happ's inability to throw strikes in the first inning.  After Happ retired the first two Reds in the inning, he walked, Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce.  Ryan Ludwick had the game's first hit, a single that drove in two runners.  A passed ball charged to Erik Kratz allowed Bruce to score the third run.

The offense rested in the third.

Bruce hit his sixth home run with two outs in the third.  It was his second in two days.

The Reds continued in the fourth. With one out Ramon Santiago singled.  Reds' starting pitcher, Mike Leake, attempted one bunt then drilled a single to right, sending Santiago to third.  Billy Hamilton singled to send Santiago to the plate with the Reds' fifth run.  Hamilton stole second, his 31st theft of the season.  Todd Frazier backed Toronto centerfielder, Colby Rasmus, to the fence in deep center.  Leake trotted home and Hamilton rounded third and had an idea about scoring himself but he held. He didn't wait long, Joey Votto doubled Hamilton home.  Phillips doubled to give the Reds' an 8-0 lead for the second game in a row.

This time the Reds were determined to hold the lead.

"It was a character game for us," Bryan Price said. "It was one that we needed to get the bad taste out of our mouths from last night."

Leake, who pitched very well the first nine games of the season with little to show for it in the won/loss record.  He pitched into the seventh in all nine games but had a 2-3 record in spite of a paltry 2.77 ERA.  The last three starts, however, Leake's longest outing was 5 1/3 innings.  He allowed 14 runs in 15 1/3 innings.

"Jeff Pico and I talked at length about needing a good long start from Leake," Price said.  "Pico talked to him but he knew.  We all knew."

This time pitching with a lead. This time with the Reds adding runs on a three-run home rum by Devin Mesoraco, his 12th and his second of the series, the Reds changed the results.  Mesoraco has hit home runs in three straight games for the first time in his career.and 12 home runs is a new career-high for a season.

"Dusty (Baker) used to say that hitting is all momentum," Mesoraco said. "We have a lot of capable hitters.  This is what we expected to do."

"Collectively, we're taking better at bat," Price said.  "Not only are we starting to score runs like we expected to, we're running the opposing pitchers pitch counts up.  When they go into the fourth inning with 70 pitches and haven't given up any runs, they're about to."

Leake pitched eight innings to improve his record to 5-6.  He allowed one run, a home run to Colby Rasmus. Leake threw 113 pitches and allowed four hits and two walks. He struck out six.

"That is my job every time," Leake said.  "We needed a somewhat quick game.  It's not something you can do on command.  The best I could do was to try to get quick strikes and stay aggressive and try to put the batter away.  There were a couple innings where I threw too many pitches but I had better command this time."

For the second day in a row a Reds' pitcher made his Major League debut.  Carlos Contreras, 23, pitched the ninth inning.  Contreras threw a perfect inning, striking out Rasmus to end it.

Reds Try To Bounce Back After Blown Game


The Reds are angry at the blown game last night.

After jumping out to an 8-0 lead after the second inning, the Reds scored just one run over the final seven while the starting pitcher, Mat Latos and the bullpen allowed 14 over the next seven, actually all 14 scored after the fourth inning and 11 were scored with two outs.

One pitch could have eliminated runs in three different innings.

Manager Bryan Price didn't sugar coat it.


Price's bullpen was beaten up and the Reds brought up an extra arm in Carlos Contreras but really want good long starts the next two days from Mike Leake and Johnny "Beisboll" Cueto.

"Two quality starts will get us going in the right direction.  I'm not talking about the six inning, three-run quality start. We need seven or eight innings.  The starter is going to stay out there longer even if he's ineffective he is going to have to stay out there longer.  That's just the way it is."

The old take one for the team philosophy.

Mike Leake had a stretch of nine games to start the season in which he pitched into the seventh inning. In his last three starts Leake pitched into the sixth inning once (5 1/3 on June 10). He has allowed 14 runs in 15 1/3 innings over those games.

Reds Bring Up Carlos Contreras To Ride Out Bullpen Crisis


The Reds have taxed their bullpen to the max the last two days.

The Reds reached out to Double A Pensacola and picked Carlos Contreras to bolster a tired bullpen.
The Reds designated Roger Bernadina for assignment.

The move is probably temporary.  The Reds have 10 days to either, trade, release or assign Bernadina to the minor leagues.  He would have to pass through waivers for him to be assigned and he would have to agree to it.

The Reds won't play too long short a position player.  Look for Contreras to go back to Pensacola after the pitching crisis is over.  The Reds will then reinstate Bernadina.

Bernadina was designated for assignment to make room for Skip Schumaker when the latter was coming off the DL.  Bernadina was brought back the next day when Jay Bruce has knee surgery.

"A day off for the bullpen would get us in the right direction," Price said. "A couple of quality starts and I don't mean six innings, I mean seven or eight innings."

The Reds brought in Contreras in case the starters can't ride out the storm.

"If the starters aren't effective, they will have to stay out there a little longer," Price said.  "That's just the way it is."

Contreras is 23-years old. He is from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He was signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2008 at the age of 17.

Along with Daniel Corcino and Ismael Guillon, Contreras is among the top pitching prospects in the Reds organization.

Contreras was the closer for Dayton in 2012, appearing in 40 games.  He saved 16 of them with an 0-1 record and a 3.20 ERA.  He was promoted to Bakersfield and saved four games in nine appearances with a 2.70 ERA.

Last season Contreras was moved into Bakersfield's starting rotation. He was 5-7 with a 3.80 ERA in 18 starts. Contreras struck out 96 batters in 90 innings and walked 41. The Reds promoted him to Pensacola.  The 5'11' right-hander started eight games in Double A, earning a 3-2 record with a 2.76 ERA.

This season at Pensacola, Contreras appeared in nine games, starting three of them.  He has a 2-1 record with a 2.70 ERA.  Contreras pitched 20 innings with 27 strike outs and 11 walks.  Opponents hit just .195 off him.  His last outing was on Thursday against Huntsville, pitching one inning with one strikeout.  He threw eight pitches.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Edwin Encarnacion Punishes His Former Teammates

Edwin Encarnacion came home to haunt the Reds.  He hit his 22nd and 23rd home runs of the season and drove in six runs to exact revenge on the team that traded him in a 14-9 win.

"It was a great feeling," Encarnacion said. "I played here five years.  To do that here feels great."

The Reds scored eight runs in the second inning, its highest scoring inning of the season but had to hang on as the normally reliable pitching allowed the powerful Toronto Blue Jays to power their way back into the game.

Jay Bruce singled and homered in the inning, driving in two and scoring two,  Bruce started the inning off Liam Hendricks, who was recalled from Triple A Buffalo before the game, with a single. Mesoroco hit his 11th home run of the season and second in two days to put the Reds up quickly 2-0.

