About Me

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

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Better Call Sal - Romano Impressive In Reds Loss To Royals

Sal Romano improved his chances for the starting rotation with and impressive second outing in the Reds' 3-2 loss to the Kansas City Royals.

Romano gave up a run in his 2 2/3 innings but he was betrayed by his fielders losing fly balls in the high skies. Tyler Collins should have been out on a foul pop up that shortstop Nick Senzel couldn't find in the high sky with no clouds.  He walked and scored a run in the second inning.

"Sal threw the ball well. He had good action on his fastball and did some really good things," Bryan Price said.  "He got to work on controlling the running game.  He was really quick to the plate.  There is nothing wrong with Sal coming out hot and maintaining it through the spring."

The fact remained that Romano had good stuff and deserved a better pitching line than 2 2/3 innings with four hits, a walk and a run.  On the plus side, he struck out four.

"I thought it was the best my sinker has been on both sides of the plate," Romano said.  "I threw some really good curve balls.  My change up was a little inconsistent but other than that, I got in on some righties and made some really good pitches."

Shed Long singled to short and scored from third on a sacrifice fny by Jesse Winker

The entire four-man outfield participated in the Reds second run.

Scott Schebler and Adam Duvall, the DH, singled in the fifth inning.  Schebler went to third when Senzel flied out.  Phillip Ervin singled to score Schebler, who was the starter in centerfield.

Oliver Perez made his first appearance for the Reds.  Showing some rust, he walked two, hit a batter and allowed a single, that allowed the Royals to tie the game.  Perez was spared another run when Ervin threw out Jorge Soler at second base on a fly to right by Tyler Collins.  The play beat Alcides Escobar to home plate.

Cody Reed pitched a scoreless inning but Chase Vallot opened the ninth with a double.  Jack Lopez, the son of former Reds' coach, Porky Lopez bunted Vallot to third.  Humberto Arteaga singled past Reed to give the Royals the game.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Anthony DeSclafani Takes Comeback Step Brewers Step On Reds

The Reds dropped the game 6-3 to the Milwaukee Brewers but it felt like a win because they got to see an healthy Anthony DeSclafani for the first time in over a year.

DeScalfani pitched in a competition for the first time since, September 28, 2016 against the Brewers.

DeSclafani pitched two scoreless innings, two hits, two strikeouts. He estimated that he threw 30 pitches.

Nearly two years of working on the back fields at Goodyear with no crowds let alone Major League hitters, left him looking forward to this day.

A couple live bullpens and batting practice led up to this appearance.  Like his bullpens he was pleased with the results.

“The ball was coming out of my hand, good, just like it did in my live BP and bullpens,” DeSclafani said.  “Hopefully I can continue to do that.”

DeSclafani is penciled into the rotation after not pitching for the Reds all of last season.

"He was sharp with three pitches. He was very economical with his pitches, so he didn't get to his change up<" Price said. "He went through a really good lineup with a lot of Major League regulars. He handled it extremely well. If he'd have given up  five runs and come out healthy, I would have been just as tickled to see him out there."

His first Cactus League game back was encouraging by both the quality of pitches and the results.  The Brewers had two hits but both were off soft contact.  Eric Thames was jammed and dropped a weak, shallow pop up on the leftfield line to lead off the game.  Travis Shaw blooped a hit to past Jose Peraza into shallow leftfield.

“I got the ‘welcome back” hit to put me in the stretch from the get-go,” DeSclafani said.  "Weak contact is great. I got some fly balls. I was able to throw all of my pitches. I had a few good, comeback two seamers that I feel will be a good part of my game this year."

The teammates surrounded DeSclafani all week asking, "When you throwing? When you throwing?"

"I was glad to have the regular guys back there," DeSclafani said.  'It was nice to see the regulars out there."

DeSclafani and Tyler Mahle throttled the Brewers for four innings while Adam Duvall homered for the first time this spring, a two-run job and Joey Votto scored Mason Williams with a sacrifice fly to put the Reds up 3-0.

Jackson Stephens gave up three runs.  Eric Sogard hit a double with the bases loaded to tie the game.

After Alex Blandino missed an easy pop up in the sixth, the Brewers used the opportunity to score three unearned runs off Jimmy Herget to take the game.

It's Not The Midnight Ride But Ben Revere Rides In From Lexington

Ben Revere rode in from Lexington to help the Reds with as big an upset as the patriots who upset the British.  It was Paul Revere, who got the signal from North Church.  One if by land, two if by see and rode to Lexington and Concord to warn the minute men the British were coming.

Revere who lives in Lexington, Kentucky joined the Reds and wears the number two.  The upset would be by C as in Cincinnati in the Central.

Family and friends pestered Revere to sign with the Reds but he's been around the baseball business long enough to avoid emotional decisions.

“This was the best opportunity to come in and make the ballclub.  I am definitely trying to make the ball club to have some veteran presence for the young guys and have them ready to go,” said Revere, who was in contact with Atlanta and San Francisco in the last couple of weeks.

Revere defined his role and manager Bryan Price confirmed it.

“I seeing him coming in to compete,” Price said.  “I’ve seen him play. He isn’t a secret. He’s a well versed basball guy.  We have four outfielders with a solid footing on the roster.  He can offer a component that we may lack, speed off the bench.  He is an experienced veteran pinch hit at bat and when he gets a start, he can continue to perform at a high level.”

Billy Hamilton, Adam Duvall, Scott Schebler and Jesse Winker are favorites to make the team. Price would like to have a five-man bench that would allow him to carry a fifth outfielder.

