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

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Aroldis Chapman Starts Against Cubs Today



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One of baseball's premier relievers gets the ball to start the game against the Chicago Cubs Saturday.

Aroldis Chapman has had a good spring pitching longer in games to work on his secondary pitches.

"We will back him off the second half of spring training with fewer innings and less time between appearances," Bryan Price said last week after Chapman pitched two innings for the fourth time.

The Reds' bullpen is less defined this year.  Last year they had Jonathan Broxton for the eighth inning and Chapman for the ninth.

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"They both had similar years," Price said.  "This year there might be opportunities."


Burke Badenhop had a good inning on Friday against the Brewers.  Jumbo Diaz was "94-95 and in the zone," Price said.  Tony Cingrani will work out of the bullpen.  Rookies Michael Lorenzen and Raisel Iglesias are competing for multiple inning roles.  Kevin Gregg and Paul Maholm have experience.  Maholm is left-handed and excellent at getting ground balls when they are needed.  J.J. Hoover, Sam LeCure, Manny Parra and Pedro Villarreal all have a shot at the Reds' seven-man bullpen.

It was Mike Leake's turn to start but he is pitching in a minor league game instead.  Price feels it is more important for a starting pitcher to get up and down more times than to throw a set amount of pitches.  The coaches can control the environment in a minor league game to do that.  They can stop an inning with two outs for example.  In a Cactus League game they follow the normal rules.

Hitters often use these games to make up at bats.  A batter may bat three times in an inning to get the repetitions in.  They can run the bases or not run the bases as the coaches choose.

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With Leake getting his next to last spring start in a minor league game, Price wants Chapman to face Cubs starters rather than pitch as a closer when the rookies and minor leaguers are in the game for the Cubs.


Friday, March 27, 2015

Homer Bailey and Johnny Cueto Pitch In Minor League Games




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Homer Bailey and Johnny Cueto tuned up for the season against Los Angeles Dodgers minor leaguers.

Bailey pitched against the Triple A team and Cueto the Double A team.

Bailey, who is working his way back from elbow surgery, pitched in his second minor league game. He pitched three innings and allowed a run on three hits. He walked two and struck out two.

"I didn't have a good slider," Bailey said. "I'm right on schedule to get ready for the season. My elbow feels good."
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Bailey will not have enough innings built up to pitch for the Reds until mid-April but is progressing according to plan with no setbacks.

"In Homer's first inning, I'm sure he would tell you, his pitches were up," Bryan Price said. "His second innings was better."

Cueto, left camp for the Domincan to be with his mother Cristina.  She had open heart surgery and requested that he be there.

Cueto was able to keep on a throwing schedule and was going to pitch in a minor league game, even if he had been in Goodyear all along. Mike Leake will pitch in a minor league game tomorrow.

"We like to control the environment for the second to last start. It is most important that pitchers get used to getting up and down five times. That doesn't always happen in a regular game," Price said.

Cueto pitched five innings to meet that requirement.

He gave up two runs, one earned on four hits. He walked no one and struck out four.

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Cueto was telling catcher Tucker Barnhart what he was going to throw.  Barnhart is the Triple A catcher but they wanted someone who has caught Cueto before.

"The quality of Cueto's pitches were good," Price said. "There was a jam shot that got by a fielder. It speaks volumes to his commitment to have a great year. Even with the issue with his family he has the ability to compartmentalize his workouts."

The outing went better than Cueto anticipated.

"To be honest with you, I thought I would be wild but I wasn't," Cueto said. "I was able to throw the ball down. I told the catcher what I was throwing so we would be on the same page. I wanted the game to move faster and keep my tempo."

Cueto will make his final start on April 1 against the Diamondbacks, then will be the Opening Day starter five days later.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Reds Play The 2015 World Champions Today




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The Reds play the cross-state rival the Cleveland Indians today at 4:05 eastern time.

Sports Illustrated has a cover with AL Cy Yonung Award winner Corey Kluber and the Indians sweet-swinging outfielder Michael Brantley, who won a Silver Slugger Award, on it.  They also tabbed the Indians to win the 2015 World Series.

"NOT THE SI JINX," is the shout in Cleveland.

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Manager Terry Francona ain't afraid of no jinx.

"I'm glad that people think we have a pretty good team," Francona said. "Having those guys on the cover is cool. It gives them a chance to take some copies home to their families.  We like to brag on them. I'm glad they are getting the recognition."

Other than that Francona isn't superstitious.

"It doesn't affect anything we do. If anything it makes us work harder.  We try to turn everything into motivation whether it praise like this or criticism.  You always want to get better," Francona said.

'We have a lot of folklore in baseball whether it is the billy goat in Chicago or the curse of Babe Ruth in Boston.  They are fun but don't really affect anything," said the man who led the Red Sox to its first World Title in 86 years in 2004.

"I used to tell people in Boston, it wasn't the curse. It was lack of pitching.  You get Curt Schilling and no Curse," Francona said.

