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

Friday, September 12, 2014

Gunner Kiel Shines In Bearcats Opener




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Gunner Kiel was highly recruited out of high school in Columbus, Indiana.

The Indiana kid, took on the challenge of playing in state in South Bend at legendary Notre Dame University.  After his freshman year, he reconsider his position with the Fighting Irish and transferred to Cincinnat.

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After his obligatory year wait, Kiel proved why he was highly recruited, throwing for 294 yards and four touchdowns in Cincinnati's 58-34 win over cross-state rival the University of Toledo.

Cincinnati scored on its first six possessions and played errorless football with no turnovers to build a 41-14 halftime lead.

Kiel hit four different receivers with first-half touchdown tosses, Mekale McKay (17), Max Morrison(23), Chris Moore (8) and Nate Cole (11) in the first half.  Rod Moore contributed a two-yard run.

The Cincinnati offense went stagnate in the third quarter and the Rockets fought their way back in the game with five scores.  Logan Woodside threw two touchdown passes to Alonzo Russell and one to Corey Jones.  Jeremiah Detmer kicked a pair of field goals and UC found itself in a 41-34 dogfight before the Bearcat offense reawakened.

Kiel threw touchdown passes to Alex Chisum (18) and Shaq Washington (22).  Alex Ganz kicked a 34-yard field goal.

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The six touchdowns passes, which incidentally went to six different receivers, tied Cincinnati's single game record.  Tony Pike threw six touchdown passes against Northern Illinois in 2009.

Hosey Williams rushed for 103 yards on 14 carries.  Kiel also ran for 32 yards on four carries and was sacked once for eight yards.

Munchie Legaux completed a year-long comeback from a badly injured right knee by making one carry for five yards.  On September 7 last season at Illinois Legaux suffered a knee injury that put his career in doubt.  Miraculously, Legaux returned 370 days later with his run.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Johnny Cueto 20 Game Winner? Cy Young?




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Johnny Cueto will have three starts left, including the last game of the season if the schedule stays the same.

The Reds have 15 games left and playing for awards is about all that is left for the team as it tries to finish strong.

The Reds will have two off days between now and the end of the season on September 28.

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"These awards are important," Bryan Price said.  "It would be a nice side note to our season for Johnny to win the (Cy Young) award."

Twenty wins would go along way toward that end.  Pitchers wins have fallen out of favor with stats prone fans in the Bill James era.  Yet winning 20 decisions is very difficult to do in the age of five starting pitchers cutting starts from 40 to 34, which is what Cueto will have if he makes his last three starts.  With the specialization of the bullpens, starters are no longer asked to throw nine innings.  Six is considered a quality start and seven a superior start.  This leads to fewer decisions as well.

Cueto and Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers are the two front runners for the Cy Yound Award.
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After the 1-0 win over St. Louis, Cueto and Kershaw are tied for the National League lead with 18 wins.  Cueto lowered his ERA to 2.15 second behind Kershaw's 1.67. Cueto struck out seven batters on Thursday, increasing his lead over Kershaw's 210.  Kershaw has held hitters to a .188 batting average.  Cueto dropped his to .187.  Both have two shutouts.  Kershaw has six complete games.  Cueto has completed four games.

"Someone should consider the margin for error,"Price said.  "I don't think Johnny has had as much run support."

Reds Johnny Cueto Wins Pitching Duel




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Johnny Cueto and Lance Lynn traded zeroes for seven innings until the Reds managed a run in the eighth to take a 1-0 win.

"That increased the intensity," Cueto said. "Every inning he put up a zero, I wanted to come back and put up a zero.  We keep going until somebody scores.  Thank God we scored."

Lynn agreed with Cueto.

"That's what makes it fun," Lynn said. "It's always a challenge. He just outpitched me."

Cueto got credit for win number 18 which would be one short of his career high and give him a shot at 20 with three more starts.

"We have created an environment where we are the spoilers," Bryan Price said.  "It is no secret that we've struggled against the Cardinals the last several years.  We want to finish strong and feel good about how we finish."

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Lynn is having his best season as a starter and looking for his 16th win, one short of Adam Wainwright;s team lead.


The Cardinals put the first two batters on base in the first and third innings but Cueto got double play ground balls to keep the Cardinals off the board.

Cueto retired the last 14 batters he faccd, finishing eight innings. He allowed three hits and struck out seven.


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Jay Bruce took a home run away from Matt Adams, leading off the seventh inning.  A diving stop by Todd Frazier saved a run in the third inning.

"I always assume that I have a play," Bruce said. "I try to get back to the wall as quickly as I can and time it.  It was important to take advantage of Johnny's performance.  Taking three out of four from these guys is huge for us."

Lynn retired 15 in a row before walking Brandon Phillips to open the eighth.  Jay Bruce singled up the middle to put runners at first and third with no outs. Jon Jay couldn't come up with Ramon Santiago's flare into shallow center.  Jay was able to force Bruce at second but Phillips scored the first run of the game.  Cozart lined to Jhonny Peralta at short but Peralta threw the ball away, trying to double Santiago off first.  Skip Schumaker lined out to left batting for Cueto.