The 29-year old from Lexington, Kentucky broke in with the Minnesota Twins in 2010.  Revere played for Philadelphia, Toronto and Washington in addition to the Angels.

“We were talking the other day that he came through the Twins organization.  They have a good reputation for developing young players,” Price said.

Revere, a left-handed hitter, with eight years in the big leagues play with Cliff Pennington, who recently signed with the Reds.

“Cliff told me yesterday, the Reds have some good young guns in the clubhouse,” Revere said. “Hopefully, we’ll make some noise this year with the players they have, great pitching. The hitting they did last year was impressive.  I’m here to bring some excitement to the clubhouse and help them make a run for the Central.”

With Angels last season, playing in 109 games with a .275 batting average,  Revere is known for his speed and his glove.

Revere led the National League with 184 hits in 2014 while stealing a career-high 49 bases for the Phillies. He stole 21 with the Angels last season. His career batting average of .284 with seven home runs and 198 RBI. He has a .344 on-base percentage and hit 37 career triples.

The market for free agents is down this year.  Revere found job hunting to be tedious until the last two weeks.

“A bunch of guys are getting nervous, I’ll tell you that,” Revere said.  “It is definitely crazy.  There are many more out there to this day, great players.  You could build an All-Star team with the many guys still out there.”

Revere thinks the market will correct itself.

“Eventually guys will find a team. Situations happen, injuries happen, where you need somebody,” Revere said.  “I’m definitely glad to be here. I’m definitely ready to get going.”

Revere has been working out in Lexington but is happy to come to camp in Arizona to get in baseball shape.

“I’ve been trying to get outside and taking some fly balls but its been bipolar weather there,” Revere said.  “Every time I tried to get outside and hit it would pour rain.  Yesterday after the physical I got outside for a little bit to run around the outfield. Trying to see some live pitches, seeing the ball.  I have a trainer but it was just speed work and agility. I’m trying to get my speed up like Billy. He could blow me out of the water.”

Revere has athletic genes. His father, Ben, was a speedy wide receiver and punt returner at Eastern Kentucky University.  Ben is now an academics advisor for the athletic department and lives 30 miles from campus in Lexington.

“I have a lot of family and friends in Lexington,” Revere said.  “They were all excited now I have to change my number.”

That would be the number two on the Reds’ roster.

Senzel at Short

Nick Senzel, a thirdbaseman, is getting a chance to play shortstop.  He is a long shot to make the team unless an injury intervenes but the Reds are getting a good look at him, while getting him ready for the season.

"He's made all the plays and looks comfortable at short," Price said.

Senzel is two for four in the early going, including an RBI double against the Diamondbacks on Monday.

Empty Training Room

Only Rookie Davis, Jose Siri and Mason have needed trainers attention this spring.

Davis is limited as far as running and fielding but he is able to throw.

Jose Sirii strained his left thumb rinning into the centerfield fence against Cleveland on Friday.  His wrist is immobolized until he is examined next week.

Mason Williams was hit in the dugout by a line drive hit by Phillip Ervin on Saturday. He had four stitches but was in the lineup the next day. He has three hits since the incident.

Robert Stephenson Erratic

Robert Stephenson pitched 1 2/3 innings on Monday, allowing three runs on three hits, including two home runs.

"Rob was erratic," Price said.  "You will see him get sharper as the spring goes on. He had two fastballs, one outside and one inside that came back over the plate and he got hit. He just wasn't crisp."

Next Up

Sal Romano will make his second start on Wednesday against the Royals on Wednesday.  Veteran LHP, Oliver Perez will make his first Reds' appearance.  Ariel Hernandez, Cody Reed, Kevin Quackenbush, Joe Matiply, Austin Brice and Kyle Crocket will also pitch.

Michael Lorenzen will start against the White Sox on Thursday.  Brandon Finnegan will make his first Cactus League appearance.  The Reds have been extra cautious with him, coming off an injury riddled, 2017.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Robert Stephenson Erratic In Reds Loss Ryan Atkinson Has Good First Outing.

Robert Stephenson was not sharp in his first Cactus League outing that resulted in a 5-2 win for the Arizona Diamondbacks, who pitched Colerain and UC grad, Ryan Atkinson.

Stephenson had a slight problem with his neck which prevented him from pitching live batting practice this week but was physically ready to compete.

Stephenson struck out struck out four batters in 1 2/3 innings but he walked a batter and gave up home runs to Alex Avila and Jeremy Hazelbaker in a three-run second inning.

"He was erratic," Bryan Price said.  "He was up a lot, behind. He was trying to make a couple pitches with his fastball, one in, one away. Both got over the plate and he got hit. It was one of those early spring outings."

Price nixed the idea that missing live batting practice played a part.

"He was physically ready to pitch," Price said. "If you look every outing, he should be sharper."

The Reds didn't get a hit until designated hitter, Scott Schebler, singled in the fifth inning.

The Diamondbacks added a run off Raisel Iglesias in his two inning stint. He had three strikeouts. Domingo Tapia allowed a run in his inning.  Tanner Rainey, Jose Rafael De Paula, Jose Reyes and Kevin Shakelford pitched scoreless innings.

The Reds scored off Michael Blazek in the sixth on an RBI single by Nick Senzel, who entered the game at shortstop.

Ryan Atkinson in his first Major League spring training game was charged with a run but had a successful outing.

Atkinson, who graduated from Colerain High School and the University of Cincinnati, entered the game in the seventh inning.  He struck out Stuart Turner the first batter he faced. Sebastian Elizarde singled to left.  Narcisco Crook flied out to left.  Atkinson stabbed Alex Blandino's one-hopper to the mound and threw him out to log a scoreless inning.

