Reds Insider
From news of the day to news of the weird, John Fay provides a glimpse of what it’s like to cover the Cincinnati Reds

John Fay
John Fay has been the Reds beat writer for the Enquirer since 2001. Prior to that, he served in a variety of roles for the Enquirer: backup Reds writer, UC beat writer, backup Bengals writer and as a general assignment reporter. He is a Cincinnati native and a graduate of Elder High School and the University of Dayton.

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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Homer on Homer

It was interesting what Homer Bailey had to say after his one inning of work in the intrasquad game. (He walked one and gave up a bloop hit). Basically he said he threw his off-speed stuff to show the Reds' brass he'd worked on it in the offseason.

In other words, Homer's plan is to make the team.

Some Bailey quotes from it:

"I could have (pitched) first or last. They let me go first so I could do a starter’s routine. That was one benefit of it. I think that was kind of in their plan. But I don’t see it as a sign. Maybe they went alphabetical order -- Arroyo, then me.”

"I have to make sure I can show them I am ready and that I worked hard on the things they wanted me to.”

Bailey on difference between his spring and Arroyo's: “Those guys have spots locked. I know coming into the spring that one of the things they wanted to see from me was how I could control my off-speed stuff – that it was improved. If I had been in Arroyo’s place, I probably would have thrown nothing but fastballs, just get my work in.”

On his improved off-speed pitches: “I told you guys that’s something I worked in the offseason. I think all my off-speed pitches were either hit or strikes. I wasn't quite locating my fastball. I left a few up.”

Bronson Arroyo on Bailey: “It’s tough being in his shoes. It’s like walking into a basketball camp and you’re going to make the team or not by shooting 10 free throws. You’re like I got to hit seven or eight. If you’re John Stockton, you can clank eight of them and doesn't matter because they know what you can do in a game. It’s definitely more nerve-wracking for the young guys.”

Adam Dunn, who faced Bailey and walked: “He looked good. “I’m on the bandwagon. He's so smooth. It gets on you a lot quicker than you expect.”

Javier Valentin, who caught on Bailey: “He knows what he’s doing. He looks like he belongs here.”

Here's Rob Butcher's release on the game. The writers missed half of it, waiting to talk to Bailey and Arroyo:

Ed’s Reds beat Russell’s Muscles, 1-0, on an unearned run in this afternoon’s intrasquad scrimmage at Sarasota’s Ed Smith Stadium… the crowd of 894 generated $4,470 to be donated to the local chapter of the American Cancer Society...2B Brandon Phillips drove in the game’s only run with a sacrifice fly in the third inning off RHP Jared Burton…1B Joey Votto produced 2 of the game’s 6 hits, a double off RHP Kerry Ligtenberg and a single off LHP Jon CoutlangusLF Chris Denorfia, SS Alex Gonzalez, C Chad Moeller (double) and 3B Juan Castro also had hits…pitchers for the Reds included starters RHP Bronson Arroyo (1ip, 1h) and RHP Homer Bailey (1ip, 1h, 1bb) along with Ligtenberg (1ip, 1h, 1k), RHP Tom Shearn (1ip), LHP Michael Gosling (1ip, 3k), Coutlangus (1ip, 1h), LHP Phil Dumatrait (1ip, 1h, 1bb, 1k), Burton (1ip, 1r, 0er), LHP Jason Kershner (1ip, 1h, 1k) and RHP Calvin Medlock (1ip)…LF Chris Dickerson left the game with a mild sprain of his right ankle, suffered when he stepped on C Javier Valentin’s foot while scoring the game’s only run…he will be re-evaluated tomorrow.

It's started

First pitch 11:59 a.m. 73 degrees. A bit overcast. Perfect weather and baseball has begun.

Ryan Freel flied out to right for the first out of the intrasquad game. Chris Denorfia followed with a hit. Bronson Arroyo got the next two.

Now we're on to Homer Time.

Brandon Phillips hit Homer Bailey's first pitch right at Paul Janish for a routine 6-3. Alex Gonzalez followed with bloop single to center on an 0-1 pitch. Adam Dunn works a walks. Bailey missed high and outside on 3-2 pitch.

