About Me

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

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Capital Punishment Washington Executes The Reds And Luis Castillo

It was Matt (Mount) Adams pulled the switch on Luis Castillo but Adam Eaton strapped him in the electric chair that was Great American Ball Park in a 13-7 Reds' loss to the Washington Nationals.

Adam Eaton started the game with one of his five hits, setting a new career high.  Castillo walked Anthony Rendon but got Bryce Harper to bounce into a force play.   Adams hit what a two-seam fastball that was supposed to be in at the hip, 461 feet to right center field.  The Reds' barely warmed up were already behind 3-0.

"Castillo had good stuff but he didn't have command in the strike zone," Bryan Price said.  "The pitch to Adams stayed over the plate."

It didn't get better for Castillo.  After a quiet second inning. Eaton doubled and stopped at third on a hit by Rendon.  Harper's sacrifice fly got the fourth urn home.  Trea Turner homered in the fourth. Eaton doubled again to start the fifth.  He took third on Rendon's fly out to the right field corner.  Eaton scored on another fly to left by Harper.

Castillo allowed six runs in five innings, giving up six hits and a walk.

"There were pitches to be made.  They got good pitches to hit.  Good teams don't miss those pitches," Price said.. "Washington is a seasoned team.  They take advantage of mistakes. Stuff alone doesn't win ballgames."

Castillo at least bounced back to limit damage in spite of the lack of command. He kept his confidence.

"It is a long season. This is my first outing.  I am going home to review my start and look at videos.  I will make some adjustments. I believe in myself.  I believe in the stuff that I have. It was a tough first inning. It's not ideal to start a game that way but you have to pick every thing up and compete."

"The most important thing he has to learn is pitch execution over stuff,"  Price said. "That will get better.  He competed in the strike zone.  We'll work with guys who compete in the strike zone."

The Reds finally got on the scoreboard for the first time in 2018 when Scott Schebler hit a Stephen Strasburg change up into the seats in right field.  The Reds scored two runs off Strasburg in the sixth.

"They've been change upping me to death.  I finally got one that I could handle," Schebler said.  "Breaking the ice was good for the team. Strasburg has a good change up.  Scherzer does too.  I was looking heater because he blew me up on fastballs the first two times up."

Schebler worked on hitting the ball to left during spring training but didn't see many change ups in Goodyear.

"Coming into to the season, I've seen a heavy load of them.  That's the pitch I need to stay the other way on.  I didn't make the adjustment until late in the game," Schebler said.  "Once I hit that ball, I was kind of locked in the rest of the game."

Jesse Winker singled to open the inning.  Trea Turner dropped Eugenio Suarez ground ball.  Joey Votto walked to load the bases.  Scooter Gennett singled to score Winker.  Adam Duvall, who led the NL in sacrifice fleiies last season got Suarez home with a fly to deep center.

"It was good to see the guys coming out and swinging the bats better today," Price said.  "We can springboard into tomorrow's game with that.  We couldn't contain the first four in there order and gave up seven in the last three innings.  You're not going to win many games if you have to score 14. We had other chances where we could have scored more but they're a good team.  They can make pitches too."

The Reds were down 6-3 but the bullpen let them down.  Austin Brice gave up a home run to Eaton.  Jackson Stephens got the first two outs in the eighth but singles by Brian Goodwin and Matt Wieters in front of pinch hitter Ryan Zimmerman was hit by a pitch to load the bases.  Eaton drove two home with a single.  Kevin Quackenbush gave up a grand slam home run to Goodwin in the ninth to put the game our of reach.

Duvall hit a two-run home run off Matt Grace and Suarez touched Enny Romero with a two-run home run in the ninth.

Reds Sign Experienced Starting Pitcher Yovani Gallardo

The Reds signed veteran starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo to a one-year major league contract.

The Reds sent Zack Weiss to Louisville to make room on the 25-man roster.  They designated C Stuart Turner for assignment to clear a spot on the 40-man roster.  The Reds have to ask waivers on Turner if he clears they have 10-days to trade him or assign him to their minor league system.  He could also opt for free agency.

Gallardo, 32, pitched for the Milwaukee Brewers from from 2007-2014. He broke in with 17 starts in 2007 but became the Brewers number one starter in 2009 when he won 13 games in 33 starts. Gallardo won 17 games in 2011, leading Milwaukee to the Central Division title.

The former second round pick by the Brewers in the 2004 draft, is also known for his bat.  He has a career .202 batting average but hit 12 big league home runs, including four in 2010.  Gallardo has 10 hits against the Reds in his career, including a double and a home run.

After three seasons in the American League with Texas, Baltimore and Seattle, Gallardo returns to the NL where his bat will be a factor again.  He was in spring training with the Brewers but they released Gallardo on Monday.  He last pitched on March 23.

"Gallardo's a pro.  He'll know when he's ready," Bryan Price said.  "We didn't see this coming. I was hoping Weiss would get a chance to pitch.  He will be back here at some point.  The rainout changed a lot of things.  We went to an eight-man bullpen instead of a seven-man."

Gallardo knows GABP is a pitcher's nightmare, having started 15 games during his career.  His record in Cincinnati is 3-6 with a 3.77 ERA. He has allowed seven home runs in 88 1/3 innings..

"I'm excited to join this club.  There is a lot of young talent in this clubhouse," Gallardo said.  "For myself seeing how they go about things day in and day out.  They play the game hard until the last out is recorded.  I think I was in the bullpen the second half of the season and in spring training. I got a little taste of it.  I'm up for anything.  I told skip that.  They knew when I had the opportunity to sign, I will do anything I can to contribute."

Gallardo had other teams interested but chose the Reds where he joined former teammate Scooter Gennett.

"You feel comfortable being in a ballpark, you're familiar with," Gallardo said.  "It makes it a bit easier coming into the clubhouse where you know someone.  The guys here can hit.  I'm familiar with this division.  I pitched here quite a bit."

Leaving Milwaukee was difficult for Gallardo.

