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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Saturday, March 31, 2007

I'm back

Headed back to Cincinnati through Atlanta earlier today. Had a bit of a delay. Seems the MD 88 we were going to take from the ATL to CVG got struck by lightning coming out of Houston. We had to switch planes. I’ll take a delay for that reason. Delta made the switch and we were only one hour late. Kudos to my favorite airline. I’m safe and sound in Westwood.

Observed an interesting phenomenon in the Atlanta airport. Saw several people stop Kevin Willis get their pictures with him. That spurred more people to ask if they could do the same. Now here’s the interesting part: The secondary picture requesters didn’t know if the guy was Willis or the man in the moon. I can imagine them showing their friends: “Look, I got my picture taken with this tall guy. I’m not sure who he is, but I think he’s famous.”

I once saw Evander Holyfield in the Atlanta airport. Didn’t get my picture taken with him. He’s not that tall.

But that’s not why you called. I’m not working the game in Dayton. Special K is on the scene. Heard Eric Milton was scatched with a bad back. If he can't go for his regular season start, does Bobby Livington get the start? Or do they go with Matt Belisle and Kirk Saarloos in the rotation. We shall see.

I did write my Reds Insider for the Sunday paper. My prediction: 82-80. That’s based on feeling the pitching will be better. The young arms Jared Burton, Jon Coutlangus and Livingston really upgrade the depth. Add in the Josh Hamilton factor and better defense. Still, I’m not sure they’ll score enough runs. But 82-80 doesn’t exactly put me way out on a limb. Vegas line I saw had the over-under at 77 wins. That’s up from 74 last year. Tip of the day: Go with bookies over media prognosticators on all matters sports.

The Reds Opening Day section is also in the Sunday’s paper. The theme is Duos. I wrote about Arroyo-Harang, Griffey-Dunn, Weathers-Stanton, Narron-Krivsky and Hamilton-Johnny Narron. Kevin Kelly wrote about Gonzalez-Phillips, Bailey-Bruce, Hatteberg-Conine and Freel-the training staff. E-man (John Erardi) wrote for the Brennamans and famous pairs in Reds history. Heard it’s a nice section. Lots of bells and whistles and graphics. Jim Pleshinger, the sports design guru, put it together. A cast of dozens had a hand in it.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Reds 5, Rays 4

The Reds beat Tampa Bay 5-4 in their spring Florida finale.

The Reds are 18-10 this spring. Spring records don't mean a lot. But going into today, the two World Series teams -- Detroit (20-10) and St. Louis (15-10) -- were among the top five teams in spring standings.

The Reds exploded -- not literally of course -- for five runs in the first off Tampa Bay's Jae Seo.

Ryan Freel singled. Adam Dunn popped out bunting (maybe the No. 2 spot is going to his head). Brandon Phillips singled. Ken Griffey Jr. singled in Freel. Juan Castro, in the lineup because Edwin Encarnacion is sick, doubled in Phillips and Griffey. Scott Hatteburg doubled in Casto. Alex Gonzalez singled in Hatteberg. Chad Moeller then mercifully ended the inning by grounding into a double play.

Matt Belisle started and went 2 2/3 innings. He allowed three runs on five hits. Kirk Saarloos followed and pitched 2 1/3 innings of one-hit ball. Rheal Cormier allowed the other run. His ERA is up 5.62 this spring.

Narron said afterward that they still haven't made a call on the fifth starter. Still, think it's going to be Belisle.

Jared Burton only needed five pitches to finish the ninth for his third save of the spring.

The game drew 5,423. The club drew 87,344 for 15 dates. It was the second highest total since the club moved to Sarasota. The Reds drew 89,410 in the 2000, Griffey's first year.

My man Marc Lancaster made the trip over for the Tampa Trib. The Rays cut three guys before the game and are going to cut three after the game. They've played six in a row on the road. And they open the season in Yankee Stadium. Ouch. One of the best things about covering the Reds is you always open at home.

This just in . . . Hopper to the DL

Outfielder Norris Hopper will not be coming north with the Reds.

"He might be DLed," Jerry Narron said.

Does that mean Chad Moeller gets the last spot for a position player?

"He's got a good chance,"Narron said.

Hopper will go on the DL and stay here to rehab. Dewayne Wise also make the trip to Dayton, so there a chance he could make it if the Reds decide they need an outfielder. Remember, Ryan Freel hasn't played since he hit the wall in Clearwater. He is in the lineup today.

The call on who is fifth starter -- Matt Belisle or Kirk Saarloos -- will probably be announced Sunday. Both are pitching today. Saarloos was listed as the starter for the last couple of days. But Belisle is actually going to start. Read into that what you will.

There's definitely a get-away day feel here. The bags are packed. Players wore suits in. The media contingent is down to me and Gary Schatz. I'm flying out Saturday morning. I made my reservations before the game in Dunedin became at Triple-A game. I tried to get out later today. Delta would change my flight for only $390. That Gold Medallion status really carries some weight, eh?

It seems like about a year ago that camp opened. Driving in, I had the pleasant realization that I won't drive in rush hour more than a handful times over the next six months. People are in bit of hurry and a bit stressed on their commute.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Game: Twins 10, Reds 2

The Twins beat the Reds 10-2 at the Ed.

Bronson Arroyo went five innings, allowing three runs on seven hits. He walked one and struck out one. He ends the spring with a 2.38 ERA.

After Jon Coutlangus pitched a scoreless sixth, Brandon Phillips cut it to 3-2 with his sixth home run of the spring -- a two-run shot in the bottom of the inning.

Todd Coffey gave up two runs in the seventh -- one earned. Those were the first runs he allowed this spring. Dustin Hermanson allowed two runs in the eighth -- both unearned. Derrick Lutz, the 19th-round pick in last year's draft, gave up three in the ninth.

Jay Bruce hit a Pete Rose double in the ninth. He hit a line drive to the first base side of the second, rounded first full speed and was easily safe.

On the moves

Now, that I've had a little time to digest all that happened. Two things:

--You've got to feel awful for Chris Denorfia.

--And the fact that Jon Coutlangus is still on the roster tells me they really are trying to trade Rheal Cormier. Coutlangus performance against Philadelphia was big-time. When you're trying to win a job and they bring you in to face Chase Utley and Ryan Howard with the bases loaded, that's pressure. Coutlangus two strikeouts spoke volumes.

Breaking news

Lots of it. Jery Narron and Wayne Krivsky just announced the following:

--Chris Denorfia needs "Tommy John" surgery.

--Bobby Livingston and and Gary Majewski were optioned to Louisville.

--Jeff Keppinger, Bill Bray,Elizardo Ramirez and Jerry Gil will go on the DL and will rehab in the Florida.

--Jerry Gil and Eddie Guardado will go on the DL and come north with the team.

--Either Matt Belisle or Kirk Saarloos will be the fifth starter.

--The last position player will be Norris Hopper or Chad Moeller.

--The final bullpen spot will go to one of these three: Right-handers Victor Santos and Jared Burton and left-hander Jon Coutlangus.

The moves begin

Just walked up to Gary Majewski to ask him about something else. "I just got optioned," he said. "I'll get you after I make this phone call."

More moves are coming.

Majewski was cool with being optioned rather than put on the DL.

"I have an option," he said. "That's their right."

He finished up his chat with the writers by saying, "I'll you guys in about a month." He said he feels great but has to build the stamina to go back-to-back days.

It's winding down

Night game tonight, so I'm coming to you from the Panera on Route 41. I'm sure there are transactions coming today. The Reds are about 27 hours from breaking camp and they still have 34 healthy (or relatively healthy) players on the roster.

Wayne Krivsky said yesterday they might put some guys on the DL before the day was over. They didn't. Elizardo Ramirez and Jerry Gil are definitely headed there -- unless they are healthy enough to option. You can't option an injured player in most circumstances. Got to think Bill Bray and Gary Majewski will join them on the DL. That leaves 30. To get the final roster:

Pick two out of the this group: Matt Belisle, Bobby Livingston, Jon Coutlangus Jared Burton and Victor Santos.

Pick one out of this group: Chris Denorfia, Norris Hopper and Chad Moeller.

Denorfia and Hopper have to show they're healthy. Santos told me a week or so ago that he would go to Triple-A. But that was five or six scoreless innings ago.

My guess: Belisle, Burton and Denorfia, although I wouldn't be shocked if it's Moeller over Denorfia.

I still think you'll see Eric Milton in rotation, probably in the fifth spot. I cannot fault the Reds for doing that. Milton was 8-7 with a 4.85 ERA before that awful start in Chicago last year. One he shouldn't have made because of his elbow. Livingston's pitched great in camp. But he has zero big league wins.

