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.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Let The Games Begin Reds And Indians Open Cactus League

Time to put the monotonous drills and batting practice in the background.

After this Leap Year Day, those things will still be looming but there will be competition to test the players mental as well as physical skills.  The Reds play the first of three games with the Cleveland Indians at 3:00 pm Eastern time.  The game is televised by Fox Sports Ohio.

The competition will be external, facing another team, but also internal  For players who are established the competition is never about results.

As Indians manager Terry Francona put it, "The top five batting averages in the outfield, won't be the ones that make the team.  It is about finding out what position is best suited for each player."

It is the same with the batting order.

"We don't start thinking of the batting order until the end," Francona said.  "One guy gets hurt early and it affects the whole batting order.  We just use the batting order to get guys at bats.  Catchers are the hardest.  We gradually build their innings.  We put the four or five regulars at the top of the order to get them more at bats."

For the players competing to make the team, results are important.  They are going to play more innings and need to take advantage of them to show results, catch management's eye, turn some heads.

The Reds pitchers will pitch one inning each.  Josh Tomlin and T;J. House will pitch for Cleveland.

Reds pitchers tomorrow are:

Jon Moscot
Brandon Finnegan
Tony Cingrani
Blake Wood
Chris O'Grady
Zack Weiss
A.J. Morris
Drew Hayes

The Reds starters and batting order are:

Jake Cave CF
Eugenio Saurez 3B
Joey Votto 1B
Brandon Phillips 2B
Jay Bruce RF
Adam Duvall LF
Yorman Rodriguez DH
Ivan De Jesus Jr. SS
Tucker Barnhart C

Moscot started three games for the Reds last season before he hurt his non-throwing shoulder in a rundown.

Finnegan pitched for the Reds in September after coming from the Kansas City Royals in the trade for Johnny Cueto.

They are competing for jobs in the starting rotation.

The rest are slated for the bullpen.

Tony Cingrani, who has started for the Reds in the past.  The lack of a third pitch has him working from the bullpen....  Blake Wood pitched for Cleveland in 2014 but signed with the Pirates last season. He spent the entire season at Indianapolis where he saved 29 games....  Chris O'Grady was taken from the Angels system in the Rule V draft.  The Reds' claimed him for the $50,000 waiver fee but must stay on the Reds 25-man roster or be offered back to the Angels for half the fee.  O'Grady, a left-hander has 120 minor league relief appearances with a 3.21 ERA...Zack Weiss is a 23-year old right-hander saved 35 games for Pensacola last season.  The Reds' sixth round pick in 2013 has 100 minor league appeaances, five starts with a 2.54 ERA...A.J. Morris, 29, was a Rule V pick by the Indians off the Cubs roster in 2013 but spent the 2014 season on the disabled list.  He signed with the Reds as a free agent.  Morris, who played amatuer baseball with Jay Bruce, Has started 55 minor league games and pitched in relief in 122 other games.  The right-hander has a 26-19 minor league record with a 3.26 ERA....Drew Hayes is in his third Reds' big league camp.  The Reds' 11th round pick from Vanderbilt University, spent three years at Double A Pensacola before advancing to Louisville last season.  Hayes pitched in 43 games at Louisville all in relief.  He was 4-4 with three saves and a 3.35 ERA.

The Lineup

Jake Cave is another Rule V pick from the New York Yankees organization. The 23-year old was drafted by the Yankees in the sixth round in 2011.  Cave has to make the team and is competing for the open leftfield job.  He advanced to Triple A last season and finished with former Reds' manager Dave Miley.  Cave hit a combined .277 with two home runs and 39 RBI. He stole 17 bases in 20 attempts....Adam Duvall also has a chance to start in leftfield on opening day.  The Louisville native and U of L alumnus came to the Reds in the Mike Leake trade with the San Francisco Giants.  Duvall played 27 games with the Reds and hit five home runs in 64 at bats.  He hit .219 with Cincinnati. Duvall, who can also backup Joey Votto at firstbase hit .281 with Triple A Sacramento last year with 26 home runs and 80 RBI.  Including his brief stay in Louisville, Duvall belted 35 home runs for the season.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Reds Ready To Start Cactus League Tuesday

Opening Day Starter

It would seem that Anthony DeSclafani, who tied for the National League lead in starts last season, would be the first choice.  Bryan Price would not name an opening day starter but did release the order in which projected starters will work in spring games.