"It was a little hard seeing my time end in Milwaukee," Gallardo said.  "I think as an athlete you always go back to that one place you spent the most time in.  I spent seven years after getting drafted by them. Things just didn't work out for whatever reason or they had other plans. I It will be missed but I'm grateful for the time I had there.  Now it's a new beginning for me."

At least  Gallardo gets to return to the National League.

"I missed the National League to be honest," Gallardo said.  "I enjoy it. I missed hitting to be honest. I was in the American League the last three years it just wasn't the same."

Gennett thinks Gallardo will be a good influence on the young starters, Luis Castillo, Sal Romano, Tyler Mahle and Cody Reed.

"I think he is going to be great with the younger pitchers," Gennett said.  "I think it's a great pickup.  Whether he is coming out of the bullpen or starting, you're going to get the same guy, the same effort, the same focus.  He is very consistent with preparation and work ethic.  He is not as old as he looks.  I don't know if the grey hair throws people off but he's got some innings in him for sure."

Friday, March 30, 2018

Homer Bailey Was Effective In First Opening Day Start But Washington Won

Homer Bailey was trying not to put too much importance on getting picked to start on Opening Day, something the longest tenured Reds' pitcher (Joey Votto is the longest tenured player) has never done.

"When you climb Mt. Everest, no one talks about the first step," Bailey said.  "They remember that you get to the top."  Bailey views Opening Day as the first of 162 on the year and nothing more."

The Reds lost to the Washington Nationals 2-0.

Still, the pitcher who has been injured for the bulk of the last three seasons, noticed the energy that the largest regular season crowd of 43,878 in Great American Ball Park history brought to the game.

"There was great energy from the fans," Bailey said.  "Those are the games you want to pitch in."

Bailey was up against Washigton's top pitcher, Max Scherzer. Bailey could afford few mistakes and really didn't make any glaring mistakes.  Adam Eaton blooped a single leading off the game.  Eaton advanced to third with one out on a soft ground single up the middle by Bryce Harper.  Ryan Zimmerman bounced to Eugenio Suarez at third base with one out.  Suarez got the force on Harper but Scooter Gennett's relay to first was too late to get Zimmerman and the run scored.

"We battled a really good lineup," Bailey said.  "A couple of things here and there and we're still playing.  I'm not happy with the results because it was in a loss."

Bailey limited the Nationals to that lone run on four hits through six innings.  The Reds' bullpen kept Washington off the board until the ninth.  Amir Garrett, Wandy Peralta and Kevin Quackenbush kept the Reds in striking distance.

"I'm not going to ask for more," Bryan Price said.  "Homer got soft contact and we weren't able to turn a double play.  Homer was more acute with his fastball command."

Scooter Gennett hit a double and three singles but the Reds didn't mount a real threat against Scherzer.

Gennett led off the second inning with a double but Scott Schebler, Tucker Barnhart and Jose Peraza struck out.  Gennett and Schebler singled with two outs in the fourth but Barnhart struck out. Bailey singled and Jesse Winker walked with two outs but Suarez flied out in the fifth.

Gennett singled again in the sixth with two outs.  Joey Votto and Gennett single with two outs in the eighth but Schebler grounded out to end the inning.

"Solve isn't the right word to use with Scherzer," Gennett said. "He isone of the best pitchers in the game.  He has six pitches that he can command and he pitches backwards sometimes.  I wanted to keep it simple, be aggressive and if it looked like a strike swing at it.  If you get behind with him it is like you're out already. We just didn't get the big hit."

The Nationals scratched an insurance run against Jared Hughes in the ninth inning.  Michael Taylor bunted for a single, then stole second.  He advanced to third on a ground out.  Taylor beat Winker's throw on  a fly out by Brian Goodwin to score the Nationals second run.

The Reds were able to put the tying run at the plate with two outs.  Phillip Ervin walked but Billy Hamilton struck out for the third time to end the game.

Scherzer struck out 10 Reds batters in six innings.  He struck out 10 or more for the 65th time in his career.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Matt Belisle All Smiles After Earning Job In Indians Bullpen

Matt Belisle smile was ear-to-ear after he got the news that he earned a place in the Cleveland Indians' bullpen.  The problem is that smile is a constant with the 37-year old veteran of 14 Major League seasons.

Belisle pitched in his first Major League game for the Reds on September 7, 2003, three weeks after the Reds obtained the right-handed pitcher as a player to be named later on August 14.  The Reds sent Kent Mercker to the Atlanta Braves.  Belisle was that player.

The second round pick by the Braves our of McCallum High School in Austin, Texas pitched in five more games in 2003, the next spring in 2004, he was in Sarasota, Florida trying to make the Reds' roster on opening day.  The Reds sent him to pitch at the Triple A level in Louisville.  Belisle made the Reds' roster on Opening Day, 2005.

Belisle became a free agent in December 2008 and signed with the Colorado Rockies in February 2009.

Belisle has learned how to focus.

"In one sense it's not that different now," said Belisle, who was unemployed until the Indians signed him to a minor league contract on February 25. "The other, the glaring obvious, is trying to get established and making it, not knowing what the big leagues is like.  When I compare it to now, having some time accrued, making the club, the emotions is somewhat similar.  Some of the same feelings I had back then, I have now."

The difference between the veteran Belisle and the rookie Belisle is a product of the knowledge accrued.

"I'm able to focus better on the task at hand, rather than looking too far ahead," Belisle said.

Six nights ago on March 21, Belisle was hammered by the Kansas City Royals in his inning of work.  Belisle was competing for the Indians only open bullpen job with Alexi Ogando and Carlos Torres.  That inning could have determined if Belisle had a job or face the real possibility of retiring from baseball.

"Belisle gave up five runs but he didn't let the game run him," Indians manager, Terry Francona said.

Three days later the Indians released Torres.  Belisle will travel with the team to Seattle to open the season.  Monday night against the Diamonbacks, Belisle gave up a run but it the Diamondbacks scored it on a double off the end of Jake Lamb's bat.

"I thought Belisle was pretty good," Francona said.  "He found his breaking ball that he didn't have the other night.  There was the inside out on Lamb, he actually made a good pitch."