Jeff Conine takes a ball. Bailey then drops in a nice curve for a strike. 6-4-3 double play on the next pitch. So went Bailey's spring debut. Will update after talking to the phenom.

Brandon Phillips made an absolutely spectacular play in the third inning. He went deep into the hole to field a ball off the bat of Chris Denorfia, then beat him with a rainbow throw.

Intrasquad lineups

This is earliest morning post ever, but the lineups are up for the intrasquad game. Here they are:
Team Nappy (Ed Napoliean)
Brandon Phillips 2B
Alex Gonzalez SS
Adam Dunn DH
Jeff Conine 1B
Josh Hamilton CF
David Ross C
Juan Castro 3B
Dewayne Wise RF
Chris Dickerson LF
Bronson Arroyo P

Team Bucky (Bucky Dent)
Ryan Freel CF
Chris Denorfia LF
Edwin Encarnacion 3B
Scott Hatteberg DH
Javier Valentin C
Mark Bellhorn 2B
Joey Votto 1B
Bubba Crosby RF
Paul Janish SS
Homer Bailey P

First pitch is noon.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Best meal so far

Went to the Casey Key Fish House last night and had by far my best meal down here -- Ahi tuna with a ginger sauce. It was excellent. The place has that Florida outdoor eatery feel. Entrees are about $18. Place really filled up as the evening went on. Rode past the multi-million home on Casey Key beforehand. Ostentatious is looking a lot of people strive for down here.

Kevin Kelly's covering the club again. I'm looking very forward to the intrasquad game tomorrow. Only so much you can tell from live BP. The blog will go live with Homer Bailey's outing -- provided the wireless is working in the press box.

Monday, February 26, 2007

On the weather, the Oscars and dining out

Coming at you via dial-up from Chez Fay on the beautiful Siesta Key. The Enquirer beat is in the capable hands of Kevin Kelly today.

So if you want baseball, stop reading this entry now.

It's overcast for the first time since camp opened. Probably not a bad thing. I still look like I've been painting closets all winter, as my buddy Marty would say.

Saw "Little Miss Sunshine" last night. Loved it. But don't know if it deserved the Oscar because I haven't seen "The Departed." But I am a fan of Martin Scorsese. Could watch "Goodfellas" 30 more times. Did see the "Queen." I would have voted for Helen Mirren. And Alan Arkin cracked me up as much as any character ever in "Sunshine."

Eat at Gabberio's (not sure of the spelling and it's new enough that it's not in the phonebook) in Siesta Village on Marty's recommendation. Very nice, not too expensive. Good ambiance. Had a guitar player playing on the porch. Waiter mixed in some Italian phrases. Should have saved room for dessert. They looked spectacular. Probably headed to Casey Key Fish House tonight on the recommendation of a blog reader.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Options and the like

This from reader R.G.G.: John, I am trying to understand the logjam on the Reds roster. Some players on signed as Major Leaguers but have options, some with no options, some with minor league contracts. Any chance you could provide a list so I and all your readers could follow along with the Reds thinking as choices start to be made?

Bubba Crosby and Chad Moeller were signed to big league contracts. Guys like Paul Wilson and Kerry Ligtenberg signed minor league deals, basically any non-roster invitee is on a minor league deal.

Here's the option list, direct from a Reds' release: "The following players on the 40-man roster have minor league options remaining: pitchers Matt Belisle, Bill Bray, Jared Burton, Todd Coffey, Rheal Cormier, Jon Coutlangus, Phil Dumatrait, Aaron Harang, Bobby Livingston, Kyle Lohse, Gary Majewski, Calvin Medlock, Eric Milton, Elizardo Ramirez, Kirk Saarloos, Brad Salmon, Brian Shackelford and Mike Stanton; infielders Edwin Encarnacion, Jerry Gil, Alex Gonzalez, Jeff Keppinger and Joey Votto; and outfielders Jeff Conine, Chris Denorfia, Chris Dickerson, Adam Dunn, Ken Griffey Jr., Josh Hamilton and Norris Hopper."