Aroldis Chapman walked one but finished off the Cardinals for his 33rd save.







Research Reveals Steve Smith Numbers Are Correct




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Steve Smith has been taking a lot of heat for Reds runners being thrown out at home plate.

The Reds have had a National League high 27 runners thrown out at home without being a force, pickoff or caught stealing.

Smith claimed that only 10 were thrown out because he sent them, including Bryan Pena, who tried to score from second on a Brandon Phillips' single on Wednesday. Bryan Price gave the same figure on Thursday morning.

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Statistician Joel Luckhaupt spent hours reviewing all 27 outs and gave this breakdown.

11 outs were from the contact play.  Contact plays are managers decisions and predetermined based on the situation.

Four outs were clearly the runner making the decision on his own.

Two were off sacrifice flies which are runners reading the play, although the thirdbase coach can hold them.

10 were outs at home where a runner tried to score on a hit to the outfield.

Of those 10 three were close plays and two were close enough to be reviewed.

That leaves seven in which Smith played a part in the outcome.

"If I sent 25 guys that were thrown out at home, I'd fire myself," Smith said.

First year manager Bryan Price determined in spring training the Reds; intended to be more aggressive on the base paths. 

Price has used the tag play because the Reds have struggled so much at the plate.

"I don't know the percentages," Price said.  "A lot of them were early in the season.  Our offense was stagnant.  It is not uncommon to go on contact with one out and the infield playing in.  Maybe, its your eight hole hitter, or a guy is struggling on deck and you want to take that chance."

It is a common play in baseball and a calculated risk.

"All you really need is for the ball to go enough to the right or left of the infielder where they have to leave their feet or gather themselves to throw.  With one out it is pretty common.  With no outs it's a lot less common," Price said.

A lot depands on who the batter is.

"If it is Brandon Phillips at the plate and Joey Votto on deck or someone swinging the bat well, you might want them to hit with two outs and a runnier on third," Price said.  "Or if it is Billy (Hamilton) if the runner is thrown out he can steal a base and you still have a runner in scoring position with two outs."
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"We're hitting .220 as a team with runners in scoring position," said Price.  "What are you waiting for/"

Smith has been vilified on radio talk shows.

'I don't listen to them," Price said. "Mark Berry talked about people yelling to him about decisions that he made.  A lot of the decisions are made by the manager. They are consistent baseball decisions that are made around baseball. It doesn't matter if it's Dusty Baker, Bobby Cox or Tony La Russa.  The Cardinals have beat us that contact play a dozen times since I've been here on balls that we've fielded in the infield and the runner scored."

"You'd have to go back and see how many times we've scored on the play to see if it is a good move or not," Price said.  "In the end, I don't care what you think.  If we're sitting around waiting to score runs, if we're going to be less aggressive. We're going to score fewer runs in my opinion."

"It isn't like Roger Craig teaching the first split finger.  It is a play that is common in baseball," Price said.  "For whatever reason, we had a lot of guys throw out at the plate the first third of the season."
What about Pena last night?

"It is just trying to make the right decision," Price said. "We've had 10 guys thrown out trying to score where Smitty's been in charge of sending them. I don't think that's a ridiculous number by any means."



Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Reds Clip Cardinals Again




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Alfredo Simon had trouble closing out the first inning but had very little trouble the rest of his stint.

Simon took to the offensive and doubled twice and drove in the go ahead run in the Reds 4-2 win.

Simon, seeking his 14th win, walked Matt Holliday after he retired the first two batters of the game.  Matt Adams doubled to score Holliday. Adams scored on a single by Oscar Taveras before Simon got out of the inning.

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The Reds had a better opportunity but didn't do as much with it in their half of the first against John Lackey.  Chris Heisey walked and went to third on Brayan Pena's single.  Todd Frazier grounded a single into left to score Heisey.

Lackey got out of the inning by getting Devin Mesoraco to hit into a double-play and Brandon Phillips to fly out to center.

Ryan Ludwick hit his ninth home run off Lackey in the second. 

A catch of Adams line drive helped Simon escape the third. 

Matt Carpenter walked and Jon Jay singled to open the inning.  Holliday struck out.  Adams lined to Pena, who easily doubled Jay off first.

Simon gave up two hits over his last four innings and retired the last seven batters he faced.

The Reds scored an insurance run by loading the bases in the fifth.  Heisey and Pena singled off Tyler Lyons.  Frazier struck out looking as the runners moved up on a passed ball by Yadier Molina.  Lyons walked Mesoraco to load the bases.  Cardinal manager Mike Mathcny brought in double-play specialist Seth Maness to face Phillips.  Phillips worked the count full then grounded a single to left. Heisey scored but Pena was thrown out by Holliday.
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It was the 27th baserunner thrown out at home this season without a force play, caught stealing or pickoff.  That leads the National League

Sam LeCure replaced Simon. 

