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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Monday, March 31, 2008

One small play, one big difference

Javy Valentin thought the ball he hit in the third might be out. He broke out of the box slowly. The ball hit the base of the fence in right. He ended up with 330-foot single.

Could it have been a double?

"Maybe," Valentin said. "If I run right away, I got an opportunity."

"It's been addressed," Dusty Baker said.

"I apologized," Valentin said. "It's not going to happen again."

The play might not have been the difference in the Reds' 4-2 loss to the Diamondbacks on Opening Day, but it was something Baker won't tolerate. When Brandon Webb was pitching like he was Monday, the margin for error is extremely slim. Valentin's mistake was one glaring mistake that wasn't physical. Edwin Encarnacion's error led to a run. Aaron Harang didn't get a bunt down immediately after Valentin's long single. But those mistakes have nothing to do with effort.

D-Backs 4, Reds 2

The Diamondbacks beat the Reds 4-2.

An unearned run and a late run given up by Jared Burton was difference.

Aaron Harang went six innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on three hits. He walked two and struck out six. Except for five batter stint in the third he was good. He retired the last 10 he faced.


D-Backs 1st: Orlando Hudson reached on Edwin Encarnacion's throwing error, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on Conor Jackson's single.

Reds first: 1-2-3. Brandon Webb struck out Jeff Keppinger and Junior Griffey.

D-Backs 2nd: Perfect inning for Harang, two Ks.

Reds 2nd: They got a runner on via Edwin Encarnacion's two-out walk. But Webb looks sharp.

D-Backs 3rd: Harang struck out Webb, gave up a home run to left to Chris Young, got Hudson to fly out, then gave up a bomb to left-center to Eric Byrnes. Harang walked the next two hitters. But he struck out Mark Reynolds to escape further damage.

Reds 3rd: Javy Valentin hit one to the base of the wall in right to lead off. With Valentin's speed and the short wall it, was long single. Harang struck out trying bunt him over. Corey Patterson flied to short center and Keppinger grounded out.

D-Backs 4th: 1-2-3, quick inning for Harang.

Reds 4th: Griffey walked to start the inning. Brandon Phillips hit a shot to right-center. Young came in to try to cut it off. It got by him and to the wall. Griffey scored easily and Phillips ended up at third with a triple. Adam Dunn’s groundout got Phillips in.

D-Backs 5th: 1-2-3.

Reds 5th: Leadoff single by Harang. Great play by Hudson, great hustle by Harang. DP from Keppinger ended it.

D-Backs 6th: 1-2-3.

Reds 6th: Two-out walk from Dunn.

D-Backs 7th: Jared Burton pitching. He got two quick outs. Then Jeff Salazar turned on a pitch. It stayed just inside the foul pole in the right. Arizona 4, Reds 2.

Reds 7th: Norris Hopper was hit by a pitch with two outs.

D-Backs 8th: 1-2-3 inning for David Weathers.

Reds 8th: 1-2-3, thanks to a nice play by Hudson on Griffey's grounder.

D-Backs 9th: Francisco Cordero gave up a hit on the firdst pitch, then retired the side in order.

There was a 59-minute delay at the start. It was the first rain delay on Opening Day since 2000. The Reds had a three-hour delay that day. The game with the Brewers was declared a 3-3 tie. It was first delay at start since a 17-minute delay in 1991.

Edinson Volquez and Matt Belisle were solid in extended spring games:

Volquez, 7.2ip, 2h, 0r, 0bb, 13k, 93 pitches
Belisle, 6ip, 4h, 1er, 0bb, 2k, 63 pitches

First pitch: A strike

From Todd Portune that is.

The Hamilton County Commissioner, who used on a walker to get on the field, threw a strike to Paul Bako for the cermonial first pitch. Last year's first pitch by Cincinnati mayor Mark Mallory was not quite a strike as you may remember.

All Nuxhall

Every Reds wore a No. 41 jersey with the name "Nuxhall" on the back as the players were introduced.

A fitting tribute.

And a well-kept secret.

Aaron Harang will wear the jersey during the game.

The rest of Reds will take off the jerseys and they will be donated to the Joe Nuxhall Character Education Fund.

3 p.m. start; pregame starts at 2:28

The tarp is off. But there's a lot of water in the outfield.

Gardner claimed by Brewers

Right-hander Richie Gardner was claimed off waivers by the Brewers. That puts the Reds at 40. Gardner, 26, combined to got 11-7 with 3.52 ERA in three stops last year. He was Reds' 2004 minor leaguer of the year. But he had shoulder surgery in 2005.

It's raining

I'd guess we won't start at 2:10. It's pouring. But it is supposed to clear up, which reminds of favorite rain delay story. It was in the late 1980s when the Reds would wait out every rain storm to get games in.

The legendary Bill Ford returned from lunch and asked the slot editor, a former Reds employee: "Why are the still trying to get that game in?"

The slot guy: "Bill, they think it's going to stop."

Bill: "It usually does. The record's 40 days."

The moves

From the Reds:

Today the Reds placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to 3/21, RHP Matt Belisle (right forearm) and SS Alex Gonzalez (left knee) and, retroactive to yesterday, C David Ross (lower back); designated for assignment LHP Mike Stanton and LHP Jon Coutlangus; purchased the contracts of non-roster invitees C Paul Bako (#9), RHP Johnny Cueto (#47), RHP Mike Lincoln (#57), LHP Kent Mercker (#50) and OF Corey Patterson (#23)...another spot on the 40-man roster will be cleared after 1:00 p.m. today.

Coutlangus is a bit of a surprise.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Opening Day lineup

Corey Patterson CF
Jeff Keppinger SS
Ken Griffey Jr. RF
Brandon Phillips 2B
Adam Dunn LF
Edwin Encarnacion 3B
Scott Hatteberg 1B
Javier Valentin C
Aaron Harang P

Valentin or Paul Bako was the only question after Dusty Baker said what he said about Hatteberg.

Also, the Reds brought Mario Soto north with the team to help out with Johnny Cueto and Edinson Volquez. Smart move.

Highlight of the workout was Harang going deep. The fans loved it.

Workouts notes

Dusty Baker said he has a lineup, but it hasn't been posted yet. It sounds like Scott Hatteberg will start at first.

"(The starting first baseman) is whoever's playing that day. Joey Votto has a great upside," Baker said. "But Hatteberg had a great spring. We'll go with matchups. (The seven spot) is an important spot in the lineup. Adam Dunn had an OK spring. Edwin (Encarnacion) struggled."

David Ross wasn't happy to start the year on the DL.

"I didn't expect him to be," Baker said.

Baker was concerned about Ross at the plate.

"Hitting is repetitions," Baker said. "We want him to get off to good start and not repeat last year. If you struggle that creeps into your mind and the fans' minds."

--No moves as far as opening spots on the 40-man. Those might not be announced until tomorrow.

--Looks like the Reds will work out. The rain has let up.

--Johnny Cueto will start Thursday. The Reds can't announced it until he's put on the roster.

--Edinson Volquez and Josh Fogg are throwing in minor league games today. Ryan Freel and Norris Hopper also stayed back to get some at-bats.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Reason for optimism

On Opening Day Eve Eve, we bring you a reason to be optimistic: Last year on the day before Opening Day, the Reds released the guy everyone expected to be their closer, Dustin Hermanson, after he had horrible outing in Dayton.

This year, the closer is Francisco Cordero, who saved 46 games and had a 2.98 ERA the in 2007. The Reds addressed the closer situation by signing Cordero in $46 million in the offseason.

They addressed the set-up situation by deciding to part ways with Mike Stanton, despite owning him $3.5 million. Neither one of those moves guarantees the Reds will win. But it does speak to ownership’s desire to turn things around.

For one day only, we're limiting blog comments to positive. Give a reason you're optimistic about the Reds season. I'm rejecting all negative comments for 24 hours. At 4:22 tomorrow, you can start telling me why the sky is falling again.

Brower, Cabrera, Hairston cut; roster set

The Reds re-assigned RHP Jim Brower, IF/OF Jolbert Cabrera and IF/OF Jerry Hairston Jr. to the minor league camp.

That puts the Reds at 28 healthy players. Matt Belisle will start the year on rehab. Mike Stanton is going to be designated, so you've got 26.

It looks like catcher David Ross (back) will begin the year on the DL.

"We wanted to test to see where he's at," Wayne Krivsky said. "He missed 75 percent of the game."

Norris Hopper missed a couple of days with a death in the family. He's back in Sarasota. He'll be on the 25-man roster.

"We've talked to everybody," Krivsky said. "It won't be official until Monday."

The Reds have to clear spots on the 40-man for Kent Mercker, Paul Bako, Johnny Cueto, Mike Lincoln and Corey Patterson.

Here's the roster:

Starting lineup:
Corey Patterson CF
Jeff Keppinger SS
Ken Griffey Jr. RF
Brandon Phillips 2B
Adam Dunn LF
Edwin Encarnacion 3B
Joey Votto 1B
Paul Bako/Javy Valentin C

Ryan Freel INF/OF
Juan Castro INF
Scott Hatteberg 1B
Norris Hopper OF

Aaron Harang
Bronson Arroyo
Johnny Cueto
Josh Fogg
Edinson Volquez

Francisco Cordero
David Weathers
Todd Coffey
Kent Mercker
Jared Burton
Jeremy Affeldt
Mike Lincoln

DL: SS Alex Gonzalez, C David Ross and P Matt Belisle.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Roster madness

Here is my predicted roster, posted on Feb. 5:

Starting eight
1B Joey Votto
2B Brandon Phillips
SS Alex Gonzalez
3B Edwin Encarnacion
RF Ken Griffey Jr.
CF Jay Bruce
LF Adam Dunn
C David Ross

OF/INF Jeff Keppinger
OF/INF Ryan Freel
OF Norris Hopper
C Javier Valentin
1B Scott Hatteberg

Aaron Harang
Bronson Arroyo
Matt Belisle
Jeremy Affeldt
Homer Bailey

Francisco Cordero
David Weathers
Jared Burton
Bill Bray
Mike Stanton
Todd Coffey
Edinson Volquez

Pretty weak effort on the rotation. I went 2-for-5. Not much better on the bullpen -- 4-for-7. I did much better on the position player. Bruce was the big swing and miss.

Of course, we still don't know for sure what the Opening Day roster will be. The Reds are at 31 less than 24 hours before they board a plane to go north. My guess is they take 26 or 27 and make the final decision Sunday morning. He's my last stab at predicting the final 25-man:

Starting lineup:
Corey Patterson CF
Jeff Keppinger SS
Ken Griffey Jr. RF
Brandon Phillips 2B
Adam Dunn LF
Edwin Encarnacion 3B
Joey Votto 1B
David Ross C

Ryan Freel INF/OF
Juan Castro INF
Scott Hatteberg 1B
Norris Hopper OF
Javy Valentin C

Aaron Harang
Bronson Arroyo
Johnny Cueto
Josh Fogg
Edinson Volquez

Francisco Cordero
David Weathers
Todd Coffey
Kent Mercker
Jared Burton
Jeremy Affeldt
Mike Lincoln

You could see Matt Belisle or Jim Brower make it if the Reds decide they need a long man. I'm also not convinced that Hopper definitely makes it. Jolbert Cabrera has more pop in his bat and can play more positions. Jerry Hairston Jr. is another possibility. I guess three catchers is another possibility.