Basically, the Reds can send any of those players to minors without risking losing them. But anyone with five years' service time can refuse the option. Hamilton is a special case because he's a Rule 5 pick. The Reds must keep him on the 25-man roster or offer him back to Tampa Bay for $25,000, half what they paid to pick him.

Update: Thanks to reader Cow Town, who sent in a clarification. We can't publish the comment because it part it was from Baseball America's site. But it pointed that Josh Hamilton can declare free agency if clears waivers and is offered back to the Rays because he's been placed on waivers once.

Nuxie update

The Old Left-Hander, aka Joe Nuxhall, was in great spirits this morning in the clubhouse. The reason? He played 18 holes of the golf yesterday -- and played well. "I was hitting the ball straight -- 230," he said. "I usually hit my 6 iron 120. I was hitting it 135. I was saying, 'what's going on? I look like I know what I'm doing.'" His score? "I would have shot 82 if I could putt," he said.

Nuxhall got so carried away talking about his golf game that he failed to notice that Gary Schatz, the Sports Ticker coorespondent, had shown up at camp. Lonnie Wheeler also joined the Ed Smith Press Corps.

But it was good to see Nuxie so upbeat less than a week after leaving the hospital.

Jerry Narron almost gave us the pitching lineup for the first couple of exhibition games. But he wanted pitching coach Dick Pole to tell the pitchers first.

Rob Butcher gave us the rotation a little later. Eric Milton will start the exhibtion opener Thursday, followed by Kyle Lohse Friday, Harang Saturday and Arroyo Sunday. That lines up for Harang to start Opening Day, as he did last year.

Narron also mentioned right-hander Brad Salmon as a pitcher who's been impressive early in camp. Salmon, 27, combined to go 7-2 with a 2.44 ERA and five saves at Chattanooga and Louisville last year. He throws hard -- not 98 mph -- but harder than the other relievers. His 72 strikeouts in 57 2/3 innings at Louisville point to that.

My man Kevin Kelly is in the air on his way here. He'll cover the club tomorrow. The only baseball activity I'll witness tomorrow is the odd Wiffle Ball game on Siesta Beach.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Early star: Paul Wilson

Paul Wilson has turned heads with way he's thrown early in camp. Adam Dunn was impressed after taking live BP off Wilson Saturday morning. "He looks really good," Dunn said. "Really, really good. I told him that. I don't know how hard he's throwing. I can't gauge that yet. But his ball is moving everywhere."

Wilson is a guy everyone wants to see succeed. He's a nice guy. He's worked extremely hard. And he was crushed last year when he wasn't able to contribute. He's nearly two years removed from his shoulder surgery. Sometimes those things take that long. With Wilson if his stuff returns to close to normal, he'll be able to get by with savvy and competitive fire.

Talked to Jerry Narron about the closer situation. It's still going to be David Weathers and Mike Stanton, unless one of the young pitchers -- Narron mentioned Todd Coffey -- is truly dominant in camp.

"I don’t know if we have that kind of big arm in camp that’s going to change anything," Narron said.

Well, you do have 20-year-old who throws 98 and has a nasty curve, someone said to Narron, referring to one Homer Bailey.

"Yeah, but he's not in the bullpen."

You'll be happy to know I exchanged the mighty Monte Carlo with the slow leak on left rear tire for another Monte Carlo. Took me a half hour to do the switch. But the upside is I got a free half tank of gas out of it. A less honest man might be tempted to develop a slow leak on regular basis. Thankfully, the new ride has the plug for iPod.

Friday, February 23, 2007

11 pitchers?

Jerry Narron was talking about players with the versatility on the roster when he dropped this: "We might go with 11 pitchers instead of 12. When you all write that, there's going to be some nervous pitchers in (the clubhouse)." Nervous, indeed. But the when you factor in the Josh Hamilton factor, it could happen. The other thing that makes it plausible is Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo are pretty much good for at least six innings every time out.

Stay tuned.

It's picture day at the Ed. Fifty-six of the 57 Reds in camp have made the trip through the gamut of photographers. The shooters for the baseball cards companies are still awaiting the 57th, Ken Griffey Jr.