Had to interrupt the post to do an interview with WVXU. Should air Sunday. We're going to do them on semi-regular basis during the season.

My wife informs me that my blog picture appeared in the paper today. That's not good news for me. She laughed about the "Hands on the hips. Model look." I've got a lot of friends who I'm sure never went to blog. I'm going to hear it now.

One last Florida old person story: I'm standing in line at Panera, a rather long line I might add, when the old guy behind me is overwhelmed by curiosity about the new bagel. So much so, that he ignores the accepted rules of lines and jumps in front of me. No problem. I had plenty of time. I was happy to see that the prospect of ordering a Trail Mix bagel could make a 90-year-old so happy.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Reds 6, Pirates 3

The Reds beat the Pirates 6-3 at the Ed.

Reds tied it on back-to-back homers from Adam Dunn and Edwin Encarnacion in the sixth . Dunn went to opposite way for his fifth. East Eddie went out to center for his third. Chad Moeller hit a two-run double in the seventh. Dunn’s hitting .400. Encarnacion .318, including .458 over the last seven games.

Aaron Harang had another so-so outing. He gave up one in the second, one in the third and one in the fifth.

His line: 5 IP, 10 hits, 3 runs, 3 earned runs, no walks, 2 Ks.

His spring hasn't any better than Eric Milton's. Harang's ERA is 6.66. He's allowed 46 hits in 25 2/3 innings. He did strike out 22 and walked only two.

The difference is he was 16-11 with a 3.76 ERA last year. Milton was 8-8 with a 5.19 ERA.

Harang's a hard guy to read. He's never too higth or low. But he hasn't seemed too concerned or frustrated before today.

The Reds's first run came on Ken Griffey Jr.'s first RBI on the spring. A nice line drive into right with runners at first and third.

Options and Milton

Rob Butcher sent this out in order to clarify the option rule. Guess there's been talk aobut optioning Eric Milton. You can't do it:

PLAYER OPTIONS: Players in camp on the 40-man roster with minor league options remaining include pitchers Matt Belisle, Bill Bray, Jared Burton, Todd Coffey, Rheal Cormier, Jon Coutlangus, Aaron Harang, Bobby Livingston, Kyle Lohse, Gary Majewski, Eric Milton, Elizardo Ramirez, Kirk Saarloos and Mike Stanton; infielders Edwin Encarnacion, Jerry Gil, Alex Gonzalez and Jeff Keppinger; and outfielders Jeff Conine, Chris Denorfia, Adam Dunn, Ken Griffey Jr., Josh Hamilton and Norris Hopper. Any player with more than 5 years of Major League service must accept an option (Cormier, Lohse, Milton, Stanton, Conine, Dunn, Griffey). As Rule 5 draftees, Hamilton and Burton can't be optioned until they first clear outright waivers, then they must be offered back to their original teams (Devil Rays and Athletics, respectively). Only if their original teams refuse to take them back can the Reds option or outright them.

I think, based on what Jerry Narron said yesterday, that Milton will be slid into the fifth starter spot.

Freel's OK, well sort of

Ryan Freel said he could play today, despite some very sore ribs on the left side, some more soreness near his scapula on the right side, and some nasty road rash on his left arm.

All was a result of the spectacular catch he made last night in Clearwater.

Freel has been told. "I told him to try to play at 80 percent," Jerry Narron said. "Maybe he wasn't going 100 percent. If he was going 100 percent, he would have really gotten hurt."

Freel says he's trying to try less.

"In the back of my mind, I think I should," he said. "But I see a flyball, and I don't think about it."

Freel's lucky. His shoulder hit the padding of wall at full speed. His head hit next. He said he didn't lose consciousness. He stayed in the game but his back began to spasm when he returned to dugout. He was going for x-rays, but it looks like he'll be all right for Opening Day.

I stopped on Starbucks on my way in today. I don't drink coffee. But I needed an iced tea to get going -- day game after a night game and all. The woman working the counter was easily the perkiest person I've seen in years. I was looking for IV line pumping espresso right into her. She thanked me for waiting in line, thanked me for ordering, thanked me for picking up the order. It was like something straight out Saturday Night Live skit.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

In progress: Phillies 6-2, Freel crashes, he's OK

The Phillies beat the Reds 6-2 in Clearwater.

The Phillies scored three runs off former Phil Rheal Cormier in the seventh. His ERA went from 1.50 to 5.14 with the outing. Dustin Hermanson gave up another run in the eighth.

Before the Cormier blow up, Jon Coutlangus made a very good case for himself.

Edwin Encarnacion hit a two-run homer to give the Reds the lead in the second. Kyle Lohse gave up a pair of solo shots to allow Philly to tie it.

Lohse went 4 1/3 innings, allowing the two runs on five hits. He walked one and struck out four. Coutlangus came in and struck out Chase Utley and Ryan Howard to leave the bases loaded.

The game had a scary moment early. Ryan Freel made an absolutely spectacular catch of a Aaron Rowand drive into left-center in the first. But Freel hit the wall very hard -- head first. Jerry Narron and the trainer came out. Freel was down for about two minutes before walking back to his position and throwing the ball in. He stayed in the game for the rest of the inning. The report is he has mid-right back spasms. He was sent back to Sarasota for treatment. You've got to love Freel's hustle but that's not a smart play six days before Opening Day.

Ken Griffey Jr. laid down a perfect bunt against the shift in the second. Encarnacion hit Jamie Moyer's next pitch out to left.

Lohse gave up a home run to Rod Barajas in the third and another to Pat Burrell in the fourth.

Lohse allowed a walk, a sacrifice, a single and hit batter in the fifth. The Reds brought on left-hander Coutlangus for a major test. He got Utley on a called third strike. He went 3-0 Howard. Check swing strike. Foul back. Called third strike.

A don't know if Coutlangus makes the team, but he certainly helped himself with those two Ks.

It's Harang, Arroyo and . . .

In a most anticlimactic announcement of spring, Jerry Narron said that Aaron Harang will be the Opening Day starter. It was pretty clear that that would be the case when the Reds set up the spring rotation in early March.

Harang will become the first pitcher to start back-to-back openers for the Reds since Pete Harnisch in 2000 and 2001.

Harang isn't here in Clearwater But Narron said when he told him yesterday, "He was pretty excited -- for Aaron Harang."

As for the Reds of rotation, Narron said: "It's Harang and (Bronson) Arroyo . . . "

It has been Harang, Arroyo, Eric Milton and Kyle Lohse all spring. But it sounds like that could be tinkered with.

From Brighthouse Field, let a new debate begin

Brighthouse -- the spring home of the Phillies here in shadow of Rt. 19 -- is truly a gem. If the Reds build anything close, it will be a huge upgrade over Ed Smith Stadium.

News flash: Ken Griffey Jr. is in the lineup. Plan was to play him in all the home games. He must be feeling pretty good to make the trip over the big bridge and up Rt. 19, for my money the worst road in the America.

As for the debate, the Eric Milton post struck a nerve. Let me just say the Reds are acutely aware that they're dealing with PR problem. But I don't think they'll eat a $9 million contract to solve it -- at least not out of spring training.

So let's move on.

Two questions for you: Who do you make the fifth starter? Who do you make the closer? I've been pretty clear that I think Matt Belisle will be the fifth starter. I base that on experience and stuff. But Bobby Livingston wouldn't be a bad choice either. Or Kirk Saarloos. I think Dustin Hermanson is going to be the closer. The only question was health and his back hasn't been a problem.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Don't blow up the blog, but . . .

Eric Milton gave up five home runs in six ininngs to the Single-A Pirates. He gave up 11 hits and threw 93 pitches. The wind was blowing out, but it was less than 100 mph.

Milton was none too happy.

How did it go?

"It went."

Were you just geting the ball up?

"I don't know. You can't pitch your game. You can't set anyone up."

But you felt OK?

"Yeah. I threw close to 100 pitches. I got my work in."

You can't put much stock in the spring stats, and Single-A players swing from the heels against a big leaguer, but Milton is becoming PR nightmare for the Reds. Matt Belisle has a 2.08 ERA; Bobby Livingston has a 1.23 ERA and one of them is going to start the year in Triple-A. Milton is 16-23 with 5.89 ERA in two years with the Reds and he's getting a spot on track record.

But $9 million is a lot of eat.

Livingston v. D-Kice a draw; Reds win 5-0

Daisuke Matsuzaka was very good for the Boston Red Sox Monday against the Reds. But Bobby Livingston was as good and a lot more efficient.