Atkinson went out for the eighth inning. He struck out Brandon Dixon but walked Mason Williams.  Senzel flied out.

The Diamondbacks brought lefthander, Colin Poche to pitch to lefty Shed Long.  Long doubled and the run was charged to Atkinson.

"Walking the batter after a strikeout isn't good," Atkinson said.  "My fastball command was off a little. I was a little nervous but not because I was facing big league hitters.  It was my first time on the mound."

Atkinson is likely to start the season in the minor leagues but as Diamondbacks Vice President of Player Development said, 'He's in the conversation and he's got a chance."

Reds To Sign Centerfielder Ben Revere

The Reds are bring outfielder Ben Revere into camp.  They intend to sign him if he passes the physical.

Revere, a left-handed hitter, has played for five teams in his eight year career.  He was with the Los Angeles Angels last season, playing in 109 games with a .275 batting average,  Revere is known for his speed and his glove.

(Check this youtube link) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLa2aeREzL0

The 29-year old from Lexington, Kentucky broke in with the Minnesota Twins in 2010.  Revere played for Philadelphia, Toronto and Washington in addition to the Angels.

Revere led the National League with 184 hits in 2014 while stealing a career-high 49 bases for the Phillies. He stole 21 with the Angels last season.

Revere has a career bating average of .284 with seven home runs and 198 RBI. He has a .344 on-base percentage and hit 37 career triples.

Ben Revere his father was a wide receiver and punt returner at Eastern Kentucky University.  He was the running backs coach there for awhile.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Reds And Indians Tie But Homer Bailey Ends Arizona Drought With Cactus League Game

Homer Bailey has worked on the back fields of Goodyear so long, he thought that's where he was going today.

"I thought that's where we were going, I went out there first. They were' like, 'no, on the nice filed.' OK," Bailey said after he left his two inning gig.

He hasn't pitched in a spring training game since 2014.

Bailey who is working back to his status as the number one starter for the Reds, pitched two scoreless innings giving up two harmless, flimsy hits with no walks an three strike out.

"They were two really good pitches, they just got on them a little and hit them where we weren't"
There were other good pitches in what the Reds hope is the new normal.

Define normal lately. Yes. The first one, it's nice to get out there, get some competition a little bit. Everything felt great," Bailey said. "I had two clean innings, not a high pitch count, didn't walk anybody. Just kind of get your feet back wet a little bit"

As significant if not for this season but for the Reds' future, Nick Senzel got his first start in a Major League setting.

"It was just nice to get out here and see some live pitching and actually playing a game. A little nerves, but it was nice to get out here with these guys," Senzel said.

"I'm pretty confident 0-0 and defintiely in spring training the pitchers are going to attack with a fastball, so I'm definitely not going to let those go by," Senzel said. "If it's not a strike, it's nice to extend an at-bat see some other pitches other than a fastball just to kind of get some timing and rhythm down. If it's there first pitch, I'm definitely going to be hacking."

Senzelfeels at home in the Major League clubhouse.

It's been good, it's just been trying to find a routine that works for me and trying to stick with it every day, that's what it's been for me," Senzel said.

Senzel was part of a lineup with a lot of Reds' regulars.

"Yeah, when I saw the lineup I was deifnitely excited, Joey (Votto) hitting behind me, it was Idefinitely exciting," Senzel said. "It was definitely nice to get out here with teh regulars and play some good ball."

Less significant was the game itself.  Newly signed bullpen piece David Hernandez gave up a home run to Jason Kipnis.  That was the last Indians run until they tied the game with two outs in the ninth.

Jared Hughes, Kevin Quackenbush, lefty Joe Mantiplyand Jose Lopez shut down Cleveland.  Lopez in his two innings showed deceptive stuff, striking out four with two looking.  The two caught looking strike out victims looked shocked and locked up.

Senzel singled Billy Hamilton, who walked to third.  Former Yadier Molina backup in St. Louis, Tony Cruz doubled to give the Reds the lead.

Ben Rowen, who signed with the Reds late after Jeff Manship failed his physical, gave up a single to Indians catching prospect, Francisco Mejia with two outs Greg Allen tripled to tie the game.

The Reds had a chance to win it. Montrell Marshall doubled to lead off the bottom of the ninth but made a rookie mistake by straying too far off second on Alex Blandino's line out to right and was doubled up.

The game ended there.

In this space I reported that Major League Baseball wanted a resolution to tie games after a meeting with Joe Torre.

Both Bryan Price and Terry Francona were under the impression that MLB was going to mandate a 10th inning with the player who made the last out in the ninth being placed on secondbase to start the 10th.

The handling of extra innings is back to the former policy.  The teams will play a 10th if both managers agree to it.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Rockies Rip Reds

The Reds lost to the Colorado Rockies 10-1 in a sloppy game two of the Cactus League season.

Michael Lorenzen, trying to earn his way out of the bullpen, he gave up a run on two hits in two innings.  Jordan Patterson doubled with two outs.  Tom Murphy struck out swinging at a ball in the dirt.  Devin Mesoraco couldn't block it and threw wildly past Patrick Kivlehan at first and Patterson scored.

"I got a lot of weak contact," Lorenzen said. "I got a ton of ground bglall outs.  That's what you want at Great American Ball Park.  I threw every thing I had to offer.  Every thing felt crisp, good.  My fastball command will come. I will work on it in my next bullpen."

The Reds scored first.