Jon Moscot and Brandon Finnegan will pitch in the first game Tuesday against Cleveland’s Josh Tomlin.  Robert Stephenson and Cody Reed pitch Wednesday also against Cleveland.  DeSclafani and Jonathan Sanchez face the Indians in the third game.  Michael Lorenzen and Tim Melville will pitch against the San Francisco Giants on Friday.  Finnegan will start against the Cubs on Saturday.  Moscot will pitch again in the sixth game Sunday against Colorado.

In their first start the pitchers will most likely pitch one inning unless the inning is so pitch efficient they need another one.

“We didn’t want Finnegan to wait until the fifth day to get his first start,” Price said.  “When they only go one or two innings, you can bring them back on three days rest.”

The lineup indicates that DeSclafani’s turn will come up on opening day.

Raisel Iglesias Behind

The Reds shutdown Raisel Iglesias on September 13 with shoulder fatigue.  The Reds started the throwing program for Iglesias later than other pitchers. Price expects Iglesias to be stretched out in time for his first start of the season, should he earn a spot in the Reds’ starting rotation.

“He’s throwing great,” Price said.  “He’s closer to the middle of the month (for pitching in games) than the end. We will have adequate time to get him fully stretched out by the time he will make his first start.”

Iglesias is likely to be at the end of the rotation to allow a couple extra days.

Cody Reed Impressive

The Reds had live batting practice Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  Pitchers throw as the would in a game to hitters with no defense and a batting cage.

Cody Reed was hard to miss.

Reed, 22, is listed at 6‘5“ and delivers the pitch with a long stride.  It was difficult for the hitters he faced to get in front of it, however, Juan Duran hit a line drive back to the mound that Reed gloved easily.

The left-hander from Memphis was the third pitcher along with John Lamb and Finnegan to come to the Reds in the trade for Johnny Cueto with San Francisco.  Reed is competing for a spot in the starting rotation in his fourth season of professional baseball after the Royal took him in the second round of the 2013 draft.

“Looking at the reports from last year he’s 90- 97 guy,” Price said.  “We saw him higher than that in the Carolina League All-Star Game.  As a starter, he settles in the 92-95 range comfortably.  He has a real good slider, improving change. He’s tenacious.  I talked to some of the guys he played with last year.  They loved playing behind him.  He’s that invested in winning.  It was hard for the Royals to give him up.”

Plentiful Young Pitching Talent

The camp is full of young, hard throwing, talented pitchers.

Price named Reed, Nick Travieso, Sal Romano and Amir Garrett to his list of impressive pitchers.

“Watching these guys rock and fire, there are a lot of big arms, young, strong,” Price said.  ‘They are hard throwing and have a good feel for a breaking ball.  They are really close to being able to help us.”

First year, Reds’ pitching coach Mark Riggins agrees but is eager to see how they perform in games.

“I’m excited about the young arms. There is a lot of young talent,” said Riggins, who spent four years as the Reds’ minor league pitching coordinator.  Riggins was a Major League pitching coach for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1995 and the Cubs in 2011.  “I can tell a lot more when they get into games.  I’ve seen a lot of great bullpens followed by bad games.”

Recovering Players Look Ready

Devin Mesoraco and Zack Cozart are recovering nicely from injuries.  They are performing in drills with no perceptible lingering effect of the injuries that cut their 2015 season short.

“Everything is going to plan. My timing isn’t there yet but when I get a couple at bats in games, it will come,” said Mesoraco, who had surgery in June to correct a left hip impingement.