The Reds won 5-0. Craig Hansen gave up five runs in the seventh, due a major bout with wildness. He hit Jeff Conine to forced in a run, walked Brandon Phillips and Paul Janish to force in two more. Javy Valentin then doubled in two off Kyle Synder.

The game drew 7,663, a new record for Ed Smith Stadium. The old record was 7,659 in 1992 when the White Sox played here.

All of Japan must have been worried when Ryan Freel walked on five pitches in the first.

But Dice-K got Adam Dunn to fly out on a 3-0 pitch. The wind is really blowing in or the ball might have been in the left-center gap. The Reds didn't hit a ball hard off Dice-K after that.

Matsuzaka was very good: No hits, five walks, six strikeouts in five innings. He is a slow worker.

Bobby Livingston was as good: No runs, one hit, one walk, four strikeouts in five innings. His ERA is down to 1.23 over five games and 14 2/3 innings this spring. Got to like the 12 strikeouts vs. two walks. Don't know if he'll be the fifth starter but he was a pretty good waiver claim.

The media contingent on the field during Red Sox batting practice was about what you'd seen for a first round playoff game. Rob Butcher said he issued 200 credentials. Mind you a lot of those go to TV techs. But Dice-K rolls with a large caravan of media.

Cuts and the Opening Day lineup

The Reds cut outfielder Dewayne Wise, infielders Anderson Machado and Mark Bellhorn and catcher Ryan Jorgensen. All were re-assigned to the minor-league camp.

In Bellhorn's case, he has the option of taking his release. He had a decent spring at the plate -- .250, a home and eight RBI in 40 at-bats. But defensively, he was shaky.

Jerry Narron was impressed with the Jorgensen, but he hasn't been able to play since taking a foul tip in the worst possible place. It was a pretty serious deal. "We just got to get him healthy," Narron said.

Wise is a guy the Reds could go get if they need an outfielder.

The lineup for today: Ryan Freel CF, Adam Dunn LF, Brandon Phillips 2B, Ken Griffey Jr. RF, Edwin Encarnacion 3B, Scott Hatteberg 1B, Alex Gonzalez ss, David Ross C, Bobby Livingston P. That's the Opening Day eight in order.

The roster is down to 34 healthy players.

Speaking of health, Gary Majewski is scheduled to pitch in today's game. My guess is he still starts the year on the DL. That's probably will be the case with Bill Bray, who still can't even toss because of his bad finger.

Here's my roster:

Starting pitchers: Aaron Harang, Bronson Arroyo, Kyle Lohse, Eric Milton and Matt Belisle.

Bullpen: David Weathers, Mike Stanton, Dustin Hermanson, Todd Coffey, Rheal Cormier, Jared Burton and Kirk Saarloos.

Starting 8: Freel, Dunn, Phillips, Griffey, Encarnacion, Hatteberg, Gonzalez, Ross.

Bench: Javy Valentin, Juan Castro, Josh Hamilton, Chris Denorfia and Jeff Conine.

DL: Bray and Majewski.

Cut: Bobby Livingston, Chad Moeller, Jerry Gil, Elizardo Ramirez, Jon Coutlangus, Victor Santos and Norris Hopper.

Big Day II

Arrived at Ed Smith Stadium complex early today, too early. Couldn't help but notice the extra TV trucks. The lights were on at the stadium. When Daisuke Matsuzaka comes to town, he brings his traveling media show.

Rules for the media are posted on the walls of the Hal McCoy Press Room in English and Japanese.

Was purusing the transaction column in USA Today. Lots of former Reds in it. Rockies released Danny Graves. That may be it for him. Orioles sent Rob Bell to the minor league camp; Red Sox did the same with Mike Burns; Yankees sent Ben Kozlowski down; A's sent David Shafer out; Nats sent D'Angelo Jimenez down.

Would guess the Reds will trim the roster a bit today. Will post it if that happens.

On the NCAA pool front: The wife has gone right by me. She's alone in first, having the entire Final Four will do that. I'm back to a tie for eighth. But no one above me has UCLA.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Jays 3, Reds 2

The Reds fell to Blue Jays 3-2 in Dunedin.

Matt Belisle had a decent outing: 4 IP, four hits, 1 walk, 3 Ks. He hadn't pitched in an A game since March 12. He pitched in two minor league games in the interim.

Kirk Saarloos, on the pitchers competing with Belisle for the fifth spot, went three innings, allowing a run on three hits.

"It may go down to day we set the roster," Jerry Narron said of the race for the fifth spot.

My guess is it will be Belisle.

Belisle gave up one in the first. Ex-Red Royce Clayton singled, stole second and scored on Reed Johnson's single up the middle.

Drew Stubbs, the top pick last year, beat out an infield single in the second and then promptly got picked off first. The kid is starting in center today. Speed is the key to his game. No one had a move like Tomo Ohka's in the Pioneer League, is my guess. He would have scored because Josh Hamilton just tripled. He's got serious speed for a 6-3, 235-pound guy.

Belisle gave up another run in the third.

Stubbs got another infield hit in the fifth. He scored eventually on the Edwin Encarnacion's two-out RBI single. The Reds added a run in the sixth.

Rob Butcher figures 70 media members will attend Daisuke Matsuzaka's outing tomorrow at the Ed. Can't wait to see the act. A scout told me the other day that Dice K is something to watch. Ken Griffey Jr. is supposed to play in the game. He didn't play Sunday, as expected.

We're down to one road game this spring. That's a happy, happy day for scribes.

You don't care about this, but it's my blog and I'll write it if want to: My wife and I are two of the three tied for second in the Enquirer pool. She's got Florida winning it all. I've got UCLA. Called my man Flea to make sure we were properly entered. I haven't been in the money since IU won it in '87.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Reds win 7-0; Griffey 2-for-4

The Reds beat the Phillies 7-0 Reds at the Ed in Ken Griffey Jr.'s debut.

Griffey went to 2-for-4 and made a couple of plays in right field. Afterward, he politely declined to speak to reporters.

Bronson Arroyo had a nice outing -- six innings, five hits, no runs, one walk, six strikeouts -- despite not throwing his money pitch, the curveball, once.

"I threw all fastballs and change-ups," Arroyo said. "We were going to try to get by with it and see what happened. We face these guys later in the year."

Brandon Phillips followed Adam's Dunn's three-run shot with a solo shot in the second.
Those are two guys having good springs: Dunn's hitting .439 with four home runs. Phillips' homer was his fifth.

The Reds took a 1-0 lead in the first. Ryan Freel doubled. Dunn's opposite-field single got Freel home. After Phillips bounced into a double play, Griffey singled in his first spring at-bat. Just a nice line drive past short.

In the second, Griffey sent one to the warning track in right. He hit into a double play in the fifth. He doubled in his fourth at-bat and was lifted for a pinch-runner.

Griffey cleanly fielded a single in the second and caught a flyball in the third.

Chad Moeller also homered. Phillips and Edwin Encarnacion each went 3-for-4. Phillips in hitting .370. Encarnacion's up to .296. Those two are key to making the lineup work.

The big day: Griffey's playing

Ken Griffey Jr. is in the lineup and in right field for today's game with the Philadelphia Phillies.

"I asked if he was ready and he said he was ready," Reds manager Jerry Narron said.

Griffey will get two or three at-bats today.

By starting today, Griffey could play in as many as eight games before Opening Day, ample time to get ready.

"We'll see how he is," Narron said. "We'll see on the wrist responds. He won't play in them all. He'll in as many as possible."

Narron didn't think the transition from center field to right field would be a big hurdle.

"If you can play, you can play (anywhere) if you're a good outfielder," Narron said.

Griffey missed the first 22 games of spring while recovering from a broken hand suffered in a December accident.

The lineup
Ryan Freel CF
Adam Dunn LF
Brandon Phillips 2B
Griffey RF
Edwin Encarnacion 3B
Joey Votto 1B
Alex Gonzalez SS
David Ross C
Bronson Arroyo P

Put Scott Hatteberg is Votto's spot and Aaron Harang is Arroyo's, and that could very well be the Opening Day lineup.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Narron on the lineup

Asked Jerry Narron about the lineup before the game. Basically, he's leading toward going to bat the left-handers second, fourth and sixth. Brandon Phillips will likely be third, Edwin Encarnacion fifth. (Sounds like Josh Hamilton will go in Ken Griffey Jr.'s spot if Griffey on the DL).

Hasn't decided where the lefties -- Griffey, Adam Dunn and Scott Hatteberg -- will hit. Only thing absolutely set is Ryan Freel will hit leadoff.