The Reds weren't finished with young master Hendricks.

Skip Schumacher and Zack Cozart singled to put runners at the corners with no outs.

Reds' starting pitcher, Mat Latos, hit a ground ball to short with Cozart running to score Schumacher.

Cozart went to third on a passed ball. Toronto manager John Gibbons brought the infield in cut off the run at the plate with Billy Hamilton up.  The move backfired.  Hamilton hit a bloop to rightcenter that secondbaseman, Muneneori Kawasaki, couldn't get to it.  Hamilton of course sped into second with a double.  He stole third on the first pitch to Todd Frazier.

Frazier couldn't get him home with a fly to shallow right.  Joey Votto walked.  Brandon Phillips singled with Hamilton and Votto scoring and Phillips taking second on the throw home.  Bruce capped the scoring with his sixth home run of the season a two-run shot to rightcenter off former Red, Todd Redmond.

Latos worked around two hits in the second. He got the first two batters in the third but Melky Cabrera doubled.  Jose Batista walked.  That brought former Red and current Major League home run leader, Edwin Encarnacion to the plate.  Encarnacion lined his 22nd home run into the leftfield seats.

Bruce walked then stole second.  When Mesoraco grounded to Brett Lawrie at third.  Lawrie charged the ball and threw Mesoraco out.  Bruce took off for third.  Encarnacion's return throw got away from Lawrie and allowed Bruce to score to make it 9-1 Reds after five.

The game changed in the sixth.

Latos struck out Lawrie to begin the inning.  Colby Rasmus doubled. Kawasaki singled to put runners at first and third.  Pinch hitter Adam Lind singled to score Rasmus.  Jose Reyes topped a ball to Latos.  Manny Parra relieved Latos and walked Melky Cabrera.  Logan Ondrusek came on and walked Jose Bautista to force Kawasaki home to make it 9-5.

"I couldn't find my release point with the breaking ball. I let my emotions get the better of me," Latos said of his second start of the season.  "Then I couldn't get the release point on my fastball either. I am extremely pissed off at myself.  I hate burning the bullpen. I'm sure everyone is pissed off tonight."

The bullpen was used more that it normally is after the Reds played 12 innings in Pittsburgh yesterday.  They used Aroldis Chapman and others more innings than normal. They sent the losing pitcher from Thursday to Louisville to get straightened out but also because he threw a lot of pitches in that loss and wouldn't have been available.

"We were in a challenging spot coming into the day," Bryan Price said.  "That's why I stayed with Mat a little longer.  He wasn't sharp. I felt like he had done enough.  He may have gotten Cabrera out but we'll never know.  When you make a decision like that you hope they execute.  They didn't and we're sucking on a loss.  We have a talented group of pitchers.  The one in Pittsburgh stunk yesterday. This one was just ugly."

Jumbo Diaz made his major league debut.  He retired the first batter he faced. Lawrie hit his 12th home run but Diaz got Rasmus to ground out.  Kawasaki reached base for the third time with his second single.  Gibbons sent Juan Francisco, a former Red, to pinch hit.  Francisco was released by the Milwaukee Brewers this spring.  Francisco brought the Blue Jays within a run with an opposite field home run to left.

Jonathan Broxton started the eighth.  Broxton had a streak of 14 appearances without allowing a run. He had an 0.40 ERA. Broxton walked Cabrera but Bautista hit into a double play.  Then Broxton walked Encarnacion.  Yet another former Red, Dioner Navarro tied the game with a double.

Even Chapman had an off night. Chapman walked two, giving the Reds' staff 10 walks to go with Toronto's 16 hits. Erik Kratz doubled to put the Blue Jays ahead for the first time. Encarnacion hit his second three-run homer of the game off Sam LeCure to finish off the Reds.

"You think of all the things we did wrong, they (Toronto) did a lot of things right," Price said.  "They laid off some pitches to put together good at bats.  We didn't add on after the fifth either.  We scored one run over the last seven innings."

The comeback by the Blue Jays was the second biggest in franchise history.  They beat the Boston Red Sox on June 4, 1989 after trailing 10-0 and won 13-11.  The last time the Reds lost a lead of eight runs or more was on May 20, 2010 when Atlanta scored nine runs in the ninth to defeat the Reds 10-9.

Jumbo Diaz Starts Career While Sean Marshall's Is In Doubt


The Reds brought a big, big man in from Louisville before the game with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Jumbo Diaz made the trip up I-71 to make his first appearance on a Major League roster at age 30.

Tony Cingrani was sent back to Louisville to get straightened out.

Sean Marshall was moved from the 15-day the 60-day disabled list to allow the Reds to select the contract of Diaz and add him to the 40-man and 25-man roster.

Marshall, who is 18 months older than Diaz but is in his eighth year, will need surgery to his shoulder. Marshall missed most of last season and pitched ineffectively in 15 games (7.71 ERA) this season.

The Reds also moved Trevor Bell from the 15-day to the 60-day DL.  Bell pitched in two games in April after making the team out of spring training.  He pitched just 2/3 of an inning, allowing five runs. He was placed on the DL on April 8th.  Brett Marshall was removed from the 60-day DL and optioned to Louisville.

“You’ll have to remind me of some of them because there were a few," said Price of the roster moves. "Trevor Bell had started  rehab out in Goodyear. His elbow got sore again and they found that he’s probably going to need Tommy John surgery. Sean Marshall needs to have his shoulder cleaned out. There are some issues with his shoulder that need to be corrected through surgery. We also sent Tony Cingrani to Louisville to work on getting back on top of his game. We’re confident that he’ll be back here quickly because he’s a big part of this staff. Jumbo Diaz has been closing and doing a terrific job.”

Cingrani was removed from the Reds' starting rotation with the return of Mat Latos and worked two games out of the bullpen for the Reds.  He was the losing pitcher on Thursday in Pittsburgh, walking Russel Martin with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 12th inning.

Diaz is 6'4' but was on the Kentucky side of 348 pounds when he resigned with the Reds over the winter.

"I told my agent that I wanted to report in shape," said Diaz when he weighed in at 278 pounds at the Goodyear spring training complex in Arizona in March.

The news put a smile on the big man's face.

“Feel like I’m so excited," said Diaz Friday afternoon. "I was talking two weeks ago with my wife. I signed with the Dodgers in 2001 May 14. I said I’ve been playing for 13 years, fighting to get that call and working hard every day. This morning, when I got the call, I was in the shower. We had a flight at 10:30 in the morning. I got out and say I had three missed calls. I said, ‘Who’s calling me this early?’ Then when they called back, it was Teddy Power and he said, ‘Congratulations, you’re going to Cincinnati.’  I was so excited to get that call.”