Cozart tore his anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligament in his right knee while trying to beat out an infield hit on June 10 against Philadelphia.  He had reconstructive surgery on June 16.

Cozart has participated in drills and batting practice with no limitations.

“Work is going great,” Cozart said. “I’m doing as much as I can and feeling great. I’m full go, just taking it slow. I’m not going to be standing on the outside waiting for things to be done. While I’m loose, I’m getting my work in and go from there. When it comes to my workload, I’m doing everything.”

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Zack Cozart Ready To Comeback With New Teammates

Zack Cozart was on the way to his best season when a mis step at first basc on June 10 cost him the rest of the season.

Cozart’s nine home runs in 53 games more than doubled the four he hit in 147 games in 2014.  He left with a .258 average which would have been his highest in his Major League career to date but a he tore ligaments in his right knee which required surgery on June 16.

Cozart, 30, was a finalist for the 2014 Rawlings Gold Glove Award but struggled at the plate with a .221 batting average.  The Reds signed him to a one-year contract thorough 2016 to avoid arbitration.

The Reds’ former number two pick in the 2007 draft, was walking without a limp around the Reds’ clubhouse in September to the point it looked like he could play.

“No chance,” Cozart said.  “I couldn’t start swinging until a month ago.  I wouldn’t say it was my normal offseason.  I rehabbed all the way through to the end of the season.  I was on a protocol where, I lifted, I lifted, I lifted.  I got to the point where I could do agility drills and working side-to-side, eventually, getting into groundball and finally got to where I could start swinging (the bat).”

Brandon Phillips was glad to see Cozart back.

“Seeing Cozart back on the field was like a blessing in disguise,” Phillips said.  “I really missed him a lot.  He’s like a brother to me.  He has played next to me more than anyone.”

Phillips has played in the field with 28 different shortstops but Cozart at 427 games has played next to him the most.

The team is on a youth program and acquired Jose Peraza in the offseason.  Peraza could play second of short as well as the outfield  Eugenio Suarez filled in for Cozart last season and looked good at the plate is going to get a shot at thirdbase with the departure of Todd Frazier.

Cozart is the still the Reds’ shortstop but Peraza is likely to see some time there this spring.

“We are going to take it slow with Zack,” manager Bryan Price said. “Peraza will get some time at shortstop.”

Meanwhile Cozart is “full go” this spring.

“I’m just working. I’m doing as much as I can. I’m feeling pretty good,” Cozart said.  “I have no limitations just taking it slow.  Basically, I’m not going to be standing around outside waiting on things to be done.  While I’m loose and everything, I’ll get my work in.  When it comes to my workload, I can do pretty much everything. I’m building stamina up right now.”

There are a lot of new faces in camp besides Peraza there are a lot of young pitchers and Cozart is interested to see them.

‘I haven’t seen much of them so far. I know that they work hard.  They’re bringing a lot of energy,” Cozart said.  “I looking forward to seeing not only the young position players but the pitchers to.  I curious to see what they have. I’ve heard a lot of good things about them but the first time I will see them is in the first couple games.  Hopefully, a lot of the young guys can help us win.”

Friday, February 26, 2016

Votto Won't Listen To Losing Comments

The Reds are counting on Joey Votto to be a leader in the clubhouse given the investment in youthful talent.

Votto, 32, was the National League MVP in 2010 at the beginning of the Reds three playoff runs in four seasons.

The Reds have traded both its 2016 All-Stars, Todd Frazier and Aroldis Chapman, for six prospects.  The team that lost 98 games last season is picked to finish at the bottom of the NL Central.

“I’m still am young, single, no kids, good looking,” Votto said.  “The last six months there’s been a real change. It’s not something I’m excited about because of all the guys we lost. They were not only my teammates.  They were my friends. But hopefully this means we’re heading in a different direction, a better direction.”