LeCure retired the first two batters but hit Jay.  It was the 18th time Jay has been hit by a pitch, breaking the tie for the National League with Holliday, who followed Jay with a single.

Reds' manager Bryan Price brought lefty Ryan Dennick into the game to face Adams, who flied out to left..

Aroldis Chapman earned his 32nd save.



Reds Have Jake Of All Trades With Jake Elmore




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The Reds are looking for players that can play multiple positions.  Kristopher Negron has played everywhere and very well since his promotion from Louisville.

The Reds picked up another player without fanfare that may be even more versatile.

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Jake Elmore is one of the 10 September call ups.  The 27-year old native of Dothan, Alabama was picked up on waivers on August 2nd after he was designated for assignment on July 31.  The Athletics traded for him at the end of spring training from the Chicago White Sox but was the victim of the Athletics trade deadline moves.


Last season Elmore was with the Houston Astros.  He was told right away that he would be the emergency catcher behind starter Jason Castro and back up Carlos Corporan.

"I caught in high school and was recruited as a catcher," Elmore said.  "I told them at Wallace College that I wanted to be moved to the infield to save my knees, save my speed. But I liked catching because you're in every play. It is probably the most fun.  You're in every pitch."

Elmore was the 34th pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2008 draft after he had transferred to Arizona State.

Elmore mostly played shortstop.  He played a lot of leftfield and a fair amount of secondbase.  When he wasn't doing that, he would catch bullpens. 

Bo Porter, the Astros manager, observed his bullpen sessions and put it in the back of his mind.

One day against Texas, Castro was the designated hitter and Corporan was starting behind the plate, when a foul ball hit Corporan in the mask.

"He finished the inning but after it they told him he was done with a concussion," Elmore said.  "They didn't want to give up the designated hitter."

The game got out of hand.

'I went out and pitched the eighth," Elmore said of the 16-5 loss that day.

Elmore retired all three batters he faced in the inning.

Porter was not afraid to go to Elmore in a pinch.

"One day in Oakland it was the eighth inning of a one-run game," Elmore said. "Bo came to me and said are you ready to make your debut at firstbase.  Brett Wallace was playing first and I pinch ran for him."

There have been a novelty in the Major Leagues of having players play one inning of a game in each defensive position Cesar Tovar did it for the Minnesota Twins and Bert Campanaris did it for the Oakland Athletics.

Elmore is not interested.
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"I don't know," Elmore said.  "If my team had clinched the division.  It might be fun but you have to keep the integrity of the game.  It is certainly not something I would asked to do.  That's just for show."

Elmore has no problem filling in where there is a legitimate need, however.

He carries an infield glove and an outfield glove on the road.

"I'd have to borrow a firstbaseman's glove and catching equipment," Elmore said.  "The Astros said that if one of the catchers went down, I'd be in.  This organization hasn't mentioned it."

Reds Thirdbase Coach Steve Smith Questions Numbers




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Steve Smith has been vilified for sending runners to the plate only to be thrown out.

Fox Sports Ohio statistician, Joel Luchhaupt, researched the numbers and put the number of 25 non-force outs made at home plate this season by Reds' base runners.

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Luckhaupt found the number on http://www.baseball-reference.com/

Smith obviously upset by the criticism confronted a pair of reporters before the game Wednesday against the St. Louis Cardinals.

"I can remember nine this season, six before the All-Star Game and three after it," Smith said.  "If I sent 25 guys to be thrown out, I'd fire myself."

The numbers that Luckhaupt quoted does not filter out runners thrown out on contact plays, those that run on a ground ball to the infield when on thirdbase.

"Those are a manager's decision," Smith explained.

Luckhaupt ageed. 

"I don't know how many were from contact plays," Luckhaupt said.  "I would have to do more research on it. Baseball reference doesn't show how many guys run through the stop sign either."

Smith admitted to three that he would have liked to have back.

One was the play against Pittsburgh, when Ramon Saniago was thrown out at the plate in the bottom of the ninth of a tie game.
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Santiago was the lead runner on second base when Jay Bruce grounded a single to right with no outs and Devin Mesoraco on deck.  Santiago was thrown out by rookie Gregory Polanco with a nice tag by catcher Russell Martin.

"There were no outs and Mesoraco would have been up with the bases loaded and no outs," Smith said.

The Reds didn't score and lost when Andrew McCutcheon homered to win the game for Pittsburgh.

On plays at home when a baserunner was out by making a base running play that excludes pick offs, caught stealing or force plays, the Reds lead the league with 26.  Los Angeles has had 25 and the St. Louis Cardinals 20.  Every team has had at least 10.







Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Reds Beat Cardinals I Repeat Reds Beat Cardinals




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They say if you attend enough baseball games you'll see something you've never seen before.

Reds fans got to witness a rare win over its arch rival St. Louis Cardinals, 9-5

Devin Mesoraco hit a two-run home run off Michael Wacha in the first inning. 