"When you're young you try to build a mental game," Belisle said.  "It's easy to divert a little bit and let the uncontrollable get in your head. I feel like this time around.  I've done a better job on focusing on what I can control.  I believe in that and trust in that.  I am doing things to the best of my ability and letting the chips fall where they may."

Baseball is a game that will humble every player at one time or another.

"That's what baseball will do to you over time," Belisle said.  "You don't have time to sit around and dwell on it.  You look at yourself and think what is the most important thing I can do right now to progress forward.  I don't like what happened but what can I do right now to get going.  Because (A), I need to do that for myself and (B), I have teammates who depend on me. It is not just about you."

Belisle is still trying to improve as let's face it his career is winding down.

"The game of baseball is relentless.  It is going to keep punching you in the face.  Even when you get up off the mat, it's going to punch you down again.  It just builds some toughness in you, some relentlessness to focus on what you can.  Nail your work every day and be selfless and just go at it, because the punches are going to keep coming."

At 37 and going into his 15th year, Belisle is rolling with the punches and still smiling.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Meet The Reds Newcomers

The Reds will have three new faces and one that is familiar to Dayton fans, who will make the Opening Day roster for the first time.

Phil Gosselin, Cliff Pennington, Kevin Quackebush have spent their time in pro baseball in other organizations.  Phillip Ervin is a product of the Reds’ draft and minor leagues.

Gosselin beat out Brandon Dixon and Alex Blandino for the utility role.

The 29-year old played in 256 big league games with Atlanta, Arizona, Pittsburgh and Texas.  He is a .270 career hitter and .306 this spring.  He has 132 pinch hit appearances with a .244 batting average and one home run. Gosselin has played all four infield positions, mostly second base, left field and right field.

“Gosselin has a good short repeatable swing that plays well off the bench.  He won’t need a lot of playing time to find his stroke,” Price said.

Gosselin hit .244 in 22 games this spring.

“I started out good but then I got lost for a week,” Gosselin said.  “I’ve been hitting better again lately.”

The Reds chose Gosselin for his experience coming off the bench.  “Gosselin was a guy we’ve been trying to get for the last two or three years because he was so good against us when he was with Atlanta,” Price said.  “He fits the role.  If you need him to play second or third or left field, I’m comfortable with that.  He gives a good at bat against a left or right-handed pitcher.  He hits the better guys late in the game.”

Pennington can play multiple positions but shortstop is his stock in trade.  The 33-year old was the Oakland Athletics top pick in 2005.  He signed with the Reds on February 15 after spending two years with the Angels backing up Andrelton Simmons.  Pennington is a switch hitter with a career .243 average in 955 games over his 10-year career.

“He is good for our young players to be around.  We have a lot of young players.  We have a lot of young pitchers in our starting rotation,” Price said.  “The leadership quality he brings are more important to us than the physical attributes.”

Pennington hit .205 in 19 games this spring.  He played a lot of second base and third base this spring.

Ervin gives the bench a speed component.

“Ervin can be an early bench bat, steal a base, score from first on a double, that kind of thing,” Price said.  “That in and of itself isn’t enough.  There are not a lot of at bats for Phil (Ervin).  I will do my best to get him enough at bats so he can be productive.”

Ervin was the Reds first pick in the 2013 draft. He completes his five-year climb to the Reds’ with the role of  fifth outfielder.

The 25-year old can play good defense in all three outfield position, giving Price the flexibility of three players, who can cover center field.

Ervin hit .237 as a Dayton Dragon in 2014 which was consistent with his other seasons in the organization.  He hit .242 with Daytona in 2015 and .239 with Pensacola in 2016.

Last season Ervin hit .256 at Louisville. He did slightly better with a .259 average in 28 games with the Reds.  He hit three home runs for the Reds.  Ervin has stolen 30 or more bases three times in pro ball.  He had 23 at Louisville last year and four with the Reds.

“I like him a lot, ” Price said earlier this spring.  “He did a nice job for us.  I think he will be an every day outfielder in the big leagues.”

Quackenbush made the team and will bolster the bullpen.  The right-hander, who struggled last season in San Diego, made the team as a non-roster invitee.  Quackenbush has four years of Major League experience. He made at least 56 appearances from 2014-2016,  made just 20 appearances last season.  He was 0-2 with  a 7.86 ERA.

“Off the radar, Quackenbush has pitched very well,” Price said.  “He is not overpowering but has good deception.  He keeps the ball down with a good mix of breaking pitches.”

Quackenbush did not give up an earned run until his last appearance this spring in which he allowed three.  It was a relief to him that he made the team.

“I had a lot of help in the off-season from a couple different guys,” Quackenbush said.  “Steve Ontiveras was a big help with my curveball.  The big thing I wasn’t trying to overthrow.  It worked out pretty well.  It was a relief when they told me yesterday.  I was ecstatic.  The last outing made the news very nice to hear.  It was a tough walk off the mound.  Knowing it was my last walk off the mound, made it harder.  It was rewarding to hear that I made it.”

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Luis Castillo Gets Nicked Against Cleveland In Final Cactus League Start

Luis Castillo was effective for five innings in spite of allowing four runs on seven hits.  The Reds dropped the decision to the Indians, 6-4.  For those that care the Reds still won the fictitious Goodyear Mayor's Cup 3-1-1.

Castillo was ruined more lumber than termites in the first inning.  With two outs, Jose Ramirez beat out a bleeding, weakly hit ground ball to Cliff Pennington at third base.  Michael Brantley shattered his bat, hitting a ball off Tony Cruz' glove at first base.  The handle of Edwin Encarnacion's bat didn't survive his slow roller to third.

As Murphy's Law would have it, Yonder Alonso did make solid contact and doubled into the right center gap to score two runs. Jason Kipnis, Rmirez and Brantley grounded singles through the infield to score a run in the third.  Bradley Zimmer homered in the fourth.