Votto had a subpar start in 2015. The career .311 hitter’s batting average dipped to .273 on July 5 and he was not selected to the All-Star game.

The Reds’ third selection in the 2002 draft, finished third in the MVP voting by finishing with a .314 average with 29 home runs and 80 RBI. He set a team record with 143 walks and led the NL, finishing .002 away from leading the league with a .459 on base percentage.

“I wasn’t satisfied with the way I played in the first half,” Votto said.  “Eventually, my swing got to be where I wanted it to be and I was able to repeat that. Combined with my approach, I ended the season playing well.”

The team traded away two top pitchers, Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake.  The Reds started rookie pitchers in each of its last 64 games and the team narrowly avoided 100 losses with 98.

“I signed up to be part of a winning team,” Votto said.  “No matter how well I play, It’s really not a good feeling knowing that you’re playing well and you lost another game.”

“Hopefully, that changes soon and I’m excited about the future,” Votto said.

Votto is now in a position to be a leader on a team filled with talented younger players, who have yet to prove themselves at the Major League level.

“Those sorts of things come with time and experience,” Votto said.  “I’d like to thing it happens organically or else it has a phony feel to it.  Myself and a teammate were talking about Scott Rolen today.  He never said anything about leadership but without question was a player that we looked to, admired and respected and tried to learn from.  At no point did he ever bring it up or force it on people, it just happened naturally.  I want to treat everyone with respect and having discourse with them hopefully will result in adjustments for themselves.”

Votto will not, however, tolerate a losing attitude among his teammates.  The national expectations are low but Votto rejects them as a self-fulfilling prophesy.

“I’ve thought about how I wanted to respond to that,” Votto said.  “The season hasn’t started, hasn’t finished. I refuse to go into a season thinking that it is written in stone that we’re going to be in last place, we’re not going to make the playoffs, or have a chance at the World Series.  That is probably the one thing I’ll confront people on. If there is any sort of conversation in the clubhouse about us being a poor club or have no chance. I come into this season expecting to be part of a club that competes.”

During a situational drill with live hitting, base running and fielding (everything but pitching), coach Freddie Benevides needed a base runner to set up a situation.  “We need a runner at second, one of you guys that just hit.”

Votto was the first to respond and ran to take secondbase.  It is a signal that he is keen on setting a good example.

Dick Williams The Reds New Age GM

Dick Williams family has been a part of the Cincinnati Reds for over 50 years as investors but he has become a part of baseball operations.

Williams' grandfather William J Williams and his great uncle, James, were minority owners in the group headed by Francis Dale in 1968.

Williams, 45,  became a member of the Reds front office 11 seasons ago when his father, Joe and uncle Tom, were  members of the group of investors headed by Bob Castellini bought the Reds from Carl Lindner.

The Reds named him general manager on November 4, 2015. 

will preside over the new Reds as it builds its pool of young players.

"What we save in payroll is going back into the team, not to create more profit," Williams vowed Thursday morning.

The Reds have invested in the new statistical analysis in baseball but will also rely on the eyes of scouts to evaluate talent.

"We have hired three people to study the new data, arm angles of pitchers, exit velocity off the bat of hitters, the movement and reaction of defensive players," Williams said.  "We just had our scouts in the conference room so they could learn these new methods.  We also had our statistical analysts meet with the scouts so both understand the entire process."

There is nothing immanent on the trade front.  There is no revival of the Jay Bruce trade talks that turned out to be pure speculation Tuesday morning. He also denied reports that the Reds signed Cuban shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez

"I have nothing new to report," Williams said. "Sometimes when I read things in the press, I have to check to see if we really did them."

Williams took the time to congratulate former St. Xavier classmate Chris Mack and his Xavier Musketeers for their win over number one Villanova on Wednesday night.

Mack was a year ahead of Williams at St. X.  Williams made the freshman team while Mack played varsity as a sophomore.  The next year Williams played JV basketball which practiced against the varsity and Mack.