Diaz was having another good year at Louisville. Diaz in 30 apps for the Bats went 2-2, 1.35 and converted 18-19 save opportunities (33.1ip, 25h, 10bb, 31k, 1hr, .208oba). He didn't allow a run in any of his last 8 appearances (9ip) Diaz last pitched Wednesday and stranded a pair of inherited baserunners to save the 12-8 Bats win vs Durham (0.2ip, 1k, 7 pitches).

“When they sent me to Louisville, they said, ‘Keep working hard. You’ll be part of the team,’ and I said, ‘I’ve got to do this. I’ve got to keep working hard in Louisville,’ and that’s what I did every day," Diaz said. "They gave me the ball in the ninth and I tried to do my best. I want to do the same here. When I get my opportunity, do my best – throw strikes, get ahead of the hitter. My family, everybody in town is excited that I got this call.”

Price has a lot of options for using Diaz.

"We had a lot of work in that Pittsburgh series, so he could pitch in any role tonight," Price said. "He could pitch in any role. He’s been used a closer, but I think we’ll have Chapman available tonight. We should hopefully have Broxton as well, but Diaz could be in a late-game situation. LeCure, Hoover and Parra – those guys have been pitching a lot.”

Cingrani has been erratic and the Reds want him to get enough work to get straightened out.

“Well, I do (think it's best for Cingrani). You could’ve asked me a couple of days before the Milwaukee game and the Pittsburgh if I felt like he needed to go down and get sharp and I didn’t but he’s transitioning back into the bullpen," Price explained. "With a healthy starting five, that’s where Tony can help us best this year. We’ve seen him pitch very efficiently at times out of the bullpen. He has a history as a college closer, so he’s done this before. He just hasn’t been sharp, and not just his two relief appearances, but over the course of several starts, especially after he came off the disabled list. He’s not pounding the strike zone with the regularity we’re used to, and we’d like to see the command get better, and that’s going to be very difficult to do pitching in long relief here for us at this level. We can get him down there, pitch him every fifth day, get him work days down in Louisville with Teddy Power, get some good work in, and we hope that it’s a very short stay, because I believe we’re better with Tony on our club.”

Monday, June 16, 2014

Tony Gwynn Was A Pro Off The Field Too


For the second time in a week, baseball has suffered the loss of a great player, way too young.  Tony Gwynn died today of cancer of his salivary glands at the age of 54.  Bob Welch former Los Angeles Dodger and Oakland Athletics pitcher died of an apparent heart attack last week.

Tony Gwynn had 3,141 hits for the San Diego Padtes, his only Major League team.  Gwynn had a sweet natural swing but he worked very hard to get better and stay sharp. He was born May 9, 1960 in Long Beach, California.

Former Reds' manager Jack McKeon was the Padres' general manager when the Padres' brought Gwynn to the big leagues on July 19, 1982.  Gwynn had two hits in his debut.

McKeon would often use Gwynn as an example of how a player should work on his skills.  He also told off-the-record stories of people that Gwynn helped on and off the field.  McKeon made the press promise not to publish what Gwynn had done because he was adamant that it not be perceived that Gwynn did these things for public credit.

Personally, Gwynn was a delight to work with as a member of the media.  He was insightful and honest. Gwynn added so much to my knowledge of the game.

He would playfully question your motives for the question, then would give you an concise, information filled answer.

The following are two exchanges that I had with Geynn.

I asked him about David Wells, shortly after the Reds' acquired him from the Detroit Tigers in 1995.

"Come on, you guys ask everybody that comes in here about him.  What do you want me to tell you?" Gwynn said.

"Just the truth Tony," I said.

After that he told me in detail what to look for from Wells.  He taught me that if Wells gets his breaking ball over he will use his fastball to get a batter out. If he has trouble getting his breaking ball over he can pitch backward (for Wells) and locate his fastball and use his breaking ball to get you out.

"You will be able to tell by whether he is getting more strikeouts or groundballs," Gwynn said.

I once asked him about the stuff of a young Reds' pitcher.

"Why are you asking me?" Gwynn said.

"Because your words mean more than all the others," I said.

He told me the pitcher had average stuff. That he needed to locate his pitches better. That he wasn't walking batters but his command wasn't sharp.

I asked him if he wanted off the record.  He said, "No, maybe he needs to hear this and it will help him out."

You got the impression that he would rather play or talk baseball more than anything out.  He was always cordial and would mess with me and smile the entire time.

Gwynn couldn't leave the game after retirement and became the baseball coach of his alma mater, San Diego State where he played four years as the basketball teams' point guard as well as baseball.  Gwynn was named head baseball coach at SDSU in 2001 and took a leave of absence in 2011 when he was diagnosed with cancer.  Gwynn blamed his disease on smokeless tobacco.

Gwynn went into baseball's Hall of Fame in 2007.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Tony Cingrani Goes To Bullpen - Mat Latos Returns


The answer to the question of Tony Cingrani's landing spot when the long awaited activation of Mat Latos, has been answered.

Tony Cingrani will remain on the Reds' 25-man roster and work from the bullpen as the team's third left-hander.

Sean Marshall was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left shoulder.

Latos out until now after operations on his elbow and his knee, will make his first start of the season Saturday night against the National League Central Division leaders, the Milwaukee Brewers.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Simon Says Reds Win


Alfredo Simon hadn't made a start in two years before this season.

"I want to show them that I can be a starter in the big leagues," Simon said in spring training.

Simon improved to 9-3 with the Reds' 4-1 win to even the series at 2-2 and the homestand at 5-5.

He got his chance when Mat Latos fought back from two surgeries and after 13 starts, it appears that Simon can indeed be an effective starter in the Major Leagues.

Now the 33-year old is tied with Adam Wainwright for the National League lead with nine wins.

"There is an element of surprise," said Bryan Price, who was Simon's pitching coach the last two seasons. "Pitching this deep into games and continue to stay aggressive. That was a tight game where one swing could have tied it or put us behind."

The Los Angeles Dodgers jumped on Simon in the first inning for a run.  With one out Justin Turner, Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp singled to put the Dodgers ahead, 1-0.

Simon had 42 pitches after two innings but finished by tying his season-high with eight innings pitched and 104 pitches.

"I was a little too quick in the first inning. I got some pitches up. I just tried to slow down," Simon said.  "I have been able to throw my slider and splitter for strikes.  My slider looks like a fastball and when they hit it, they hit it on the ground."

Skip Schumaker blooped a single against Dodger ace Zack Grienke. Todd Frazier hit his team-leading 14th home run to put the Reds in the lead.

"I was just hoping I hit it enough," Frazier said. "I talk about finishing all the time. We finished today and that was big."

Grienke, who leads all the Majors with a .761 win percentage (54-17) since 2011,  won the American League Cy Young Award in 2009 with Kansas City.