Reds to cut Stanton

Our man in Florida, John Erardi, reports that the Reds are going to cut Mike Stanton. Bob Castellini has to write a $3.5 million check to do that. Pretty big commitment to trying to win this season.

I've got the bullpen as Francisco Cordero, David Weathers, Jeremy Affeldt, Todd Coffey, Jared Burton, Kent Mercker and Mike Lincoln. That would mean Jim Brower gets cut, and Matt Belisle either goes on the DL or gets cut. There's also possibility that Brower or Belisle stays as the long guy, and Lincoln doesn't make it. Of course, I didn't didn't think they'd cut Stanton, so take those predictions with a grain of salt.

Reds cut 3

The Reds optioned Bill Bray to Louisville, re-assigned Andy Phillips to the minor league camp, and returned Jose Cappellan to the Red Sox.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Freel deal

The reason for the lack of cuts? It could be because the Reds are trying to move Ryan Freel. I've heard calls have gone out to Philadelphia, Minnesota and others.

Master of the World

Bronson Arroyo painted a watercolor Thursday afternoon in a seven-hitting shutout (3 hits, 6 strikeouts) that looked ready for framing and hanging -- if it wasn’t only a spring training game.
But if the purpose of spring training is to get ready for the regular season, color him ready.
“Facing a team I’m not going face in the season, I could go after it like it’s the first game of the (regular) season, and just go 100 percent,” Arroyo said. “Against Houston the other day, there were some guys in there I didn’t want to show everything to.”
He said this is “by far the best I’ve ever felt in the spring. I feel like my body is where it needs to be, and all my stuff’s there and I feel strong.”
“Feeling strong is the main thing for me. I feel like I’ve got a little zip on the fastball to keep guys honest. I know I’m going to throw a decent amount of breaking balls.”
The Reds beat the Twins 5-1 before 6,521 fans at Ed Smith Stadium. Todd Coffey closed out the ninth inning, making it look easy, freezing third-hole hitter Delmon Young for a called third strike and finishing it with back-to-back groundouts.

"Get your peanuts and crackerjack here!"

Today's lineup for the Reds hosting the Twins at Ed Smith Stadium, 1:05 p.m. start:

Corey Patterson, CF
Jeff Keppinger, SS
Ken Griffey Jr., RF
Brandon Phillips, 2B
Adam Dunn, LF
Edwin Encarnacion, 3B
Joey Votto, 1B
David Ross, C
Bronson Arroyo, P

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

David Lee Roth -- back in the saddle

David Ross looked solid in his spring-training debut Wednesday night in the Reds' 6-3 loss in Dunedin, Fla., to the Toronto Blue Jays.
"I felt fine," he said.
"I've felt fine throwing the minor-league games," he said. "I had some guys down there who tried to steal bases. Legs feel good, arm feels good. I thought my arm was going to be the thing that took the longest. My arm responded good. It feels good to be back in a big-league game playing with my teammates and getting the feel of just being out there.
"Being under the lights was good. I hadn't played any games under the lights. That helps out a lot. Just the atmosphere; I had a little Adrenaline pumping."
Ross said that even though he has caught Johnny Cueto and Edinson Volquez in the bullpen, he is anxious to catch them some in spring training games. Bronson Arroyo starts Thursday's day game in Sarasota, and Ross wouldn't likely catch a day game after a night game, anyway.
The starters for Friday's and Saturday's games haven't been announced.
If Cueto and Volquez do any final tuning up, look for Ross to be in there.
"(For a catcher), it usually takes a couple innings just to see how they go," Ross said. "You want them to get in trouble. But yeah, three or four innings just to see what they like to throw in certain situations and see how their rhythm works. Javy (Valentin) and (Paul) Bako have been doing a good job of catching those guys, so maybe they'll start off catching them (in the regular season), I don't know. But they do a good job, too. So, I think we''ll be all right."

"Won't you come home, David Bailey?"

Reds manager Dusty Baker said in his pre-game interview with the writers Wednesday that Homer Bailey “is a catchy name.”
“Everybody knows his name,” the Reds skipper said.
Yes, “Homer Bailey” is indeed a lot catchier than “David Bailey,” which is the 21-year-old pitcher’s given name, Baker was told.
“Is it?” asked Baker, smiling, then nodding his head. ““Is Homer his nickname?”
Yes, he’s called “Homer” after his great-grandfather.
Bailey’s full name is David Dewitt Bailey

Today's lineup

From John Erardi:

Today's lineup vs. the Blue Jays. First pitch 7:05 p.m.

Ryan Freel CF
Jeff Keppinger SS
Scott Hatteberg 1B
Joey Votto DH
Jolbert Cabrera LF
Andy Phillips 3B
Jerry Hairston, RF
Andy Green, 2B
David Ross, C
Pitcher: Aaron Harang

Bailey optioned

The Reds optioned Homer Bailey to Triple-A Louisville. No great surprise. Rotation will be what we've been saying:

Aaron Harang
Bronson Arroyo
Johnny Cueto
Josh Fogg
Edinson Volquez

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Back of bubblegum card keeps you off the bubble

When Reds manager Dusty Baker was asked before Tuesday’s game how much weight he gives to a pitcher’s “most recent outing” when it comes to making the team, he turned the question on its head and talked about the hitters.
“(Looking at) ‘most recent outing’ would make you a frontrunner,” Baker said. “And I ain’t no frontrunner. I don’t look at ‘most recent outing.’ If that that was the case, half the guys wouldn’t (make) the team. If that was the case, (Edwin) Encarnacion wouldn’t even be on the team.
“I look at the baseball card; I look at what I think he might do; I know what he is doing. It’s a combination of things.”
Encarnacion is hitting .172 this spring. He was 1-for-5 Tuesday afternoon in the Reds 5-3 victory over the Phillies in Clearwater. The Reds evened their record at 14-14 in the Grapefruit League.

Reds' lineup today vs. Phillies

Reporter John Erardi checks in from Dunedin with the Reds' lineup today against the Phillies:

Corey Patterson (CF)
Ryan Freel (RF)
Brandon Phillips (2B)
Adam Dunn (LF)
Edwin Encarnacion (3B)
Joey Votto (1B)
Jeff Keppinger (SS)
Javier Valentin (C)
Edinson Volquez (P)

Encarnacion's first-inning 2 RBI single a harbinger?

If I get the chance, I'll try to post a blog or two this afternoon, but it will be late in the game or shortly thereafter. (Andy Knight at Cincinnati.com got the Reds lineup posted via the prehistoric method of "dictation" -- the old-fashioned, "Sweetheart, get me rewrite!" method, if you ever saw the 1920s-set movie "Front Page" -- that I called in. ) There've been quite a few technical difficulties getting hooked up on the internet at the Phillies complex here in Clearwater.

Name of the complex is "Brighthouse Field" -- a communications company -- so go figure. Anyway, let me first get caught up on the daily grind -- today's Reds story budget for the newspaper and online is redsmain26 (probably the bullpen), redsnotebook26 (probably Volquez) and redsreport26 (which are the game tidbits and updates we run down the left-hand side of the page) -- because the after-the-game time allowed for writing in these road venues is limited.

Just a heads-up, however: The soonest I'll have a blog posted is sometime between game's end and one hour afterward.

P.S. Maybe Edwin Encarnacion's 2-RBI groundball single in the first inning will awaken him from his spring slump. It wasn't smashed, and it probably should have been caught, but sometimes those weakback hits get guys going. He actually hit the ball better on his second at-bat, which was a quasi-liner to center that was caught, but that ball wasn't crushed, either.

Gil cut

From the Reds: The Reds have reassigned to minor league camp IF/OF Jerry Gil.

I'm back in Cincinnati. Thanks for all the kind words.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The time Joe got Marty

Given the reaction to the new “Ol’ Lefthander” exhibit at the Reds Hall of Fame & Museum -- the display has drawn rave reviews from everybody’s who’s seen it – a moment in “Marty & Joe” lore is worth remembering.
Monday night in Sarasota, Reds broadcaster Marty Brennaman breezed through the pressbox at tired ol’ Ed Smith Stadium to create his unique brand of controlled mayhem with one of the Reds employees.
Afterward, we asked Brennaman about the time in the late 1970s, when iron-fisted, front-office boss Dick Wagner caught wind of the fact that Brennaman had been reading a non-baseball book in the radio booth during a Reds game.
“If that ever happens again,” Wagner told Brennaman, “you’re gone.”
A few weeks later, Nuxhall asked Brennaman at the opening of an inning, “That book looked good you were reading at the end of the last inning, Marty. What’s it about?”
Brennaman thought for sure he was finished.
Turns out the engineer who had cued Marty and Joe that the broadcast of the inning was just beginning, was actually in cahoots with Joe. The broadcast hadn’t yet gone on the air.
“It’s the only time Joe got me – and he got me good,” Brennaman recalled. “He loved telling that story.”

Anybody out there got a read on Homer?

Anybody out there watching this game on TV or listening on radio?
Was there a report on what pitch Homer Bailey threw at the end of the first inning to get the double-play groundball?
In this gloaming, it's hard to read some of his pitches. Throwing a lot of fastballs, of course, but he froze Vernon Wells on a changeup for called strike three to lead off the second, and I thought I saw a wrinkle in that pitch on the double-play groundball. Maybe I'm imagining things.
Bailey is throwing quite effortessly. His pitch count high, but I think that's who he is -- and may be for some time. Not saying he can't lower it somewhat, but these hitters are fouling off quite a few of his pitches. His pitches appear quite lively, a lot of movement.
Will try to get him to talk a little about his stuff tonight -- how it rates compared to his other outings this spring.

Big start for Homer

Is tonight's game a big start for Homer Bailey?
"Yeah, it's a big start for Homer,"said Reds manager Dusty Baker. "It's not do or die, but it could sure help his cause a lot."
Baker didn't say as much, but some other things would probably have to happen for Bailey to win a spot in the rotation. Something like a sore arm for either Johnny Cueto, Edinson Volquez or Josh Fogg.
Much has been made this spring of wanting to make sure prospects are ready when called to the big leagues. It's the company line on center fielder Jay Bruce, for example.
If "readiness" were the measuring stick last year, there is no way Bailey would have been called up. The Reds needed a healing moment last summer, to reconnect the alienated fan base to the faltering team, and Bailey provided it.
But the call-up ran totally counter to what has been expressed by the brass this spring.

I'm out, E's in

I'm handing the keys to blog over to John Erardi for a few days.

I've said many times that the worst part of this job is being away from home for six straight weeks during spring training. It's particularly hard when you feel like you should be home.

Now is one of those times for me. My older brother, Tim, is in the late stages of a long battle of cancer. I simply felt like I couldn't wait until Friday to go home. I've enjoyed the blog this spring. Hopefully, I'll be blogging away on Opening Day.

Early tidbits

From the pre-game session with Dusty Baker:

--Jeff Keppingger has been sick the last few days. He's back today and will be in the lineup. Paul Bako was sent home sick today. Because Javier Valentin caught seven innings yesterday, Chris Kroski was called up from the minor league camp to catch today.

--Baker was asked if David Ross was close to getting in the big league game. "Closer," he said. The Reds will probably keep him out of big league games for a few more days. Until he plays in a big league game, they backdate putting him on the DL. The maximum for that is nine days.

--Homer Bailey getting the start, instead of Josh Fogg, tonight is get another look at Bailey. "It's a big start for him," Baker said. "Not do or die, but it could sure help his cause. Starting in the A game means more to Homer, Fogg has a longer track record."