"We were never on the court at the same time during games," Williams said. "Chris was really good."

Williams is a graduate of the University of Virginia and St. Xavier High School and worked as an investment banker and from 2003–04 for th George W Bush re-election campaign. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Reds Greats Davis And Larkin Won't Use The R Word

Eric Davis and Barry Larkin were on a team that wasn't expected to win but shocked the world.  They see no reason the 2016 Reds can't do the same thing.

The Reds finished fifth in the NL West in 1989 with a 75-87 but went wire-to-wire to win the West and upset the Oakland A's in the World Series.

It is no secret the Reds are changing the guard.

As Joey Votto said, "Like the Bob Dylan song Times they are a changing."

Davis and Larkin agree that the Reds have talent and may be as hungry as that 1990 squad.  Not only are the Reds pair working with the young major leaguers, their 1990 manager Lou Piniella is here too.  After a few seasons, working with minor league players, Davis and Larkin are working with the younger talent with the Reds.

"When Lou is around, excitement starts to happen," Davis said.

The former World Champions want these talented players to think like winners.

Davis recalled his teammate Randy Myers in a preseason interview in Plant City, Florida 26 years ago.

"Randy told people in an interview that the Reds were going to win the first 14 games, go wire-to-wire and win the World Series.  People laughed at him," Davis said.

"That's exactly what we did," Larkin added although the team actually won the first nine games.

"Even though we have young guys, it's not etched in stone that we finish last," Davis said.

Larkin doesn't like to use the word rebuild.

"Expectations are whatever they are," Larkin said. "Every year you're trying to build something. Rebuild? Trading away some pieces, getting some pieces back, that's how you stay competitive. If you get rid of Joey (Votto), you get rid of Jay (Bruce), you get rid of Brandon (Phillips), O.K. that's a total rebuild. There;s nothing wrong. Just because we have a lot of new faces, doesn't mean we have to come in last place. There is a negative connotation to rebuild.  Rebuild means we're going to get our tails kicked. You know, we're going to accept the fact we're going to lose? No, let's just accept the fact that we're going to be competitive. Let;s accept that fact that we're going out to try to win ballgames. If we're short, the difference is we go out and get beat, we can live with it but if we beat ourselves, it's unacceptable."

Davis nodded in agreement.

"I'm the same word. I don't really use the world. Everybody's starting somewhere. I look at it as an opportunity to show what they can do, put their names on the map, establish yourself as a major leaguer," Davis said. "If you don't perform, it's a rebuild.  If they do perform, you're in contention. That's how I look at it. It is an opportunity whether you have old guys or young guys."

After the interview, Larkin went out on the big fields behind the clubhouse and worked with Jay Bruce, not one of the younger guys for a half hour as if to prove Davis' last point.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Elvis Is Still Dead Jay Bruce Is Still A Red

Jay Bruce is still a Red.

Rumors flew like planes at LaGuardia Airports and in as many directions.

The prevalent rumor had Bruce going to the Toronto Blue Jays with Michael Saunders going to the Los Angeles Angels with the Reds getting a prospect from both teams in one report and one of the teams in another report.

The deal fell through because of a failed physical one one of the players, one report said it was Saunders, another said it was one of the prospects.

Only those involved in the actual negotiations know but the fact remains that Bruce is joining the rest of the Reds’ players for a workout this afternoon in Goodyear, Arizona.

“I’m still here. Until I’m not a Red, I’m a Red,” said Bruce.  “Awkward is not the word. I’m reading the same stuff you are reading.  It’s obvious what’s going on.  They’re trying to get something done.  I really don’t have answers.  You all probably know before I will.  Obviously, nothing happened because I’m still here. I will try to be transparent with you all as much as I can.”

Bruce hasn’t been told one way or the other by the

“I haven’t heard anything from the Reds last night or this morning,” Bruce said. “I don’t think it’s because they’re not telling me something. I don’t think there is much for them to report. I think when they do report, they try to show me the respect that there is something to report and not hear say. I respect them for that.”