"I had never faced him before," Mesoraco said. "He put me in a hole. Then threw me some tough pitches out of the zone that I was able to lay off.  He left a 3-2 curve down the middle."

"Devin has given us quality at bats," Bryan Price said.  "He has had a good year.  Even with two stints on the disabled list.  He's struggled at times but has always come back."

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Arch villain Yadier Molina cut the lead in half with a sacrifice fly off Reds starter Mike Leake but Leake got the run back.  He followed Zack Cozart's two-out triple with a double to maintain a two-run cushion.

The Reds added on in the fifth.  Brayan Pena drew one of his three walks to start the inning against Wacha.  Todd Frazier hit a grounder to Kolten Wong at second.  Pena evaded the tag and Wong dropped the ball. Mesoraco doubled in Pena.  Brandon Phillips greeted reliever Jason Mott with a two-run double.  Ryan Ludwick singled to drive in Phillips.

The Reds had to know the Cardinals weren't going down this easy.
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Oscar Taveras doubled.  Wong reached and Taveras went to third when Hamilton barely missed a diving catch in centerfield.  Jumbo Diaz relieved Leake. Tony Cruz singled to score Taveras.  Hamilton made a running catch on Matt Carpenters fly. Jon Jay and Matt Holliday singled to make the score 7-4.  Matt Adams flied to shallow center. Jhonny Peralta walked to load the bases.  Pena saved the day with a diving stab of A.J. Pierziynski's bid for a two-run single.

"There were a couple od game changers," Price said. "There were some good hitters coming up with runners on second and third but Mike got two strike outs to get out of the inning.  Then Pena's play on Pierzynski.  If that ball gets down the line, it's a different game."

Leake struck out Jhonny Peralta and Yadier Molina with two men in scoring position.
"I had to bear down right there," Leake said. "It is fun to beat these guys they are always a challenge. The have a good approach.  They stay in their zone and never come out of it.  They foul off a lot of good pitches until they get one they can hit."

The Reds scored two more against Sam Tuivailala making his Major League debut.  Pena singled. Mesoraco walked. Jason Bourgeois singled to load the bases and Chris Heisey hit a two-run single.

J.J. Hoover allowed an unearned run on Xavier Scruggs first Major League hit, a double in the ninth.

Aroldis Chapman was summoned to pitch to Mark Ellis with two outs and two on in the ninth.  Champan struck him out on 11 pitches.  Chapman earned his 31st save because the tying run was on deck when he entered the game.

:"We stayed resilient because we had to," Price said.


Joey Votto Still Working To Comeback




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Joey Votto took ground balls today at Great American Ball Park before batting practice.

It came as a surprise to observers and maybe surprised manager Bryan Price, who gave an update on the 2010 MVP before the game.

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With just 18 games left the smart money said that Votto wouldn't be ready to come back this season but Price indicated otherwise before the game with St. Louis.

"He’s done some tee work. As you would know, everything would go up incrementally. When it’s going to go up, that’s hard for me to say. He’s hit off the tee. He’s taken groundballs. As the trainers allow, he will increase his workload unless there’s a reason to not increase it," Price said. "He took 25 ground balls yesterday, day off today."

Votto was out taking ground balls before the game anyway.

Price does not expect to see Dylan Axelrod on the mound again this season.
 
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“Obliques are tenuous." Price said. "I don’t have a ton of optimism that he’ll be back, but I haven’t been told he won’t be back. Maybe he will be. Maybe we got it before it was out of control. Hard for me to say. With this particular injury and a pitcher, I’m not terribly optimistic.”
 
David Holmberg will replace Axelrod in the rotation over the last 18 games.
 
“The biggest thing was the fourth inning where he got erratic and was able to recover (from a bases loaded situation). In his previous starts, he hasn’t. If he’s been erratic and lost his command, he hasn’t been able to make the corrections in locating good quality pitches," Price said. "He was able to do that. He was still erratic with his command. At one point in time, he was 50-50 with his pitches – it was 28 balls and 28 strikes, I think – but he still had 5 2-3 of scoreless baseball, so you can’t look that in the mouth. We’ll take that any day. You don’t find many guys at 50-50 who have a ton of success at this level, especially starters, but he managed it. He worked around it. The other part of it was I think he did a pretty nice job controlling the running game."

Monday, September 8, 2014

Shelby Miller The Latest Pitcher To Shutdown Reds




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Shelby Miller entered the bottom of the seventh inning with just 60 pitches.

The Cardinals made it look easy in a 5-0 win.   The Reds sink to a season low 10 games below .500 at 67-77.

The Reds had exactly two base runners at the time.  Brandon Phillips singled in the second inning but Jay Bruce hit into a double play.  Devin Mesoraco led off the fifth with a double and stood right there watching three teammates go down meekly.

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The Reds starter Dylan Axelrod threw seven pitches but departed with a strained right oblique.