There are a lot of possibilities:

Griffey Jr.
David Ross
Alex Gonzalez



Actually, Narron said he hasn't decided whether Ross or Gonzalez would be seventh or eighth. I put Ross eighth, so as not to upset the guy who posts comments about his .292 career on-base percentage.

Rays 15, Reds 1

Ugly, ugly night in old St. Pete. Devils Rays beat the Reds 15-1.

The Reds took a 1-0 lead in the first on Josh Hamilton's RBI groundout. Then it was all down hill for the Redslegs.

Aaron Harang gave up five hits in the span of six batters in the second inning -- all were shots --and the Rays scored four runs. Harang settled down and put up zeros in the third, fourth and fifth. The Rays scored two in the sixth.

"He got his pitch count to 90-some pitches," Jerry Narron said. "He gave us four good innings. He got some balls in the middle of plate in the second, then he probably got a little tired in the sixth."

It was a weird, wacky game after Harang left. Home plate umpire Marty Foster was hit in the head on the follow through of Mark Bellhorn's swing in the seventh. After he left the game, first base ump Eric Cooper called balls and strikes from behind the pitcher's mound for an inning.

Jared Burton gave up two runs in the seventh.

Jon Coutlangus faced six batters in the eighth and only retired one -- two walks, two hits and an error. (The error was Anderson Machado's his fifth of the spring in 16 games). Wes Wilkerson replaced Coutlangus. He got an out, walked a batter and gave up a three-run homer to Jonny Gomes. Wilkerson, 30-year-old non-roster right-hander, was ejected after he threw inside to Shawn Riggins. Both benches semi-cleared.

Order was restored. Mike Flannery got the final out. Mercifully, the bottom of ninth with a 1-2-3 inning.

I love night games and other musings

The night game against the Rays in St. Pete allowed me to sleep to nearly 10 and watch the end of the Ohio State game. Buckeyes are leading a charmed life. That's what it takes to win it all most years. My wife and I are tied for eighth out of 117 in Enquirer pool. It's a fluke in my case; she's in the race every year. I've got UCLA winning it all. Don't know why. Sidney Wicks graduated, didn't he?

Anyway, just returned from the Broken Egg. Rode the bike with the ET basket, by the way. The sampler -- egg over easy, turkey sausage was very good, thank you -- but the wait was priceless. I'm sitting on the little bench reading the USA Today. A women walks up the guy next and says: "Milt, who is Dick Vitale? Some kind of basketball coach or something?" Milt (not his real name, but the story sounds better this way): "I don't know. I think he used to be."

Reminded me of that the whole world doesn't revolve around sports. Early in my career, I'd be all worked up about some story, and the late, great Bill Ford would remind me: "One billion Chinese don't care" or words to that affect.

Back to baseball: Reader Mike reminds me to remind you that Saturday's and Monday's games are on FSN.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Reds walk off with 8-7 win

Edwin Encarnacion's gapper scored Enrique Cruz, who doubled, in the bottom of the ninth to lift the Reds over the Yankees 8-7 at the Ed Smith.

It was Reds' second walk-off win on the spring. Encarnacion was bribed into getting the hit. Jerry Narron promised EE he didn't have to go to St. Pete today, if he got a hit to end the game. Talk about clutch.

The Reds are beat up. Narron talked about resting guys the next few days. The "B" squad will be in St. Pete Friday night for the Rays game.

In progress: Yankees 6, Reds 2

Yankess lead the Reds 6-3 at soldout Ed Smith Stadium.

The Yanks scored an unearned run in the second on a Paul Janish error. Kyle Lohse, who had pitched well to that point, walked the first two hitters of the third, and then gave up a first-pitch home run to Bobby Abreu.

Reds loaded the bases in the first on hits from Ryan Freel, Josh Hamilton and Brandon Phillips. But Adam Dunn flied to shallow right, and Edwin Encarnacion hit into a 6-4-3 double play.

Lohse gave up another run in the fourth.

The Reds scored two in the bottom of the fourth on Lohse' bases loaded single.

But Javier Valentin, who scored the first run, left the game after the inning. He pulled up and couldn't score from second on Janish's drive to base of wall earlier in the inning. He has a strained left hamstring. If it's bad at all, Chad Moeller makes the team.

Lohse gave up another homer -- to ARod -- to start the fifth.

Reds scored a run in the fifth. Phillips single, Dunn single. Encarnacion RBI groundout.

Hamilton's motto's must be: .500 or bust. I was talking to a scout about him. "It's no illusion. He's that good. Great, gutsy pick by the Reds. He'll cool off. But him cooled off is better than some guys red hot."

Roster prediction (update version)

This could influence debate on the roster previously: Lynn Henning of the Detroit News wrote a column about the Tigers looking for a left-handed reliever. He said in part, "The Reds will no doubt take calls concerning Rheal Cormier, who next month turns 40. Whether the Tigers are interested, or are inclined to part with Cincinnati's asking price, are open questions."

I had to do a projected roster and starting lineup for a notes network, here it is:

Ryan Freel CF
Brandon Phillips 2B
Ken GriffeyJr. RF
Adam Dunn LF
Edwin Encarnacion 3B
Scott Hatteberg/Jeff Conine 1B
Alex Gonzalez SS
David Ross C

Rotation: Aaron Harang, Bronson Arroyo, Eric Milton, Kyle Lohse, Matt Belisle

Bullpen: Dustin Hermanson, David Weathers, Mike Stanton, Bill Bray, Todd Coffey, Rheal Cormier, Kirk Saarloos

Unless they DL or trade someone to get Jared Burton on.

Extras: Javy Valentin, Chris Denorfia, Juan Castro, Josh Hamilton

Also: Baseball America's next issue will rate the Reds' system 12th best in baseball, up from 26th a year ago.

Non-Griffey post

The Reds are hurting. Scott Hatteberg scratched from today's lineup with the Yankees with a tender groin muscle. Juan Castro is out with a sore arm. Paul Janish was brought up from the minor league camp to play short. Javy Valentin is playing first. Jeff Conine left camp to attend the funeral of his father-in-law. Bubba Crosby's still dealing with calf strain. Jerry Gil has a sore arm. And Norris Hopper has the bad heel.

On the good news front: Bill Bray said his shoulder was fine in a 1-2-3 inning that he threw in a minor league game yesterday. Gary Majewski was OK in his outing, but he's still looking at starting the year on the DL.

The Yankees brought Derek Jeter, Bobby Abreu, Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi, Jorge Posado and Robinson Cano. Not bad at all. It'll be a good test for Kyle Lohse. He faced the Rex Sox "A" lineup last time out.

Another day on the Griffey watch

Just witnessed a gaggle of reporters around Ken Griffey Jr. Joe Kay from AP arrived in camp. Jayson Stark from ESPN is here too. The re-enforcements didn't get much more out of Griffey than I did yesterday.

The interesting thing was Jerry Narron said he was going to check with Griffey before posting a lineup. The lineup has since been posted with no Griffey.

Griffey was cordial, but hardly expansive. From my notes:

"When I feel like I can play, I'll go out there."

Still in pain as far as the hand? "What do you think, if I haven't played?"

On the switch to right: "Obviously, I knew a month ago. It didn't really matter how I felt."

Repeat from yesterday: "It's not a big deal. You guys are making it a big deal."

On the switch to right, too: "It's been discussed behind closed doors. It's going to stay that way."

On playing right? "I don't know. I've never done it."

On playing center: “You never know. I might play it again.”

Read what you want into that last one. Griffey is saying all the right things now. But believe me, this was a big deal. And a lot went on behind the scenes before Narron said point-blank they were going make the switch.

As for when he plays, obviously, he's close. A factor now is if they don't play him the last 10 days of spring training in an "A" game, he can be put on the DL retroactively, meaning he could play in the sixth of the season.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Final: Twins 5, Reds 3

The game ended up 5-3. The pitching was very good after Milton left. Jared Burton, Jon Coutlangus and Todd Coffey all threw scoreless innings. Coutlangus' 1-2-3 to heart of Twin lineup had Jerry Narron nearly gushing about him. He'll pitch for the Reds this season, probably just not at the start, unless Bill Bray's shoulder isn't sound. Josh Hamilton had a hit, an RBI and a walk; he's at .476 after 42 at-bats. Ryan Freel is OK. He came out in the fourth, but the plan was to get him three at-bats. He hadn't played in nine days because of the tight hamstring. Edwin Encarnacion had two hits. He's up to .261. Narron is not happy with the defensive lapses lately.