Thanks to photog Jeff Swinger, I may have heard "Dude Looks Like A Lady" for the last time this spring. He told me that little outlet on my car stereo is for plugging in an iPod. Let's just say I'm less than techno savvy. But a $5.88 cord from Radio Shack turned the might Monte Carlo into a rockin' machine. The problems is my left rear tire is leaking air. I'm going to probably have to exchange it at the rental place. (Did you that most gas stations charge 75 cents for air these days?) Hopefully, the new wheels have the same outlet. My luck with spring training cars in spotty. One year, I went through three.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Fundamentally speaking

On the Joe Morgan half-field, just outside the press room, the position players are gathered for a team fundamental session. Jerry Narron said they're going to talk about situational hitting and base-running. The coaches will talk but will the players listen? That's the fundamental question about fundamentals. We'll see starting on April 2.

Every player reported, except Anderson Machado. Machado is a good field/no hit shortstop left over from the Dan O'Brien Era. Narron wasn't sure if it was Visa problems or what. When you're coming off a year in which you hit .237 at Double-A and get an invite to big league camp, as Machado is, you'd think you'd be on time.

Made my first trip to the Daiquiri Deck last night. Photog Jeff Swinger and I were about half the crowd. And, alas, we did not witness any tasings. It's not really hopping this yet on the Key. Went to the Broken Egg for breakfast. No Dick Vitale again. A waitress explained that he splits his time between the Egg on the Key and the new location.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ticket announcement

Here's what the Reds released on the Opening Day tickets:


CINCINNATI - The Cincinnati Reds are giving fans different options to purchase tickets to the 2007 Opening Day game against the Chicago Cubs, scheduled for 2:10 p.m. on Monday, April 2 at Great American Ball Park.

Select-A-Seat Day: Saturday (2/24) is the last day to guarantee Opening Day ticket options on all applicable season plans. From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, the Reds are inviting fans to sit in and choose their own seats at Great American Ball Park. Reds Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Browning will greet guests from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.. With the purchase of a season plan, fans will receive 2 free vouchers for admission to the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum. Details are available at reds.com.

Power Pack Sale: At 9 a.m. on Saturday, March 3, available only online at reds.com. The 11-game package includes tickets to all 3 games of the first series of the season, including Opening Day, all 5 fireworks nights and the June 8-10 series against the Indians.

Opening Day Ticket Opportunity: From March 5-6, fans can register online at reds.com to win the chance to purchase any Opening Day tickets still available after the season and Power Pack sales. Fans who win the opportunity to purchase Opening Day tickets will be notified via email beginning March 7 and will have until noon ET on March 9 to purchase a designated number of tickets. Additional information is available at reds.com.

March 10 On-Sale Date: Tickets for all 2007 regular-season games - with the exception of Opening Day - will go on sale at 9 a.m. Saturday, March 10 by phone at (513) 381-REDS or (877) 647-REDS, via the internet at reds.com and in person at the Great American Ball Park ticket windows at Second and Main Streets and at all area Meijer stores.

Ticket prices range from $5 to $40. There is an additional $10 charge per ticket for Opening Day, a $5 charge per ticket for Premier Games (vs Cle 6/8-6/10, vs StL 6/29-7/1, vs Chi 7/27-7/29) and a $2 charge per ticket for Select Games (vs Tex 6/15-6/17, vs Ari 7/6-7/8, vs SD 8/10-8/12, vs Fla 8/24-8/26).

Beginning Monday, March 12, Great American Ball Park ticket windows will be open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m..

Information on season ticket, group ticket and premium seating packages is available at reds.com or by calling (513) 765-7000.

Reds' 11-Game Power Pack
On Sale March 3 At Reds.Com
Mon 4/2 Opening Day vs Chi 2:10
Wed 4/4 First Night Game vs Chi 7:10
Thu 4/5 Business Day vs Chi 12:35
Fri 5/25 Fireworks Night vs Pit 7:10
Fri 6/8 Interleague vs Cle 7:10
Sat 6/9 Interleague vs Cle 7:10
Sun 6/10 Interleague vs Cle 1:15
Fri 6/29 Fireworks Night vs StL 7:10
Tue 7/3 Fireworks Night vs SF 7:10
Fri 7/27 Fireworks Night vs Chi 7:10
Fri 8/24 Fireworks Night vs Fla 7:10
$257 per -ticket package in View Level Box/Mezzanine
$246 per 11-ticket package in Terrace Outfield
$180 per 11-ticket package in View Level
$147 per 11-ticket package in Bleachers
$92 per 11-ticket package in Outer View Level
Online service charges apply