--No lineup yet.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Test Blog for Erardi

Greetings. This is a test blog. I will be doing some blogging from Reds spring training this coming week, and am testing the Reds Insider site for my usage. Test, Test, Test.

Graves sighting

As Hal McCoy and I were making our way from the field to the Reds clubhouse, we ran into Danny Graves. That Danny Graves.

Graves was wearing a No. 60 Minnesota Twins uniform. He just signed a minor league deal with the Twins three days ago.

“I was sitting home waiting,” he said. “They told me to come in. They asked me if I could pitch Sunday. I said, ‘This Sunday? Sure.’ Then today they asked if I could go two innings.”

He did.

He went 1-2-3 and threw only five pitches on the first. He gave up an infield single and two-run homer in the second.

Graves spent last year with the Long Island Ducks. He led the independent Atlantic League in saves. He was big league camp with the Colorado Rockies last year before getting released.

Since the Reds released him May 23, 2005, Graves has been with the New York Mets, the Cleveland Indians and Rockies. He’s gotten precious little big league time.

“We’ll see how this works out,” he said.

Reds in HD

I know some of you were wondering:

Time Warner will add Reds games in beautiful HDTV clarity this season from Fox Sports Net Ohio on Cincinnati Channel 968 and Dayton Channel 768, after not carrying any the Reds' FSN Ohio HDTV games last year.

FSN Ohio will air 71 HDTV Reds baseball games - of 145 Reds telecasts - this season, starting with the Reds-Brewers April 8.

Insight cable offered high-def Reds games to Northern Kentucky customers last year (and again this year).

What changed at Time Warner?

"Contract negotiations. We were able to reach a deal with FSN Ohio," says Karen Baxter, Time Warner public affairs director.

Time Warner will launch the channels Tuesday, along with the National Geographic Channel HD (Channel 757). But FSN Ohio won't have any HDTV games until basketball's Cleveland Cavaliers play April 5.

"It just kills me that we couldn't do (Reds) Opening Day in high-definition. There just wasn't enough satellite HD transponder time for the (March 31) game," says Steve Liverani, FSN Ohio general manager.

Uh-oh Cueto

Johnny Cueto hit a little bump in the road.

He allowed five runs on three hits in two-thirds of inning. He simply could not command any of his pitches. He walked five, including pitcher Matt Garza on four pitches.

He gave up a double to Akinori Iwamura to start the game. He walked Carl Crawford on five pitches. Carlos Pena hit one out to left-center. Cueto then got a pair of groundouts. But he walked the nerxt two hitters. Joel Guzman followed with a two-run double. Cueto then walked Garza. When Iwamura walked, Dusty Baker came out and got Cueto.

41 pitches/18 strikes.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Bullpen musings

Francisco Cordero, David Weathers, Mike Stanton and Jeremy Affeldt are the locks to make the bullpen.

In the case of Stanton and Affeldt, their $3 million salaries have a lot to do with it. But that’s the way baseball works.

I still think Jared Burton makes it, despite a rough spring.

That’s five.

Here’s my depth chart for the remaining relievers in camp:
1. Todd Coffey
2. Bill Bray
3. Kent Mercker
4. Mike Lincoln
5. Jim Brower
6. Jose Capellan.

Brower and Capellan have no shot. It’s too close to call among the other four.

Lincoln’s an interesting guy. He’s throwing 94 after two “Tommy John” surgeries and three years off. But he had a bad outing Saturday (1 IP, 3 hits, 2 runs). Each outing is big for the bubble guys now.

Coffey, by the way, has given up one hit and struck out six in 6 2/3 innings this spring.

Gonzalez cleared

Shortstop Alex Gonzalez has been cleared to begin baseball activity. In fact, he's hitting in the cage now.

I still think he begins the year on the disabled list. Gonzalez has been out since March 1 with a compression fractuce in his left knee.

Majewski, Coutlangus cut

The Reds optioned to LHP Jon Coutlangus and RHP Gary Majewski to Triple-A Louisville, reducing to 38 the number of healthy players in camp.

Majewski was a bit frustrated.

"I would have liked to pitch more," he said. "That's what happens when you've got 34 pitchers in camp. I feel good. I came in in shape. I'll go down there annd work on things."

Eighteen pitchers remain in camp. Jeremy Affeldt, Bronson Arroyo, Jared Burton, Francisco Cordero, Johnny Cueto, Josh Fogg, Aaron Harang, Mike Stanton, Edinson Volquez and David Weathers are locks or semi-locks.

Matt Belisle is hoping to throw off the mound today, but his sore forearm makes him a candidate for the DL or Louisville. Homer Bailey and Jim Brower will end up at Louisville. Rule 5 pick Jose Capellan will likely be offered back to Boston. That gets you down to 14.

My guess is two of the following four will get the last spots: Mike Lincoln, Bill Bray, Todd Coffey and Kent Mercker.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Which rotation do you like?

Which do you like?

Aaron Harang, Bronson Arroyo, Kyle Lohse, Matt Belisle and Eric Milton?

Or Harang, Arroyo, Johnny Cueto, Josh Fogg and Edinson Volquez?

The first one is last year’s Opening Day rotation. The second one is what looks to be this year’s Opening Day rotation?

Last year, the Reds were counting on Milton and Lohse to return to earlier form. (They didn’t, by the way)

This year, the Reds are counting on the potential of Cueto and Volquez. My guess is most of you prefer rolling the dice with the live, young arms. Cueto and Volquez are going to light up the scoreboard radar readout like no starters the Reds have had since, well, they started putting radar readouts on the scoreboard. That doesn’t assure success, but Cueto and Volquez have shown good off-speed stuff and fearlessness this spring as well.

Going with them seems to me to be a step in the right direction.

Rotation: It's set

It's no coincidence that the Reds are pitching in the following order:

Aaron Harang
Bronson Arroyo
Johnny Cueto
Josh Fogg
Edinson Volquez

Dusty Baker wouldn't quite say it, but that's how the rotation will line up for the start of the season.

"It's not set," Baker said. "We've still got some action. It's pretty set, except for that fifth spot. I hate to tell young kids that they're there too soon. Then if something happens, you've got to go back on your word. You want to keep them motivated and driven through the end of spring training."

Volquez pitched only two innings Thursday in relief of Homer Bailey because Volquez was pitching on short rest.

"(We did that) in order to get in sync for the rotation," Baker said. "Fogg did the same thing the last time. We figured Homer could handle starting more than coming out of the pen. It takes him a long time to warm-up."

Matt Belisle is out of the picture because of a sore forearm.

"He's going to throw today," Baker said. "He's falling behind."

That means Harang, Arroyo, Cueto, Fogg, Volquez and Bailey are the only healthy starters still in the mix. Bailey could theoretically move into Fogg's or Volquez's spot.

Two more cut

From the Reds:

Today the Reds reassigned to minor league camp C Alvin Colina and LHP Scott Sauerbeck. The spring training roster is at 42, including injured players LHP Bobby Livingston and SS Alex Gonzalez.

Today's lineup v. the Pirates, 1:05 p.m.
Corey Patterson CF
Jeff Keppingger SS
Ken Griffey Jr. RF
Brandon Phillips 2B
Adam Dunn LF
Edwin Encarnacion 3B
Joey Votto 1B
Javy Valentin C
Aaron Harang P

Could be the Opening Day lineup.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Bailey on Bailey

Homer Bailey says he’s taken a what-me-worry outlook about the rotation.

“The only thing I can control is what I do out there,” Bailey said. “I worry about what I do out there. Anything else, whatever decisions are made, aren't my decisions. I can’t control them.”

Bailey had a good start Thursday night. He went four innings, allowing a run on three hits in the Reds' 4-0 loss to the Minnesota Twins.

Bailey says he’s working with pitching coach Dick Pole to get where he needs to be.

“I’ve cleaned up my mechanics," Bailey said. "Dick and I have been on the same page as far as things to work on. He’s giving me a lot of feedback. We’ve been working real well together.”

While Bailey says he’s not worrying about the competition, he knows where he stands and knows he could end up in Triple-A.

“I’d go Louisville and do whatever it takes to get back,” he said. “But I see how well Johnny (Cueto) and (Edinson) Volquez have been throwing. They’ve shown what they can do. They’ve shown they can get people out at this level. I’m very happy for those guys.”


I got a tip today that the talk around the Kansas City Royals camp was that Blake Johnson is the player-to-be-named in the Brad Salmon trade.

Johnson fits profile of the kind of player the Reds would want for Salmon. Johnson is a 22-year-old right-hander. He went 9-6 with a 3.28 ERA last year for Wilmington of the Carolina League.

He was the Dodgers’ second-round pick in 2004. The Royals got him as part of a trade for Elmer Dessens in 2006. Wayne Krivsky wouldn’t give many clues about the PTBNL, only saying it would not be someone on the Opening Day 25-man roster.

The Reds have been trying to stockpile arms. A 22-year-old who’s been successful in High A would be nice to add.

Bruce: I'll be back

Jay Bruce took his demotion in stride and with class that has become one of his trademarks.

"I'm disappointed," he said. "My goal was to make the team. But I understand they're doing what's in the best interest of me and the team. It's not a slap in the face."

"I'll be back. When I am, I'll look back on this day and laugh."

Bruce said he'll report to Louisville tomorrow.

"I'm batting third and playing center field," he said.

Bruce didn't think the quad injury that cost him five days hurt him.

"I was as ready as I could," he said. "I played well. I thought my defense was fine. I didn't hit the ball as well as I would have liked."

Bruce hit .262 with a double and three RBI in 42 at-bats.

Reds cut 6, including Bruce

From the Reds:

Today the Reds optioned to Class AAA Louisville OF Drew T. Anderson and RHP Marcus McBeth and reassigned to minor league camp RHP Josh Roenicke, RHP Tom Shearn and OF Jay Bruce…the Reds have 44 players remaining in camp, including LHP Bobby Livingston (left shoulder injury) and SS Alex Gonzalez (left knee).

Today's lineup:
Ryan Freel RF
Corey Patterson CF
Brandon Phillips 2B
Adam Dunn DH
Edwin Encaracion 3B
Scott Hatteberg 1B
Jeff Keppinger SS
Norris Hopper LF
Paul Bako C

Home Bailey P

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

My 25-man roster

Here’s my latest 25-man roster:

Starting eight
Corey Patterson CF
Jeff Keppinger SS
Ken Griffey Jr. RF
Brandon Phillips 2B
Adam Dunn LF
Edwin Encarnacion 3B
Scott Hatteberg 1B
Javier Valentin C
The skinny: This is assumes that Alex Gonzalez and David Ross begin the year on the disabled list. The only questions here are center field and first base. Patterson seems to have won the job in center with a good spring (.455 average) and he’s Baker’s guy. Norris Hopper will likely get a lot time against left-handers. Baker likes Joey Votto a lot. But Hatteberg’s hitting .382; Votto’s hitting .158. The Reds may want Votto to his bat going in AAA.

The bench
Norris Hopper
Ryan Freel
Juan Castro
Paul Bako
Andy Green
The skinny: I’m confident on the first four. Green, Jolbert Cabrera, Jerry Gil, Drew Anderson, Jerry Hairston and Andy Phillips all have made strong cases for the 25th man spot.

Starting rotation
Aaron Harang
Bronson Arroyo
Johnny Cueto
Edinson Volquez
Josh Fogg
The skinny: Homer Bailey and Matt Belisle have options. They’ll be a phone call way should Cueto, Volquez or Fogg falter.