Dilson Herrera singled and went to third when Jesse Winker hit a ground rule double.  Mesoraco's sacrifice fly pur the Reds on top, early.

Cody Reed didn't have a good day.  He is not being considered for the starting role but has drawn rave reviews from manager Bryan Price.  Reed will either start the season at Louisville or be placed oin Cincinnati's bullpen.

Reed allowed a home run to Nolan Arenado in the third inning.

“Cody just got hit,” Price said.  “You can live with that. Last year he struggled a bit with his command. Today he was on the plate with his full assortment of pitches.  Things will get better for him.”

The Rockies scored four earned runs off Reed on five hits in two innings. They added another off Dylan Floro.

The Reds were sloppy on defense all day. The Reds made four errors contributing to the Rockies 13-hit offense.  Ariel Hernandez and Dylan Floro threw in four walks.

Hernandez wasn't sharp in his one plus inning.  He gave up four hits.
"Ariel lost his command after a really nice first inning," Price said. "He really struggled to command the ball in the second inning.  It was the precursor to a big inning."

The Reds got a run in the seventh.  Alex Blancino doubled and advanced to third on a single by Sebastian Elezarde.  Rosell Herrara picked up on of his three RBI with a ground ball.

Rosell Herrera hit a two-run home run off Jerry Vasto in the ninth inning. It was his second in as many days.

The Reds also signed 25-year old Herrara in November.

The Rockies signed Herrera as a non-drafted free agent in 2009.  He spent five seasons as an infielder before moving to the outfield.  Herrera played in the 2014 Futures Game at Target Field.

Herrera hit .283 at Triple A Albuqurque last year with seven home runs in 103 games.

Non-roster outfielder was hit by a foul ball hit into the dugout by Phillip Ervin. He appeared to be hit in the jaw.  Tomas Vera drove Williams off in a cart.

The 26-year old Williams signed with the Reds in November.  He was a fourth round choice of the New York Yankees out of West Orange High School in Winter Garden Florida. Williams committed to play at the University of South Carolina out of high school.  His father, Derwin, was a wide receiver for the New England Patriots.

“He got a cut accros his chin or his cheek,” Price said.  “It looked like he will need a stitch or two. I’m hoping that’s all it is.”

Reds Sign Oliver Perez To a Minor League Contract

The Reds made a minor move they hope will pay off in a major way as they get ready for the second game of the Cactus League schedule against the Colorado Rockies.

Michael Lorenzen will get his first start of the spring.

Sign the Veteran

The Reds signed left-handed pitcher Oliver Perez to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Perez, a 15-year veteran, spent the last two seasons with the Washington Nationals, as a specialist used to pitch to left-handed hitters.  He made 50 appearances with the Nationals last year, pitching 33 innings. Perez had no won-loss record and a 4.64 ERA

The 36-year old made his debut with the San Diego Padres in 2002 as a starter at the age of 20..  His career led him to the Pittsburgh, New York Mets, Seattle, Arizona and Houston before signing with the Nationals for the 2016 season.

The San Diego Padres signed Perez in 1999 out of Culican, Mexico.

Perez was a starting pitcher most of his career.  He won a career-high 15 games for the Mets in 2007 and followed up with a 10-win seasons, making a career-high 34 starts.  

The Mets released Perez in March 2011.  He signed with the Nationals in 2011 and was sent to Double A Harrisburg.  Perez was granted free agency 

The Reds plan to use him to get left-handed hitters out in pressure situations.

”We don’t have a lot of left-handed relief depth at least of the experience nature,” Reds’ manager Bryan Price said. “He has a track record of being very, very tough on lefthanded hitters. He has really found a niche in that role.  He’s been durable.”

If he sticks with the Reds it gives Price more manueverability in the bullpen.

“We understand there is a lot of youth in our pitching,” Price said.  “We’ve been vulnerable with inexperience both in the bullpen and starting rotation in recent years. Trying to segue from starter to closer is challenging when you don't have experience."

The Reds were the first team to contact Perez.

“I like new teams for the fresh air,” Perez said. “The Reds wanted me so I’m excited to be here.”

Siri Injured

Jose Siri collided with the centerfield wall, chasing a triple by the Indians Richie Shaffer in the eighth inning of the Reds’ 6-4 win.

Siri, who had a 39-game hitting streak for the Dayton Dragons last season, had the wind knocked out of him and left the game. He suffered ligament damage to his left thumb which has been immobalized.

Siri will be out an indefinite period of time but it will take weeks to heal.

The Reds were eager to evaluate Siri, who will likely start the season at Daytona or Pensacola.

“Now was the opportunity that I would have or the staff would have to see him perform,” Price said.  “I loved the effort, trying to run that ball down in center. We’ve heard a lot about the kid. This would have been a really nice opportunity to see him play.”

Escape from the Pen

Michael Lorenzen starts his quest to return to the starting rotation with Saturday’s start against the Colorado Rockies.

Lorenzen was a starter when the Reds first brought him to the big leagues in 2015, making 21 starts with a 4-9 record and a 5.40 ERA.

The 26-year old suffered a sprained right elbow and placed on the disabled list the day before Opening Day in 2016. 

Lorenzen, who played centerfield at Cal State - Fullerton, pitched out of the bullpen for the Reds the last two seasons.  Last year, he appeared in 70 games building an 8-4 record with 4.45 ERA. 

The Reds put him in competition with Sal Romano, Tyler Mahle and Robert Stephenson for the fifth starting spot in the rotation.  Lorenzen would stay in the bullpen if he doesn’t win the rotation job.