Manager Bryan Price is proceeding as if nothing happened which is the fact.

“Our good fortune is we’ve  got a real pro in Jay Bruce, who is handling this stuff unbelievably well,”  Price said.  “It’s challenging. The trading deadline is challenging.  The off season when his name keeps popping up and everything blows up last night, it doesn’t make things any easier. This generation is kind of getting conditioned to the fact that it is the lay of the land now.”

“At this point in time, I like thinking about Jay in rightfield.  I don’t like the thought of not having Jay. In my 6 1/2 years, Jay is one of the players I’ve enjoyed being around.”

Price hasn’t heard anything definite from the Reds’ front office either.

“Whatever you guys are talking about; You may know more than I know. All I know is there is a lot of names being thrown around and a lot of blowing up on the internet. I am treating it as if he’s on our team and it doesn’t change anything unless something happens.”

Bruce tried to shut out the reports and regrets the distraction to the rest of the team.

“I don’t want to create this type of situation. I don’t want to have to answer the same questions every single day. This team is in a special situation as it is.  There is focus that we have to have on the field,” Bruce said.  “There are a lot of emotions that go with it. I tell myself all the time, don’t listen to rumors but it’s hard. I’m human.  You like to be in the know.”

There is the personal effect on his family life to consider.  Bruce and his wife Hanna are expecting a child around April 23rd.

“My wife go here last night and hasn’t unpacked her bags yet,” Bruce said.  “It could have happened that we were back on the move again.  It’s a tough thing to juggle. It’s a very, very thin line to walk as an organization too.  They want to give you all the information they can I’m sure. They also don’t want to give you stuff that’s hasn’t happened.  They could have told me this thing has done and called back an hour late and say,” no wait.”  I just think they want to be certain to provide me with the correct information. I respect that.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Competion is High Among Young Pitchers

There is a wide open competition for 12 spots on the pitching staff this spring.

Both the starting rotation and the bullpen are a work in process with the bullpen a consolation prize for those that don't win a spot in the rotation.

"We have the depth here in camp. I'm on board with young players learning to be big league pitchers in the Major Leagues,' manager Bryan Price said.

Keyvious Sampson started 12 games for the Reds after starting the season in Pensacola.  Sampson was claimed on waivers from the San Diego Padres last January.

This year Sampson is slotted for the bullpen but the door is still open to transition back to starter at a later date.

"Sampson is pitching to make the team," manager Bryan Price said. "He needs to pound the strikezone. He got away from that a little bit as a starter.  I like him as a reliever on this particular team, in this particular environment."

Tony Cingrani, who broke in with the Reds as a starter will pitch from the bullpen. Both Sampson and Cingrani will be looked on as pitchers who will pitch more than one inning in middle relief.

Cingrani is also the model for the Reds' plans for its young pitchers just about to emerge onto the Major League scene.

Cody Reed, Tim Melville, Robert Stephenson, Brandon Finnegan, Jon Moscot, Michael Lorenzen and Rookie Davis are all starters but could still make the team in longer relief roles.

"I'm on board with young players learning to be Major League pitchers at the big league level. We can't have a surplus of one inning pitchers.  From the depth we have at the Double A and Triple A level, we have the resources to make adjustments."

The Reds signed Jonathan Sanchez, who hasn't pitched in the Major Leagues since 2013.  He pitched all last season for Iowa the Cubs Triple A team.  Sanchez pitched a no-hitter for the Saa Francisco Giants. He was recommended by Reds' Double A manager Pat Kelly, who managed Sanchez in the Puerto Rican Winter League where he won the Comeback Player of the Year.

There are veteran starting pitchers on the market that the Reds' can also sign to fill in.

"We may find a veteran to help us manage but it has to be the right guy," Price said.

Jay Bruce Make A Surprise Early Entrance

Surprise Showing

Jay Bruce made a surprise entrance at the Reds’ spring training complex in Goodyear, Arizona.