"I though Castillo's best innings were 1,2 and 5," Bryan Price said.  "He gave up two on three infield hits and a well hit double in the gap.  He threw the ball much better than that line score would suggest.  He got his work in.  He got stretched out.  He's ready to go game two."

Castillo is a new father who is moving his young family to the Major Leagues on Thursday.

"I'm ready for the season.  The last couple weeks was more about preparing mentally," Castillo said through interpreter Julio Morillo.  "It is a long season coming up.  I know I'm going to do great.  I am very happy.  This is my second spring training.  I am proud of myself that I'm breaking camp with the team right now."

Tony Cruz hit a home run off Josh Tomlin in the third inning.  Cruz was one of the last players sent to the minor leagues.  The Reds considered carrying three catchers but the Reds chose a fifth outfielder to add speed to its bench.

Eugenio Suarez doubled and went to third on a single by Scooter Gennett.  Scott Schebler bounced into a double-play as Suarez scored.

Zack Weiss pitched 2/3 of an inning.  Austin Brice gave up a two-run home run to Will Benson, who followed Ramirez' third hit.

The Reds scored in the ninth inning.

Sebastian Elizalde, Brandon Dixon and D.J. Peterson singled in the ninth to provide the final score.

"Elizalde and Dixon could help us at some point in the season," Price said.

Reds Break Camp Bench Filled Bullpen Nearly Filled

The Reds break camp after the final Cactus League game against the Cleveland Indians.

The Reds have two bullpen spots to determine while visiting Dallas for two games against the Texas Rangers.  The team has a day off then takes on the Washington Nationals on Thursday.

Roster Moves

The Reds released OF Ben Revere this morning.  Revere had a clause in his contract that allowed him to find another team if he didn’t make the Reds’ roster.

Vance Worley also has the same clause that takes effect Sunday but he could make the team depending on the health of David Hernandez and Kevin Shackelford.

The Reds optioned LHP Cody Reed and INF Alex Blandino to Louisville.  They reassigned C Tony Cruz, IF/OF Brandon Dixon and IF/OF Sebastian Elizalde to minor league camp.  They will likely end up on Louisville’s roster.

The Reds informed that Phil Gosselin and Phillip Ervin that they won the final two bench positions.  The bench, barring last day waiver claims or free agent signings, Gosselin, Ervin, Cliff Pennington, the catcher not in the lineup on a particular day, and the outfielder among, Billy Hamilton, Scott Schebler, Adam Duvall and Jesse Winker.

Gosselin and Ervin were told they were on the team but were warned that last minute changes could be made.

“The caveat is that anything can happen with the waiver stuff,” Bryan Price said.  “You hate to tell someone they’re on the team and come back later to say we made a claim and it will affect your spot on the roster.”

Todd Frazier left camp on the team on year but the Reds took his spot back when they signed Alfredo Simon.  Two years ago the Reds got Dan Straily after they left Arizona.  Last year Scooter Gennett was claimed on waivers the day before the team broke camp.

The Reds chose Gosselin for his experience coming off the bench.  They chose Ervin to give the bench a speed component.

“Ervin can be an early bench bat, steal a base, score from first on a double, that kind of thing,” Price said.  “That in and of itself isn’t enough.  There are not a lot of at bats for Phil (Ervin).  I will do my best to get him enough at bats so he can be productive.”

“Gosselin was a guy we’ve been trying to get for the last two or three years because he was so good against us when he was with Atlanta,” Price said.  “He fits the role.  If you need him to play second or third or left field, I’m comfortable with that.  He gives a good at bat against a left or right-handed pitcher.  He hits the better guys late in the game.”

Kevin Quackenbush made the team and will bolster the bullpen.  The right-hander, who struggled last season in San Diego, made the team as a non-roster invitee.  Quackenbush has four years of Major League experience but after appearances in at least 56 games from 2014-2016,  made just 20 appearances last season.  He was 0-2 with a 7.86 ERA.

Quackenbush did not give up an earned run until his last appearance this spring in which he allowed three.  It was a relief to him that he made the team.

“I had a lot of help in the off season from a couple different guys,” Quackenbush said.  “Steve Ontiveras was a big help with my curveball.  The big thing I wasn’t trying to overthrow.  It worked out pretty well.  It was a relief when they told me yesterday.  I was ecstatic.  The last outing made the news very nice to hear.  It was a tough walk off the mound.  Knowing it was my last walk off the mound, made it harder.  It was rewarding to hear, I made it.”

Amir Garrett will be on the Opening Day roster.

Reed will join the Louisville rotation.  Early in spring, Reed was slated for the Reds’ bullpen but he pitched his way into contention to start which is his

Health will determine the last two bullpen jobs.

Worley and Zack Weiss are waiting for word on Hernandez and Shackelford to determine their status.

Brandon Finnegan, Michael Lorenzen and Anthony DeSclafani will start the season on the disabled list.  The Reds won’t need a fifth starter until April 9 and Finnegan is most likely to do that but Garrett is on the same schedule.

“The ninth isn’t a drop dead date for Finnegan,” Price said.  “We want him to be ready when he’s here. If he’s not we can send him to Pensacola or someplace to make a start.  He is the guy that I’d like to see back up here in the rotation.”


While I was typing this the Reds claimed LHP Justin Nicolino on waivers from the Miami Marlins.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Brandon Finnegan and Amir Garrett Last Pitching Effort Before The Season

Brandon Finnegan slipped and fell trying to make a pickoff throw to second bast in the Reds' 6-2 loss to San Diego Padres.

Nothing was hurt but the pitcher's ample pride.

"At least I got the ball to second base and it wasn't on TV," Finnegan said.  "Other than that I felt good.  I missed my spots a few times. The home run I gave up to Myers was supposed to be outside, I left it out over the plate.  Other than that, they didn't hit the ball hard off me.  I got a lot of ground balls. I had trouble getting on top of it until the second inning."

He finished his three innings with dirt on his knees after pitching three innings. He allowed two runs, a home run to Wil Myers.  Manuel Margot and Myers doubled back-to-back in the third for a run.  Finnegan allowed six hits but no walks.