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Francona is the son of former Cleveland Indian player Tito Francona and often answers to that name.  He has some former Red history too.  He signed as a free agent in late spring 1987. He found himself starting on opening day and hit a home run.  He hit two more the rest of the season.

"I had to ride the elephant," Francona said of Marge Schott's annual Zoo fundraiser at her Indian Hill home. "If you weren't a good enough player to say 'no' you had to ride the elephant."

Michael Lorenzen is excited to make his first start of any kind in a Reds' uniform.  Young Danny Salazar will pitch for Cleveland.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Cueto Returns From The Dominican Today




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Johnny Cueto, the Reds opening day starter, is returning from the Dominican Republic sometime Wednesday.

Cueto left the Reds' camp in Goodyear, Arizona for eight days to tend to his mother, who was hospitalized.

The Reds have a camp at Boca Chica in the Dominican, a half hour from Cueto's home. He has been able to work out, running and throwing.

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"We have been facetiming him," manager Bryan Price said. "He has been able to keep up his work schedule.  He has two more starts left and that should be all he needs."

Homer Bailey will pitch in a minor league game on Friday.  The Reds don't want him to pitch in a Cactus League game, so they can activate him when they want to during the season.  Since he will not be ready for the first series at least, the Reds will put him on the 15-day disabled list to have an extra player for that series at least.

Mike Leake will pitch a minor league game on Saturday.

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"The most important start for a pitcher is the next to last of spring," Price said. "You want them to get up and down five or six times.  You can control the environment in a minor league game to ensure that.  In a regular game if there are some errors, or a flare or two, or a tight strike zone, you can get your pitches in but there may be a 35 pitch inning.  We can cut off an inning in a minor league game to ensure the pitcher gets the right pitch count and up and down."

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Michael Lorenzen To Get A Spring Start







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Michael Lorenzen has been so impressive this spring that his presence on the roster on Opening Day would not be a surprise.

Even in a bad outing, he pitched two innings and gave up a hit and six walks still he managed the damage and allowed just one run.

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On Wednesday, the day after the Reds' lone off-day, Lorenzen will get a start.  He will replace Johnny Cueto who is still in the Dominican dealing with the health issues of a family member.
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Lorenzen, who played centerfield at Cal State - Fullerton, had a hit in his only at bat this spring.

"I haven't lost one ounce of confidence in him," manager Bryan Price said. "It looked like his arm slot dropped and his pitches ran more than usual off the plate.  He only allowed one run. We call that game management."

It was the only run he's allowed in eight innings this spring.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Johnny Cueto Leaves Reds Camp In Goodyear






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The Reds' opening day starter, Johnny Cueto, left to return to the Dominican Republic.

Cueto is dealing with the health issue of a relative.

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"Johnny is physically fine," manager Bryan Price said. "He can throw bullpens at the facility in the Dominican. It won't affect him for Opening Day."

Cueto won 20 games last year and is in the last year of his contract.  He is hoping to work out an extension before the season starts.
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The Reds optioned RHP Matt Magill, who was acquired in the trade that sent Chris Heisey to  the Dodgers, to Louisville.  RHP Keyvious Sampson and OF Kyle Waldrop were also sent to Louisville.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Paul Maholm Competes For Bullpen, Raisel Iglesias Competes To Start




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Manager Bryan Price is systematically moving to fill the Reds' starting rotation.

On Tuesday, Tony Cingrani was told that he will pitch out of the bullpen.

On Wednesday veteran Paul Maholm was told the same thing.

The starting five appears to be Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, who has not allowed a run in nine innings this spring, Homer Baily, Anthony DeSclafani and either Jason Marquis or Raisel Iglesias.

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Homer Bailey will likely miss one or two starts.  His second round of live batting practice was scratched on Tuesday because Bailey has the traveling stomach virus.  A decision will be made soon if Bailey will throw another live batting practice or pitch against Oakland on the 22nd.

Marquis is starting against the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday.

"We have started to make decisions," Price said. "We told Paul Maholm that he is competing for a spot in the bullpen. We have a good idea where we are headed."

Iglesias, who signed for $27 million out of Cuba, was a relief pitcher on the island but four solid pitches makes him a candidate to start games.

"He has command of four pitches. He is quick to the plate. He is athletic," Price said. "He hasn't logged a bunch of innings but we know that he can pitch out of the bullpen."

Based on that statement, it is logical that Iglesias will be the starter in place of Bailey early, then move to the bullpen.

Price said earlier in spring that he wants to find someone to fill the role that Alfredo Simon did before he was placed in the starting rotation.  Price would like to have a pitcher who can pitch multiple innings in case of an early exit by the starter or extra innings.

Iglesias is suited for that role if the Reds can stretch him out.

Price also said that it didn't make sense for veterans like Marquis and Maholm to be temporary starters.

That indicates that Marquis has earned one of the spots because Price would rather not fill one of the rotation spots with two younger pitchers.

DeSclafani is the young starter that will break into the rotation barring injuries or severe ineffectiveness in the remaining Cactus League games.