Twins 5, Reds 3

It didn't stay tied long. Milton gave up three straight hits to start the bottom of the third, one of them a run-scoring single. He got a double-play ball to get out of it, but Juan Castro threw wildly to first. It's 5-3. Just got an e-mail this e-mail W. Jay: "What are the chances the Reds get rid of Milton and keep Sarloos and Belisle in the starting rotation? His spring numbers are horrible and he's a flyball pitcher in a home run hitters' park. I know his contract is huge, but if the Reds are serious about competing they need to field the best team." It's doubtful that they'd do it before the season. But I don't think Milton will last long if he struggles once the season starts. For what's it's worth, Bob Castellini is watching this outing. Milton went five inings -- he was good in the fourth and fifth -- allowing five runs (four earned) on eight hits. Overall, he's given up 23 hits and three home runs in 13 2/3 innings this spring.

Reds 3, Twins 3

The Reds and Twins are tied, 3-3 in the third in the Fort Myers. Eric Milton gave up a two-run homer in the first. Not having a very good spring, is he? Center fielder Ryan Freel misplayed a flyball into an RBI triple in the in the second. Nice timing, eh? Wonder if Junior was listening back in Sarasota. The Reds tied it in third: Freel walk, singles by Scott Hatteberg and Edwin Encarnacion. RBI groundout from Josh Hamilton. Two-run single from Javy Valentin.

Wilson released; Griffey on the move

The Reds released Paul Wilson today, possibly ending his career.

"I'm not sure what I'm going to do," Wilson said. "I don't know."

Wilson spent most of the last two years trying to come back from shoulder surgery. He was 1-0 with an 8.10 ERA this spring. He was not given the option of going to Triple-A with the Reds.

It's truly a sad day in the clubhouse when a guy as classy as Wilson gets released. He was great with the media -- win or lose -- a great teammate and a favorite of the clubhouse people and the training staff.

I said I was sorry it ended like this. "No worries," he said.

GRIFFEY UPDATE: Ken Griffey Jr. said this about the move to right field: "It's not a big deal. You're the only one making a big deal out of it."

Asked if he'd be able to get on the field for a game this week, he said: "We'll see."

I said I thought it was a pretty big deal when a 10-time Gold Glove center fielder was moved to a different position. You've got to commend him for not making a stink about it.

HOPPER HOPPING: Norris Hopper's heal is very sore. He hurt it running into the fence in Lakeland. His spikes got caught in the padding and he landed on the heal. He was in a protective boot. He's going to miss five to seven days. That probably means Chris Denorfia makes the club if they take a right-handed-hitting, extra outfielder.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Off day and other things

If ever I needed a day off, it's today. And I've got one -- sort of. The Reds don't play. Still have to write something Reds' related. I'm not sure exactly what it will be. The Reds did re-assign Paul Janish to the minor league camp.

I've been tossing around the Ken Griffey Jr. thing in my mind since Jerry Narron's announcement. Here's what we know:

--Narron has made a pretty bold move. My guess is it's a move no other manager in the Griffey Era had the authority to make. Narron spent a lot of time talking to Jim Leyland before Monday's game. This is a move Leyland would make in a heartbeat. I'm sure the subject of Leyland's handling of Barry Bonds in the early days came up.

--The ball is in Griffey's court. How he reacts to this will shape his image in Cincinnati for the long term. If he says, "Whatever's best for team, I'm OK with it," he'll look very good. If he complains about the move, he's going to look bad. My guess is he won't talk about it.

--Josh Hamilton was a huge factor in the Reds forcing the issue. They think he can play right or center well enough to cover for Griffey and Ryan Freel. Freel is about as injury prone as Griffey.

--Griffey's going to have to get in the lineup this week to be on the active roster on Opening Day. The hand may prevent him from doing that.

I'm going to be on radio with Lance McAlister at 3:20 today. It will be good to get the talk show callers' take from him.

One note on yesterday. All that Griffey-to-right-field stuff came after the game in Lakeland. So I wrote it up, got in the car and called the office about the change of plans. Was informed that my Reds notes had not landed. Then I called the wife about dinner plans. Then the office called back and wanted another story for the sports cover because Griffey was going on the front page. In short, I was thoroughly distracted. Distracted enough that I failed to remember I was woefully low on gas. The Mighty Monte Carlo died at 80 in the left lane of I-75. I managed to get it to the side of the road -- the power steering goes out when the engine stalls -- and coast most of the way to the exit. I was planning to run before dinner, so my new route was to the nearest gas station and back. Took about 30 minutes, including the purchase of a $6.99 one-gallon, plastic gas container. Felt like an idiot every step of the way. By the end, a tired, sweaty idiot.

The story has a happy ending. The meal at Barnacle Bill's was delightful. Grouper Katrina. Laura had a lobster bigger than her head and about the same price as my first car. I could eat Grouper Katrina every night. Of course, I'd weigh 257 after a month or so.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Tigers 6, Reds 2

The Tigers beat the Reds 6-2 in lovely Lakeland.

Bronson Arroyo's gave up four runs (three earned) on seven hits in 4 2/3 innings.

He was glad to get his ERA above 0.00.

"You don't want to mow through spring," he said. "It was good to pitch out of the stretch, make my body work."

Adam Dunn hit a Kenny Rogers' pitch over the palms trees behind the right field fence for a home run in the fourth. Dunn is hitting .441 with the three homers and eight RBI. Chris Denorfia doubled home the club's other run in the fifth. The Reds only had six hits on the day.

Paul Wilson gave up two runs in the three innings of work. It's looking more and more like Wilson's going to need some time in Triple-A, if he's going to continue his comeback.

Jerry Narron wasn't happy with the two errors -- one by Norris Hopper, another by Edwin Encarnacion.

"We've got to play clean baseball," he said.

Griffey update . . . for real

Jerry Narron said the hope now is that Ken Griffey Jr. will play some time this week. When he does play, it will be in right field.

Griffey basically missed the chance to play in center because he was hurt.

"We would have like to get Junior out there in center," Narron said. "But we're running out of games. We need to get our lineup out there with Ryan Freel in center. I think that gives us the best defense up the middle.

"That's the deciscion I made. It's a decision I didn't take lightly. I talked to other people around baseball."

Narron danced around the right vs. center question before the game. But answered the question after the Reds' 6-3 loss to Detroit.

There was a report on foxsports.com on the right-center thing. Griffey's people have been saying similar things since the Winter Meetings -- that Griffey was willing to make the move, but he would be more willing if the Reds obtained an established center fielder.

I thought there was a chance today would be the day Griffey would play. The Reds are playing in Lakeland, which is 50 miles west of Griffey's offseason home.

Let me ask you this: Are you as tired of reading about Griffey's return as I am of writing about it? I waited a couple of days to ask Narron. It's a legitimate issue, but it's gone on way too long -- for whatever reason.

Big four

Is this a classic or what? Courtesy of the Reds.
Photo by Cincinnati Reds/J. Meric

Salmon, Shackelford optioned

Two more cuts: TODAY'S TRANSACTIONS: Today the Reds optioned to Class AAA Louisville RHP Brad Salmon and LHP Brian Shackelford.

Salmon is a bit of surprise. Shackelford's not. He was fourth on the lefty depth chart, behind Mike Stanton, Rheal Cormier and Bill Bray.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Braves 6, Reds 5

The Reds' ninth-inning rally fell just short, as the Braves win 6-5 at Ed Smith Stadium.

The Reds scored two in the ninth and had the bases loaded with one out. But Mark Bellhorn popped to shallow center. Then Ryan Jorgensen, he of the walkoff RBI single three days ago, struck out to end the game.

Aaron Harang was not very good in his fourth start of the spring. He went five innings, allowing eight hits and four runs (three earned). He struck out nine and did not walk a batter. Kind of an odd line.

He gave up home runs to Jeff Francoeur and Kelly Johnson. Johnson's was wind-aided.

It's early but Harang has given up 28 hits and four home run in the 14 2/3 innings this spring.

Concern? "None," Jerry Narron said.

The hitting stars: David Ross had three hits and an RBI. Paul Janish had two hits and a RBI. Scott Hatteberg doubled in a run.

Brian Shackelford allowed a run in the sixth and Rheal Commier allowed another in the eighth.

The other four

Just was out watching batting practice. One half of the Big Red Machine's starting eight were in attendance. Cesar Geronimo showed up today. Dave Concepcion and George Foster have been in camp for a while. Ken Griffey Sr. came through on his way to a scouting trip.

The reunion made for some fine entertainment. Griffey wields a pretty good needle. To Davey: "You're ass is big enough for three people. It wouldn't fit in that dryer in Chicago anymore."