Simon matched him pitch-by-pitch inning by inning.

From the second inning to the top of the sixth, Simon retired 11 batters in a row.

"He really tightened up to allow him to stay in the game," Price said. "Early it looked like it would take a lot of pitches."

The Dodger put together a threat in the seventh.  Kemp and Andre Eithier had back-to-back singles to put runners on first and third with no outs.. Simon got Tim Federowicz to fly out to Jay Bruce in shallow right.  Miguel Rojas hit a slow roller to third.  Frazier fired home to catch Kemp in a rundown.  Frazier tagged Kemp and flipped to Zack Cozart covering third and nearly double up Eithier.  Simon struck out Scott Van Slyke batting for Grienke.

"We had a lot of confidence sending him out there for the eighth. To have a guy pitch seven innings like that and lose it doesn't sit well.  That being said you want your best guy out there."

Simon pitched a scoreless eighth stranding a runner by getting ground balls from Puig and Gonzalez.

"I am glad he gave me a chance," Simon said. "I want to prove to him (Price) that I can pitch. I know that I have to pitch my best. I'm not really surprised I have good stuff.  I like it here in Cincinnati. The guys like me here."

The Reds expanded the lead in the eighth.

Cozart ledoff  with a double off Brandon League.  Billy Hamilton batted for Simon and bunted Cozart to third.  Cozart scored on a wild pitch. Skip Schumaker doubled.  Joey Votto walked.  Ryan Ludwick pinch hit for Brandon Phillips, who appeared to be shaken up on a play at second.
Ludwick singled to score Schumaker.

Phillips jammed his index finger.  He could throw but had trouble gripping a bat.

Aroldis Chapman allowed a hit and a walk but struck out three to nail down his 10th save and eighth in a row.

Reds Bullpen Has Tightened Up After Slow Start


The Reds bullpen was getting beaten up early and the fan base wanted them shipped one-way to Louisville or sent around the majors to undermine Reds' opponents.

Perhaps it was the return of Aroldis Chapman that helped stabilize the Reds' pen perhaps it was just baseball evening out the statistics, the Reds bullpen has been outstanding for the last 22 games.

Manny Parr (4.87), J.J Hoover (4.97), and  Logan Ondrusek (3.91) have higher earned run averages but that measure is largely a useless measure for a pitcher that may only get two or three innings a week.  One bad inning can skew the numbers for the entire season.

"The fan base was down on our bullpen guys but these are our guys," said Bryan Price, who was their pitching coach for four season and knows what each of them can do.

Over the last 22 games the bullpen has worked in 69 2/3 innings with a "Johnny Cueto" like 1.94 ERA (Cueto lowered his from 1.97 to 1.85 on Wednesday night and leads the league.)

Parra hasn't allowed a run in his last seven appearances.

Hoover has a 1.56 over his last 13 appearances.

Ondrusek hasn't been scored upon in his last six appearances.

Jonathan Broxton coming off elbow surgery has an 0.44 ERA and no runs over his last 12 games.

"Even under normal circumstances, what Brox has been doing is great.  He's been extremely reliable," said Price.  "If a manager wants to win an All-Star game it would be in his best interest to pick a guy like him. It seems to me that if a manager wants to put together his best team, Broxton would be considered."

Aroldis Chapman missed the first six weeks of the season returning on May 11.  He has a 1.29 ERA.

Chapman has retired the last 22 batter he faced and 32 of the last 33. That's seven straight perfect appearances., nine straight scoreless appearances, while converting seven straight save opportunities.

"I've never seen Chapman throw as well as he is right now," Price said.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Cueto Dodges Los Angeles Bats


Johnny Cueto's 112 pitches were very effective and made the Dodgers bluer than they normally are. The Reds, Cueto and four relievers shutout the Dodgers 5-0.

Cueto retired the first nine batters in order before Dee Gordon slapped a single to center.  Cueto picked him off first. He faced the minimum 15 batters through five innings, striking out 10 of those batters.

Miguel Rojas and Drew Butera opened the sixth with singles but Cueto struck out Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu and ended his night by fanning Chone Figgins to end his sixth and final innings.

The last time Ryu and Cueto hooked up.  Ryu had a perfect game through seven innings. Todd Frazier opened the eighth with a double  Cueto pitched 6 2/3 innings.  The Dodgers managed just one earned run off him but errors led to three unearned runs.

This time the Reds offense gave the 6-5 pitcher some help.

Joey Votto produced dividends in his second game back from the disabled list.  Ryu walked Billy Hamilton and Frazier with two outs in the third.  Votto doubled them home and scored on a single by Brandon Phillips.

Jay Bruce hit his fifth home run of the season off Ryu in the sixth.

Cueto left after six innings and 112 pitches. He struck out 12 tying his career high and dropped his ERA to 1.85 retaking the National League lead from Julio Teheran of the Atlanta Braves.  Teheran has given up six runs in 5 1/3 innings in Colorado.

"It was a battle for Johnny," Bryan Price said. "They fouled off a lot of pitches on him. Our bullpen was ready and they are terrific. They do everything they can to be available for every game.

Cueto wanted to stay in.

"I went to Price and asked him for another inning. He said I had too many pitches. He knows what he is doing," Cueto said.  "Getting the runs was big. I said to myself, I need to tighten up.  These are the innings they come after me."

Brayan Pena, Cueto's personal catcher, would have done the same thing.

"To be honest with you I would have done the same thing.  He (Price) made the right decision. Our bullpen has been throwing the ball good. Johnny did his job. Everytime out he gives us a chance to win.  That's why we call him "Johnny Beisbol'."

The Dodgers tried to get back in the game.  Cueto's replacement, Logan Ondrusek, struck out Yasiel Puig but Adrain Gonzalez doubled.  Ondrusek walked Scott Van Slyke, who replaced  Matt Kemp after the latter was ejected. Bryan Price brought Manny Parra from the bullpen to face Andre Ethier.  Either blooped a single to load the bases.

Price went to former Dodger Jonathan Broxton.  Dodger manager Don Mattingly countered with Hanley Ramirez.  Ramirez was in the original lineup but was scratched with irritation in his right AC joint.  Ramirez hit a smash to short that Zack Cozart caught on a short hop.  Cozart flipped to Phillips, who leaped to make a throw that completed an inning ending double play.

Cozart opened the seventh with a single off Paul Maholm, then stole second as Chris Heisey struck out. Billy Hamilton singled to score Cozart.

Aroldis Chapman struck out two batters to complete the game in a non-save situation.

Bryan Price Looking For A Hot Month

The Reds have had two months of mediocre baseball and their first year manager still believes a good month is in the team, yet.