David Holmberg brought his 15.63 ERA into the game and pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing just four hits and two walks.  The walks were issued in the fourth as the Cardinals loaded the bases but Holmberg pitched out of it. 

"It was good to see him have some success," Bryan Price said. "We just want him to get comfortable up here.  It makes sense that he takes over Axelrod's starts the rest of the year. We won't have enough time to get him back."

Holmberg wasn't prepared to go into the first inning but maybe not having time to think about it was a plus.

"It could have helped," Holmberg said.  "It may not have helped.  I think being here the last seven days and working with Jeff Pico and Mack Jenkins to straighten out my delivery helped.  It was a confidence builder.  I knew I was going to be long relief but never thought I'd come in the first inning."

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Manny Parra entered the scoreless game in the seventh.  Pinch hitter and September call up Randall Grichuk doubled to open the inning.  Kolten Wong hit a ground ball into the hole at short.  Zack Cozart gloved it but his only chance was to throw Grichuk out at third.  Grichuk beat the short hop throw.  Miller fouled off two bunt attempts but succeeded on the third try.  Matt Carpenter broke the scoreless tie with a single to right.

Bryan Price used Sam LeCure, Ryan Dennick and Pedro Villareal to get out of the inning.  Dennick ended up with a strange outing.  He struck out the only batter he faced, Matt Adams, but Adams reached on the wild pitch to load the bases

Phillips second hit of the game forced Cardinal manager Mike Matheny to replace Miller with .Pat Neshek in the eighth. Miller threw just 81 pitches.

Bruce flied to right and Chris Heisey bounced into a double play.

Villareal walked Jay one out into the ninth.  Matt Hollisday hit a smash back through the box that caromed off Villareal that bounded past firstbaseman Brayan Pena into rightfield.  Jay was able to go to third.  Villareal sailed two practice pitches and had to leave.  Logan Ondrusek came in and Adams cleared the rightfield wall by plenty to make it 5-0.  It was the 15th home run of the year for Adams.






Better In The Bahamas Reds Sign Two Players From Grand Bahamas




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The Reds announced the signing of two players from Freeport, Bahamas.

The Reds signed 18-year old centerfielder/LHP Rashad Munroe and 16-year old IF/C/RHP Quinton Rolle to minor league contracts.

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Both players were on National teams coached by Reds' associate Patrick Knowles.

Rolle was the youngest player in Bahamian history to be selected to play on the Bahamas Men's National Softball Team in 2014.
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Reds Don't Like Spoiler's Role




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Bryan Price would rather the Reds concentrate on how they play rather than who they play.

There are a miracle away from getting back in the race, if you want to put a positive spin on the last 19 games that finds the team nine games under .500, 13 games behind the division leading St. Louis Cardinals and 7 1/2 games out of the wild card behind four teams.
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It is not an uphill climb.  Mt. Everest is an uphill climb.

“Keeping the focus on us playing better baseball and winning games is still the priority," Price said. "The fact that these games are more important to the teams we’re playing is unfortunate. That being said, we knew coming in that we were going to play 162 games all out and see where the chips fell. This is good for us. It will be spirited baseball without question. If we do make a difference, it will be a positive for our ballclub.”

Rather than go through the motions, Price would like to find out which players rise to the occasion and which players wilt.  He would like to see what his young players can do.
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“It’s one of those things where you find out," Price said. "You find out a lot of things over the course of a full season. We know that these games mean a lot as far as where these teams end up. Certainly there should be an investment from our side as far as going out there and making it difficult for opponents to extract victories from us.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Reds Drop Game To Mets




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The one phase of the game the Reds have done consistently well let them down in a 4-3 loss to the Mets.

The Reds began the day with a major league-low 62 errors. But center fielder Billy Hamilton dropped a fly ball in New York's three-run sixth, and first baseman Jack Hannahan flubbed Granderson's foul popup in the eighth. Curtis Granderson then hit a solo shot for his 18th homer.
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"It was unfortunate," Reds' manager Bryan Price said. "We pretty much handed them their runs. It was plays they make 99.9 percent out of 100. It happens but it stinks when it does."

Anthony Recker homered in the sixth to cap the three-run sixth,

The Mets jumped on Latos (5-5) after Hamilton dropped Wilmer Flores' fly ball on the warning track for a two-base error with one out in the sixth. Granderson followed with a tying RBI single.

"Billy dropped one but look at all the plays he's made," said Latos. "I could have pitched better. You can't leave the ball down the middle to Recker."

After Dilson Herrera fouled out, Recker hit a drive off the facade of the second deck in left field for his sixth homer. Of Recker's 13 career home runs, 10 either have tied the game or given his team the lead, including five this season.

"I had to pitch better," Latos said. "You can't leave the ball down the middle to Recker."

Hamilton has been a pleasant surprise for the Reds on defense in just his second year after being converted to centerfield from shortstop.