That's one of the classic Reds stories. Davey climbed in a dryer in Wrigley in an effort to get out of slump. He was none too pleased when somebody turned it on.

Tony Perez, Pete Rose, Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan are the more famous members of the Big Red Machine, but none of the championships would have been won with Geronimo, Griffey, Foster and Concepcion. Griffey was talking about Dan Driessen. It would good to see him in camp as well.

Doug Flynn, Tom Browning and Todd Benzinger have also been in camp. Credit goes to Bob Castellini for bringing the old guard back.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Reds 2, Red Sox 1

Reds beat the Red Sox 2-1 at City of Palms Stadium. My condolences, Muskie fans. I was watching a 12-inch TV that had a slightly fuzzy picture, but that had to be an intentional foul, didn't it?

Back to the regularly scheduled blog:

Kyle Lohse was excellent -- five innings, three hits, no walks, three strikeouts.

Chris Denorfia led off the game with a home run Adam Dunn got the other run in with a two-out single in the third. The Reds don't keep track of average with runners in scoring during the spring. But my guess is Dunn's been very good. Ten of his 13 hits are singles, by the way. Wrote about Dunn for the Sunday paper.

Dustin Hermanson pitched another 1-2-3 innings. The guy works so fast that I've barely seen him pitch. We were talking to Lohse while Hermanson whipped through the sixth. Jon Coutlangus got in a jam worked out it. Jared Burton gave up the run in the eighth. Victor Santos worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his second save. His ERA is still 0.00 after 8 2/3 innings.

My lucky day; Reds lesd 1-0

I've decided to go ahead and keep blogging even though, I was greeted by this e-mail today:

"Attention: Winner,
Congratulations to you as we bring to your notice the result of Euromillion Loteria Español 2007 promotions.We are happy to inform you that your email address have emerged a winner of Five hundred and fifty thousand euro(550, 000.00)Euros.NOTE: to file for your claim, please contact the claim department below on email or phone."

That's a variation on the theme, the usual e-mail schemes involve diamond minds in South Africa.

I'm here at City of Palms Park watching the Reds take on the Red Sox, who are decked out in St. Patrick's Day green. The bases are also green, by the way. It was 65 at game time. That's the coolest it's even been for the a day game in Fort Myers for me.

Chris Denorfia just took Jon Papelbon deep to start the game.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Rained out

The game with the Toronto Blue Jays was rained out. While I'm happy for the afternoon off, I feel bad my buddy, Murph, who drove up from Fort Myers, so son could be a bat boy.
"Is that Murphy's Law or what?"

On refunds:
Fans can exchange today’s ticket stubs for tickets to any of the Reds’ exhibition games scheduled for Sunday vs Atlanta (1:05), March 24 vs the Phillies (1:05), March 28 vs the Pirates (1:05), March 29 vs the Twins (7:05) and March 30 vs the Devil Rays (1:05).

The games Thursday vs the Yankees and on March 26 vs the Red Sox already are sold out.

MyReds not be confused with MySpace

The Reds announced a new program to help season-ticket holders resell tickets, or at least that's what I think it is. Sounds like some good tickets will available for resale. Here's the release from the club:

CINCINNATI - The Cincinnati Reds have launched a new interactive platform called MyReds that gives season ticket holders more control and benefits to their accounts. As part of the MyReds rollout, the club also is introducing Reds Replay, a secondary ticketing platform that allows any fan to purchase tickets posted by full season ticket holders.

Season ticket holders who take advantage of this secure online program will be able to view a list of all their tickets, update account information and to share electronically tickets with friends, family, colleagues and others. Full season tickets holders will have to ability to sell their own tickets to other Reds fans.

“The Reds are delighted to offer this new technology,” said Reds chief operating officer John Allen. “MyReds provides increased value and ease of use for season ticket holders, and Reds Replay creates a convenient, secondary purchase method for all Reds fans. Fans buying through Reds Replay can be certain they are getting a valid game ticket.”

All Reds Replay transactions use electronic ticketing, eliminating the need for mailing or delivering hard tickets. Tickets are delivered via “print at home” technology or may be picked up at the ticket kiosks at Great American Ball Park in advance of or on game day.

The MyReds and Reds Replay programs are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week on reds.com and are sanctioned by the Reds. For more information, contact the MyReds telephone hotline at (513) 765-7300 or email myreds@reds.com.


Cut day (updated version)

It's a cut day. But the big one was Homer Bailey. He took it well.

"I knew coming (to camp) that it was going to happen," he said. "Wayne (Krivsky) said, 'keep doing what you're doing. You'll be here when you're ready.'"

Joey Votto was optioned to Triple-A Louisville. Left-hander Michael Gosling, catchers Dan Conway and Ryan Hanigan and Bailey were re-assigned to the minor league camp. Right-handers Kerry Ligtenberg and Brian Meadows were released.

"If Ligtenberg didn't make the team, he was going home," Krivsky said. "Meadows wasn't going to Triple-A either. We did it now to given them a chance to catch on with another team."

"If Homer's case, he needed to get innings," Jerry Narron said. "Votto needed at-bats."

The roster is down to 43 active players.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Game 2: Reds walk off with a win 3-2

Ryan Jorgensen's first of the spring lifted the Reds to a 3-2 win over the Pirates -- walkoff style -- at Ed Smith Stadium.

Anderson Machado walked to leadoff the ninth. He stole second after Paul Janish failed to bunt him over. Chris Denorfia singled to score Machado. Joey Votto walked. With Jorgensen at plate, Damaso Marte threw a wild pitch. Jorgensen, a non-roster catcher, drove the next pitch up the middle for the game-winner.

Left-hander Bobby Livingston started and gave up hits to three of the first four hitters. He settled down somewhat: 3 2/3 innings, 2, runs, 8 hits (ouch!), 1 walk, 4 Ks.

Bubba Crosby left the game with a mild strain of his left calf muscle.

Side note: GM Wayne Krivsky's Duke Blue Devils were the first upset victim of the NCAA Tournament. He might hear it from Marty "Carolina Blue" Brennaman tomorrow. Provided the Heels survive the tilt with Eastern Kentucky.

Back to the Reds, Livingston thinks he's still in the race for the fifth spot.

"I hope so," he said. "I feel like I should be. . . I'm trying to make it tough on Jerry (Narron) and them."

Narron talked about having one of the candidates for the fifth spot follow Bronson Arroyo in Monday's game. Livingston's game.

"If I'm still pitching," he said, "I'm still in the fight."

Jared Burton followed Livingston and struck out Jason Bay to leave inherited runners at first and third. If I were in charge of the Reds, I'd be looking at ways to keep Burton and Brad Salmon. Young, live arms really make bullpens better.

Mark Bellhorn got the a run home with a single in the fifth. Jay Bruce, top prospect, nearly tied it, but Bay came into a make a nice catch of a sinking line drive.

Bullpen was good. Burton, Rheal Cormier, Todd Coffey, Jon Coutlangus and Kerry Ligtenberg all had scoreless outings.

Frank S. E-mailed asking for the spring TV schedule:

March 22 with the NY Yankees is on Fox Sports Net.
March 24 with the Phillies is on Fox Sports Net.
March 26 with the Rex Sox is on Fox Sports Net and ESPN.

Oddly, all are 1:05 p.m. games.

Bruce is starting

Josh Hamilton was scratched from the lineup for Thursday night's game because of his shin splints.

Jay Bruce, the No. 1 pick in 2005, is starting in right field and hitting seventh.

"Awesome," Bruce said.

I agree. Makes another spring game with the Pirates worth watching.

Jerry Narron made to call to use Bruce. "I love watching talented young players play," Narron said.

Game 1: Pirates 13, Reds 1, NCAA talk

Pirates won the first game of the day-night, away-home, split-squad doubleheader 13-1 in Bradenton.

Kirk Saarloos, Mike Stanton and Paul Wilson got lit up. Saarloos gave up five runs on seven hits in four innings. Stanton gave up four runs on five hits in the one inning. And Wilson allowed four runs on eight hits in 2 2/3 innings.

Saarloos gave up a three-run bomb to Humberto Cota.

Wind was blowing out at 10 mph to center. But Saarloos' and Wilson's outing cannot bode well for their chances in the Fifth Starter Sweepstakes. Wilson has an 8.71 ERA this spring. The Reds had six hits. Jay Bruce had one of them in two at-bats.

Most impressive stat: Time of the game, 2:32.

