Sunday, April 30, 2006

All good things must end

Six-game win streak over. Cardinals up next.

Arroyo gets Cardinals ... again

Nothing much bothers Bronson Arroyo. He's the resident cool customer in the Reds clubhouse.

Being moved up one day in the rotation is certainly no big deal, particulary since he'll be pitching on normal rest.

But, having 24 hours less to prepare for Albert Pujols and the Cardinals is a rather daunting task.

Arroyo had his roughest outing of the season at St. Louis on April 16, allowing home runs to Scott Rolen and Albert Pujols, who this week established a new major league record with his 14th home run in April.

"He's killing everybody," said Arroyo.

Rain, rain go away

It's never a good sign when the grounds crew is unrolling the tarp, but such is the case at 10:25 a.m. at Great American Ball Park.

Local radar shows rain is on the way, but it's a relatively thin band and kind of broken up.

We can only hope.

Additional note: the Reds moved Bronson Arroyo up one day in the rotation. He'll start against the Cardinals on Monday. Dave Williams will pitch Tuesday.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Keeping things in perspective

Following their 6-3 victory over the Astros this afternoon at Great American Ball Park, many of the Reds players were more interested in watching the NFL Draft than talking about their major league leading 17 wins.

Rich Aurillia, who has played in the postseason and World Series, says that type of an attitude will be key if the Reds are to sustain this success.

"This club has the right attitude," Aurillia said. "We don't get too high or too low. We're having fun now, but imagine how much fun it will be to play like this in August and September."

Dunn: team player

Adam Dunn, who hasn't homered since April 17, said Ken Griffey Jr. is partly responsible for the drought.

Griffey is currently on the disabled list with a strained tendon in his right knee.

"I’m trying to wait to start hitting homers while he’s out," said Dunn prior to Saturday's game. "I don't want to get too far ahead of him."

Friday, April 28, 2006

Looking for an upset

Reds GM Wayne Krivsky sat in the home dugout and pondered his club's situation prior to Friday night's game against Houston at Great American Ball Park.

Astros starter Roy Oswalt is 15-0 against the Reds in his career.

The Reds, meanwhile, have been shutout in each of Brandon Claussen's three career starts against Houston.

"I guess we're the underdogs," Krivsky said.
Update: Reds win 5-4, end Oswalt's streak.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Good show in Dayton tonight

DAYTON - It was a full house in the stands and in the press box at Fifth Third Field tonight for Paul Wilson's rehab stint for the Class A Dayton Dragons.

In addition to the usual Dayton Daily News contingent, Kevin Kelly of the Enquirer, the Post's Josh Katzowitz and myself were also on hand.

Ken Griffey Sr. sat in the press box with us. CEO Bob Castellini, pitching coach Tom Hume and medical director Dr. Tim Kremchek were also there. I had expected GM Wayne Krivsky to attend, but last I heard his presence was unconfirmed.

Reds PR staffers Larry Herms and Jamie Ramsey did a great job of manning the ship and getting us access to Wilson immediately following his seven-inning, 92-pitch stint.

Mike Vander Wood and his Dayton Dragons media staff helped keep everything on track and organized.

Don't let Wilson's pitching line fool you. He retired 10 of 11 during one stretch, and had good command of his pitches. Seemed to change speeds pretty effectively as well.

Our biggest concern was a gust of wind knocking Wilson off the mound. The 34-year old right-hander is but a shadow of his former self.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Paul Wilson

I'm heading to Dayton on Thursday to cover Paul Wilson's rehab start for Dayton plays Peoria at Fifth Third Field at 7 p.m.

Wilson, as you are probably aware, is working his way back after undergoing shoulder surgery in June.

He last pitched on Friday in an extended spring training game at Sarasota and went 7 innings allowing 11 hits, one earned run, 1 walk and 3 strikeouts. He threw 94 pitches, which is an indication that he could be returning sooner than expected.

It's not certain at this point how long Wilson will be in Dayton, or how Eric Milton's injury and Dave Williams' struggles might help expedite the process.

Wilson's performance on Thursday could help clear things up one way or another.

Stay tuned.

Monday, April 24, 2006

It's Wayne's world

The second baseman former Reds general manager Dan O'Brien acquired, Tony Womack, was designated for assignment on Monday.

The second baseman current Reds GM Wayne Krivsky acquired, Brandon Phillips, won NL Player of the Week honors after batting .452 with three home runs, four doubles and 27 total bases last week.

Wily Mo Pena, one of the prized possessions of O'Brien's predecessor Jim Bowden, was traded by Krivsky for Bronson Arroyo who is now 4-0 with a 2.34 ERA.

Again, how we lookin'?

Sunday, April 23, 2006

A candidate for lede of the week

From my counterpart Mark Sheldon ...

MILWAUKEE -- Medical research has indicated there are health benefits for people that walk at least 10,000 steps per day.

On Sunday, strike zone-challenged Brewers pitchers did their part to help the Reds reach that quota.