The bullpen
Francisco Cordero
David Weathers
Jared Burton
Mike Stanton
Bill Bray
Todd Coffey
Jeremy Affeldt
The skinny: The Reds would like to keep Kent Mercker in the mix. He’d probably make the club if Stanton didn’t have a guaranteed contract. There’s also a chance Belisle could be shifted to relief.

Reds trade!

Not exactly a blockbuster: The Reds today traded to the Kansas City Royals RHP Brad Salmon in exchange for a player to be named later or cash. This spring for the Reds Salmon posted a 4.50 ERA in 5 relief apps (6ip, 7h, 3er, 3bb, 9k).

He was 0-1 with 4.13 in 23 games for the Reds last year.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Rumors mill

The press room at Ed Smith Stadium also serves as the lunch room for media, scouts and front office people, so it's a breeding ground for rumors.

Here's one I heard today: The Reds are actively seeking a catcher.

That serves to reason. They've got to be concerned about David Ross' back. He's missed three weeks after having spasms. He also hit only .203 last year. Paul Bako, the third catcher, only hit .205.

I think the Reds would move Ryan Freel in a second to get catching help. The problem is Freel is owed $7 million over the next two years. Freel has been playing some infield, i.e, the Reds may be showcasing him as utility guy.

Bob Purkey dies

From the Reds:

Prior to today's game the Reds had a moment of silence for former pitcher Bob Purkey, who died Sunday...he was 78 years old...Purkey pitched for the Reds from 1958-64 and in 217 starts in Cincinnati went 103-76 with a 3.49 ERA...he was inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame in 1974.

Pirates 8, Reds 4

Josh Fogg had a rough start. He allowed six runs -- three earned -- in five hits in three innings.

"He was missing his spots," Dusty Baker said. "And we had a couple of defensive miscues. He needs good defense behind. Also, in his defense, he was pitching on three days' rest."

Fogg is a fifth-starter type. He's going to have days like that.

“If I was going to be good every start, I don’t think I’d be in the situation I’m in right now,” Fogg said. “I’d have a guaranteed job somewhere. Everybody gets beat up every once and a while. It’s part of the game.”

Joey Votto hit a three-run homer in the fourth for the Reds. I know he's struggled this spring, but he has a sweet swing. The ball jumps off his bat.

Bill Bray has pitched into consideration with two more scoreless innings. He's only allowed one hit in three outings and four innings this spring.

Keppinger, Dunn off today

Jeff Keppinger, Dusty Baker said, hurt his quad sliding into second the other day. He's getting a couple of days off. He's taking batting practice, etc. just not playing.

Speaking of days off, Adam Dunn is off today -- completely. Baker gives his established players a whole day off. They don't even have to come to the complex. Brandon Phillips, Scott Hatteberg, Edwin Encarnacion, Javy Valentin, Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo have all gotten one.

"It's more a mental day off than anything," Baker said.

Reds v. Pirates

Reds v. Pirates, 1:05, WLW

Norris Hopper CF
Ryan Freel LF
Ken Griffey Jr .RF
Brandon Phillips 2B
Edwin Encarnacion 3B
Joey Votto 1B
Jerry Gil SS
Javy Valentin C
Josh Fogg P

Monday, March 17, 2008

Reds 5, Tigers 3: Cueto's day

Johnny Cueto's worst outing of the spring wasn't bad at all. He went four innings, allowing two runs on four hits. He struck out four and walked three. All his troible came in the first. He retired 11 of the last 12 he faced. His ERA shot up to 2.08.

Detroit manager Jim Leyland gave Cueto a major compliment to Dusty Baker.

"He said he'd take Cueto," Baker said. "He wasn't tampering. He was joking. I was talking to him before the game about what happened to him with (Joel) Zumaya and (Juston) Verlander. Those guys came out of A ball. It's a matter of sometimes you go with the talent, especially when you haven't been winning with the stuff you've been using. (Cueto's) made an impression on everyone around this Grapefruit League, not just us."

With Jeremy Affeldt going to the bullpen, the Reds' rotation is starting look settled. Baker was asked he was convinced Cueto could do what he's done down here once the season begins.

"I never said I wasn't convinced," Baker said. "I just can't say that. I don't want to squelch other guys and I don't want him to think he has it made. Not that he'd do that. I don't think he's that kind of young man.

"This guy wants it badly."

Cueto's day started with two bloop singles by Edgar Renteria and Placido Polanco. Cueto struck out Carlos Guillen. But walked Magglio Ordonez to load the bases, then walked Miguel Cabrera on four pitches to force in a run. He fell behind Jacque Jones 3-1 but got him to groundout. Another run scored. Cueto struck out Ryan Raburn to leave runners at second and third.

"If you're going to get him, you're going to get him in the first," Baker said. "It's not like he was pitching against slouches over there. That's a good line-up. I knew it was going to be a big test. he passed it like he's pass all the other tests."

"He seemed unfazed," Baker said. "I know he was rattled by it. But he handled it like a veteran. He demonstrated damage control, which is what it's all about. When you do have your real good stuff, keep your team in the game until you can score some runs."

Corey Patterson doubled to lead off the first for the Reds. An out later, Griffey Lined to center to drive him in.

1-2-3 second for Cueto. He's not nearly as sharp as he's been, i.e., he went 3-2 on Kenny Rogers after being up 0-2.

1-2-3 third for Cueto as well.

Cueto walked the leadoff man in the fourth and then retired the side in order.

Adam Dunn tied it in the Reds' fourth with his second homer of the spring -- a high shot to right that went through a strong wind to get out.

Josh Roenicke gave up a hit and walked two in the fifth but struck out Cabrera to leave the bases loaded.

David Weathers picked a scoreless sixth. Francisco Cordero pitched the seventh and eighth. He allowed a run. "He only threw five pitches in the seventh," Baker said. "That's why he went back out. He was working on his fastball. When he got in trouble, he threw some nasty splits."

Bonding to the karaoke beat

It may not lead to one more win. It may not mean a thing. But things like the karaoke night the Reds had Sunday are good for building team chemistry.

"It was a lot of fun," Marcus McBeth said. "I'm glad they did it for us. A lot of bonding."

The idea was Adam Dunn's, although he would not take full credit for it.

"I think it was a collaboration," he said. "But everyone showed up. Everyone had a lot of fun. We have a lot of new guys, so it was good for them. It's something we haven't done in the past. It went really well."

Jay Bruce said his rendition of the Copa Cabana went well.

"Awesome," he said. "I killed."

But McBeth was the winner. He did "As Good As I Once Was" by Toby Keith and "Gin and Juice" by Snoop Dogg. McBeth's voice is about as deep as James Earl Jones'. But he had never sung before.

"I sound good in the shower, though," he said. "I'm glad they didn't give me a high-pitched song."

Full 'er up for half-price tickets

From the Reds:

The Reds and United Dairy Farmers are partnering to bring fans half-price tickets for games in April and May at Great American Ball Park...for a limited time at any Greater Cincinnati, Dayton or Columbus UDF location, fans can get a special reds.com coupon code with a minimum 8-gallon purchase of gas...the coupon code will be printed on the gas receipt and can be redeemed only at reds.com/udf....the half-price discount is good for up to 6 tickets per game in the Field Box, Mezzanine and View Level seating areas...tickets are subject to availability and processing fees will apply.

Reds v. Tigers lineup

Today's game at 1:05 p.m. It's on FSN and WLW

Corey Patterson CF
Juan Castro SS
Ken Griffey Jr. RF
Brandon Phillips 2B
Adam Dunn LF
Edwin Encarnacion 3B
Scott Hatteberg 1B
Paul Bako C
Johnny Cueto P

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Dusty has strong words on Volquez, Cueto

I asked Dusty Baker after the game the obvious question:

Are Edinson Volquez and Johnny Cueto separating themselves from the rest of pitchers competing for the rotation?

"You want me to say it or are you going to say," Baker said. "They're pitching like they belong along side (Aaron) Harang and (Bronson) Arroyo in the rotation. They're dealing. They came in ready to pitch. They played Winter Ball so they're ahead, not so much with velocity but with command. That's what you need. They're pounding the strike zone. If you walk people, you have no chance. If you get behind people, you have little chance.

"We need them."

There you have it: If season started today, the rotation would be Harang, Arroyo, Cueto, Volquez and probably Josh Fogg.

Phillies 6, Reds 2

Edinson Volquez's first start was a good one. He went five shutout innings, allowing three hits and walk. He struck out six, 69 pitches, 47 strikes.

The Reds took a 2-0 lead on Ken Griffey Jr.'s two-out, two-run single in the sixth. The Phillies took the lead with three unearned runs off Gary Majewski in the seventh. Brad Salmon allowed three more in the ninth.

Volquez lowered his spring ERA to 3.46. Most impressive: 19 Ks and 3 walks in the 13 innings. He retired 11 of the first 12 he faced -- five by strikeout. His change-up was fooling guys big time.

"My change-up was best pitch today," Volquez said. "I threw four sliders, four curves or something like that. I found out in the bullpen that change-up was better today, so I better used it."

Volquez says the difference from past is control.

"I'm throwing my strikes," he said. "That's what I'm going for. i control my emotions, too. I'm getting old, man."

He was not intimidated for the Phillies' lineup.

"When those guys go to home plate, I think this is big guy," he said. "I pitch like normal. But facing Ryan Howard, oh man. He's a big guy."

He went to a 3-ball count on Jimmy Rollins before striking him out with a good change-up to start the game. Volquez wouldn't go to a 3-ball count until facing Ryan Howard with two outs in the fourth. Howard ended up singling. "He was working looking for change-up," Volquez said. "That's what good hitters do." Jayson Werth followed with a single, but Volquez struck out Geoff Jenkins for his sixth strikeout to leave them runners stranded.

Volquez threw 10 pitches in the 1-2-3, 2-strikeout second, eight of which were strikes.

Volquez was at his best in the fifth. He got a routine groundball on the first pitch. But Brandon Phillips booted it. He walked the next hitter. But he got out of it. Brett Myers popped up trying to bunt. Rollins hit into a fielder's choice and Shane Victorino grounded out.

Volquez said he had never thrown more than eight inning in big league camp for the Rangers.

"This is most I've had," Volquez said.

Ross ready for Opening Day?

David Ross, still dealing with a sore back, says he's not worried about being ready for Opening Day -- not because he's sure he will be, but because he can't control it.

"The last thing I want to do is rush it," he said. "I want to be out there. I haven't had this problem before. Right now, I can't run. If I tried to spring, my back would lock up on me."

Ross has hit soft toss and run on the treadmill the last few days. He hopes to take batting practice today.

Dusty Baker is dealing with the possibility that Ross won't be ready. Opening Day is two weeks from tomorrow.

“It’s going to be a little tough,” Baker said. “You’ve got throwing, squatting. I hope so. You’ve got to get at-bats for timing. You also have to get timing as a catcher. I would like to get him in there and catch some of the guys he hasn’t caught before."

That's a long list in this camp -- Edinson Volquez, Josh Fogg, Johnny Cueto and Francisco Cordero.

Reds v. Phillies, one cut

The Reds re-assigned Adam Rosales to the minor camp. That's the term used when players not on the 40-man are cut.

Reds v. Phillies, 1:05 p.m.

Norris Hopper CF
Juan Castro SS
Ken Griffey Jr. RF
Brandon Phillips 2B
Adam Dunn LF
Edwin Encarnacion 3B
Joey Votto 1B
Javier Valentin C
Edinson Volquez P

No DH today. Volquez will hit for the first time as a professional. He'll also face the Phillies A lineup.