"Finney was pretty good," Bryan Price said. "I felt like he threw the ball pretty well, three pitches for strikes. We talked to him about reducing empty pitches.  Pitches so far out of the strike zone, they don't have a purpose. He's been much better with that. If anything he got too much of the plate. That will get better the more he's out there."

The Reds plan to leave Finnegan in Goodyear for a week.  He will join them in Pittsburgh around April 5.  The Reds don't need a fifth starter until April 9.

"I need to get my pitch count up," Finnegan said.  "My arm feels good. I'm doing a good job with my tempo, not letting my body get in the way of my arm.  I will work on my slider a little bit."

The Reds got two runs off Kazuhisa Makita.  Joey Votto walked and Scooter Gennett hit a home run high off the Pavillion in right field.

Jared Hughes struck out the side in his inning.

Amir Garrett followed Hughes.

Garrett gave up four runs in four innings on five hits, including home runs by Eric Hosmer and Matt Szczur.

"Amir wasn't as sharp, however the last two innings he got a lot better<"Price said.  "That tells you some good things about the ability to recover and make adjustments."

Reds Roster Coming Into Focus

The Reds have two more games in the Cactus League before they head to Dallas to play the Texas Rangers for two games, Monday and Tuesday.

Bryan Price wanted to have his roster set by Sunday’s departure for Dallas.  That will not happen.

“There is a strong chance that we will have to go to Texas with at least one spot, maybe two, yet defined,” Price said.

Cliff Pennington Is A New Red

Cliff Pennington was told that he made the opening day roster.  The backup shortstop.  Cliff was signed by the Reds to a minor league contract on February 15.

The 33-year old switch hitter has played shortstop (604 games), second base (233 games), third base (56 games).  He has also played first base  and outfield.

Pennington has 10 years experience in the big leagues with Oakland, Arizona, Toronto and the Los Angeles Angels.  He was the Oakland Athletics first choice in the 2005 draft out of Texas A&M.

As a starter for the A’s,   Pennington hit.250 in 156 games in 2010.  He played in 148 in 2011, hitting .264.  His career average is .243 with 36 home runs, in 955 games.

Pennington’s playing time decreased due to six trips to the diabled list since 2011..

This spring, Pennington hit .216 in 18 games but fits the makeup of the team.

"He's a player who has played every day in the big leagues. He's played a lot of third base and second.  He's been a primary bench player.  Getting to know him over the last six weeks, he's a really good fit.  He is great with the young players. We generally have a very young lineup.  We have a very young group of pitchers, especially in the starting rotation.  His makeup is probably as big a deal as his physical attributes," Bryan Price said.

Starting Rotation Set

The Reds starting rotation has been set through the first four games.

Homer Bailey will start the opening game against Washington.  Luis Castillo will pitch on Saturday against the Nationals.  Tyler Mahle will pitch Sunday in the opening series finale.  Sal Romano will make his first start against the Chicago Cubs on April 2.

Castillo and Mahle were told by Price before it was made official.

Relievers Need Relief

RHP David Hernandez has been slowed by shoulder stiffness.  RHP Kevin Shackelford has elbow stiffness.

"We backed him (David Hernandez) down a little bit," Price said.  "We just put some precautions on him to make sure that we don't get ourselves in trouble exacerbating spring training stiffness.  We have to define whether he will start the season.  That will affect our bullpen decisions. We don't want to get into the season where we're concerned about the durability or our bullpen.  We want to hit the ground with a healthy bunch.  We may have to get all the way through Texas before we define who is ready to start the season."

More Catchers

The Reds are considering keeping Tony Cruz as a third catcher.

"I think the world of Tony Cruz.  He had a really good camp.  He is a Major League player in my opinion," Price said.  "He's certainly been a topic of discussion.  That frees up Mesoraco and Barnhart to pinch hit on the days they're not playing.  It gives us an experienced third catcher, who has really improved his offense.  He is a better hitter now than when he was playing every two weeks behind Molina in St. Louis."

Easy Come Easy Go

1B Kennys Vargas was claimed off waivers by the Minnesota Twins.  That opens a spot on the 40-man roster.  Vargas was claimed off the Twins roster earlier this week.  He was attending the birth of a child and never did report to camp.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Homer Bailey Gets Final Tuneup For Opening Day

Homer Bailey pitched six quality innings in the Reds 8-2 loss to the Colorado Rockies.

As with all spring training games the final score was inconsequential.  Bailey proved he was ready to go on Opening Day by pitching six innings.  He gave up three runs on nine hits but five of those were in the fourth inning.  Two of those hits were fly ball home runs, that really carried just beyond the fence.

Nolan Arenado and Carlos Gonzalez hit them back-to-back.  The five other innings Bailey allowed four hits and one walk.  His last two innings were scoreless.

"This last one was a good one to end on.  I just tried to fill up the zone as much as I can.  Once the season starts, I can take it into games.  A little bit of adrenaline will help," Bailey said.

The biggest news of all came before the game when Bryan Price announced that the 31-year old would make his first ever Opening Day start.  The Reds' first pick and seventh overall pick in the 2004 draft, has arrived at the top of the staff

"Cool," Bailey said.  "It is something I ever really thought about.  When you climb Mt. Everest, no one ever talks about the first step. They talk about getting to the top. It is more throughout the course of the season, that I look forward to than just the first one."

This wipes out the three injury filled seasons that preceded it.

"I guess I'd have to say yes that I feel as good as I can remember," Bailey said.  "It beats having stitches in your arm.  I was confident that I would get through this healthy.  it's the 14th or 15th spring training so I kind of know how to pace myself a little bit.  I tried to get to my mix slowly and not try to do too much in these games.  They don't really mean a whole lot other than the things you're trying to accomplish."

Bailey accomplished what he wanted to this spring.

"For me I wanted to it was getting to pitches, building up the stamina, executing pitches and being in the zone.  You don't want to go into spring training and put guys on with a bunch of walks," Bailey said.

Price has been snake bit the last two seasons, his projected starter didn't make it to Opening Day healthy.