"It was one of the balls I thought was hit softer than it was," Hamilton said. "I took one little peek at the wall and that's what did it, no excuses. It was my fault. Latos got behind on Recker. It's frustrating. He should have been out of the inning.
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Zach Wheeler (10-9) pitched six solid innings, improving to 7-1 with a 2.21 ERA over his last 13 starts. The right-hander allowed one run and five hits, struck out six

New York carried a 4-1 lead into the ninth, but Jay Bruce hit his 16th homer and Ryan Ludwick added an RBI single to get Cincinnati within one. The Reds had the bases loaded with two out when Jenrry Mejia struck out Devin Mesoraco for his 24th save, closing out a 4-2 road trip for the Mets.

"It was a great effort in the ninth against a good pitcher," Price said of the Reds' 35th one-run loss of the season. They are a season low nine games below .500

Latos struck out five in six innings for Cincinnati. He allowed three runs and seven hits.

Latos helped himself with a two-out single in the fifth. He came around to score on Schumaker's base hit.

TRAVELING MAN
 
Wheeler improved to 5-1 with a 2.08 ERA over his last 12 road starts. He has allowed one earned run or less in eight of those starts.

TARNISHED GOLD

Mets CF Juan Lagares committed just his third error of the season in 107 games. Hamilton committed just his second in 137 games.

STILL GOLD

Brandon Phillips has turned in 99 consecutive games without an error. It is a career-high. He made his last error against the Mets on April 5th in New York.

HITLESS IN CINCINNATI

Coming into the game the Reds are last in the National League in batting average (.222), runs (156), hits (349), slugging percentage (.330) and on-base percentage (.276)

TRAINER'S ROOM

Mets: Rookie C Travis d'Arnaud got the day off.

Reds: Todd Frazier's start on Sunday was his 19th straight since missing three games Aug. 15-17 with lower back problems. An All-Star third baseman, he had started eight of those games at first base.

UP NEXT

Mets: LHP Jonathon Niese (8-10) tries for his first win over Colorado since May 12, 2011, when the Mets open a nine-game homestand Monday with the first of three against the Rockies.

Reds: RHP Dylan Axelrod (1-1) makes his first career appearance against St. Louis as the Reds and Cardinals open a four-game series.

Kristopher Negron Shows He Belongs




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By all accounts the Cincinnati Reds season has bottomed out, yet from the deep hole the Reds have found a diamond in the rough.

"I hate to say diamond in the rough but he is 28-years old and been the minor leagues a long time," Bryan Price said.  Price should know because his playing talent did not allow a career on the field.

Negron came to the Reds from the Boston Red Sox in 2009 in exchange for Alex Gonzalez in a late season salary dump.  Negron was a seventh round pick in 2006 and once considered a bright enough prospect for the Reds to send him to the Arizona Fall League, where teams try to test players against the best among their peers.

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Negron fell by the wayside, hitting .244 in eight minor league seasons.  He was with the Reds briefly in 2012 when the Reds were strapped for players but played in four games, getting one hit in just four at bats.

The Northern California raised Negron was removed from the 40-man roster and was unclaimed on waivers.  He spent all of 2013 in Louisville, now thought of as a fill-in player.

A trip to the Puerto Rican Winter League at Caguas, where he played for Alex Cora turned things around for Negron.

"I felt I had a really good spring training," Negron said. "Winter ball got me ahead of the curve."

Negron had a good spring, playing all over the infield and some in the outfield.

"He opened our eyes in spring training and continued to do so with his opportunity here," Price said. "I think he's done enough to be considered part of the team next year.  A big part of it is he's shown that he can play so many positions.  He's added a speed component, a pinch hitting element to strengthen the bench and he's become a reliable starter.  We want to continue to work on small ball, situational hitting, bunting and the hit-and-run. He's a very heads up player and doesn't take anything for granted."

Negron was left off the opening day roster.  Baseball economics rather than performance was responsible for his assignment to Louisville rather than Cincinnati.  Ramon Santiago was signed to back up Zack Cozart.

Negron admitted to allowing the demotion to ruin his attitude for a month but then he started to pick up te pace, playing mostly shortstop for the Bats. 

"I let it get to me for a month," Negron said.  "I kept in touch with Alex and talk to him all the time."

Negron's willingness to do whatever it takes to stay in the big leagues led to the selection of his contract on July 10 when the Reds were strapped for players with Brandon Phillips injury to his left thumb.
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When Negron packs for a road trip he packs his bag with two infield gloves, two outfield gloves, a catcher's mitt and mask, the latter belong to Neftali Soto. 

"I warm up pitchers between innings," Negron said.  "I wear the mask because I don't want those sinkers to hit me in the mouth.  My parents spent too much money on my teeth."

Negron would even catch in a game if that's what it took to improve his value to the team.

"I caught in Little League," Negron said.  "If the opportunity comes up, I will gladly do it."

When told of Price's remarks about the positive impression that Negron has demonstrated since his arrival, Negron vowed he wouldn't change.

"I'm going to keep working and going about my business."