"The guys have been working hard. There is no complaint about these guys and the effort. That being said, he results haven't been great," Price said. "It could be lot worse.  We're eight games out. We're five games under .500 and we haven't played terribly well."

"We haven't had that one good month yet," Price said.  "We're confident."

Getting the old Joey Votto back will help but Price knows they need more than that.

"I don't think we can talk about one person coming into to carry us for two weeks," Price said. "We are going to have to be better collectively.  To me what verifies that a team expects to win is effort. At times we've had a couple guys that haven't run the ball out had. That bothers me. It's disappointing to me  We address it and will continue to be address it.  We need guys that bust their tails every day. As long as we get that it's hard to complain."

Dodgers Rain Hits On Reds Parade


The Reds rain delay total reached 13 hours fot the season and counting before the game finally started at 9:15.

Mike Leake, who has an apt name for a rainy night, started against no-hit author Josh Beckett.

Beckett pitched a no-hitter against the Philadelphia Phillies on May 25 but was the losing pitcher in his last two starts.

The Reds optimism about the game was the result of having Joey Votto back in the lineup but it slipped into the late night darkness in a 6-1 lackluster loss to the Dodgers.

Adrian Gonzalez wrecked the Reds euphoric mood early by lacing a double to the right centerfield gap. One out later, he waltzed home on a double by Andre Eithier.

The Dodgers added three more in the fifth.  Former Reds' farmhand Justin Turner led off with a single. Drew Buteras flied out but Beckett squared to bunt but pulled it back and bounced a single over Todd Frazier's head. Dee Gordon doubled. Two more runs scored when Hanley Ramirez hit a hard ground ball past Brandon Phillips in a drawn-in infield.

The Dodgers kept adding on with a run off Leake in the sixth and one off Sam LeCure in the seventh.

"They (Dodgers) did a nice job of putting the ball in play," Price said. "They ran some balls through the infield. They have enough team speed to get some good reads off the bat to score off that line drive to right."

"Leake hasn't had a lot of luck when he's pitched well. The guys like playing behind him. He's aggressive. He'll come back and pitch some good games for us," Price said.

The Reds hoped having Votto would increase their offensive production.  On the first eight games of this 10-game homestand the Reds have scored two runs or fewer six time.

"It's a game of frustration .  We know that. We're frustrated right now but there is no loss in belief of what we have here or our roster.  Just because we haven't done what we're capable of doing ofensively, it's hard to create the expectation that it will. All we can do is stay positive."

Leake didn't have one of his better games. He was hit hard at times and some of the Dodgers 12 hits that weren't hit all that hard found holes.

"It was a weird night. I missed some spots.  I got some ground balls but they found holes.  I didn't do my job today," Leake said. "It's getting to the point we have to do better than what we're doing.  The type of team we are is yet to be determined."

The Reds managed just two singles off Beckett, a single by Leake and one by Todd Frazier. Beckett's services were required for only six innings. He walked one.

Zack Cozart was hit in the head by a pitch in the fifth inning but stayed in the game.

Former Pirate ace Paul Maholm gave up a double to Bruce, the first batter he faced in the seventh. Turner made a nice stop on Devin Mesoraco's bid for extra bases but the Mesoraco beat the throw as Bruce had to hold.  Skip Schumaker lined out to Turner. Cozart singled to left to put the Reds on the board.  Maholm left and Chris Perez came on to face pinch hitter Chris Heisey. Heisey struck out looking but Billy Hamilton singled to load the bases with two outs.  Frazier grounded to short to end the inning.

Votto in his first game back struck out twice, walked and singled.

The Reds didn't threaten again.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Joe Nuxhall Debuts At 15 - 70 Years Ago Today


Maybe it was because he had been asked a million times but Joe could recall every detail of his debut when Bill McKechnie called his name to pitch against the St. Louis Cardinals.  He got the two of the first three batters out then didn't record another out for eight years.

"I looked up and all of sudden realized that was Stan Musial in the batters' box," Nuxhall said.

George Fallon grounded out to Eddie Miller at shortstop to open that ninth inning with the Cardinals ahead 13-0. Mort Cooper, the pitcher walked.  Audie Bergamo popped to short then the wheels fell off.

Deb Garms walked.  Musial singled. Ray Sanders, Walker Cooper and Danny Litwhiler walked.  Emil Verban singled.  McKechnie brought Jake Eisenhart to get the final out.

It was the 21-year old Eisenhart's first and only game.  He walked one and got a pop fly to the firstbaseman but never pitched in the Major Leagues again.  The Reds released him two weeks later.

Nuxhall went to Birmingham to pitch that summer, then back to Hamilton to finish high school.  Nuxhall pitched in six minor league cities until he returned to the Reds.

His next game was a three inning relief stint in a 19-1 Reds' loss at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn.  Nuxhall pitched three scoreless innings to close out the game.

From History Channel.
On June 10, 1944, 15-year-old Joe Nuxhall becomes the youngest person ever to play Major League Baseball when he pitches in a game for the Cincinnati Reds. Nuxhall threw two-thirds of the ninth inning in an 18-0 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals; he was pulled only after one wild pitch and allowing five runs on five walks and two hits. The game was played during World War II, when it became common for adolescent and older players to fill in for big leaguers fighting overseas.

In 1942, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt wrote to Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis to ask that baseball continue even though the United States was going to war: "I honestly feel that it would be best for the country to keep baseball going. There will be fewer people unemployed and everybody will work longer hours and harder than ever before. And that means they ought to have a chance for recreation and for taking their minds off their work even more than before." Landis obliged, and play continued even as the stars of the era left to enroll in the armed forces. Detroit Tigers first baseman Hank Greenberg was among the players who had enlisted even before 1941, in the prime of his Hall of Fame career. After the 1942 season, more than 500 big league players enlisted, including stars Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Bob Feller, Dom DiMaggio and Pee Wee Reese.

Meanwhile, the major leagues had to make do with whoever was available, and the 15-year-old Nuxhall was just one of many new players who normally wouldn’t have come close to a shot at the big leagues. Others included Pete Gray, a one-armed outfielder who hit .218 and drove in 13 runs in 77 games with the St. Louis Browns in 1945, and 16-year-old Carl Scheib, who pitched for the Philadelphia A’s in 1943. Eighteen-year-old Vern Benson got to hit twice for the A’s that year, while 17-year-old Cass Michaels began his 12-year major league career many years ahead of schedule playing third base for the White Sox. Older players also got in on the act: Mike Ryba and Al Simmons were among the former major leaguers who returned to fill in for their younger counterparts overseas.

As for Nuxhall, though the June 10 outing was his only appearance in 1944, he rejoined the Reds in 1952 when he was 23 years old and pitched 15 seasons in the big leagues. He ended his career with a 135-117 record and a 3.90 ERA.