"Homer looked good. Coming back out after a minor league start, coming out against a great lineup. I thought he threw really well," Price said.  "He had that hiccup there with a couple of homers there.  He got through the lineup really good and finished strong."

The numbers don't really count.

"It was his first healthy spring since, 2014," Price said.  "I felt he did what he needed to do. get stretched out, get in shape and get a lot better with his command.  He threw a lot of strikes and has gotten better with each outing."

The Reds bats took control early.

Billy Hamilton struggled a long time with his stroke but seems to be finding it at the right time.

The Reds didn't get a hit after the third inning.

Zack Weiss gave up two runs in the seventh.  Kevin Quackenbush gave up three in the eighth.
"It was the only time I think Quack's given up any runs," Price said.  "He's had a terrific spring. It's one of those games you forget about it and come after it tomorrow.  Weiss the last couple times hasn't been real sharp.  He's another guy, who had a nice spring until his last couple outings.  We know what he's about. I think he's going to impact our club, this year at some point."

Homer Bailey Named Opening Day Starter Sal Romano Wins Rotation Spot

Reds’ manager Bryan Price named Homer Bailey to start the season on March 29 against the Washington Nationals.  Price is hoping his luck has changed, one of the reasons he delayed announcing it until today.

The Reds’recent history has been tough on the named Opening Day starters.  For two straight seasons, Anthony DeSclafani was named to start the season on the mound, only to have injuries ruin it for him.  Raisel Iglesias, since moved to the bullpen, was the fall back starter in 2016.  Scott Feldman was DeSclafani’s under study last season

Bryan Price informed the 31-year old that he will be at the top of the young pitching staff that includes Sal Romano, who will pitch game four on April 2 against the Cubs.

“Homer is best suited for it,” Price said. “This is a guy who has pitched in post-season.  He has pitched no-hitters.  He has complete games (6).  He has pitched on really good teams.  He matches up with his experience to the top of the rotation compared to asking the young guys to take on a lot.  We’re going to have a very young rotation.  Homer will take this opportunity and handle it extremely well.”

The other three spots are believed to be Luis Castillo, who is lined up to pitch game two and Tyler Mahle for game three.   Brandon Finnegan will likely be the fifth starter, but he is behind by a week after missing bullpens at his home in Texas before camp opened and a knot in his bicep in spring training that caused him to leave a start early.  The Reds will not need a fifth starter until April 9.  Should Finnegan not be ready by then, Amir Garrett had a remarkable spring.  Both are scheduled to pitch Saturday against San Diego.

Bailey was the Reds’ first pick in the 2004 draft out of LaGrange High School.  He has authored two no-hitters but was never named to start Opening Day.

The injury riddled Bailey was limited to 26 starts over the last three season with 18 coming at the end of last season.  Bailey was 6-9 after his return on June 24 last season with a 6.43 ERA but he was progressively better as the season came to a close.

This spring was the first since 2015, that Bailey had a full spring to get ready.  Bailey had surgery three times on his forearm and elbow, including removing bone chips last spring.

Coming into the Friday start against Colorado, Bailey made four Cactus League starts and one controlled minor league start.  His Cactus League number are 12 innings with 12 earned runs on 17 hits and two walks.  Bailey struck out seven.  His minor league stint lasted six innings with two runs on seven hits, one walk and nine strikeouts.

Romano pitched Thursday night against Texas.  He allowed five runs in 15 innings, walking two while striking out 18.

“Romano pitched with great confidence all spring,” Price said.  “For me it was his job to lose and he didn’t.  He was thrilled.  I think he was confident, he would win a spot in the rotation.”

Castillo had only three Cactus League starts and missed time with the birth of his first child, a daughter.  He 8 1/3 innings, allowing three earned runs.  Castillo was stretched out to five innings in a minor league game.

Mahle grabbed his spot in the rotation by making significant improvements with his change up and slider.  He pitched 19 innings in five Cactus League appearances.  Mahle allowed six earned runs on 10 hits and three walks.  He struck out 15.

Bullpen Battle
The Reds released Oliver Perez on Thursday morning.  He was signed to provide the Reds with a left-handed specialist.  An injury to Michael Lorenzen, who will probably not be able to pitch by opening day, caused the Reds to scrap the plan.

“I couldn’t see how we could have the luxury of a lefty specialist,” Price said.  “We need more bullpen pitchers who pitch multiple innings.”

Vance Worley, who signed a minor league contract, pitched three innings Thursday night against Texas.  He allowed one run.

Worley, 30,  is a veteran who has 97 career starts and 66 relief appearances in the big leagues.  He has a clause in his contract that states he can be a free agent on Saturday, if he is not chosen for the Reds’ roster, he can elect free agency.

Last season Worley started 12 games and appeared in relief in 12 games for the Miami Marlins.  He was 2-6 with a 6.91 ERA.  In Goodyear, he has pitched in seven Cactus League games.  Worley allowed five earned runs in his first appearance on February 25 but allowed just three earned runs in 10 1/3 innings since.

“It is going to come down to the wire with these last couple spots in the bullpen,” Price said.  “We’d like to define our club before we leave for Texas (Sunday afternoon).  Vance gives us options, long relief.  He has an out on the 25th.  If he makes the club, it is a non-issue.  If he doesn’t he can see what is out there or choose to stay in the organization.”

Sal Romano Solves Tangles Texas Likely Starts In Rotation In April

Sal Romano pitched his scheduled three innings against the Texas Rangers on Thursday in a 7-6 win. He wishes to head to Cincinnati on Sunday after a stop in Dallas.

He hasn't been told but barring a late spring development, Romano is likely to get his wish.

Through 15 Cactus League innings, Romano has allowed just five earned runs on 15 hits.  He walked just two batters in the 15 frames.  He also pitched 5 1/3 innings in a minor league game, walking one.

"Besides the homer to Odor the stuff was really good," Romano said.  "A couple ground balls, a couple strikeouts, it was a good end to the spring."