Jimmy Rollins SS
Shane Victorino 2B
Chase Utley 2B
Ryan Howard 1B
Jayson Werth LF
Geoff Jenkins RF
Greg Dobbs 3B
Jason Jaramillo C
Brett Myers C

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Cueto theory

Johnny Cueto is clearly the sensation of this camp. He’s been dominant in every outing. I figured there had to be an explanation. Cueto’s been good in his four years in the minors. But there was nothing to indicate that he was this good.

So I asked the Reds’ expert on Dominican pitching, Mario Soto, if Cueto is doing something differently. Does he have a new pitch? Is his fastball suddenly better?

“No,” Soto said. “He’s pitching the same way he’s always pitched. I saw him in Winter Ball. He was really good.”

Cueto was 4-1 with a 2.84 ERA in Winter Ball, which close to major league level competition.

My personal theory on Cueto? The more pressure, the better he gets. His ERA went down as he went from A to AA to AAA last year. Cueto’s next start is Monday against the Tigers. It’s on FSN. Dial it up the kid is fun to watch.

New rules

You've got to register to post a comment. Hopefully, that will cut down on people posting under multiple names. Next step is back to moderation. I've spent entirely too time this spring dealing with people getting out of hand on the blog. Be nice. Post under one name. Don't belabor same point over and over again.

Lineup v. Red Sox, transactions

The Reds made three more cuts: Catcher Craig Tatum and right-hander Daryl Thompson were optioned to Double-A Chattanooga and right-hander Jon Adkins was re-assigned to the minor league camp.

Today v. Red Sox, 1:05 p.m., the game is on WLW.

Corey Patterson CF
Ryan Freel LF
Jay Bruce RF
Joey Votto DH
Scott Hatteberg 1B
Jeff Keppinger SS
Jolbert Cabrera 2B
Paul Bako C
Jerry Hairston 3B

Homer Bailey P

Friday, March 14, 2008

Nuxhall book plug

The Enquirer has produced a tribute to Joe Nuxhall in the form of a 128-page hardbound book that chronicles Nuxhall’s playing and broadcasting careers and celebrates his life as a humanitarian and integral part of the Greater Cincinnati community.

“Joe Nuxhall: The Life, Legacy and Words of a Cincinnati Icon” includes hundreds of photos from The Enquirer archives and the Nuxhall family, Enquirer articles from over the years, cartoons from Pulitzer Prize-winning artist Jim Borgman and a special DVD featuring personal interviews with Joe, provided by CET Cincinnati Public Television.

The book is available now for the presale price of $24.95. It will retail for $34.95 starting April 3. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Joe Nuxhall Character Education Fund. You can order online at www.nuxhallbook.com

Three cut

From the Reds:

Following today’s games, the Reds optioned to Class AAA Louisville IF Paul Janish and OF Chris Dickerson and reassigned to minor league camp non-roster RHP Justin Lehr.

Yankees 7, Reds 7

Matt Belisle did not exactly solidify his spot in the rotation with his performance in the tie with the Yankees. (The game was called in the 10th because of rain). Belisle went three innings, allowing seven runs on eight hits. He walked two and struck out one. 62 pitches, 31 strikes.

Josh Fogg, meanwhile, pitched five scoreless innings in the 5-0 win over Brandenton in other game of the split-squad doubleheader.

The competition for the starting rotation seems to be sorting itself out.

"We've still got two weeks to go," Dusty Baker said. "We've got good competition for the couple of spot that are open. We'll let keep pitching. Guys make thedecision for us."

Belisle gave up a double to Derek Jeter and walked Hideki Matsui on five pitches. Not a good move with ARod due up. Belisle paid when ARod hit out to right center.

Reds scored two off Phillip Hughes in their half of the first. Corey Patterson doubled. Juan Castro singled him in. Junior Griffey doubled Castro in.

Belisle gave the run right back. He walked the ninth hitter -- Brent Gardner -- with two outs. Johnny Damon doubled Gardner in.

The Reds added a run in the second as well. Andy Green doubled. Jerry Haiston singled. Patterson got Green home with a single.

It really got ugly for Belisle in the third. He got the first two outs routinely, then gave up five straight hits and three runs.

"He had the two-out blues," Baker said. "He could stop the bleeding."

Green doubled in another run in the third for the Reds.

Kent Mercker, Josh Roenicke, Pedro Viola, Daryl Thompson, Mike Lincoln and Todd Coffey shutout the Yankees out on one hit over the next seven innings.

The Reds tied it with three in the seventh. Jolbert Cabrera drove in the run on groundout. Juan Francisco, the Dayton third baseman last year, doubled in the second run. He's an impressive looking kid. Jerry Hairston singled in Francisco.

The game was stopped by rain one out into the eighth. The delay lasted 21 minutes. When it began to rain again in the 10th, they called it.

Dusty on old-timers, Votto and more

Dusty Baker loves the idea of having former Reds in camp. Eric Davis, Jack Billingham, Lee May and Ken Griffey Sr. are currently in camp.

“I love having those guys around. They make stuff fun, too. They know the right way and the fun way."

But it's not just for show.

“I told the players to soak up what you can, get their numbers, if need something talk to them. Most of the time, old-timers aren’t going to volunteer – you’ve got to come to them. Todd Benzinger on how to play first base. (Cesar) Geronimo how to play outfield and how to use your arm and when to use it. Talk Jack Billingham about the slider. That was his specialty when I faced him.”

"I told Homer to go to talk to Mario (Soto) during the game because Dick (Pole’s) busy during the game. I saw him down there all game. I like that. It’s like going to school."

Joey Votto's slow spring start does not concern Baker: “Strange you should ask about him. I’m going to talk to him. I see a lot from him. His upside is tremendous. He can run. He’s got a good arm. He’s got some sock. He’s one of those guys you don’t want to use what he's done in the spring. You want to use what he’s done over the course of the year and what you see now. You track a guy’s start and finish. You saw him last year at the end. He was rolling. They told me he hit .185 last April. That can show you he may be a slow starter.”

On cuts coming: “I just don’t know when. I've got to talk to Wayne. I’ve got a lineup (for tomorrow). I’ve got to tell these guys who’s going on trip and who’s not. We’re going to have a meeting and get everyone’s input.”

On pitchers hitting: “We’re going to start using the pitcher hitting next week. Especially guys – if they’re going to make the guy – guys like (Johnny) Cueto and (Edinson) Volquez. I don’t know if Volquez ever hit. If they haven’t done all the way through, they tend to have a little jelly legs. They ain’t been on this side of that 95.”

On sorting out the roster: "Problem right now is how to sort the bullpen, center field and the utility position. There are guys playing pretty good in that utility role. If they don’t make it, we’ve got some backups, which I heard ain’t been the case here.”

Capellan: He's a big guy

Jose Capellan, the 21-year-old left-hander, arrived in the camp today. He is living example of why you can't trust media guide listing for young players.

He's listed at 6-foot-2, 170 pounds.

"I think that was on his birth certificate," pitching coach Dick Pole siad.

Capellan's actual size: 6-4, 275 pounds. He was 6-2, 170 when he signed at 17.

Capellan threw 2 1/3 innings for the Giants before the Reds picked him up off waivers. He is going to throw a bullpen today.

"I worked hard in big league camp," he said. "I'm ready."

Capellan remains under Rule 5 rules. The Reds must keep him the 25-man roster all year or offer him back to the Boston Red Sox at $25,000 -- half the cost of a Rule 5 selection.

Lineups for the split squad (update)

This is the last day without radio. WLW will carry the rest of the games.

Home v. Yankees
Corey Patterson CF
Jaun Castro SS
Junior Griffey RF
Adam Dunn LF
Joey Votto 1B
Jolbert Cabrera 2B
Javy Valentin C
Andy Breen 3B
Jerry Hairston DH

Matt Belisle P

The Yankees brought lot of the A team:
Johnny Damon CF
Derek Jeter SS
Hideki Matsui DH
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Jorge Posada C
Shelley Lane 1B
Jason Lane RF
Cody Ransom 2B
Brett Gardner LF

Phil Hughes P

Away v. Pirates
Ryan Freel CF
Norris Hopper LF
Brandon Phillips 2B
Edwin Encarnacion 3B
Scott Hatteberg 1B
Jeff Keppinger SS
Jay Bruce RF
Paul Bako C
Andy Phillips DH

Josh Fogg P

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Phillies 10, Reds 7

Not a good start for left-hander Jeremy Affeldt. His line: 3 1/3 IP, nine hits, seven runs.

“Seventy pitches in 3 1/3 innings," Affeldt said. "That’s an embarrassing amount of pitches. Whatever I’m doing is not working. . . Pitching like I’m pitching, I’m not going to win a spot in the rotation."

Affeldt was asked if he's worried, given that he's competing for a spot in the rotation.

"It's not about being worried," he said. "It's about going out executing pitches for more than one inning. If I want to be a starter, I've got to be able to execute for six or seven innings."

The Reds will have to make a decision on whether to keep preparing Affeldt as a start shortly.

"There will come a day," Dusty Baker said. "I don't know when that day is yet. We have to see what we need and what's going on with him."

In the second inning, Wes Helms tripled off center field wall and scored on Carlos Ruiz's double. Greg Golson followed with an infield single. Casey Smith then hit one out to left to make it 4-0.

Affeldt gave up another run and three more hits in the third.

The Reds rallied in the third. Paul Bako and Chris Dickerson singled with one out. They moved up on Corey Patterson's groundout. Juan Castro singled them both in. Junior Griffey walked. Brandon Phillips' two-run double made it 5-4. Adam Dunn and Edwin Encarnacion walked to load the bases. But Joey Votto struck out on three pitches.

Affeldt gave up two more in the fourth.

Andy Green homered for the Reds in the sixth. Adam Rosales doubled in a run in the seventh.

Gary Majewski gave up two runs in the ninth after pitching a scoreless eighth.

2,000 Opening Day tickets on sale

From the Reds:

CINCINNATI (March 13, 2008) – Two-thousand Cincinnati Reds Opening Day tickets will go on sale at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 15 on Fountain Square!

The Cincinnati Center City Development Corp. (3CDC) is partnering with the Cincinnati Reds for a series of Reds-themed events planned on Fountain Square. The partnership will start with Saturday's Opening Day ticket sale for the general public and continue throughout the 2008 season with the new "Red Hot Weekends."

The Opening Day tickets include 1,000 “Standing Room Only” and 1,000 “View Level” tickets to the season opener vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks. Ticket prices are $22 for Standing Room Only and $29 for View Level. There is a limit of four tickets per person. Cash and major credit cards accepted.

The “Red Hot Weekends” will start in May when the Cleveland Indians visit Cincinnati. They’ll run throughout the summer around select weekend home games at Great American Ball Park. The weekends will include music and Reds-themed activities on the Square geared toward local Reds fans and visitors in town for the games.

“We cannot think of a better way to mark the start of spring and the upcoming baseball season than with an Opening Day ticket event on Fountain Square,” said Steve Leeper, president & CEO of 3CDC. “We know how passionate the fans are across all of Reds Country, and we’re excited to host them on Fountain Square to kick-off what we know will be a fantastic Reds season.”

“Fountain Square is a Cincinnati icon, as are the Reds.” said Phil Castellini, Reds COO. “We believe our fans will have fun extending their time downtown on the Square as they enjoy the Red Hot Weekend activities we are developing.”