Bob Welch Former Pitcher Dies At 57


Death like five o'clock came too early for Bob Welch.

Welch died this afternoon at his home in Seal Beach, California.  A long-time employee of the Dodgers said it was a heart attack but the coroner in California is waiting for toxicology reports to release the cause of the 57-year old's death.

Welch, a Detroit native, was drafted by the Dodgers out of Eastern Michigan University and a year later was facing down Reggie Jackson with two runners on base in the 1978 World Series.

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Welch revealed that he was an alcoholic in a book titled, "Five "O'clock Comes Early: A Ballplayer's Battle With Alcoholism," in 1981 with George Vecsey.

"The fact is I was crazy when I'm drunk," Welch said in the book.  "There is every chance I'd be dead right now if I was drinking."

Former teammate Davey Lopes is currently a coach with the Dodgers in Cincinnati to play the Reds on Tuesday.

"It is absolutely bad news," Lopes said.  "It is something you don't expect to hear at any given time. I still see him in the World Series, the strikeout of Reggie Jackson. It doesn't get any better than that unless it was game seven For a 21-year old kid to be put in situation like that, facing one of the premier power hitters in the game..  He was fearless. He went right after him. Great things were expected of him but I don't know if he had a greater moment than that."

Dodger manager Don Mattingly faced him many times as a member of the New York Yankees.

"It's tough when you hear that," Mattingly said. "The picture that comes to my head is the one with Reggie Jackson in the World Series.  I remember the great Oakland teams that he was part of. It is a loss for this organization."

Welch pitched 10 years for the Dodgers before being traded to the Oakland A's in 1988.  He was on that A's team that won three consecutive pennants.  In 1990, the year that the Reds swept the heavily favored A's.  Welch won the Cy Young Award that year with a 27-6 record and a 2.95 ERA that year.

Welch had a 211-146 record and a 3.47 ERA in 17 seasons.  He was the pitching coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001 when they won the World Series.  Recently, he served as a special instructor for the A's.

The Reds former manager, Dusty Baker, often relied on Welch's opinion on players.  They were close when they played together in Los Angeles.  Welch told Baker about Mike Leake prior to Leake's first spring training with the Reds in 2010.

Baker told the media that Welch said, "You'll like this kid.  He keeps the cheese at the knees."

Leake, Tuesday's starting pitcher remembers him from his days at Arizona State.  "He was around a lot," Leake said.

"He was a good teammate. I didn't hang around him. There was a great discrepancy in age. He was a pitcher and they kind of wander off in their own direction anyhow. He was a colorful character, very well liked. He was extremely knowledgeable. He loved talking about pitching. He was just a fun guy to be around."

Lopes remembered the relationship that Baker had with Welch.

"Dusty kind of took him under his wing, and tried to look out after him both on and off the field. They were close," Lopes said

Latos Penciled Into Rotation For Satuday


Mat Latos hopes to be a real boy on Saturday.

Latos referred to himself as a "puppet on a string" and did not want to pitch in Pawtucket last night but he did.

Bryan Price wanted to be certain that he was capable of throwing 90-100 pitches.  As luck would have it, rain came down in the sixth innings after the big right-hander threw 81 pitches.

It is still not a guarantee that Latos will pitch Saturday instead of Tony Cingrani.

 "Latos threw into the sixth inning and the rain came<" Price said.. "He went inside and threw another 18 pitches.  We will see how he feels. He will take Tuesday and Wednesday off and throw a side on Thursday.  He is tentatively scheduled to pitch Saturday."

It is likely that Tony Cingrani will go to the bullpen.

"Cingrani is going through what a lot of guys go through," Price said. "It is hard to stick here. There are options pending. It's likely Cingrani will be affected by activating Mat."

Latos is ready finally and feels more than ready to pitch in higher competition.

"I was ready five or six days ago. It will be a release from the stress," Latos said. "It sucks that I used really good stuff in a minor league game. I wasn't able to face any kind of competition in spring training."

Latos was pleased with his out in Rhode Island last night. He pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing one run on four hits and three walks.  He struck out four.

"The velocity was there 90-94, 95, throwing 90 mile an hour sliders," Latos said. "I threw some pitches I normally wouldn't throw in a big league game that led to a few walks but it helped me out getting the pitch count up. I started one guy off with back-to-back change ups. I wouldn't normally do that.  I threw 3-2 change ups. I was just trying to work on stuff and get the pitch count up."

Joey Votto In Reds Lineup Against Dodgers


Joey Votto makes a return to the Cincinnati Reds' lineup Tuesday night against Josh Beckett and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Votto will play first base and bat third for the Reds for the first time since May 15.

The former MVP played two games on a rehab assignment for the Louisville Bats in Pawtucket Sunday and Monday.  He had two hits in six at bats.

The Reds were 11-12 in the 23 games Votto missed.

"I talked to him last night when he got back to Cincinnati.  He played back-to-back games and came through pretty good.  We waited until he woke this morning to make sure," Price said. "I had no way to know last night how he would be until he came out of the game last night."

The Reds wanted a healthy Joey Votto in the lineup and rolled the dice that they could tread water until he returned healthier.

"We went into the situation with Votto with the commitment that he would be 100 percent before we brought him back," Price said.  That was unrealistic in three weeks. He probably won't be until next year. We didn't want him playing at 50 percent. It wasn't like he was a terrible player when he went on the DL. He had six home runs, a lot of doubles and was getting on base at a .400 clip. I like the look of our lineup having all of our players. I've had Joey bat second, third and fourth. I'm just trying to find what's best that being said, I like our lineup with everyone healthy."

Votto will get periodic rest to keep him fresh for the last 100 games of the season.

"We'll see if he needs time off (the rest of the season).It's reasonable to assume he's not going to play every single day."

Votto of course in excited to get back even though actually enjoyed playing with the younger players.

"I'm optimistic that I will be 100 percent," Votto said. "This is where I want to be and need to be but the trip to Louisville reminded me of why I play.  Sometimes you get these little surprises. It was a really good time down there. It's a challenge up here struggling and being injured and with the team not playing well."

Monday, June 9, 2014

Scott Van Slyke Takes Tony Cingrani Out


Tony Cingrani would like to have two pitches to Scott Van Slyke back.

The son of former rival, Andy Van Slyke (Pittsburgh 80's and 90's), homered twice to drive in a total of four runs.  That happened to be the margin of defeat for the Reds in a 6-2 loss.

It is possibly the last start for Cingrani, who has an ERA of over six since coming off the disabled list on May 18.  All five of his starts since, resulted in Reds' losses.