Monday, September 1, 2014

Homer Bailey Finished Reds Add 10 Players




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Homer Bailey was transferred from the 15-day to the 60-day disabled list, meaning he will not pitch again this year.

Bailey has been out since August 10 when he experienced tightness in his elbow and right forearm.

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He will finish the year at 9-5 with a 3.71 ERA in 145 innings.

Bailey signed a six-year $105 million contract in March.

The Reds are expanding the playing roster to 35 by calling up 10 players, (5 pitchers) to the Major League roster for the final month of the season.

The Reds traded Jonathon Broxton to the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday for two players to be named later.

The pitchers being recalled are right-handers, J.J. Hoover, Daniel Corcino and Carlos Contreras and left-handers, David Holmberg and Ryan Dennick.

The position players are catcher Tucker Barnhart, IB/OF Donald Lutz, OF Jason Bourgeois. OF Yorman Rodriguez and IF/OF Jake Elmore.

All of the pitchers with the exception of Ryan Dennick have pitched for the Reds this season.  Dennick was 4-0 with a 2.36 ERA for Louisville, coming to the Reds in the Triple A phase of the Rule V draft in 2012 from Kansas City.   He will make his Major League debut when he gets into the game for the Reds.

Lutz and Barnhart have played with the Reds.  Barnhart made his debut this season.

Bourgeois has been in the Major Leagues with the Chicago White Sox, Milwaukee Brewers, Houston Astros, Kansas City Royals and Tampa Bay Rays.  He has a .260 average with three home runs and 29 RBI in the big leagues.  Bourgeois signed with the Reds and was invited to spring training but got off to a slow start with an injury.  In Louisville this season Bourgeois hit .278 with four home runs and 42 home runs. He was named the Bats MVP.

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Elmore went to spring training this year with the White Sox but was traded to Oakland.  Oakland was placed on waivers by the Athletics on July 31 after the A's made a lot of changes at the trade deadline/ The Reds claimed him on waivers and sent him to Louisville. Elmore hit .281 with no home runs and 24 RBI with Sacramento and Louisville. He also had 12 stolen bases. Elmore  has played in the Major Leagues with Arizona and Houston.

Rodriguez, 22, was signed by the Reds as an undrafted free agent in 2009 as a 17-year old.  He has played at Pensacola this season after being promoted from Bakersfield, late last season.

Rodriguez was invited to spring training the last two years.  He hit .262 with nine home runs and 40 RBI for the Blue Wahoos.  Rodriguez stole 12 bases this season.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Reds Steal Game From Cubs




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The Cincinnati Reds came up with a game plan to steal a game from Jake Arrieta, and they ran with it.


Billy Hamilton stole his 51st base and the Reds swiped six in all, beating the Chicago Cubs 7-2 Thursday.

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Zack Cozart and Todd Frazier each stole twice, and Kristopher Negron added one more. The last time the Reds stole at least six was 2006 against Washington.

The Reds had six steals in the first four innings, using six hits and four walks to build a 6-0 lead against Arrieta (7-5).


Cincinnati stole three in a three-run second inning and two in a three-run fourth. All six steals came at second base, with John Baker catching Arrieta.

"We knew it would be hard to score on Arrieta," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "We wanted to create some opportunities by being aggressive. We did a good job, all the way through, not just the first time through the lineup."

Dylan Axelrod (1-0) pitched five scoreless innings of two-hit ball and struck out eight.

"He had roughly 60 pitches in the first three innings," Price said. "It looked like he would only make it through three but he made an in-game adjustment and made it through five."

Axelrod was taking injured Homer Bailey's spot in the starting rotation and made his first start for the Reds since Aug. 16 in Colorado. Axelrod left that game with a lead, only to have the bullpen give it up.

A water main break in Denver caused a doubleheader that taxed the Reds' bullpen and Axelrod was sent to the minors in favor of bullpen help.
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It made sense," Axelrod said of that move. "You have to take advantage of every opportunity up here. They took some tough two-strike pitches in the first two innings. I decided to attack with my fastball. The three run lead made it easier.

Cubs rookie Jorge Soler doubled and singled in his second major league game and drove in a run. He homered and singled in his debut on Wednesday.

Hamilton set the tone right away. He drew a leadoff walk in the first and stole second on the next pitch.

Hamilton went 2 for 2 with a double and walked twice. Dee Gordon of the Dodgers began the day leading the majors with 58 steals.

Negron and Cozart each stole and scored in the second. Cozart and Frazier both stole and scored in the fourth.

Cozart had three hits, including a double, and scored three times.

"I've been feeling better the last three weeks but I haven't always gotten the results," Cozart said. "Now it's starting to show. We've been aggressive all year and not just with Billy. It makes it fun and creates opportunities when we run."

Arrieta felt he could have done a better job against the Reds' running game.

"I was bad at holding the runners. That's my fault," Arrieta said. "I wasn't giving Baker an opportunity to throw them out. That sets up the hits."