Opportunity is a relative term

The Reds have 29 pitchers in camp. Everyone them probably thinks he’s going to make the club. They all do have a chance. Just like you have a chance to win the lottery. But in cases of some of the pitchers the chance is roughly the same as having their lottery numbers come up.
This came up when Jerry Narron was asked if Homer Bailey had as good as chance as everyone else to make the club.

“No, because Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo have already made it,” Narron said.

He explained: “I told all these pitches the very first day they were here that I’m sorry to say that everyone does not get the same opportunity. I’m not going to lie and say everybody’s going to get the same chance because you’re not. Everyone is not going to get the same opportunity but they are going to get an opportunity. If they do well, they’re going to get go back out there.”

The guess here is Homer does well, gets another chance and makes the Reds make a hard decision.

Looking forward to tomorrow when the full squad works out. There's not a lot to garner from watching PFP and pitchers throw bullpens. Guess it's a bit foggy up there in Cincinnati. My wife was supposed to be on a 9 a.m. to Sarasota. That was delayed and then cancelled. She's on the 3 p.m. now. Wish her luck.

Had dinner last night at the Manhattan Grill with my sister and brother-in-law. I continue my quest for the perfect grouper sandwich. Right now, Captain Curt's in the leader in the clubhouse.

One last thing: Saw all the discussion about the Josh Hamilton story. Let me just say that race in no way entered into the way I wrote it, and that I'm certain that race has not entered in the way Mark Curnutte covered the Chris Henry story.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Opening Day tickets

No, I don't have any to give away. But the Reds are close to announcing details of the procedure for this year.

The big change: No Opening Day tickets will be available at Great American Ball Park when single-game tickets go on sale. The club will begin selling Power Packs, probably 11-game Power Packs, March 3. Those packages include Opening Day tickets. If all those sell, no Opening Day tickets will be available. If all the Power Packs don't sell, the remaining Opening Day tickets will be sold in an online sweepstakes.

Quieter day, perhaps?

Between Josh Hamilton and Adam Dunn, you had the two best stories of the spring happening within a couple hours of one another yesterday. The Hamilton story is getting quite a bit of debate on the blog. Feel free to weigh in.

Today will surely be quieter.

I've also written quite a bit about Gary Majewski's and Ken Griffey Jr.'s injury. You may wonder why. They're minor setbacks, early in the camp. The reason I've written is much is what they could turn into. Griffey was day-to-day for a month in 2005. Majewski's talking about his shoulder exactly like Brandon Claussen was up until the point he said he was having surgery. My guess is both Griffey and Majewski will be fine well before Opening Day, but you've got to keep an eye on both.

To the dismay of one anonymous poster, we're leaving the baseball realm for a bit. 24 has been strong this season. I won't reveal any of what happened. But let me ask this: If Jack Bauer was a real guy, wouldn't he be like the eighth leading cause of death in the U.S.?

I've heard "Dude, Looks Like a Lady" three times on the radio in four days here. That means I'm going to hear it 26.2 times before I head north. That's more than a lifetime supply. There ought to be a law that all rental cars have those little jacks you can plug your iPod into. Either that or I'm going to have to search the dial a little bit more. As I was writing that, Rob Butcher sent this:

ROAD TRIPPIN'...: This season the Reds have a Major League-high 6 road trips of at least 10 days, including four 10-day jaunts and a pair of 11-day road trips...for the first time in its history Cin has 6 road trips of at least 10 days in a single season...from the end of April through the first trip after the All-Star break the schedule includes 5 consecutive road trips of at least 10 days long...the Yankees and Rockies are second with 4 trips of 10 days or more.

Better write my Congressman about getting the iPod jack law passed.

Monday, February 19, 2007

On Josh Hamilton

Josh Hamilton's press conference was about as captivating as those things get. It lasted 45 minutes. Hamilton told the story of his slide into the darkness of drug addiction. About 20 members of the media showed up.