Finnegan MIA

Brandon Finnegan’s name has been absent from the Cactus League pitching schedule.

Price named the lefthander to his starting rotation on the first day of camp, in spite or two on field injuries and surgery to his right shoulder from an off field injury.

“Finnegan threw yesterday,” Price said.  “He’ll have two days off and throw again. Right now we’re ticketed for right around the first of the month. There was no setback.  We wanted to take a more cautious approach with him.”

In the Field

Dilson Herrera will start at secondbase against Colorado.

The 24-year old, acquired in the trade with the Mets for Jay Bruce, will battle for the vacant secondbase job.

Herrera missed most of spring training last spring with persistent shoulder pain.  He played 68 games with Louisville before surgery to repair a shoulder impingement was performed by Dr. Timothy Kremchek on August 1.

The native of Cartagena, Columbia was the designated hitter against the Indians on Friday.  The Reds will alternate heavy throwing days with designated hitting appearances.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Reds Down Indians In Cactus League Opener

Print the World Series tickets the Reds used three home runs to down the Cleveland Indians 6-4, as they started off the Cactus League on Friday.

Tucker Barnhart, Brendan Dizon and Rosell Herrera hit home runs to start the exhibition season.
The Reds and Indians like every other team in Major League Baseball, they wore a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School hat to honor the 17 victims and the survivors of th shooting tragedy in Parkland, Florida.

“I don’t think wearing a hat will change anything,” said Indians manager Terry Francona.  “I think showing support is always a good thing.  In my opinion it’s a very small thing but if it helps even one single person, good.”

The game itself featytured Sal Romano, one of four candidates for the final slot in the Reds' starting rotation with Michael Lorenzen, Tyler Mahle , and Robert Stephenson

Yonder Alonso, the Reds first pick in 2008, is now with the Indians.  Alonso found his power stroke last year, hitting 28 home runs.  His career high through 2016 was nine.

Alonso, who is expected to fill the Indians power void left by Carlos Santana, who signed a free agent contract with the Philadelphia Phillies.  Alonso hit the first pitch he saw from Romano over the beer deck in rightfield.

"I think the first at bat is the hardest one," Alonso said. "Early on in spring training you want to make sure you're attacking the right pitches.  You just want a good pitch to hit."

That was the only run allowed by Romano.

"It was a first-pitch fastball," Romano said.  "I had pretty good command of everything.  I got behind in the count a couple times. I threw two change ups that felt good. It was a successful day. It was nice to get back out there."

Romano worked a scoreless first inning but Alonso led off the second with his blast.

"We had really good pitching today.  We had one walk (it was three) and guys attacked the zone," Price said.  "There was a good feel for many of them for all three pitches."

Barnhart follwed a Jose Peraza single with a home run on the first pitch he saw from Danny Otero

Dixon hit a two-run shot in the sixth off  Preston Clairborne.

The Indians Eric Stamets hit his first of the season off Jackson Stephens

Then Herrera homered off Mstt Whitehouse.

The Indians cut the lead to one run when Richie Shaffer hit a long fly ball with two men on base.

Reds' centerfielder Jose Siri chased it and slammed into the fence.  He was removed from the game.

"He pinned back his thumb on his left hand and it knocked the wind out him," Bryan Price said.  "He was catching his breath.  We weren't going to mess with it. We didn't know for sure what was going on with his thumb. I don't think it's terribly serious."

Herrera's solo home run gave the Reds a cushion

Jimmy Herget finished off the Indians with a scoreless ninth.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Shorter Spring, Shorter Yet Extended Games Sal Romano Will Start Friday

To borrow a term from HBO's Bill Maher, MLB announced New Rules.

The player's association lobbied for and got a shorter spring training.  Hitters had two days of linv batting practice and are thrown into games.  A lot of players just track pitches in early spring game which should lead to low scoring games in the beginning.
But Joe Torre in his tour of the Major League camps, issued an mandatory 10th inning.  In the past if the game was tied after nine innings the game would end in a tie unless a team had a pitcher who needed to pitch and the other team agreed to play another inning which could be just a half inning.

This spring, the 10th inning will start with a man on secondbase.  The rule was used in the World Baseball Classic to prevent teams with limited rosters from running out of pitchers.  It is the same in spring pitchers have a set amount of innings, that for development purposes can't be exceeded.  Visiting teams bring a limited amount of pitchers to games in the Cactus League.

"The fans want a win or loss, an end result," Price said.

Baseball has experimented with the rules with the minor leagues in mind.

"The concern is for minor league games or special tournament events like the WBC," Price said.  "I'm not sure if that includes the All-Star game.  It's factual, when you have one of the minor league teams plays one of those 15-inning games, an entire organizations shift.  Players are moved to different rosters and people are flying all over the country to have players recover without risk of injury."

The rule is in addition to the speed up rules that limit visits to the mound to six, including infielders and catchers trips.  In the past players and coaches had no limits to the number of times they could visit the mound in a game.  The only stipulations were that umpires gave the manager around 30 seconds from the time the manager left the dugout.

"Most umpires know the game situations and would give leeway in a tight game," Reds' manager Bryan Price said.

Cleveland Indians manager, Terry Francona, was concerned about players habits, like a shortstop going to the mound.

"We may have to make adjustments and remind players about visiting the mound during innings," Francona said.  "I asked Joe to tell me where we ranked with trips to the mound.  He was going to get back to me.  We may not have to make adjustments at all."

Bryan Price named Sal Romano to open the Cactus League season against the Cleveland Indians and Mike Clevenger and Ryan Merritt.