"Frazier hit two good pitches, but the pitch to Phillips was out over the plate, and so was the one to Hamilton for the double. I've got to vary my times better at holding the ball. They were aggressive on the bases and at the plate. They were able to get good reads and good jumps."

Reds relievers Pedro Villareal and Logan Ondrusek combined for three perfect innings. The Cubs scored two runs off Jumbo Diaz in the ninth.

WHIFF

Jay Bruce struck out five times. He is the seventh Reds player to strike out five times in a game and the second to do it in nine innings. Adam Dunn also struck out five times in nine innings in 2002.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Cubs: 1B Anthony Rizzo was out of the lineup for the second straight day with tightness in his lower back. Manager Rick Renteria hopes to have him back for the upcoming series in St. Louis.

Reds: Bailey (right elbow) and 1B Joey Votto (left knee) are progressing at a slow rate. The Reds plan to call up seven to nine players on Monday when rosters expand to 40, according to manager Bryan Price.

UP NEXT

Cubs: Kyle Hendricks (5-1) will open the four-game series in St. Louis on Friday. He had a rain-shortened, two-inning start Aug. 23 against Baltimore.

Reds: Mike Leake (10-11) will begin the opener of a three-game series in Pittsburgh on Friday. Leake is 5-0 in 11 starts against Pittsburgh since a 3-2 loss on May 5, 2012.

DH PLANS

Cubs LHP Felix Doubront will come off the DL to start the opener of Saturday's doubleheader in St. Louis. LHP Tsuyoshi Wada will start the second game.

YOUNG CUBS

The Cubs started four players who were 24 or younger: Veteran Starlin Castro (24), who made his debut at 20, Javier Baez (21), Jorge Soler (22) and Arismendy Alcantara (22) were in the starting lineup. Billy Hamilton was the youngest Reds' starter at 23.
 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Reds Use Flubs To Drub Cubs




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The punchless Reds fresh off being shut out last night opened up the bat rack but more importantly watched the Cubs infield flub, fumble and fidget for three errors, two in the decisive fourth inning that led to a 7-5 win.

The youthful show of defensive buffoonery spoiled the debut of 22-year old Cuban phenom, Jorge Soler, who homered on his first Major League swing off Reds starter Mat Latos.

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Veteran Luis Valbuena, the aged 28-year old, showed Soler how it was done by hit,ting a Latos pitch into the rightfield seats.  Soler took two balls, then a strike before he crushed a pitch 423 feet onto the netting above the Reds' bullpen.  He was the first Cub player to homer in his first at-bat since Starlin Castro took Homer Bailey deep on May 7, 2010.

"I had trouble with my release point," Latos said. "Both were two seamers that were supposed to be down in the zone but I pulled them across the plate.  Later I got my release point back."

The Reds retaliated against young Jacob Turner, who landed with the Cubs earlier this month in a trade with the Miami Marlins.  Turner faced the Reds five days before the exchange.  The Reds solved him then with nine hits and five runs.

Devin Mesoraco hadn't had many hits lately.  He had just one in his last 32 at-bats.  Mesoraco singled to open the second.  Jay Bruce walked.  Mesoraco scored on the first of Skip Schumaker's two hits, a double in the leftcenterfield gap.  Bruce came home when Zack Cozart grounded out.

The fourth was a nightmare for Turner.  Kristopher Negron doubled.  Schumaker singled Negron home. With two outs, Starlin Castro couldn't come up with Billy Hamilton's slow roller which trickled into left to score Schumaker.  It was ruled an error but later changed to a hit.  Hamilton pilfered his 50th base of the season, becoming the ninth Reds' player in history to steal at least 50 in a season.  Brandon Phillips and Mesoraco off Carlos Villanueva before Bruce struck out looking.

Negron also turned in a double play in the first inning that impressed Latos.

"He turned in a double play on a nice stab.  I like the way he plays.  He's a dirty player and I like it," Latos said.

Bryan Price liked that he treated it as double all the way rather than being a spectator.

"He didn't break stride.  He was going to make the outfielder stop him.  That's how you do it," Price said.


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Latos blanked the Cubs from the third through the seventh but gave up back-to-back singles to pinch hitter Lagan Watkins and Chris Coughlan.  Bryan Price went to usually reliable Jonathon Broxton.  Javier Baez brought both of them home with a double.  Starlin Castro nearly tied the game with a drive to deep center but Castro got caught admiring the drive that hit high off the centerfield fence.  Hamilton got the ball back in so quickly that Castro held first and Baez only made third.  Valbuena struck out but Soler had his second career hit that produced his second RBI.

"I wish I could have stayed out there a little longer," Latos said.  "The bullpen came in and did its job."

Broxton got out of the jam by getting catcher Wellington Castillo to hit into a 4-6-3 double play.

Chris Heisey hit his fifth home run of the season as a pinch hitter against Zac Rosscup.  It was his third pinch homer of the season, ninth of his career.

Aroldis Chapman allowed a hit but turned in his 28th save in 30 tries with two strikeouts.