It was not only unexpected that Bruce would show up in camp, two days before the position players are required to report, Bruce wasn’t expected to be a Red by the time the season started.

The Reds are in the middle of a youth movement, and Bruce was a huge part of the last rebuilding cycle.  Bruce, who turns 29 on the eve of opening day, was thought to be moved to another organization for still younger prospects.

Two bad years are in part responsible for the Reds’ top pick in the 2005 draft to remain on the Reds’ roster.

“I’ve said all along that if I would have played better the last year and a half, two years, I would have already been traded. I’m honest with myself,” Bruce said. “I know good and well that I’m not the player last year and 2014.  The only way I can prove that is to go out and actually do it and get back to the real me.”

His .217 batting average in 2014 and .226 batting average last year with strikeout totals of 149 and 145, caused his trade value to plummet.  He also had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee in May of 2014. He returned after two weeks, perhaps too soon, that can explain his 2014 off year.

It might be uncomfortable for some in the organization because it was common knowledge that Bruce was on the trading block but not for him.

“Until I walk out on the field opening day, as a member of the Cincinnati Reds, who knows what will happen but I’m a Red until I’m not,“ Bruce said. “This is all I know. It’s an interesting time for the franchise. It’s been a long time since we’ve been in the rebuilding process. I look forward to getting started and being a part of this thing. It would be awkward if this was another franchise that I was walking into.”

The reality that baseball is a business requires that management and players take trade rumors and speculation in stride.

“It is the terrain that we’re in now. There are no great secrets,” manager Bryan Price said. “It’s probably good for players, especially long tenured players to know what you’re considering doing and why you are considering doing it. It is uncomfortable. It is uncomfortable to have players at the trade deadlines whose names are out there.”

NASCAR Tribute.

Players were tuned to the Daytona 500.  Some had interest in the race but many were watching for car number 47 driven by A. J. Allmendinger.  The car has a tribute to the late clubhouse manager Bernie Stowe on the side of the car.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Raisel Iglesias Adapts To United States

Raisel Iglesias ended his season with shoulder fatigue on September 13 with right shoulder fatigue.

It was the end of a long season for the native of Cuba, who signed with the Reds as an international free agent in 2014.

“Last year was a long, long year for me,” Iglesias said through interpreter Tomas Vera.  “I thought the season would never be over.”

Iglesias was talking more about the differences in culture and the way the Major League season unfolds when contrasted with Cuban society and the Cuban baseball season.

“I felt good about my body and the season I had,” Iglesias said. “I think the Cuban play have to get used to the long season.”

The 26-year old from Isla de la Juventad was a relief pitcher in Cuba but his command of four quality pitches convinced the Reds to make him a starter.  Iglesias had success in that role during his rookie season.

Iglesais had a 3-7 with a 4.15 ERA in 16 starts.  He had 10 or more strikeouts in three consecutive starts from August 23 thru September 2, the first pitcher in modern Reds’ history to do it.  Iglesias was the first Major League rookie to strike out 10 or more in three straight games since Hideo Nomo had four straight 10-strikeout games in 1995.  Among rookies, Iglesias finished second with a 2.28 batting average against, sixth in ERA, sixth in strikeouts (104), ninth innings pitched (95 1/3) and tied for ninth in starts.

“Coming from a completely different system to this type of condition, I was not used to throwing in this kind of condition but I feel happy with the season I had.”

The workload took its toll as he transitioned from the game in Cuba.

“It was impossible to understand how many innings Raisel threw in Cuba.  The game is different with International play and the industrial league.  I’m sure they play a lot of inter squad games. Then he didn’t pitch at all for a year,” manager Bryan Price said.  “We put him on a flexibility program and started his throwing program later than the others in camp. We think the flexibility will make a difference.”

Iglesias has been playing long toss and doing exercises to improve the flexibility in his shoulder.