Tyler Mahle will follow Romano along with Jackson Stephens, Kevin Schackelford, Keury Mella. Barrett Astin, Jesus Reyes and Jimmy Herget will be available.

"Not all of them will pitch," Price said.  "A lot of these guys are scheduled for multiple innings."

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Cody Reed's Attitude Adjustment Leads To Improvement

Cody Reed’s Major League performance hasn't caught up with his obvious talents.
The 24-year old left-hander was a key acquistion in the “Johnny Cueto” trade to the Kansas City Royals in July 2015.  He is competing for a spot in the Reds’ bullpen, as he was left off manager Bryan Price’s list of four contenders for the Reds fifth spot in the starting rotation.

That move is written in pencil and Price emphasized that the move from starter to bullpen is a product of current numbers not ability.

“We won’t have enough innings for a lot of guys this spring,” Price said.  “The organization still sees him as a starter but if he makes our team, he could help us more out of the bullpen.  We don’t want him to be in long relief. If he makes the team, he’s going to pitch regularly in higher leverage situations.”

An imposing figure at 6‘5“ with tantalizing stuff, Reed has been impressive this early.

“Cody Reed has been above and beyond where he finished the season last year,” Price said.

Reed pitched at three minor league levels in 2015 with his Major League debut June 18, 2016 in Houston.  He struck out nine batters that day in a no-decision.  It was the most strikeouts in a Reds’ debut, since Cueto struck out 10 in debut.

The former second round pick by Kansas City in the 2013 draft, finished his season with back spasms on September 16 with an 0-7 record and a 7.36 ERA in 10 starts.

The Memphis Tennessee native was one of seven rookies to make the opening day roster last season but spent most of the season at Triple A Louisville.  Reed made four relief appearances, picking up his first win in relief on April 6.  He spent most of the season in Louisville, making 20 starts. Reed returned to the Reds’ in September and made seven more relief appearances, finishing with a 1-1 record with a 5.09 ERA

Reed was frustrated with his command and felt sorry for himself until he came to Goodyear early and worked on a throwing program with Michael Lorenzen.

“I changed a lot about my mental aspects,” Reed said.  “It wasn’t just baseball. It is life itself.”

Michael Lorenzen sits in a locker a few feet away from Reed and the two talk a lot.  It appears that his teammate was able to switch on the light for Reed.

“I never would have guessed,” Reed said.  “I love the way he plays.  I love the way he thinks.  He could give up nine runs in one inning or he could strike out nine in 27 pitches.  You would never tell the difference the next day. I just listened to what he thinks about me.  He looked at me and said, How many lefthanders are there that throw, 95-96 with a slider like yours?  I sat there for a second.  He said, ‘no one.’  So what are you doing feeling sorry for yourself.  I was being bitter about every thing.  He got me off that.”

Yes, he changed the grip on his pitch until he built callouses on his fingers where he grips the ball but the improvement was mostly attitude.

“It is not just the way he threw off the mound,” Price said.  “Every thing from his PFP to his bunting.  It is unusual to say something after a few days of workouts. Every facet of his game looks like it’s been enhanced over the course of the last four or five months.”

How do we know it is attitude that makes the difference?

"I didn't work on bunting or fielding until a few days ago," Reed said. "It's great that he noticed.  Maybe it is just working the last two years on those things."

Monday, February 19, 2018

Baseball Picks Up Pace Releases Speed Up Rules

Majot League Baseball announced new rules to improve the pace of play.

After consultation with the Major League Baseball Players Association and team personnel, MLB will proceed with a rule change limiting visits to the mound to six.

This is not six manager or pitching coaches visits, it includes visits by infielders and catchers as well.

There are exceptions:

1) A pitcher and fielder can speak to each other in the normal course of play as long as neither leaves his position.
2) A position player needs to clean his spikes on a rainy day.
3)  Injury or potential injury to the pitcher.
4)  A visit during an offensive substitution (pinch hitter).
The is also a "Cross Up" provision in which a catcher can visit the pitcher after the six visits have been used.  Any mound visit for "cross ups" count against the total, if the sign was missed by the pitcher.

The Commisioner's Office will defer the implementation of the between inning timer and the between batter timer to see if the game speeds up on its own.

MLB is also taking steps to expedite replay reviews.  They are also cracking down on sign stealing with electronic equipment.

"They talked to us about this at the winter meetings," Cleveland Indian manager Terry Francona said. "I understand what they're trying to do,take out a lot of dead time without altering the way the game is played. There are going to be some adjustments. We will have to pay attention to things that we didn't worry about before."

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Baseball Free Agent Signings Fewer And Smaller

bubble may have burst on Baseball's rising salaries.

The Reds signed two free agent veteran relief pitchers this off season, Jared Hughes and David Hernandez.  They let Zack Cozart sign with the Los Angeles Angels. The Cleveland Indians signed Yonder Alonso to a Major League contract while letting Carlos Santana test free agency. They brought back Rajai Davis, who hit the game tying home run in the ninth inning of the seventh game of the 2016 World Series off the Cubs' Aroldis Chapman, to a minor league contract..  They also signed former Reds' catcher Ryan Hanigan and Mel Upton Jr. to minor league deals.

It is clear that the market is shifting to a buyers market.  Big names such as Eric Hosmer and Yu Darvish singed late.  Like the real estarte market in the 2000 it appears to have reached a point where prices could no longer go higher.

Joey Votto and Upton chimed in today on the free agent market.
Votto signed a 10-year contract in 2012, through the 2023 season with an club option for 2024.  The native of Toronto, Canada will be 40 years old when the contract runs out.