I'm in midst of writing my tome. I hope I do it justice.

From a baseball standpoint, the question is: Can Hamilton still play?

The Reds are guessing yes.

“I don’t think there’s anybody here (in Reds camp) with the combination of power and speed and throwing arm,” Reds manager Jerry Narron said. “But it’s a very, very difficult game to play. He hasn’t been able to play the last couple of years. There’s some rust there. We’ll see how close he is.”

Pete Mackanin, the Reds major league advance scout, was fairly effusive after throwing Hamitlon batting practice:

"When you throw BP to these guys, there’s a certain zone they have over the plate, where they hit with more authority. The thing that impressed me the most is he didn’t have one. Anywhere you threw it – up and in, low and away – he handled it and stayed on top of the ball.

"His approach was outstanding. Having never seen him before, I was extremely impressed with what I saw. I know it’s only one day in spring training.

“I hate to get excited in the spring. But, boy oh boy, you have to like what I saw."

The Reds have a support system set up for Hamilton, namely Johnny Narron, who's known Hamilton since he was 8.

You've got to root for the guy. If you catch video of the press conference, you'll see a warm, engaging person -- albeit with quite a history.

Dunn talks the talk

“I’ve probably taken that a little too lightly in the past. That’s going to be my main focus this spring – not to be a good one, to be a great one. I think I can.” If you guessed that's Adam Dunn talking about playing left field, you ought to try to guess lottery numbers. But Dunn did indeed say that. He reported to spring traning today, looking like he's in good shape. "I ate better," he said. He also ran more. And he worked some hitting coach Brook Jacoby.

Dunn didn't know what he weighed. But he looks fit enough to challenge for the heavyweight title in his beloved Ultimate Fighting Championship.

He seems determined and ready to put last year behind him. "I'm try to forget about that."

Here's a link to the story on our Web site.

Josh Hamilton's press conference is at 2 p.m. That's the other big deal of the day.

Back to Dunn, here's what Jerry Narron had to say about him yesterday: “Everybody gets on him about a lot of different things. I think there’s lot of people who look at him for what he cannot do instead of what he does for us. That’s part of the business we’re in. The baseball business people look at the negative side of things a lot of times.”

Bad press and talk show rips usually roll off Dunn's back. But he was stung by it last year. He created a lot of positive vibe for himself by showing up early, in good shape and saying that he wants to get better.

Of course, he's got to do on the field at Great American for the good vibe to last.

Sunday, February 18, 2007


PR man Rob Butcher just clarified the Gary Majewski situation. Majewski will participate on the workout. He will throw, but he won't throw off the mound.

Will he or won't he?

First a bit of baseball news. There's a little confusion on Gary Majewski. Manager Jerry Narron said the right-hander was shut down for a week. Majewski said he talked to the doctor and he's starting a throwing program today. My take: Majewski will be throwing, but not throwing like the other pitchers. We can't get a clarification from the trainers or the doctors because they are not longer allowed to talk to the media under the new labor agreement.

Majewski threw a bit early in the offseason and then shut it down after having shoulder pain. Majewski's setback will heat up the debate on the Washington trade. He expects to be full go shortly. He said he's never been overly worried. "I knew it wasn't anything major," he said. But until he's 100 percent and getting people out, the trade looks awful.

I'm a beat writer by day, Sarasota tourist by night, thus I hit Siesta Beach last night for sunset. The beach wasn't very crowded because of the weather. But there were two weddings going on. That probably seems like a good idea until you find out it it's going to be 48 degrees with a howling wind. The sunset (right) wasn't great by Siesta standards -- but nice nonetheless.

All hands are on deck, as far as pitchers and catchers. Ken Griffey Jr. and Josh Hamilton are the only position players cleared to officially work out. The first workout starts at 12:30 p.m. I'll report back after seeing what Majewski does.

By the way, heard a commercial for the Rays Day, a promotion day for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. It seems the club is bringing in Kobayashi, a hot dog eating legend, to get fans out. Not sure he's going to actually eat any dogs. But if he does I'm sure my buddy, Marc Lancaster, will be covering that -- hot dog counter in hand.