"The hiccup after coming off the DL is not having that shutdown inning when he's near his pitch count," Price said. "He's scuffling. I know he's frustrated."
Mat Latos threw 81 pitches and allowed just one run into the sixth inning of his rehab start in Pawtucket.  Price wanted to be sure he could throw 90-100 pitches before he would be activated. Rains forced him to stop at 81.  He threw 19 more under the stands.  It is likely to be Latos final test before activation.

"Latos felt good," Price said. "They had rain but he was able to get his pitches in. I think we can safely anticipate he will make his next start here.

As for Cingrani, it appears he will be sent to Louisville to get straightened out.

"The tough thing is, when Mat comes off the disabled list, we have 13 major league pitchers for 12 spots," Price said. "It's not to say Tony won't be in the mix. We have tough choices to make."

Cingrani denied Latos return put extra pressure on him.

"I'm just trying to go out there and win ballgames," Cingrani said. "It's a hard game. I'm just frustrated.  I gave Van Slyke a pitch to hit."

Van Slyke started the scoring in the second, leading off the inning with a long home run.

Zack Cozart nearly one-upped Van Slyke with a bid for a two-run home run that was just foul.  Even an umpires review upheld the call on the field.  Brayan Pena singled with two outs off Dodgers' starter Dan Haren. It was Pena's first hit in 18 at bats.  Cozart shook off the disappointment and dumped a single into rightfield. Haren threw a wild pitch which made an intentional walk to Donald Lutz an easy decision with Cingrani due up.  It backfired when Haren threw another wild pitch to allow Pena to score.

Cingrani gave up a double to Matt Kemp, leading off the fourth.  A wild pitch put him on third. Working carefully to Van Slyke, Cingrani issued a walk.  Former Reds' draftee, Justin Turner, fought off one of Cingrani's better pitchers and hit a bloop over Lutz's head at firstbase.   Tim Federowicz hit a sacrifice fly.

Ryan Ludwick's fifth home run off Haren made it 3-2 after four innings.

Cingrani retired the first two batters in the fifth, Chone Figgins on a groundout and Hanley Ramirez on a called third strike.  Cingrani battled both Yasiel Puig and Kemp but walked both on some close pitches.  That is when Van Slyke hit a 2-2 pitch out of the park.

The Reds hit into inning ending double plays in the sixth and seventh the latter being turned by Turner and Figgins with Billy Hamilton running.

"They (Dodgers) did some things," Price said.  "They got a couple double play balls but we didn't put enough pressure on them.  We weren't hitting the ball. We were getting walks.  We need to get more chances than a couple."

It gets worse for the Reds.

Brandon League walked Todd Frazier to start the eighth.  Brandon Phillips singled to center and Jay Bruce walked to load the bases with no one out.  Ludwick took a pitch for a ball.  Ahead in the count, Ludwick tried to check his swing and hit it softly to League, who turned a 1-2-3 double play. Pena grounded out to end the threat.

"He threw that sinker that looks like a strike," Price said of League's pitch to Ludwick.

Kenley Jansen struck out Ramon Santiago to end the game.

Joey Votto and Mat Latos Teammates in Pawtucket

Joey Votto came out of his rehab start for Louisville in Pawtucket without pain.  Mat Latos will join him tonight as the Bats' starting pitcher.

“He came out of yesterday well, feeling pretty good, but I think the back-to-back will be a little more telling. See how he responds today. I think that second game will be the most important thing he can do over the course of this rehab. That will be a little more telling on his readiness. With Joey, we need to know that he can come through tonight feeling good and get a better grasp on how to use him. Do we use him as an everyday player? Is he a guy who, like we did with Jay, play him three or four days and give him a day off as he continues to get stronger. Those are some of the things I’d like to answer over the course of his rehab.” “He came out of yesterday well, feeling pretty good, but I think the back-to-back will be a little more telling," Price said. "See how he responds today. I think that second game will be the most important thing he can do over the course of this rehab. That will be a little more telling on his readiness. With Joey, we need to know that he can come through tonight feeling good and get a better grasp on how to use him. Do we use him as an everyday player? Is he a guy who, like we did with Jay, play him three or four days and give him a day off as he continues to get stronger. Those are some of the things I’d like to answer over the course of his rehab.”

Votto was 1-for-3 on Sunday, breaking up a no-hiiter by Chris Hernandez of the PawSox.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Homer Bailey Shakes Philadelphia Curse


The Reds hope the 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies can get the team off the treadmill.

Since Great American Ball Park opened, in 2003, the Phillies made themselves at home there.

Even with the loss, the Phillies own a 26-14 record in Cincinnati.  Reds' starting pitcher Homer Bailey beat them for the first time in his career after coming into the game 0-4 against them.

Bailey finally beat the Philadelphia Phillies _ and he has nobody but himself to thank.

Bailey pitched eight effective innings and drove in the go-ahead runs as the Cincinnati Reds came from behind on Sunday.

 "The bullpen has picked me up so much this year that the big thing I wanted to do today was give them a day off," he said.

Manager Bryan Price was happy to see his starter rewarded.

Billy Hamilton added a two-run homer for the Reds, who won their second straight against the reeling Phillies after a three-game losing streak.

Bailey (7-3) allowed just six hits and one run with three walks and seven strikeouts while matching his season high in innings and picking up his first career win in five decisions over 10 games against Philadelphia. He threw a season-high 121 pitches, four short of tying his career high.

The Phillies had at least one runner on base in six of those innings, but they couldn't capitalize enough to avoid their eighth loss in nine games. Manager Ryne Sandberg blamed a lack of "execution and focus."

"I see potential now and then, but we need to be consistent," the first-year manager said. "It's all about chipping in and doing something every day."

Aroldis Chapman struck out the side in the ninth for his ninth save.

Rookie right-hander David Buchanan (1-3), making his fourth career start since being called up by Philadelphia on May 24, allowed six hits and four runs with six strikeouts in six innings. He also hit a batter while losing his third consecutive start.

Trailing 1-0 in the fifth, Todd Frazier led off with a bloop single to center field and went to third on Zack Cozart's opposite-field double down the right-field line. Against a drawn-in Phillies infield, Bailey grounded a two-run single up the middle, just out of reach of diving shortstop Jimmy Rollins.

 "I think a starting pitcher should at least be able to handle a bat," Bailey said. "At least put the ball in play _ get a fly ball or a seeing-eye single."

 Hamilton, hitless in his previous 12 at bats, followed with his second home run of the season, a 348-foot drive into the right-field seats on what he said was a full-count changeup. He wasn't sure it was going out.

 "I don't hit home runs," he pointed out. "Didn't you see me running? I was rolling. I looked up and Homer was right there."

 Buchanan wouldn't change either one of the pitches, he said.

"I got the ground ball I wanted," he said about Bailey's hit. "I left the changeup (to Hamilton) up. If it's down and away, he doesn't hit it. I had conviction with that pitch. It was the right pitch."