The Reds avoided big name free agents, signing a pair of veteran relief pitches in David Hernandez and Jared Hughes, while losing starting shortstop Zack Cozart to free agency.

“I think they (Reds’ fron office) made the right moves,” Votto said.  “Signing a free agent for more that three years, for example is an example.  I think Zack Cozart is a perfect example. I think they didn’t want to go past the three-year number with him.  They didn’t want to make a commitment and risk that one or two of those years not being competitive and burning the money just for signing sake.”

Votto believes that the Reds may get to the point like Milwaukee, siging Lorenzo Cain and offering Yu Darvish a five-year offer.

“At some point, we’ll probably do something similar to that,” said Votto, who has been criticized for being too selective and taking too many walks with runners in scoring position.

“I can’t speak for the business side of things,” Votto said.  “Everything they’ve ever said is we have the money to make that sort of thing happen. We’ll see. As far as making a signing during the off season, I don’t feel any sort of way about that.  Frankly, I don’t think I’d ever feel that sort of way about that because it’s not my place.  When they started chirping about my hitting style, privately I was upset about that but that’s because they need to worry about their job. I try to do my job and let the front office do their thing.”

Upton was less diplomatic.

"I think it is rather ridiculous, personally," Upton said.  "I got to catch the last wave of big free agency. I was part of seeing it head in the direction of the way it's headed now and it's sad.  It's unfortunate to see.  Where I'm at in my career, I'm more concerned about the guys behind us. I want them to be treated fairly. I feel like some guys sitting out on the market have put themselves in a position they shouldn't have to deal with.  I think as the player's union, we'll figure it out.  We'll get to the bottom of it. The next four years when its time to renegotiate, there are things we need to discuss."

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Scooter Gennett Wins Arbitration Over Reds

Scooter Gennett won his arbitration case against the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday.
The Reds will pay Gennett $5.7 million for the 2018 season, $600,000 more than the Reds’ figure, after putting himself in the record books with a four-home run game, that included a grand slam against St. Louis last season

“I said earlier, win or lose it was a good experience,” said Gennett, who hit 27 home runs last season filling in at secondbase for the Reds’ last season.  “To be able to go through that process, i wouldn’t have learned how things go. Obviously it’s nice winning, as athletes we want to win, but at the same time. I learned a lot.”

The Reds picked Gennett, who was born in Cincinnati, off waivers from the Milwaukee Brewers.

“There are no hard feelings or anything like that,” Gennett said.  “Our side did a good job.  Their side did a good job”

Gennett worked his way into a regular role with his offensive production and played five postions, pitching one inning.

The Reds have an opening at secondbase this season.  Jose Peraza, who was the starter at secondbase to begin the season will move to shortstop with the free-agent departure of All-Star Zach Cozart.

Today’s decision frees Gennett to pursue the job without distraction.

“To be honest, I haven’t focused or worried about any of the arbitration,” Gennett said. “But now that’s behind all I have to do is show up every day to be the best player I can be and the best teammate.”

World Series Hero Rajai Davis Signs Minor League Contract With Cleveland Indians

Outfielder Rajai Davis signed a minor league contract with the Cleveland Indians on Saturday.

Davis had one of the most memorable moments in club history, a game-tying, eigth inning home run off the Cubs Aroldis Chapman in the ninth inning of game seven of the 2016 World Series.
Davis played in 134 games with Cleveland, who was without starting leftfielder Michael Brantley for most of the season.  Davis led the American League with 43 stolen bases and hit .249 with 12 home runs and 48 RBI.

The 37-year old veteran of seven teams over 12 seasons, signed with the Oakland Athletics for the 2017 season. The Athletics traded Davis to the Boston Red Sox on August 23.

Davis, who passed his physical today, played 117 games last season and hit .235 with five home runs.

The native of Norwich, Connecticut broke in with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2006.  Davis has a .264 career batting average with 60 home runs and 373 RBI.

Davis provides insurance as a potential fourth outfielder, if he makes the team. Brantley had the deltoid ligament repaired in his right ankle over the off season.  Brantley is taking batting practice, long tossing and running in a stratight line in the early spring.  He will gradually increase his activity.

Friday, February 16, 2018

New Hair Style, Same Attitude For Luis Castillo

Reds players are rocking new hair styles.

Eugenio Suarez reported with platinum gray hair and a deep dark beard.  He was told it was backwards because my hair is brown but my beard is stone gray.

Luis Castillo has a curly mohawk style but his attitude for the season is the same as last year when he was an unknown in the Reds' clubhouse.

The Reds came up with a gem as Straily then 27, won 14 games for the last place Reds.  At the end of the season the Reds resisted the temptation to keep Straily and traded him to the Miami Marlins for a talented pitcher five years younger.

Luis Castillo came to the Reds in the deal and was impressive right away in spring training with his easy flowing motion that delivered the ball at nearly 100 mph.  He had a good change up.

“Velocity sets him apart,” manager Bryan Price said.  “We were impressed last spring but his breaking ball was a distant third.”

A Major League starter needs three quality pitches that he can throw for strikes.

Castillo started the season with Double A Pensacola and worked on his breaking pitch.  The work earned a mid-season promotion to the Reds where he had a deceiving 3-7 record.  The Reds were competitive in most games that he pitched but either lacked scoring or a tired bullpen surrendered leads after he left games.  His 3.12 ERA was tops among National League rookies.

From July 8 on his ERA was 2.84, the seventh lowest among pitchers with 12 or more starts.