The original Cincinnati Red Stockings were baseball's first all-professional team in 1869. Fountain Square has been the symbolic center of Cincinnati since 1871.

Fountain Square Management Group will provide 24-hour security starting Thursday at 4 p.m. for fans interested in forming an advance line.

Team Funk-tion Sunday

That's what the chalk board reads in the Reds clubhouse. The boys are going to have some karaoke fun Sunday after the game. It's an Adam Dunn Production. He's bring in a karaoke machine and all the rookies must perform.

Dunn selected the songs. My personal favorite: Johnny Cueto will do Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA."

Jay Bruce has been assigned "Copa Cabana." He's taking it seriously. "I'm going to get on iPod so I know it. I've got to work on the costume, too."

A good time will be had by all. As silly as this stuff sounds, it's good for building team chemistry.

Reds v. Phillies lineup, pitching switch

The Reds just announced this:

MINOR LEAGUE GAMES: RHP Aaron Harang will throw in a minor league game on Sunday while RHP Edinson Volquez starts the "A" game against the Phillies...RHP Bronson Arroyo will throw in a minor league game on Monday while RHP Johnny Cueto starts against the Tigers.

Tonight's game is at 7:05, no radio. The lineup:

Corey Patterson CF
Juan Castro SS
Ken Griffey Jr. RF
Brandon Phillips 2 B
Adam Dunn LF
Edwin Encarnacion 3B
Joey Votto 1B
Paul Bako C
Chris Dickerson DH

Jeremy Affeldt P, followed by Mike Stanton, Jim Brower, Gary Majewski and Scott Sauerbeck.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Ed v. Bright House

When you come to Bright House Field, the spring home of Philadelphia Phillies, you see why the Reds would like a facility a little better than Ed Smith Stadium.

Bright House is the best stadium in Florida. It’s got a luxury boxes, the outfield picnic, the tiki bar, the works. It’s probably on a par with Fifth Third Field in Dayton.

The Reds would have settled for lot less than Bright House because the revised $46 million plan wasn’t going to turn the Ed into the gem of Grapefruit League. Most of that would have gone to fixing up the Ed.

How much fixing up does it need?

Saturday, none of the bathrooms in the place worked. And the Reds had 5,602 for a Braves game that day.

Reds 6, Phillies 1

This just in: Johnny Cueto's good.

He went four innings against Phillies and allowed a hit, a walk, hit a batter and struck out two. 49 pitches, 33 strikes.

He worked out of a jam -- thanks to a Ryan Howard double play -- after giving up a single and hitting a batter in the sixth. That was the only trouble he get in. He faced the minimum nine batters in the seventh, eighth and ninth.

He faced the heart of the Phillies' order twice. He retired Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell a second time to close out the game.

Cueto's up to nine innings this spring. He's allowed one run on six hits. He's walked one and struck out eight.

I see no way he doesn't make the rotation.

Dusty Baker gushed a bit about Cueto before the game. He said he didn't spend a lot of time reading reports on the Cueto before spring training.

“I read but I scanned,” Baker said. “I didn’t want to be persuaded one way or other, so I didn’t really study, study. . . I’m not distrusting of reports; it’s just I trust my own eyes more.”

So what do his eyes tell him?

“Same thing yours tell you,” Baker said.

That is to say Cueto has off-the-chart stuff.

“I’ve had some really good people tell me about Cueto – guys from other organizations who had nothing to gain by telling me what they told me,” Baker said.
Cueto has looked extremely good.

“Spring ain’t over,” Baker said. “Just pitch, son, that’s all. No pressure, no expectations. Just pitch.

“I’ve got some expectations. I ain’t going to tell him yet. That comes later. Next year or two years.”

Back to the Phillies game:

Jerry Hairston went deep in the third to make it 1-0.

The Phillies tied it in the third with three straight two-out singles off Bronson Arroyo.

Scott Hatteberg untied it in the fourth by following Corey Patterson's second infield hit of the game with a home run to right. Hatteberg came in hitting .375 this spring.

Bronson Arroyo's line: 4 IP, 3 hits, 1 run, 0 walks, 3 strikeouts.

"I feel good," Arroyo said. "I'm ahead of where I was last year at this point. i fell like I've got life on fastball like I'd have at the end of April."

Bill Bray followed Arroyo and worked a scoreless inning in his spring debut. He allowed a hit and struck out one.

"It went pretty well," Bray said. "I felt good. No pain, that's biggest thing."

Craig Tatum made it 5-1 with a two-run homer in the seventh.

Six cut, one added (updated)

From the Reds:

TRANSACTIONS: Today the Reds claimed off waivers from the Giants LHP Jose Capellan; outrighted to Sarasota LHP Alexander Smit; optioned to Louisville RHP Richie Gardner and LHP Tyler Pelland; reassigned to minor league camp C Chris Kroski, LHP Matt Maloney and LHP Adam Pettyjohn...the Reds have 57 players remaining in camp…that updated roster is attached.

TODAY'S ACQUISITION: Today the Reds claimed off waivers from the Giants 21-year-old LHP Jose Capellan...he was selected by SF from the Red Sox in December's Rule 5 Draft...Capellan in 4 professional seasons is 13-8-3, 2.74 in 29 starts and 21 relief apps (207ip, 169h, 49bb, 217k, 5hr).

Rule 5 rules apply, i.e, the Reds have to keep him on the roster all year or offer him back to the Red Sox for $25,000.

"We like him," Wayne Krivsky siad. "Good arm, good body type. We figured we'd take a shot."

Capellan will arrive in Sarasota tomorrow.

Another thing that people have asked about: If the Reds release Josh Fogg, they're only on the hook for $100,000 -- not the full $1 million of his contract.

Good as gone?

The city of Goodyear announced it has secured the funding to bring the Reds there.

I asked John Allen if that meant the Reds are definitely moving.

"It does not," he said. "We still have to come up with a MOU (Memorandum of Understanding). That's the frame work for the lease agreement. The lawyers are working on that now. Then the city of Goodyear has to sign off on that and approve the financing plan."

That vote is April 7. Both are likely to be approved.

"We've got the funding," Allen said. "Now, we can go forward, but a few things have to happen for the deal to be complete. I'm optimistic. We keep moving forward. But nothing's done till it's done."

The Reds are talking a 20-year lease.

The Reds released this while I was spending almost two hours in the car on my way to Clearwater (I won't miss some thing about Florida):

GOODYEAR, AZ – The city of Goodyear has found a way to fund the estimated $33 million cost of bringing the Cincinnati Reds’ Spring Training operation to its new ballpark, and is moving forward with negotiations with the team.

“We have met the terms of the Exclusivity Agreement with the Reds,” said Interim City Manager Brian Dalke. “The funding sources have been identified. However, in keeping with the terms of our agreement with the Reds, that information will remain confidential while we move forward with negotiations.”

The announcement comes a day before the March 13 deadline for identifying funding, set out in the Exclusivity Agreement signed on Jan. 28 by Goodyear and the Reds.

“The Reds organization is extremely pleased with the financing plan that the city of Goodyear has presented to us,” said John Allen on behalf of the Reds. “We look forward to continuing our discussions and will hopefully complete the agreement in early April.”

If negotiations with the Reds are successful, the team would begin training in Goodyear in 2010. The Reds would join the Cleveland Indians and become Goodyear’s second Ohio-based spring training ball club. The Indians will move their training facilities to Goodyear in time for the 2009 spring training season.

According to the Exclusivity Agreement, Goodyear and the Reds must both refrain from discussing or negotiating for spring training facilities or teams with anyone except each other. The 75-day agreement expires April 11.

Details regarding financing plans and funding sources will not be released during the 75-day negotiation period, Dalke said, adding that discussions with the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority (AZSTA) are continuing.

Quick facts about the Goodyear Ballpark and Recreational Sports Complex:

The $76 million Goodyear Ballpark and Recreational Sports Complex will serve as a year-round training facility for the Cleveland Indians. The practice fields are expected to be completed this summer. The ballpark will be ready for action in February 2009, just in time for Spring Training.

The ballpark and sports complex will be located south of Yuma Road and east of Estrella Parkway. The ballpark will be built on a 3-acre site. The clubhouse and practice fields will be situated on a separate 52-acre site to the south.

The ballpark will seat up to 10,000 fans, including 500 premium box seats, 8,000 fixed seats and space for 1,500 spectators on a grassy berm in the outfield. Goodyear’s ballpark will be the centerpiece of Ballpark Village, a $1 billion mixed-use development featuring offices, shops, restaurants, housing, hotels and a conference center. The ground-level concourse is a key design element for the stadium, linking the ballpark to the nearby businesses.

The Recreational Sports Complex will house a clubhouse and practice fields that will serve as a year-round training facility for the Indians. Goodyear residents will have access to four major practice fields 10 months of the year. The Indians will have exclusive use of the facilities during the two-month Spring Training season. The City of Goodyear will also use the ballpark and field area for special events and seasonal specials throughout the year.

For more information, please visit Goodyear’s website: goodyearaz.gov.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Quality gag

The rookies struck back with a gag of their own Tuesday.

A fake Toyota ad with a picture of Scott Hatteberg was hanging on the bulletin board Tuesday morning.

The copy read: “I’m Scott Hatteberg. I enjoy a nice glass of wine and brewing my own beer. What can I say, I’m cultured? That’s why I drive a Prius. They’re eco-friendly and Japanese.”

Hatteberg, one of the most sophisticated guys in the clubhouse, took it well. The culprits?

“My protégés (Jay) Bruce and (Joey) Votto,” Hatteberg said. “I told them well done.”

Back to the old system

We're back to moderating posts. The back and forth arguing has worn me out. It's royal pain to pull down posts. I'm going with a cooling-off period. I may go back to the other way.

But the constant attacking of other posters just detracted from the conversation.

Reds 5, Astros 4

The Reds won it walk-off style at Ed Smith. Alvin Colina's three-run double in the ninth was the game-winner. The Reds scored all five of their runs in the ninth.

"That's a beautiful thing," Dusty Baker said. "It took us a little while to get going. It's first day game after a night game. It was sweet."

But it's just spring training, right?

"If you win it matters," Baker said. "If you lose, it's just spring training."

Jose Castro, the 21-year-old shortstop the Reds got in the Jeff Conine trade with the Mets, started the rally with a triple. Amando Rios and Paul Janish walked. Drew Anderson walked to force in a run. Kevin Baker singled to make it 4-2. The Colina sent one to the wall in the right-center.

The game started with 18 up, 18 down by Aaron Harang and Brandon Backe

Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence homered off Harang in the fourth. He gave an unearned run in the fifth.

Harang's line: 5 IP, 3 hits, 3 runs, 2 earned runs, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts.

David Weathers, Kent Mercker and Francisco Cordero each pitched a scoreless inning. Mike Lincoln gave a run in the ninth.

It was 4-1 after the seventh in Lakeland vs. the Tigers in other half of the split squad. Matt Maloney gave up a 2-run home to Carlos Guillen and a solo shot to Scott Sizemore in the second. Maloney's line: 2 IP, 3 hits, 3 earned runs, 1 walk, 0 strikeouts. Tom Shearn gave up a homer to Pudge Rodriguez.

Dusty on Homer

Dusty Baker wants everyone to relax a bit on Homer Bailey. In the short time, Baker's been around Bailey he's seen progress. He's willing to let yesterday's 2 1/3-innings, two-run, 59-pitch effort slide.

“I can go on the progress I’ve seen since I’ve been here. Yesterday was the first time that he wasn’t pitch-efficient since I’ve been here."