"DeSclafani hasn't given us a reason to take him out of the mix," Price said.

Iglesias was signed because the scouts felt that he could help the Reds out of the bullpen immediately.

When Price saw him throw, he recognized that he already has a Major League change up.

"It is hard and dangerous to teach a change up at the Major League level," Price said. "When we got him we saw that he could be a starter. I don't know how many innings he pitched. They play an 11-month season (in Cuba). It's difficult to know how many innings they pitch with scrimmages and in-camp games. It is difficult to know but we can put him in the bullpen if we need to."

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Brennan Boesch Pushing For Reds Roster




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Reds' manager Bryan Price held up a stat sheet and told a group of writers, "The only thing this is good for is telling you how many at bats guys have."

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"The evaluation process is not based on stats. You have to balance what you see with what you read," Price said.

Too many spring phenoms fizzle when the lights go on.  Many who struggle statistically in March hit the ground running in April.

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So how does Brennan Boesch's .500 average and 3 home runs stack up to the eye test?

"What I see of Brennan Boesch is his early success with Detroit," Price said. "It is followed by a year where he figured himself out. He led the PCL in hitting last year. He hit over .330 (.332) with a bunch of home runs (25) and RBI (85). He got a chance to play centerfield which was nice also. It was kind of liberating for him to just go out there and hit. Speaking with him, he said, he really found what he needed to do offensively and wasn't in constant figure it out mode. The other part of it he has faced a lot of left-handed pitching this spring and is on it. He's really handled left-handed pitching well."

Boesch was on his way with Detroit in 2011 he hit .283 in 115 games with 16 home runs and 54 RBI. He injured his thumb and had surgery on September 6.

He returned to hit .240 in 132 games in 2012 with 12 home runs and 54 RBI but had more injuries that set him back.

Boesch signed with the New York Yankees int 2013 but played in the majors for just 23 games and hit just .200 at Scranton Wilkes Barre. They Yankees released him on July 22.  The 29-year old signed with the Los Angeles Angels in 2014 and spent the year at Salt Lake City.

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred Asked About Rose Reinstatement


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Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred met with the Cleveland Indian press core and Paul Hoynes from the Cleveland Plain Dealer asked about Pete Rose's reinstatement petition.

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The commissioner had nothing to say about it, and refrained from comment.

He also asked Indians manager Terry Francona, who had plenty to say.
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"I hope so (Rose gets reinstated). I hope that gets figured out. I have no ability to not be biased. I know that.  Because I'm not the commissioner, its easy to say something as it effects baseball.  I spent one year as a teammate. One year he was my manager. I saw how much he cares about the game. Baseball is everything to him. I just hope it works out. I'm not smart enough to know what's right and what's wrong. I just know firsthand how much he cares about the game."

Monday, March 16, 2015

Tony Cingrani Pushed Back A Day





Tony Cingrani was scheduled to start against the San Francisco Giants on Monday.

The Reds decided to push him back a day.  Cingrani did not know why when asked Monday morning.

Rasiel Iglesias will start against the Giants instead with Paul Maholm following him.  Both are in the mix for the starting rotation, with two permanent spots and one temporary spots (Homer Bailey's) up for grabs.

LHP David Holmberg was optioned to Louisville.  He was one of the candidates for the rotation.

RHP Dylan Axelrod, RHP Carlos Contreras, RHP Daniel Corcino an LHP Ryan Dennick, all of whom pitched for the Reds in 2014 were also optioned to Louisville.

LHP Amir Garrett was optioned to High A Daytona Beach.

C Ramon Cabrera, RHP Jon Moscot and OF Felix Perez were optioned to minor league camp for assignment.

Fracture In Shoulder Keeps Jason Bourgeois Out 4 to 6 Weeks







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Jason Bourgeois slid into secondbase head first in the first Cactus League game.

He felt something in his shoulder so the Reds' medical staff treated it and the Reds kept him out of action a couple days.

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Bourgeois started to feel better and with a roster spot on the line was eager to get back on the field to compete for it.

Saturday Bourgeois executed a sacrifice bunt. On his way to first he fell to the ground, clutching his left arm in pain.

"It came out of the blue," head trainer Paul Lessard said after the game.

An MRI revealed a fracture in his left scapula, which will keep the 33-year old with 249 Major League games of experience out of action from four to six weeks.

Brennan Boesch and Donald Lutz are left in the running for the fourth outfielder spot on the roster.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Reds Training Room Beginning To Empty




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The Reds' training room is beginning to empty.

Jay Bruce was back in the lineup after he was scratched on Monday with a strained right calf.

Billy Hamilton last played on March 6 against the Cubs. He had a sore right shoulder. Hamilton will be playing on Sunday.
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Devin Mesaroco suffered a concussion when a foul tip hit him in the mask. He has passed all the test and is waiting for paperwork to be reviewed by Majol League Baseball and the Player's Association. With approval, today, Mesaroco will be in the lineup on Sunday.

Homer Bailey threw live batting practice on Saturday. Barring a setback he will throw one more, then will be ready for game action.