Speaking of food, I did the Sarasota trifecta for my last three meals. Lunch at Gus's, grouper at Captain Curt's and break at the Broken Egg. No Dick Vitale at the Egg. Must be doing a game. Culinary tip: Get your grouper at a dive. The piece you get on a $8.95 sandwich at Captain Curt's is as good as $20 entree at fancy joint.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Nuxie update

Just spoke to Joe Nuxhall on the phone. He sounded good and, as always, upbeat. He's awaiting results from an MRI. He'll remain in the hospital until at least Monday. Once the tests results are known, they'll determine treatment for a recurrence of lyphoma.

Day 2 at the Ed

The sun is shining, and I can see a palm tree from my work station. The fact that it's below 50 degrees has a lot of Floridians moaning. But anyone who just made the trip down from the Great Midwest knows how much worse it could be.

Just saw Homer Bailey throw off the mound. My expertise on pitching is similar to that of Earl Weaver about whom Jim Palmer once said, "The only thing Earl knows about pitching is he can't hit it." That said, Bailey looked like he typically does. The ball came out of hand easy and fairly exploded to the plate.

A couple of other guys threw off the mound also -- Matt Belisle, Brian Shackelford among them. That was pretty much the limit of baseball activities. Today is the last day with no official activity. The first workout is tomorrow at 12:30 p.m.

By the way, Belisle said he would very much would like to win that fifth starter spot. Based on stuff, I'd make him the favorite -- unless, of course, the Reds allow Bailey to truly compete for the spot.

Aside from the weather, the other popular topic of the diary last year was traffic. Sarasota traffic is bad, worse or the worst depending on the time of day. Anyway, I'm driving back to Siesta Key after work yesterday and I notice a small SUV about six inches off the bumper of the slow-moving white hatchback. The driver of the SUV is honking the horn wildly to speed along the hatchback. Riding in the hatchback are four older people, undoubtedly looking for the turnoff for the early-bird special. The road-raging driver of the SUV is a woman. She's older than me, and I'm a card-carrying member AARP (well, I really don't carry the card and I didn't do whatever you have to do activate it, but I do have one). Anyway, when the horn-blowing doesn't work, the white-haired women pulls in front of the hatchback and STOPS. In the left lane of Route 41 at 5:13 p.m. That's the way to get traffic moving. Welcome to Florida, where 55-year-olds get angry with old people.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Greetings from Sarasota

Greetings from the Hal McCoy Press Room at the lovely Ed Smith Stadium Complex.

So begins my blog. During spring training, it's going to be a lot like last year's diary. What it will be once the season starts remains to be seen.

Bernie Stowe, the clubhouse legend, opened the door and greeted me at the Ed. Bernie's sporting a goatee, a major violation of the club's old facial hair policy. "Marge is turning over in her grave," he said.

The other legend around here, Joe Nuxhall, is in Sarasota Memorial Hospital as you've likely heard by now. Bernie, PR Rob Butcher and Marty Brennaman all visited Nuxie this morning. They report he's in good spirits. He was doing gags and laughing. That's a good sign. Get well, Nuxie.

Spoke to Ken Griffey Jr. He was a little evasive about how he broke his hand. The only thing he said for sure is he didn't break it in motorcycle accident. He says he'll be ready to go when things start -- pending an examination by Dr. Tim Kremchek.

Homer Bailey arrived today. No, I haven't seen him throw yet. Most of the baseball activity was over when I got here at noon.

We've got to have a little weather talk here. A woman in front of me in line at McDonald's (I needed food quickly) was shivering in her heavy fleece jacket and saying how cold it was. The temperature on rented Monte Carlo read a bone-chilling 51 degrees. It think it was 52 in my kitchen this morning as I got ready to go airport.

Another big difference between Sarasota and Cincinnati: On my drive to ballpark at home, I don't pass a dog track or a Cheetah's, as I did on the way from the airport to the Ed. By the way, tonight's Service Personnel Night at Cheetah's. The track had a good crowd for the matinee. Haven't been to track here in a couple years. Last time, I went my friend, Mike, had a unfortunate misunderstanding with a track worker. But, as far as I know, we're free to come back.


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