Baker elaborated a bit on the whole Bailey situation.

“It’s not easy being Homer. I’ve seen it a thousand times. It’s not easy being that Mr. Everything, Can’t-Miss Kid. . . I learned years ago that the most dangerous word for a kid is potential. If they don’t do great, then no matter what they do, they don’t reach that potential.

“Sometimes it takes longer to get than others. What is Homer 21 years old? This dude is barely drinking age. There are kids in college who haven’t signed a contract who are still pitching. Homer has this experience already. That’s the thing. Let’s not forget, his dude is three years ahead of whoever’s going to be in this year’s draft.

“He may not be where you want him to be, or where we want him to be, or where he wants to be, but he’s still ahead of the program. Two or three years from now, we might have another thought process.”

Split squad lineups

Home v. Houston, 1:05, no radio.
Ryan Freel CF
Jeff Keppinger sS
Ken Griffey Jr. RF
Brandon Phillips 2B
Adam Dunn LF
Scott Hatteberg 1B
Javy Valentin C
Andy Green 3B
Craig Tatum DH

Aaron Harang P

In Lakeland v. Detroit, 1:05, no radio.
Corey Patterson CF
Norris Hopper LF
Jay Bruce RF
Edwin Encarnacion 3B
Joey Votto 1B
Jerry Hariston 2B
Paul Boko C
Juan Castro SS
Chris Kroski DH

Matt Maloney P

The most interesting thing Dusty Baker said the this morning: "It's not easy being Homer. I've seen it a thousand times . . . The most dangerous word is potential."

I'll have a post on that shortly.

Some info on HD

Here's a story that ran in the paper about the HD situation:

After being shut out last season, Time Warner customers may be able to see Cincinnati Reds games in high-definition from Fox Sports Net Ohio this year.

"We hope to be able to offer the Reds in HDTV this year," said Karen Baxter, public affairs director for Time Warner's southwest Ohio division.

FSN Ohio plans to televise 71 of its 145 Reds games this season in the wide-screen format.

Time Warner - the region's largest cable system, serving 640,000 customers from Cincinnati to Dayton - did not carry the initial 33 Reds HDTV games produced last year by FSN Ohio. Time Warner will release a statement about Reds' HDTV games this week, Baxter says.

"I don't have a full green light to make my announcement yet. But this is good news. We're excited about it," she said.

Insight Communications officials also were not prepared Monday to say if Reds would be back in HDTV next month. Insight, Northern Kentucky's major cable system, carried all 33 HDTV games last year.

"We have not yet made a decision as to whether or not we'll air them. I hope to have an answer for you Tuesday," said Maggie Woolf, Insight marketing director.

DirecTV and Dish Network also have access to the 71 FSN Ohio HDTV games, says Steve Pawlowski, spokesman for the Cleveland-based regional sports network.

FSN Ohio managers did not want to comment Monday about HDTV carriage by area cable companies.

"We understand that Reds fans want to see these games in HDTV, and we're happy to provide them. We're hopeful and confident that everyone will be able to see them," said Steve Liverani, FSN Ohio senior vice president and general manager.

The Reds TV schedule starts with Opening Day, as usual. But the 2 p.m. March 31 game with the Arizona Diamondbacks will not be in HDTV.

Reds fans will see five TV games in standard definition - two with Arizona, and the April 4-6 weekend homestand with Philadelphia - before a HDTV game from Milwaukee 8 p.m. April 8.

"It just kills me that we couldn't do Opening Day in high-definition. There just wasn't enough satellite HD transponder time for the game," Liverani said.

FSN Ohio televised the Reds-Yankees game Monday night from Tampa in standard definition. Two more spring training games in standard definition are scheduled: Reds-Tigers at 1:05 p.m. March 17, and Reds-Blue Jays at 7:05 p.m. on March 24.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Not a quality gag

The Yankees passed aronud a press release at the game tonight announcing the signing of Billy Crystal. Yes, that Billy Crystal. Crystal will work out with the Yankees Wednesday and then play in the game against the Pirates Thursday, the day before his 60th birthday.

Commission Bud Selig approved the ordeal, er deal. Guess he's not too busy with the performance-enhancing-drug mess.

The New York press corps was not pleased with the whole thing.

Yankees 4, Reds 0

The Race for the Rotation just got a little more interesting.

Homer Bailey went 2 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on six hits, in the loss to the Yankees. He walked three, struck out three and hit a batter. He was opposite of pitch-efficient: He threw 59 pitches and didn't even get through the third.

Edinson Volquez started his night by striking out Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi and Hideki Matsui around a hit by Jorge Posada. Volquez went four innings, allowing two run on five hits. He walked none and struck out eight. He threw 54 pitches in four innings.

"Homer threw the ball good," Dusty Baker said. "He just got out of sync at the end. Volquez was throwing great. I like his attitude. He doesn't want to give up anything. He's not one of those six-innings, three-runs-or-less quality start guys. He gets upset when he gives up anything."

Bailey was good in the first. He gave up hits to Derek Jeter and and Rodriguez singled. But he got Giambi for the third out, thanks to a very nice by shortstop Paul Janish.

Bailey struck out Posada to start the second on what appeared to be a screwball. Bailey said it was a change. He ran up his pitch count from there -- walk to Matsui, strikeout, walk to Nick Green, walk to Damon, lineout by Jeter. 32 pitches in the inning.

New York starter Joba Chamberlain wasn't much more pitch efficient than Bailey. He was done after 2 1/3 and 49 pitches.

It got away from Bailey in the third. He walked Bobby Abreu to start the inning, then gave up an RBI double to ARod and a single to Giambi. He struck out Posado again. But Matsui singled in a second run. After Bailey hit Green, he was done. Gary Majewski got a double play to prevent further damage.

Dusty tidbits

Dusty Baker saw the Sunday piece we ran on Sabermatic in the clip package.

"One of guys come up with the computer lineup?" he asked. "That'd go over big. Junior (Griffey) batting seventh. . . "

Also from Baker:

He said he hopes Homer Bailey concentrates on Javy Valentin's glove and not the guys in the batter's box tonight.

“He can’t see the lineup," Baker said. "The one thing with a young guy you don’t want him to look at the names on the back. That’s one of the toughest thing about being in the big leagues. I encourage my young guys to see the glove and not see the names. You see the names it’s a bit intimidating. It’s a challenge. It’s tough facing guys you’ve been watching on TV a few years ago. That’s how it was for me. I’m facing Bob Gibson and I saw him strike out 18 Tigers the year before on TV."

He likes what he's seen from Bailey: “Homer’s been throwing the ball well. He’s been throwing the ball real well,” Baker said. “I’m seeing in the control, mechanics and demeanor. I haven’t seen the tendency to overthrow. I talked to coach (Dick) Pole and he said it’s the best he’s seen him throw since he’s been here.”

INJURY REPORT: Nothing’s changed with catcher David Ross. He still hasn’t resumed baseball activity because of back spasm. Left-hander Bill Bray (shoulder) came through his throwing session Sunday without a problem. “He might be ready for game action (today or Wednesday),” Baker said.

PATTERSON, HAIRSTON TODAY: Outfielder Corey Patterson and infielder Jerry Hairston Jr. will make the trip to Lakeland today for the game with the Tigers. It will their first game action since signing a week ago.

Lineup, transaction

Rule 5 draftee RHP Sergio Valenzuela today was sold back to the Braves. RHP Ramon Ramirez was optioned to Class AAA Louisville. Taking Valenzuela wasn't the wisest way to spend $25,000. The Reds spent $50,000 to pick him; the Braves get him back for $25,000.

Reds. Yankees, 7:15, FSN Ohio

Jay Bruce CF
Scott Hatteberg DH
Ken Griffey Jr. RF
Brandon Phillips 2B
Adam Dunn LF
Edwin Encarnacion 3B
Joey Votto 1B
Javy Valentin C
Paul Janish SS

Homer Bailey P, followed by Edinson Volquez and Mike Stanton. Also available: Jon Coutlangus, Justin Lehr, Mike Lincoln, Grary Majewski, Adam Pettyjohn, Brad Salmon, Tom Shearn.

Yankees are running out the A lineup:

Johnny Damon CF
Drek Jetrer SS
Bobby Abreu RF
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Jason Giambi 1B
Jorge Posada C
Hideki MatSui DH
Nick Green 2B
Brett Gardner LF

Joba Chamberlian P

You be the judge

Tonight will be a good chance for those of you in the Great White North to get a good look at two pitchers competing for the rotation. Homer Bailey will be followed by Edinson Volquez. The game is on FSN Ohio. I think you get a better look at a pitcher's stuff on TV.

I'll be curious to the read your comments -- not that isn't always the case.

Bailey will likely face tougher hitters because the stars are only playing four or five innings at this point. First pitch vs. The Yankees is 7:15.

No word on cuts yet.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Diamond in the rough

When Dusty Baker tours the minor league camp, he doesn’t just look at the players he’s heard about.

“They’re the ones who were high picks and got a lot of money.”

He looks for diamonds in the rough. He found one in Marvin Benard when Baker was managing in San Francisco.

“I couldn’t even see him in the cage. I just heard the sound of the bat,” Baker said. “I said, ‘Who’s that kid?’ They said he’s a 50th-round draft choice. He’s a filler. I don’t go for that. I said, ‘What’s your name, son?’ “Marvin L. Benard, sir. You know what initials are? MLB. I was meant to play baseball.’ From that day on, he was MLB.”

Benard went on to play nine seasons in the big leagues and hit .271.

Reds 6, Rays 4

Matt Belisle did a nice job of getting out of trouble in the first. The Rays loaded the bases with with two hits and a walk. But Belisle got Jonny Gomes to hit in 1-2-3 double play. Belisle ended up going three innings, one run, two hits, two walks, one strikeout.

The Reds roughed up Edwin Jackson mightily in second. Joey Votto singled and stole second. Jolbert Cabrera doubled him in. An out later, Chris Kroski doubled. Juan Castro walked. Ryan Hanigan doubled. Ryan Freel and Norris Hopper singled. Six runs, six hits.

Kroski, for the person who asked, was signed as a minor league free agent in 2004. He hit .281 with six homers and 29 RBI in 70 games for Sarasota last year.

Belisle promptly walked the first two hitters after getting the 6-0 lead. Dusty Baker visited the mound after the second walk. That's the first time he's done that when he wasn't taking out the pitcher.

"He told to me to basically forget what happened so far and get after it," Belisle said. "He said while staring in my eyes."

"I just told him to throw it through the catcher," Baker said.

Belisle gave up a run on shortstop Jeff Keppinger's error, but got out of it from there and pitched 1-2-3 third.

Josh Fogg gave up a run in the fourth and another in the fifth. He pitched a 1-2-3 sixth.

Daryl Thompson stuck out the side in his big league spring debut. Ramon Ramirez gave up a run in the eighth. Marcus McBeth pitched the ninth for the save.

Dusty on Keppinger, the rotation

It certainly looks like Jeff Keppinger will be the starting shortstop if Alex Gonzalez begins the near on the disabled list, which is a near lock. I asked Dusty Baker about the fact that Keppinger is starting nearly every game at short:

"I heard he played short most of the year, With (Gonzalez) out, I’ve got to see what he can do. I know he can hit. But that up-the-middle defense is critical. You like to see offense. But certain position on the field, you need defense and leadership. That’s one of them.”

“I want to see him defensively. You know Brandon (Phillips) is going to be at second base. You want your potential shortstops to work with your second baseman. That double play is the most important defensive play out there. You want to get that right.