Philadelphia took a 1-0 lead in the third. Ben Revere and Jimmy Rollins singled with one out. Revere stole third and scored on Chase Utley's sacrifice fly.

The Phillies, who saw two innings end with runners thrown out at the plate on Saturday, lost another runner at home in the fourth inning on Sunday. Domonic Brown was on third base with Carlos Ruiz on first and one out when Cesar Hernandez hit a chopper to third baseman Todd Frazier, who easily threw out Brown at the plate. Buchanan followed with an inning-ending fielder's-choice grounder.

Notes: Jimmy Rollins needs five hits to pass Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt for the Phillies' career record after going 1-for-3 on Sunday. ... Cincinnati's Devin Mesoraco struck out three times while extending his career-long hitless streak to 17 at bats. ... Philadelphia wrapped up a stretch of 20 games in 20 days with a 6-14 record. After a day off on Monday, the Phillies open a stretch of 21 games in 20 days with the first of a three-game home series against San Diego. ... The Reds are scheduled to continue their 10-game home stand, their second-longest of the season, on Monday with the first of four games against the Dodgers.

Mat Latos Will Pitch In Pawtucket Monday

Mat Latos was hoping his last rehab start in Lehigh Valley with the Louisville Bats would be his last.

A leg cramp cut the outing short of his target pitch count.  He joins the Bats in Rhode Island and teammate Joey Votto as the Reds try to get whole for the first time this season.

"He is in search of that longer outing," Bryan Price said. "We'll have him in the rotation after that."

Latos was open about his disapproval of another Triple A outing but the Reds' management insisted.

"This is a tool for his preparation," Price said. "It benefits everyone if he gets his work done.. I'm aware of some of the comments that he's ready.  I believe it but that being said. I'd like to see him go deep into games when he comes back. I'd like to know that he's capable."

Price desperately wants to avoid adding innings to his bullpen which is without a long relief man since Alfredo Simon, who filled that role, is thriving in the starting rotation.

"We've asked guys like Manny Parra to pitch longer early in the season but it's not fair to ask him to stretch to 50 or 60 pitches," Price said.

What about the pitcher he replaces serving in the long relief role?

"We could but we're not sure that guy will be here," Price said.

That guy which went unnamed appears to be Tony Cingrani if one reads between the lines.

Latos is pitching on the same days as Cingrani.  Cingrani has minor league options left.

"We have asked pitchers to do things we wouldn't normally asked them to do; like Carlos Fisher did," said Price in reference to Fisher's six inning relief stint in Philadelphia during a 19 inning game in 2012.

"Maybe we can bring Corky Millier up," Price joked.  Miller ate a couple innings in Louisville during blow out games.  "Maybe Skip Schumaker, he has pitching experience."  Schumaker pitched a couple innings of emergency relief for Los Angeles last season.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Jay Bruce Homers To Lift Reds

Jay Bruce showed signs of going on one of his patented hot streaks.

The Reds' rightfielder had a sacrifice fly, drew a walk for the first time in over a month and hit a two-run home run.

Bruce drove in three runs and the Reds snapped a three-game losing streak with a 6-5 win over the Phillies.

Todd Frazier also homered and the Reds played strong defense, throwing out two runners at the plate to end innings and overcome homers by Marlon Byrd, Carlos Ruiz and Jimmy Rollins to send the Phillies to their seventh loss in eight games.

"Talk about a complete game," first-year manager Bryan Price said. "Those two perfectly executed relay throws were a big deal. We had a lot of good things, defensively and offensively."

Center fielder Billy Hamilton, second baseman Brandon Phillips and catcher Devin Mesoraco teamed up to throw out Byrd at the plate to end the sixth inning and Ruiz to end the seventh.

Alfredo Simon (8-3) allowed seven hits and three runs with three strikeouts in six innings. Jonathon Broxton pitched a scoreless eighth inning and Aroldis Chapman pitched the ninth for his eighth save.

The Reds wasted no time snapping their 17-inning scoreless streak, scoring in the first inning. Hamilton drew a leadoff walk, stole second on the first pitch to Skip Schumaker and hustled to third on Schumaker's groundout to Rollins at shortstop, setting up Bruce's sacrifice fly.

"As a team, you need the small things," Bruce said. "Those are what lead to the bigger things."

The Phillies answered with Byrd's two-run homer in the second, his ninth of the season.

 Frazier led off the bottom of the second with his team-leading 13th homer of the season, giving him home runs in three of his past four games.

 Frazier sparked Cincinnati's fourth-inning go-ahead rally with a single to right field and stolen base. Zack Cozart drove him in with a sinking line drive to right-center field that Ben Revere got a glove on with a diving try before the ball trickled away. Cozart went to third on Ramon Santiago's single and scored on Hamilton's sacrifice fly.

The Phillies threatened in the fifth, getting runners to second and third with one out, prompting manager Ryne Sandberg to pinch-hit John Mayberry Jr. for starting pitcher Roberto Hernandez.

Hernandez (2-4), is 0-3 in seven starts since his most recent win on May 4, allowed four hits and four runs with three walks and two strikeouts in four innings. He also hit a batter.

Bruce sees better at bats in his future.

 "That's one of those things I knew was coming," Bruce said. "You just have to keep on keeping on. I've been trying to keep the same approach. It felt good to put a good swing on a pitch I should have driven."

Ruiz led off the sixth with his second homer of the season, and Rollins hit a two-run shot in the seventh, his eighth homer of the season and second in two days.

Byrd was thrown out on a double on Domonic Brown's double to right-center field. He collided with Mesoraco, prompting umpire crew chief Tom Hallion to ask for a review to make sure Major League Baseball's new rules governing plays at the plate weren't violated.

"I can't give you an educated response because I don't know what the rule is," Byrd said. "I was waiting for a lane. I was going to slide outside and get my hand in"

When the replay confirmed the initial ruling, Sandberg came out of the dugout to argue, which is automatic grounds for ejection. The umpires tried to wave him back into the dugout, and Hallion ejected Sandberg when he persisted
"My argument was the catcher blocked the plate before he had the ball," Sandberg said. "Byrd almost twisted his ankle with indecision. It has gone against us three times with different scenarios. Everyone wants to know what the rule is."

Notes: Reds 1B Joey Votto will begin an injury rehab assignment with Triple-A Louisville on Sunday. Votto hasn't played since going on the disabled list on May 21, retroactive to May 16, with a quadriceps strain in his left knee, the same knee on which he had two surgeries in 2012. ... Bruce's walk in the third inning was his first in 16 games since he was walked three times by Milwaukee on May 1. ... Sandberg's ejection was the first of his managerial career. ... Rollins needs six hits to pass Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt and become Philadelphia's career hits