I'm in an NCAA vacuum here. Haven't seen much more than bits and pieces of the NCAA Tourney on the clubhouse sets. But my friend, Dude, sends this along: "Seems like, no in all actuality, there is a Chevy commercial featuring John C. Mellencamp during every break. This is ooouurrr country."

My guess is my buddy, Harley, took a beating in Vegas on Bob Knight's early departure. Went to Vegas for the first weekend of the NCAA's the year before I took this beat. It's an expereince like no other. It's wild to watch big ballrooms of people hang on every play at the end of a 18-point game. A good run at the craps table on the trip earned me the nickname squirrel from the afroementioned Harley.

Hopefully, we get 2:30 game tonight and I'll be able to catch most of the Xavier game.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Reds win 2-1, Arroyo excellent, Bailey perplexed

The Reds beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 2-1 at Ed Smith Stadium.

Bronson Arroyo: 5 IP, 2 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks, 2 Ks. He's the first Red to go five innings. Only needed 60 pitches.

"Bronson was Bronson -- outstanding," Jerry Narron said.

In two outings, Arroyo's gone seven shutout inning, allowed three hits, no walks and struck out five.

"It was good," he said. "I gave my body a nice pounding. . . escalating up to 100 pitches."

He said he's over the flu after struggling with it for five days.

David Weathers gave up a home run to Rocco Baldelli in the sixth.

Homer Bailey pitched the seventh. He hit Ty Wigginton, got a 5-4-3 double play and fooled Akinori Iwanura badly to get a strikeout. Bailey only pitched the one inning. That's probably not a sign that the Reds are considering using him in relief.

“He was scheduled to go an inning,” Narron said.

Bailey seemed a bit surprised by the briefness of his outing. “Your guess is as good as mine,” Bailey said. “I don’t know why. I just work here.”

Alex Gonzalez doubled to lead off the home first. He went to third on Scott Hatteberg's groundout and scored in Brandon Phillips' groundout.

Phillips led off the fourth with an infield single. He stole second (after the Rays had him picked off) and went to third on Adam Dunn's groundout. Edwin Encarnacion got him home with a rocket past third against drawn-in infield.

Josh Hamilton update: Infield hit, groundout, groundout. He's down to .548.

Rays have lost 12 straight. That's not easy to do, spring training or not.

"If Griffey can play. . . "

Jerry Narron was talking about the roster when he said this: "A lot will depend on if (Ken) Griffey can play." He was talking about on Opening Day, not spring training. It's the first time anyone on the Reds talked about the possibility of the Griffey not being ready to start the season. "If it's Match 14 and a guy still can't play. . . " Narron said. "You've got to have some spring training. Hopefully, he'll be able to get out there and play enough." Griffey would not say if he thinks he'll be ready to play by Opening Day. "I'll let you guys know when I'm ready to play," he said. He's not real happy with me over what I wrote Sunday. "If you think I'm that shallow you all need to never talk to me again. That's bull," he said or words to that effect. Griffey hasn't played in a game. He's still recovering from the broken left hand he suffered in December. I wrote that there was possibly more keeping him out than the hand. Apparently, he disputes that.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Reds 6, Yankees 3

Reds beat the Yankees 6-3 at Legends Field. The Reds are 10-2 this spring.

Aaron Harang became the first Reds' starter to pitch more than four innings. His line: 4 2/3 IP, 8 hits, 2 runs, no walks, two strikeouts. It was his best outing of the spring. Three of hits were infield hits.

Brandon Phillips led off the game with a home run, his fourth jack of the spring. "I don't hit jacks," he said. "I hit bombs." He was kidding. "I just try to hit it hard," he said. "I can't help it if they go out."

Josh Hamilton added an RBI single in the first.

Harang gave up infield single to Johnny Damon in the first, then struck out Derek Jeter swinging, Jason Giambi looking, and got ARod to pop out. Not sure who to -- my view of the field is obscured by window frames, a TV and a railing. Harang gave up a pair of runs in the second a weird hop infield single, a double off Adam Dunn's glove in left and sac fly.

Reds retook the lead in the third on Hamilton's sac fly. Jerry Narron was saying before the game that Hamilton hadn't faced anyone like Mussina at his best. Don't know if Mussina's at his best, but Hamilton went 1-for-1 with two RBI against him.

Hamilton ended up 2-for-2. Remember, how Narron said if Hamilton went 0-for-50 he'd still play him. Hamilton could go 0-for from this point to 50 at-bats and he'd still be hitting .320 after 50 ABs.

Harang worked a scoreless third and fourth. He left with two outs and a runner at third in the fifth.

Jon Coutlangus got Giambi to pop to center for the third out.

The Reds added an unearned in the sixth.

Chris Denorfia singled in a run and Norris Hopper hit a sac fly in the ninth.

Brian Meadows gave up a home run to Kevin Thompson in the ninth.


I asked Wayne Krivsky if pitchers like Paul Wilson and Victor Santos have outs in their contracts if they don't make the club out of spring training. Wilson and Santos do.

He didn't want to give me a whole list of who does and doesn't. But it's common with veterans on minor league free agents. I'd guess the same is true of Dustin Hermanson and Brian Meadows. "With Wilson, we'd given him the option of going to Triple-A for month or whatever," Krivsky said.

Had Krivsky look at my projected roster. "Some will be right, some will be wrong." Not exactly high praise.

On the Deck

Spent some time at Daiquiri Deck last night with the night game and all. Never know who you'll run into. Ran into a group of guys from Elder. They, of course, were much younger than me. To Doug, fan of the blog, here's your shout-put.

"Aren't you friends with Mr. Driehaus?," one of them said. "He was my science teacher."

"Yes," I said. "And thanks for making me feel a little older."

Ran into Austin Kearns as I was leaving. The Nats had an off day, so he made the trip over to visit some buddies. He still has a place in Sarasota. He looked good -- thinner than last year. He was, of course, wearing a UK hat. Kearns was a scribe favorite for three reasons: 1) good or bad, he was at his locker and willing to talk after game; 2) he liked to chat up writers on various sports topics; and 3) he returned offseason phone calls.

He said he was happy, doing well with the Nationals.

We talked a bit about the Reds. He said something that made me think. "You guys are covering the biggest story of spring training." He was talking about Josh Hamilton. Being around the club on daily basis, you tend to forget on big the Hamilton story looks from afar.

I did an interview with ESPN Radio early Tuesday evening, and one of the hosts said the same.

But, for the record, I planned on writing about Hamilton for tomorrow's paper before talking to Kearns or ESPN guys.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Roster

Wrote some things for tomorrow's paper on the roster. Here's my 25-man as of the March 12 (we'll look at it on April 1 and laugh):

Rotation: Harang, Arroyo, Lohse, Milton, Belisle.

Bullpen: Weathers, Stanton, Bray, Coffey, Cormier, Hermanson, Saarloos.

Infielders: Castro, Encarnacion, Gonzalez, Phillips, Hatteberg, Conine.

Outfielder: Dunn, Freel, Griffey, Hamilton, Crosby.

Catchers: Ross, Valentin.

That means two guys who hit .340 at Triple-A -- Denorfia and Hopper -- don't make it. It also means a lot of pitchers who pitched well in camp don't make it. The Louisville rotation could be Santos, Livingston, Ramirez, Bailey and Dumatrait.

The next 19 games, could change things a bit. But not a lot of spots are in play.

Reds win 3-0, Freel hurt

Reds beat Blue Jays 3-0 Monday afternoon. Five pitchers combined to throw a two-hitter.

Ryan Freel left the game in the second with a tight right hamstring. He's day-to-day. Sounds pretty minors.

Matt Belisle pitched four innings of one-hit, shutout ball. He struck out three and walked one. If you go strictly on results, he's leading fifth starter race. The only glitch Monday was he nearly had his glove taken off by a Troy Glaus line drive in the first.

The relief pitching wasn't too shabby either. David Weathers and Dustin Hermanson threw 1-2-3 ininngs. Victor Santos pitched two innings of one-hit ball. Jared Burton finished up for the save.

"It's good to see," Narron said. "Everybody trying to earn a spot is throwing well."

Hermanson also made a nice play on the bunt. He got off the mound to field and then made a diving tag. "You're worried about his health then he makes a play like that," Narron siad.

Reds scored one in the first. Freel singled. Brandon Phillips reached on the fielder's choice with Freel safe at second. Adam Dunn lined a single up the middle to score Freel.

Norris Hopper drove in a run with a two-out single in the fourth.

Hopper doubled in another run in the sixth.

Chad Mottola, the Reds first pick back in the Dead Ball Era, is playing right for the Jays. Actually he was picked in 1992. He has 25 games in the majors and over 1,000 in the minors.