“Yesterday the double play was a little slow. I thought it was a sure double play. That’s what spring training is for. You work on feeds and how quickly you get the ball.

“Let’s face it, Kep’s a good player. But it’s hard to beat Gonzalez at shortstop. That’s no slight on Kep. It’s a compliment to Gonzo.”

Baker was also asked about competition for the rotation.

“There’s plenty of competition. It’s a matter of how open-minded we allow ourselves to remain.”

Baker said he wasn't just talking about being opewn-minded about the young guys.

"Quite frankly, I get tired of hearing young or old. I’d rather hear is good or bad, good or great.”

Beyond Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo, the rotation is not set.

“I haven’t set anything. You’ve got to give Matt Belisle some strong consideration. You consider 170 innings and 8-9. You got room improvement.”

“If you pitch good enough, there’s going to be somewhere on the team for you. You pitch good enough, long enough, you’ll be somewhere close to being on the team.

“Most of the time, they make us up our minds. Outside of some young guys who haven’t gotten in games, most guys have gotten a good opportunity. I ain’t no one-time-pitch-bad-and-you’re-off-list guy. I ain’t no one-time-you-pitch-good-and-you’re-the-team guy. I like to give guys two or three chances.”

Reds v. Rays lineup

Reds vs. the Rays, 1:05 p.m.

Ryan Freel CF
Norris Hopper LF
Jay Bruce RF
Joey Votto 1B
Jolbert Cabrera 3B
Jeff Keppinger SS
Chris Kroski C
Juan Castro 2B
Ryan Hannigan DH

Matt Belisle P

It's 52 degrees here at Progress Energy Park. The Rays PR apologized to me because I'm in the outdoor press box. "I know it's really chilly out there." If he only knew. I'm sure a lot of you are still digging out back in the Tristate. Marty and Thom on the radio ought to warm things up a bit.

This is a beautiful site for a ballpark. Nice view of the bay. The Rays new park is supposed to be built here.

This is a big start for Belisle. I'm not sure if he's on bubble as far as the rotation. But with the young guys pitching well, you'd think the Reds would be looking at all alternatives.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Reds 13, Braves 8

"I knew it was going to be a high-scoring game with that wind," Dusty Baker said. "This was like a Wrigley Field game."

They didn't put any on Waveland Avenue, but the Reds pounded the Braves 13-8 this afternoon on day when the kept the flag in left field standing at attention.

The Reds scored three in the first off former Red Buddy Carlisle. Jeff Keppinger singled. Junior Griffey doubled. Brandon Phillips got them home with a double. Edwin Encarnacion drove in a Phillips with a single. It went on like that from there.

Jeremy Affledt faced the minimum six in the first two innings. He walked the first two of the third. Both runners ended up scoring.

Phillips hit a home run in the third.

Affeldt struggled in the fourth. Diory Hernandez hit a two-run shot to center that doesn't make the warning tracak on a normal day but the blowing straight out to left.
Still, Affeldt's line was not good: 3 1/3 IP, 6 hits, 6 runs, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts.

"He's threw the ball good," Baker said. "He's got to throw strikes and eliminate those walks."

Although most of the day was done in the fourth, Affeldt said he did not tire.

"I felt good," he said. "My stuff felt good. It just didn't work out today."

Reds scored three in the fourth on an error, a sac fly and an RBI groundout. Reds scored two more in the fifth -- RBI double from Javy Valentin, RBI groundout by by Jay Bruce, who was back in the lineup after missing five days with a quad strain, albeit at DH.

"He'll play in the field tomorrow," Baker said.

Dusty on Cueto

There's a lot of spring training to go. But it sounds like Dusty Baker wants Johnny Cueto in his rotation. A sample of the what Baker said about Cueto, the 22-year-old right-hander, today:

"Who's looked better than him?"

On making the big leagues after so little Triple-A time: "Everybody doesn't have to go through the natural progression, especially pitchers. Hitters have more they have to work on."

"If you have good stuff, you can make hitters swing and miss and foul off pitches off. Ninety-five is 95. Ninety-five with location, boy."

It was pointed out that Cueto hit 97. "I believe that -- 97 with location and nasty change-up and slider."

Again, it's early so ratings can change quickly, but here's how the starters in competition for the rotation -- Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo are off the board -- have looked:

1. Cueto
2. Josh Fogg
3. Homer Bailey
4. Edinson Volquez
5. Jeremy Affeldt
6. Matt Belisle
7. Matt Maloney

Past perfromance will be a factor in who makes it, of course. No one but Maloney has pitched their way out of the race. It will be interesting from here on out. Affeldt is going to make the team but he could be shifted to the bullpen. Same goes for Volquez.

Lineup, schedule

Reds v. Braves, 1:05 p.m. WLW's doing the game.
Norris Hopper CF
Jeff Keppinger SS
Ken Griffey Jr. RF
Brandon Phillips 2B
Adam Dunn LF
Edwin Encarnacion 3B
Scott Hatteberg 1B
Javier Valentin C
Jay Bruce DH

P Jeremy Affeldt vs. Buddy Carlisle. Also pitching: Mike Lincoln, Justin Lehr, Tom Shearn, Gary Majewski and Jon Coutlangus. Also available: Tyler Pelland, Marcus McBeth, Ramon Ramirez. Josh Roenicke and Daryl Thompson.

Sunday: Tampa Bay at St. Pete, 1:05 p.m., Matt Belisle (1-0, 6.75) vs. Edwin Jackson (0-0, 0.00), WLW.

Monday: Yankees at Tampa, 7:15 p.m., Homer Bailey vs. Joba Chamberlain (0-0, 9.00), FSN Ohio, no radio.

Tuesday (split squad): Houston at home, 1:05 p.m., Aaron Harang (1-0, 3.60) vs. Brandon Backe (0-0, 7.20), no radio.
Detroit at Lakeland, 1:05 p.m., Matt Maloney (0-0, 36.00) vs. TBA, no radio.

Bronson Arroyo will pitch in a simulated game today because of last night's rainout.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Another step closer to Arizona

John Allen, who is representing the Reds in the quest for a new spring home, met with Goodyear City Council Thursday.

"It went very, very well," Allen said. "It was the first time I got to tell city council what we're about. They met in closed session and afterward. They told the staff to continue the discussions. It wasn't a landmark meeting. But we're moving forward."

Allen reiterated that if the financing can be secured the Reds will move to Goodyear.

"That is correct," Allen said. "(CEO) Bob Castellini has signed off on that."

The cost of the Reds' portion of the facility in Goodyear would about $30 million. Financing for the stadium, which the Reds would share with the Cleveland Indians, is already secure. The facilities would include six practice fields, a half field and 38,000 feet of office space and clubhouse space.

Allen is making no predictions aobut whether the deal will get done.

"It's still going forward," he said. "But, after what we've been through the last six years in Sarasota, I'm not going to handicap anything."

Nuxhall book

Shameless plug:

The Enquirer has produced a tribute to Joe Nuxhall in the form of a 128-page hardbound book that chronicles Nuxhall’s playing and broadcasting careers and celebrates his life as a humanitarian and integral part of the Greater Cincinnati community. “Joe Nuxhall: The Life, Legacy and Words of a Cincinnati Icon” includes hundreds of photos from The Enquirer archives and the Nuxhall family, Enquirer articles from over the years, cartoons from Pulitzer Prize-winning artist Jim Borgman and a special DVD featuring personal interviews with Joe, provided by CET Cincinnati Public Television. The book is available now for the presale price of $24.95. It will retail for $34.95 starting April 3. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Joe Nuxhall Character Education Fund. You can order online at www.nuxhallbook.com.

71 games in HD

From FSN:

CINCINNATI - FSN Ohio today announced its 2008 Cincinnati Reds television schedule, including 71 games in high definition (HD). Steve Liverani, Senior Vice President and General Manager, FSN Ohio, made the announcement.

The Reds open the 2008 season at home against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday, March 31 with a 2:00 pm start. Entering their 16th consecutive season, the Reds longest running TV duo, George Grande and Chris Welsh will call the action. Also back in the FSN Ohio broadcast booth for their second season is Cincinnati’s own Thom Brennaman and former Reds pitcher Jeff Brantley.

FSN Ohio will telecast more games than ever before in crystal clear high definition during the 2008 Reds season. See the schedule below for the complete HD line-up

Reds Live, FSN Ohio’s pre and post game show, is back and will kick off the season on Opening Day, at 1 pm with a special hour-long pre game show. Jim Day and Jeff Piecoro take the field for another exciting season of analysis, features and the most in-depth Reds coverage anywhere.

Behind-the-scenes on all of FSN Ohio’s Reds productions are producer, Christian Roberts; directors, Brian Hunterman and Roy Alfers; and, Reds Live producers, Kent Weaver and Matt Sigafoos.

Bucs 13, Reds 8: The Cueto Report

Johnny Cueto made his first start and was as billed. He threw strikes. His line: 3 IP, 1 hit, no runs, no walks, 4 strikeouts. Very, very impressive.

"That kid's got some (stuff)," Ken Griffey Jr. said. "Some other guys are going to turn it up, especially somebody wearing No. 34. Competition is a good thing."

Homer Bailey is No. 34.

The rest of the Reds pitchers weren't so good. The Pirates ended up pounding the Reds 13-8, breaking the three-game wininng streak.

But Cueto was the story. Javier Valentin translated for Johnny Cueto but was asked his opinion of Cueto's best pitch. He said his change-up.

"If you have that kind of change-up, welcome to the big leagues," Valentin said.
"He's the next Pedro Martinez."

Cueto was pitching at 93-94. But he hit 97 at least once. His slider was 83-87, and his out pitch, the change-up, was in the 70s.

Here's a little of Cueto, through Valentin.

When asked if he expects to start in the big leagues...
“Yeah, that’s why I’m here,” Cueto said. “If I have the chance to start the
season in the big leagues, I’m going to. And if I’ll play, I’ll be happy.”

Did you do anything different today?
“I feel good, I feel comfortable. I tried some stuff. I didn’t to anything
specific to impress, to prove to anybody. I threw the way I’m used to throwing.”

What have you learned from Francisco Cordero and Mario Soto?
“I’m working low, strike zone low, and that’s what Mario and Cordero talk to me

Did you reach your pitch limit today?
“No. I stayed short.”

Cueto threw 15 more pithes in the bullpen to get his work in.

Richie Gardner got lit up in the fourth. He only retired one batter and was charged with seven runs. Scott Sauerbeck was other big victim. He gave up four runs.

Cueto's first: Nate McLouth: Called strike, foul, taken third strike. Jack Wilson: Foul ball, ball, swinging strike. 5-3. Freddie Sanchez: Ball, foul, taken strike, punch single to right. Jason Bay: Called strike, ball, flyout to left. 14 pitches/11 strikes.

The Pirates started John Van Benschoten, the right-hander from Milford and Kent State. Not a good start for him. Scott Hatteberg singled, Ken Griffey Jr. walked, and Brandon Phillips hit a home run.

Second inning from Cueto was more on the same. Adam LaRoche broke his bat on a first pitch groundout. Ronny Paulino and Steve Pearce each struck out. 12 pitches, eight strikes.

Cueto's third: Neil Walker strikeout swinging. Luis Rivas 4-3. McLouth soft liner to 3. 11 pitches, seven strikes.

It was 82 degrees at first pitch, but it's extremely windy. The forecast for the second game tonight is not good.


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