If Bryan Price chooses to make it official, Romano would follow Homer Bailey, Luis Castillo and Tyler Mahle to the mound on April 2, the fourth game of the season.  Brandon Finnegan needs more time but the Reds don't need a fifth starter until April 9.  The picture became clearer today after Robert Stephenson was optioned to Triple A Louisville.

"I came in ready from the beginning," Romano said.  "I was able to pitch the game, I needed to do.  I feel like I put myself in a really good spot to make this club.  I'm really excited for this opportunity and we'll see what happens."

The Reds had Romano stretched out in the minor league game.  He is going to pitch one of the two games in Dallas against the Rangers on Monday or Tuesday.

"Sal was terrific," Price said.  "He had a good fastball and a really good hard breaking pitch today. When we had our pitching summit in January, the challenge we had was that we wanted to know what to expect when they're on the mound.  The least we expect is that you can throw the ball over the plate.  Challenging hitters is something Sal has done most of his career."

The Reds supported Romano with six runs off Texas lefty, Mike Minor.

Billy Hamilton singled and scored on Eugenio Suarez' double just past Adrian Beltre inside the third base bag.  Adam Duvall hit his third home run of the spring.

Cliff Pennington, trying to nail down a spot on the Reds bench, fielded a ground ball off leadoff hitter Delino DeShields Jr. and threw it in the stands for a two-base error.  Two ground outs sent DeShields home.

The Reds added two in the second.

Pennington made up for the error with a one-out triple.  Romano sneaked a ground ball past Beltre inside the line to score Pennington.  Hamilton forced Romano at second.  Suarez single sent Hamilton to third.  Joey Votto's ground ball up the middle was fielded by Odor but instead of throwing to first, Odor held the ball and tagged Suarez, rounding the base.  Hamilton crossed the plate before the tag.

Odor hit a home run off Romano in the bottom of the third.

The Reds got the run back in third.  Duvall singled, went to third on Scooter Gennett's double and scored on Scott Schebler's deep fly to left.

Barnhart singled and scored on Pennington's second triple.

Texas scored a run off Vance Worley in three innings.  Joey Gallo capped a three-run inning with a home run with a man on in the seventh.

Tanner Rainey, who was reassigned to minor league camp earlier, pitched two scoreless innings for a save.  Rainey got out of a first and second, no out jam by getting Beltre to fly out to end the game.

The Reds Option Robert Stephenson and Release Oliver Perez Among Roster Moves.

The Reds claimed firstbaseman Kennys Vargas from the Minnesota Twins and optioned him to Louisville.  Joining him in Louisville are Jackson Stephens and Robert Stephenson, who were optioned on Thursday afternoon.

The Reds released left handed reliever Oliver Perez.

"I just couldn't see us having a left handed specialist," Bryan Price said.  "Without Michael el Lorenzen, we need guys who can pitch multiple innings."

The Reds' reassigned Tanner Rainey, Dylan Floro, Ben Revere, Joe Hudson, Rosell Herrera and Mason Williams to minor league camp.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Tyler Mahle's Cactus League Start A Prelude To The Starting Rotation

Tyler Mahle was closer to winning a coveted starting job in the rotation, when he took the mound against the San Diego Padres in a 3-3 10-inning tie.

News that Michael Lorenzen would be out of action several days with a grade one strain to hie teres major, hadn't stopped echoing around training camp when he threw his first pitch against the Padres.

Mahle has in all probability earned the job outright, anyway.

The rookie, pitched five scoreless innings of two-hit baseball in his last time out. Coming into the start against San Diego. Mahle has appeared in five games prior to the Padres, pitching 14 2/3 innings.  He allowed four earned runs on seven hits and two walks, in those games.

Mahle had a rough first inning.  He walked Manuel Margot on a close 3-2 pitch.  He appeared to pick off Margot but was called for a balk.  Wil Myers grounder to short erased Margot at third.  Eric Hosmer doubled over Billy Hamilton's head in centerfield, allowing Myers to score easily.  Joe Pirela singled to score Hosmer but was thrown out a second by Hamilton.

"He just missed a borderline 3-2 pitch, then hit a batter with a 1-2 slider," Bryan Price said. "He got better with his fastball command.  He was missing with the slider in the first inning off the corner.  He was bringing it back over the plate. He got better with it and that was great.  You've got to be pushed a little bit and he responded with four beautiful innings."

The Reds scored in the second against Padre starter, Dinelson Lamet.

Scooter Gennett doubled.  Sizzling Scott Schebler, who is working on taking the ball to leftfield, singled Gennett to third.  Jose Peraza singled to right, scoring Gennett.

The Reds got even in the fifth.  Peraza reached on an error by shortstop, Freddy Galvis.  Mahle's bunt forced Peraza at second.  Hamilton tripled down the rightfield line.  The Reds took the lead an inning later.  Eugenio Suarez walked.  Gennett's bid for a double was gloved by Jose Pirela running to the line but he couldn't hold onto the ball.  It was ruled a two-base error.  Schebler lined out deep to left as Suarez slid home.

Mahle pitched four scoreless innings after the first. He allowed one hit over the last four frames. He struck out six.

"It was a rocky first inning. I just made some bad pitches," Mahle said.  "I settled down. We threw more change ups the last four innings.  I try not to think about making the team too much.  It's out of my hand.  I just try to have good outings.  That makes me happy."

The Reds wanted Mahle to work on his slider and change up.  He's done that.

"In the past I'd take over the game with my fastball.  Tonight I took over with my change up. I've never been able to do that before," Mahle said.  "I used my slider tonight too.  It was the best it's been."

Kevin Quackenbush pitched a scoreless inning.  Wandy Peralta followed suit with a scoreless inning of his own.

Zack Weiss gave up a lead off home run to Matt Szczur in the eighth to tie the game.

Dylan Floro's two scoreless innings preserved the tie.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Another Reds Pitcher Battles Injury

Michael Lorenzen will miss at least a few days with a grade 1 strain to his teres major.

Lorenzen was trying to earn a turn in the Reds' starting rotation.  That looks doubtful now.

Lorenzen had his struggles with command this spring in making his way our of the bullpen.