Ray Olmedo entered the game in the sixth at shortstop for the Jays. Burton struck out in the ninth.

By the way, Siesta Key was in full spring break mode last night. Cops had a carload of kids pulled over in the parking lot of 7-11. The drum circle crowd had traffic backed up from the Village to Public Beach. Lots of breakers went from the beach to bar to oblivion from 4 to to 7 or so.

Griffey hits

Just saw Ken Griffey Jr. takes some live batting practice off Kyle Loshe. Griffey looked decent. Sent three through middle that would have been hits. No report when Griffey will play in a game.

It's cut day

Some lockers are getting cleaned out this morning.

The cuts: Calvin Medlock and Chris Dickerson optioned to Chattanooga, Phil Dumatrait optioned to Louisville, and Jason Kershner and Tom Shearn re-assigned to minor camp.

"We just feel like we have people in front of them," Jerry Narron said. "They've all done well. We don't have innings."

No shockers. Fifty healthy players in the camp (Jeff Keppinger, Miguel Perez and Eddie Guardado will start the year in the DL).

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Reds win 9-8

The Reds win 9-8, despite themselves. They scored three runs in the eighth -- two-run homer by Juan Castro, RBI single for Norris Hopper -- after the Pirates took at 8-6 lead on four uneaned runs in the top of the inning.

Mark Bellhorn didn't make a very good case for himself by booting a routine groundball that led to the four unearned runs. Bellhorn has looked shaky on defense at second and third. The Reds made four errors on the day, leading five unearned runs.

Josh Hamilton had three more hits, his fourth multi-hit game of the spring. He's hitting .538. He attributes his success to this: "I've been calmer at the plate. Maybe it has something to do with being older."

Brian Shackelford, the pitcher in the eighth when all the runs scored, got the win. Brian Meadows saved it. Other offensive highlights: Ryan Freel 2-3, Edwin Encarnacion, 2-4, RBI, Alex Gonzalez 2-3, 2B, RBI. Pitching: Todd Coffey struck out the side in the seventh. Scoreless innings from Mike Stanton, Bobby Livingston, Meadows. Eric Milton 3 2/3, 7 hits, 4 runs, 3ER, 1 BB, 3 SO. Brad Salmon gave up three runs in 2/3 of an inning.

Reds lead: Deee-fense

Reds took a 4-0 lead over Pittsburgh after one. RBI double from Alex Gonzalez, RBI singles from Jeff Conine, Josh Hamilton and David Ross.

Kevin Kelly's covering today. I'm on Opening Day section duty. But I wanted to make a point about defense and why the Reds invested $14 million in Gonzalez to play short.

Chris Aguila started the second with a smash up the middle. Gonzalez went to his left, went down to his knees to stop it, popped up and threw out Aguila easily. Good enough play to get a star on the old scorebook.

But what happened afterward shows how defense can pay. Milton struck out the next hitter. But Jose Hernandez doubled. Had Aguila reached, he would have scored. Don Kelly followed with a single. If Aguila would have reached, it would have been one out and runners at first and third, instead of two outs. That allowed Milton to pitch around the eighth hitter, then get the pitcher to escape without damage.

If Gonzalez doesn't make the play -- a play Felipe Lopez or Royce Clayton don't make -- it's at least one-run inning and possibly a big inning.

Lopez will probably hit more than Gonzalez, but if he makes enough plays like Sunday's, the Reds will be happy with their investment.

RedHawk Madness

I'm thinking about petitioning my boss, Josh, for a temporary re-assignment to the Miami beat, so I can cover the RedHawks in the Large Dance. Their win over the Akron in the MAC Final was a thing to behold. Two teams playing all out for 40 minutes. Banked 3 at buzzer to win. Controversy.

Congrats to Charlie Coles and his players.

Watched the game at Daiquiri Deck. I was only one of the 300 or so people in the joint paying attention to the game. But I had my own personal flat screen right across the bar as a I enjoyed Florida's Finest Fish sandwich and the game. Watching the tilt without the sound showed just how hard both sides played. One quote from Charlie lifted from enquirer.com shows that he's a guy who gets it:

"We were very fortunate ... what a great night for the RedHawks," Coles said. "It's been so long that we have been to the NCAA Tournament. I was as happy as I thought I would be, but after being happy, I felt very bad for Akron. What a phenomenal team they have. How can you have 26 victories and not hear your name for an at-large (bid). Something is wrong with the system. My heart goes out to Akron because they have been a phenomenal team all year long."

On the Reds front, some of you have asked about cuts. Jerry Narron and Wayne Krivsky met for a half hour this morning. Could see something tomorrow. But keep in mind the club has a split-squad, day-night doubleheader on Thursday.

The lineup is what you might get if the Reds faced a lefty on Opening Day and Ken Griffey Jr. was out:

Freel CF
Gonzalez SS
Encarnacion 3B
Dunn LF
Conine 1B
Phillips 2B
Hamilton RF
Ross C
Milton P

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Wilson's good day; Reds win 5-2

Paul Wilson was as good Saturay as he was bad in his last outing. He pitched three hitless innings in the Reds' 5-2 win over the Cleveland Indians Saturday at Winter Haven.

Wilson's line: 3 innings, no hits, one walk, one strikeout.

Obviously, Wilson looked a lot better than he did in the previous start. He gave up five runs in 2 2/3 innings Monday against Philadelphia. His command was much better. He only walked the one and he struck out one. He walked three and gave up seven hits in that previous outing.

He's back in the race for the fifth starter and very pleased with his day.

“Much better control as far as tempo and my aggressiveness,” Wilson said, “that fine line we talked about last week. You try to run that ball up there and be so aggressive. It kind of worked against me.

“This week I harnessed it a lot better.”

Wilson is trying to make the team after spending nearly two years rehabbing from shoulder surgery. That makes every outing critical.

“Having the team made looses you up a little,” Wilson said in so many words.

Jared Burton, the Rule 5 guy, followed Wilson and allowed a run in the fourth. Kirk Saarloos allowed another in the fifth. Saarloos went three innings and allowed just the one run.

The Reds came back with three in the sixth and two in the seventh. Juan Castro drove in two with a double and Bubba Crosby followed with an RBI single in the sixth. Anderson Machado and Chad Moeller doubled in a runs in the seventh.

Wanted to give a blog shout out to Rick Stowe and boys back in the clubhouse in Sarasota. Tim Hellmann, the clubbie who made the long trip, did a fine job of scouting before the game.

Greeting from Chain of Lakes Park

I'm here in the press box at Chain of Lakes Park coming to you via dial-up. Computer wizard Gary Schatz got his wireless working by changing some settings. I'm not going to risk that. The score from yesterday's game was 7-3 as some you pointed out. I plead guilty to failing to pay attention in the ninth.

I'll up date during the game.

Made it over here in less than two hours, thanks to the light Saturday traffic. My fervent hope is to make back to the Key in time to catch Miami's game in the MAC finals. Charlie Coles is the single favorite coach I've ever covered. It be nice to see him get the Large Dance one more time.

Quick Charlie story: When I was covering the RedHawks one year, Wally Szczerbiak got hurt. Their only other decent scorer was Damon Frierson. But he was playing point because Rob Estes (think that's the right name) was hurt. After a loss, I asked Charlie about someone else playing point, so Frierson could score more. Charlie jumped me. He was pissed off about losing, and he really didn't need my advice on his offense.

I didn't think anything of it. (I had covered UC, so I was used questions being questioned).

Next day, the phone rings, "John, Charles Coles, I want to apologize. I don't want you think I'm a (jerk)." We talked for a few minutes. I told him it was no big deal. Before he hung up, he said he was going to try using someone else at point.

Typical, Charlie. Good luck tonight.

Friday, March 9, 2007

It's over: Tribe, 7-3

Homer Bailey took a beating and the loss. Indians won, 7-3.

Game report
Indians 7, Reds 3: The Reds have lost two straight after going unbeaten in their first seven games.
The arms: Homer Bailey got pounded: 2/3 of an innings, three hits, two walks, five runs. He gave up a two-run homer and a three-run homer. Bronson Arroyo faced the minimum six batters in two innings. He struck out three. Dustin Hermanson worked a perfect inning in his Reds’ debut.
The bats: Jeff Conine doubled in two runs in the fourth.
The rest: The game drew 5,282.
Up next: The Reds make the long roadie to Winter Haven to play the Indians today at 1:05 p.m. Right-hander Paul Wilson faces right-hander Jake Westbrook in what has to be a big start for Wilson.


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