“I’ve never had good flexibility,” Iglesias said.  “I’ve been doing stretching exercises at my home in Florida. My arm feels better.  My muscles feel loose.  I believe if you have a good off season program you can maintain yourself in a long season like this.

Price plans to get Iglesias into games between the 10th and 15th of March.

“I expect him to be ready,” Price said.

In addition to conditioning for physically for the long season, Iglesias is preparing to fully join the American community.

“One of my goals is to learn English,” Iglesias said. “That is fundamental for me. It’s really hard to talk (with teammates) I will pick it up little by little.  I like the way everything is organized in America.  The cleaning and the hygene. It is something that should happen in every country.”

Although the United States has opened diplomatic relations with Cuba in the past year, Iglesias can not return to his native country just yet.

“At this time, I can’t go back but I have no interest in going back,” Iglesias said.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Bryan Price Says Hoover To Replace Chapman As Reds Open Camp


Bryan Price started his third year as the Reds' manager with a lot of roles to define.

So he started right away.

On the first day of camp in Goodyear, Arizona, manager Bryan Price declared that J.J Hoover will make the team and have the luxury of getting ready for the season rather than competing for a job. Not only will he have a roster spot, he has the lone defined role in a bullpen full of mystery.

The Reds traded Chapman to the New York Yankees in December for 3B Eric Jagielo, 2B Tony Renda, RHP Rookie Davis and RHP Caleb Cotham.

Wearing a t-shirt saying, "Train to Reign", Price shed light on the mystery of who will replace the Cuban left-hander who clocked triple digits on the radar gun.

Training is a given but the word “learn” should replace the word “reign” for the sake of accuracy.

It is no secret the Reds are trying to rebuild with young players, mostly young pitchers with Homer Bailey the elder of the group competing for the starting rotation at 29.

“We’re not going to talk about being a last place club, where losing is o.k.,” Price said. “We’re going to talk about getting incrementally better on a daily basis. We can do that. We’re going to teach to the youngest player, even if there are veterans in the group. You can never hear the fundamentals too many times.”

All 41 pitchers and six catchers reported to take physicals. No workouts were planned and very few players were out on the fields. There was a small group of players in the weight room as workouts are slated to begin Friday morning.  The Reds are expecting 62 players in camp and 51 are here including position players Zach Cozart, Billy Hamilton and Ivan De Jesus Jr.

Price expects the competition to be intense with a lot of youthful players knocking on the door.

“The biggest challenge we have is that there are a lot of guys capable of pitching in the big leagues, The downside is there are a lot of guys that have to learn to pitch in the big leagues, “Price said.  “There will be a lot of competition and not a lot of defined roles.”

One defined role is Hoover's.

“It is fair to say that he will be the closer,” Price said. “He’s earned it. He is going to make our major league bullpen. There are not a lot of defined roles in our bullpen. Unless we make a roster move to bring in a definitive closer, it is his job to lose.”

Hoover worked to make it his job in the off season once Chapman was traded.

‘I’m honored that it is my job to lose,” Hoover said. “There is a lot of time left in spring training but I’m excited to try and lock that job down. My approach was the same in the offseason. I worked with our strength coach Sean Marhon. We got a little more advanced in our movements. I’m a lot stronger than I was a year ago.”

Hoover doesn’t know who will join him in the bullpen other than Diaz. Sam LeCure, Burke Badenhop, Sean Marshall, Colin Balester, Manny Parra are gone along with Chapman.

Tony Cingrani, Pedro Villarreal, Carlos Contreras, Ryan Mattheus and  Michael Lorenzen return but Cingrani and Lorenzen will compete for spots in the starting rotation. Mattheus re-signed to a minor league contract and Villarreal will have to make the roster as non-roster invitees.

Drew Hayes, Davis, Cotham, Zack Weiss and Blake Wood were mentioned by Price as possible bullpen mates for Hoover.

“It’s exciting having the young talent around,” Hoover said.