"It is going to affect him for the next several days for sure," Price said.  "It has been a challenge for him to repeat a good quality delivery, throughout the course of the entire spring. The challenge for Michael was to come in and look like a Major League starting pitcher, refined and polished, command his pitches.  He wasn't quite there yet."

The setback opens the door for Sal Romano, Tyler Mahle and Amir Garrett.

Luis Castillo, back from paternity leave and Brandon Finnegan pitched their innings in a minor league game.

Castillo pitched five innings, allowing four hits, one earned run.  He walked one and struck out five on 71 pitches.

Finnegan threw two innings, allowing an earned run on two hits.  He struck out two and walked one.

Robert Stephenson Better But Cubs Win

Robert Stephenson believed he did alright even though he gave up two runs in 3 2/3 innings and was bailed out by a couple of line drive double plays in a game the Chicago Cubs held on to win 5-4.

Stephenson allowed five hits, walked two, hit a batter, threw a wild pitch and committed a balk.  It was a busy night. He was surrounded by baserunners for the first two innings.

Two players with Cincinnati connections but Stephenson in jeopardy right away.  Ian Happ of UC and Kyle Schwarber from Middletown singled to open the game.  Willson Contreras walked to load the bases.  Addison Russell struck out but Albert Almora Jr. singled to score Happ.  Victor Caratini lined to Phillip Ervin in center field.  Ervin doubled Contreras off secondbase.

The second inning didn't start so well either.  Mike Freeman singled and Ryan Court was hit by a pitch after Stephenson balked Freeman to third.  Jon Lester of all people, the opposing pitcher, dumped a single into center.  Happ walked.  Schwarber hit a bullet to Cliff Pennington at second base, who double up the stunned Lester.

"The results on the scoreboard weren't exactly what I want but I was a lot happier with the way I pitched today Stephenson said.  "My off speed stuff was working a lot better.  In the first inning I was a little amped up. I felt like I was being aggressive with every thing.  In the second inning there were a couple of lazy hits. Overall I was happy with the way I pitched."

The last two innings were better.  Stephenson fanned Contreras and Russell and took care of Almora on a lazy pop to firstbaseman, Joey Votto, who played the entire game.  Ervin dropped a fly to deep center that he had to run down but he should have made the catch and was charged with an error.  Stephenson finished by striking out Freeman and Court.

"It got better for Stephenson," Bryan Price said.  "The defense helped him out with a couple of double plays which was big.  He kept himself in there to the fourth inning which was good.  We're still looking to get him where he's repeating good quality pitching.  After the first couple innings he went to a higher breaking ball mix, slider, curveball. It helped him manage the game."

The Reds erased the Cubs lead against Lester in the fourth.

Devin Mesoraco singled off the wall in right.  The ball got out there in a hurry. It was hit hard.  Scooter Gennett, the designated hitter, double down the leftfield line.  Gennett is hampered by a sore shoulder.  Peraza scored Mesoraco and Gennett with a single up the middle.
Caratini doubled high off the wall in center to put the Cubs up, 5-2

The Reds got a run back in the bottom of the inning.  Rosell Herrera singled.  Ervin doubled Herrera to third.  Phil Gosselin's long fly to center scored Herrera.

The Reds made it a one-run game in the against Anthony Bass.  Mesoraco doubled with two out. Tony Cruz singled to score Mesoraco.  Peraza singled but Kyle Ryan bailed out Bass.

Tanner Rainey struck out two Cub batters in a perfect sixth.  Jared Hughes dropped his ERA to 1.50 with a perfect seventh.

David Hernandez had a scoreless frame when Ben Revere made a diving catch in left.  Alex Blandino started a quick double play.  Blandino made another nice play in the eighth.  Oliver Perez turned in his second straight scoreless outing.

"We made a couple double plays, a couple of line drive double plays we were able to turn.  Revere was outstanding.  Blandino made a couple of nice plays.  All in all some good things," Price said.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Amir Garrett Finds A Way In Reds Win

Amit Garrett did what he said he was going to do during the Reds 6-3 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks and the camp in general.

Garrett pitched four scoreless innings, allowed one hit, a walk and hit a batter.

"Tucker was really getting me going today, screaming at me in the bullpen, 'fine Amir', I felt good from the beginning.  I did what I had to do.  I came in here and did what I said I was going to do," Garrett said.  "I definitely feel that if I'm not one of the top five, I'm definitely in the top 12.  Now it is up to them."

Garrett was not listed as one of the candidates for the Reds rotation on the first day as Bryan Price laid out the pecking order on the pitching staff roles.

"I'm just a baller, man. I'm here to do whatever. I feel I can help the team in multiple ways. I want them to know that," Garrett said.

Garrett has had four good outings in five appearances.  He gave up two runs in two innings on March 7.  Since, he has two games with a total of six scoreless innings.

"He threw four scoreless innings and I thought he had better stuff in most of his previous outings," Bryan Price said.  "Today he wasn't behind the ball.  The movement was a little lateral but he found a way to manage the game without his best command.  To me that says a lot about where he is with his confidence."

The Reds scored three runs off Diamondbacks starter, Zack Godley.  Alex Blandino singled in the first inning. Scott Schebler and Adam Duvall walked.  Sebastian Elizalde singled to score two runs.

Garrett was hit by a pitch in the third.  Blandino tripled over the head of Rey Fuentes in center field.

Schebler's third home run with Suarez on base off left-hander Antonio Bastardo put the Reds up 5-0.

Raisel Iglesias struck out one in a perfect fifth inning.

Arizona scored two runs off Austin Brice in the sixth inning.

Ketel Marte hit an RBI single to score David Peralta.  Jake Lamb's sacrifice fly scored Kristopher Negron.

Brice pitched a scoreless eighth.

Zack Weiss allowed his first run in 6 1/3 innings when Christian Walker double home a run.

Brandon Dixon hit his fourth home run off Jimmy Sherfy in the eighth.
Vance Worley finished the Diamondbacks in a scoreless ninth.

"Worley is competing for the bullpen and adding depth to our starting pitching," Price said.