That strong finish prompted the Reds to declare that he will be in the 2018 starting rotation barring something unforseen.

This season the confident native of the Dominican Republic arrived in Arizona with a job in hand.  It is his to keep as long as he performs.

“I have the same attitude,” Castillo said through interpreter Julio Morrillo.  “I am going to keep working to help my team win.”

Price also praised Castillo’s poise on the mound, rare for a pitcher his age, thrust into a Major League season.
“There are a lot of pitchers with the stuff to be in the big leagues,” Price said.  “It is rare for a young pitcher to feel like he belongs.  Doubts can creep into you thoughts about, how they’ll be accepted by teammates; what if they are hit hard.”

From the time Castillo stepped on the mound in Washington against the Nationals, he was comfortable.

“For me its the same game,” Castillo said.  “When you’re in Double A you compete against the hitter like you do in the big leagues, obviously, the hitters are a lot better but it’s the same.  I do try to focus more in the big leagues because you can’t get by with the mistakes you make in Double A.  Other than that it’s the same mentality. Just go out and compete.”

In his debut against Washington he gave up a home run to the second batter he faced, Brian Goodwin.  He gave up another hit in the first, walked a batter in the second, and walked the bases loaded in the third.  Castillo got out of both innings with double play grounders.  Anthony Rendon hit a home run in the fourth.

“He got into trouble with his command early, trying to make the perfect pitch” Price   “He managed the environment very well for a debut and he settled in.”

Castillo worked five innings allowing the two runs before he turned the game over to the bullpen, leading 5-2.  The bullpen gave up the lead in a 6-5 10-inning loss.

The 25-year old has shown that he can field his position and hold baserunners.  This spring he just wants to get stronger.  He knows the challenge ahead of him.

“I want to be ready for 162 games,” Castillo said.  “It is a lot different than a minor league season.  I want to be strong and help my team win.”

It appears he plans to stay in the big leagues all year.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Reds Showing Best Health In Years

The Reds are starting spring training in good health.

The only restrictions are on Amir Garrett, who had hip issues late last season and Rookie Davis, who had hip surgery.

"Amir is not doing as much running and his PFP (pitchers fielding practice) is different," manager Bryan Price said. "Rookie is throwing."

Homer Bailey, Anthony DeSclafani and Brandon Finnegan are ready to go.  The Bailey and DeSclafani start the spring healthy for the first time in two years.

“Everything feels good,” DeSclafani said. “I had a normal off season.”

A strained left oblique plagued DeSclafani in 2016.  The nagging injury which he suffered in his last spring training start, kept him on the disabled list until June 10.  That night he faced the Oakland Athletics in the Reds’ 61st game of the season.

The comeback was delayed by a setback.  DeSclafani made a rehab start in Pensacola on April 23 and another in Dayton on April 29 but he felt soreness.  The Reds shut him down for a month.  The 27-year old made his next rehab start on May 25.

DeSclfani came back strong and was a perfect 6-0 with a 2.94 ERA in his first 11 starts.  He finished the season 9-5 with a 3.28 ERA in 20 starts, one of which was his first career complete game on August 27 against Arizona.

Encouraged by the strong finish, DeSclafani and the Reds anticipated a full year of quality pitching.  That horse didn’t even get out of the gate.  He couldn’t even make a start in spring training with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.

No surgery was required but DeSclafani spent the year on the disabled list.  He had several setbacks with his throwing program.  He made his first rehab start in the Arizona Rookie League on July 23 and was transfered to Dayton.  Against Fort Wayne, DeSclafani pitched four innings for the Dragons and it looked like he was close to returning.  He pitched another game for Dayton at Great Lakes on August 3 but left after nine batters with tendinitis in his right elbow.  It was back to resting and restarting a throwing program.  He didn’t pitch again until the instructional league.
“It was definitely frustrating.  It would have been nice to come back for even a little bit last year but it just didn’t work out,” DeSclafani said.

The silver lining for the native of Freehold, New Jersey was that he got close enough to start a normal off season throwing program.

“I was on a normal throwing program. I went through all my progressions,” DeSclafani said.  “It’s been a year now.  Hopefully, I can get myself to have a nice long, pain free year.”

DeSclafani is moving forward after a lost season.  There are no restrictions on him and he is throwing without pain.

“It just wasn’t meant to be last year,” DeSclafani said.  “I feel good now and that’s all I can control.  I’m looking forward to a nice long year.”

Finnegan is also ready to go.

“I’ve been ready since I left for the off season,” a confident Finnegan said. “Last year was tough. I’m not saying I’m the key but it was rough watching the team lose and wanting to help.”

Finnegan had a normal off season after dealing with a variety of injuries.

“I was never injured before.  It is going to happen sometime in your career.  Now I know what it takes to rehab,” Finnegan said.

The Reds will be cautious with Finnegan.

“We want to see him pitch some bullpens and live batting practice before we slot him,” Price said.  “I’m confident he will make the rotation.”

Finnegan is ready and believes he’s proven it.

“They saw my bullpen.  I don’t know what else they want to see,” Finnegan said.  “I’ve never had a good spring training.  In the past that’s just how it went.  I am concentrating on staying healthy.  That’s my only goal.”

As good as the Reds health is in general, the Reds were forced to void the minor league contract of RHP Jeff Manship, who was with Cleveland last year.  He failed the physical.

The Reds signed INF Cliff Pennington to a minor league contract with an invitation to Major League camp.   Pennington was the first position player to pitch in a playoff game, when he finished an inning for the Toronto Blue Jays in a 14-2 loss to Kansas City