Milwaukee issued Cincinnati 13 walks, including nine from starting pitcher Doug Davis, and hit three batters. In turn, the Reds issued an 11-0 beating on the Brewers before 29,174 fans to take three of four in the series at Miller Park.

Good one.

Ramirez will start tomorrow

Right-hander Elizardo Ramirez is expected to be recalled from Triple-A Louisville to start Monday night’s game against the Nationals.

Ramirez will take the roster spot of Eric Milton, who will go on the 15-day disabled list following arthroscopic knee surgery scheduled for Monday morning.

Ramirez went 0-1 with a 3.94 ERA in three starts for Louisville. He struck out 15 and did not walk a batter.

I missed Claussen - oh well

My 1:30 start-time at Mason on Saturday was changed to 4:00 which became 5:30 when the first game of the day morphed into an 8-inning 20-19 marathon. I didn't become aware of the later delay until after I arrived, effectively squashing my Saturday evening plans. But, there was one bonus - I missed Brandon Claussen and the Reds imploding at Milwaukee. Will the real Reds pitching staff please stand up?

Milton shelved

Eric Milton will have arthroscopic surgery on Monday to debride the meniscus in his left knee. The surgery will be performed by Reds medical director Dr. Timothy Kremchek. Milton's injury was revealed in an MRI taken Saturday in Cincinnati.

Right-hander Aaron Harang will come back on three day's rest to start today’s game at Milwaukee. Monday's starting pitcher is yet to be announced.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

How we lookin'?

Bronson Arroyo:

3-0, 3.04 ERA, 5 walks, 22 strikeouts.

Wily Mo Pena:

.269, 1 home run, 2 RBI.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Hey, it's a tough job

While the full-time Reds beat writers are road-trippin' with the club this week, I'm back in Cincinnati filling in on the high school baseball beat for the Enquirer.

After a few months of covering basketball games indoors, it's nice to grab the lawn chair (most high school fields don't have press boxes), a bag of sunflower seeds and a scorebook and take in an afternoon game.

Not to make it sound like it's not work ... it is. Of course, the earlier start times eliminate most of the deadline pressure.

For the second consecutive Saturday, I'll be working on my golfer's tan at Mason High School where the Comets, the fifth-ranked team in the city, face No. 7 Hamilton.

I watched Mason mercy-rule No. 2 Princeton last weekend:

As for tonight, I'll be watching to see if Bronson Arroyo can reverse a disturbing trend for Reds starting pitchers against the Brewers in Milwaukee.

In the past three games, Reds starters have allowed 49 hits, 28 earned runs and 9 homers.

Since blanking the Cardinals, 1-0, in St. Louis last Friday, Reds pitchers have posted a 7.96 ERA.

Explain to me again, how is this club 10-6?

Hate to end the week with bad news, but ...

Oscar Acosta, an instructional coach and manager of the Gulf Coast Yankees, and Humberto Trejo, field coordinator of the Dominican Summer League Yankees, were killed in an auto accident in the Dominican Republic on Wednesday.

I first met Acosta when he was the pitching coach for the Chicago Cubs in 2000. He struck me as a fine gentleman and a good baseball man. He is survived by his wife and three children.

"Acosta and Trejo touched countless people within our organization," said Yankees GM Brian Cashman. "Their dedication and passion to improving young lives far exceed the boundaries of a baseball field. We ask that you join us in keeping Oscar, Humberto, their wives and children in your prayers."

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Wagner's issues mental not mechanical

Ryan Wagner, a former No. 1 draft choice by the Reds, began the season at Triple-A Louisville and not in Cincinnati. The reasons why only partly have to do with pitching.

Wagner, who was among the Reds’ final cuts out of spring training, allowed two earned runs in his first five appearances with the Bats. He struck out eight and walked three.

The 23-year old right-hander didn’t have a bad spring. In fact, he was 2-1 with a 2.77 ERA and allowed only four earned runs in 13 innings pitched.

Wagner wasn’t too pleased about being shipped to the minors. But, it was a move many in the Reds organization felt was necessary for his development - physically and mentally.

Former Reds manager Dave Miley didn’t appreciate it when the young Wagner would look toward the dugout for guidance at the first sign of trouble.

"If you ever look in here again, I'm coming out to get you," Miley would say.

Current Reds skipper Jerry Narron has expressed his displeasure with Wagner’s over-reliance on his slider.

When Wagner would throw one slider, a batter could lay odds that another one was on the way.

Although he retired 18 of the first 19 big-league batters he faced in his career, it soon became clear that Wagner’s rise to the major leagues was a bit too meteoric.

After being the Reds’ top pick in the 2003 draft, Wagner made only nine appearances in the minors before joining the big-league club.

Former GM Jim Bowden’s decision to rush Wagner to the major leagues paid dividends early. But, time might have caught up with the youngster.

The Reds bullpen needs help. As a result, Wagner’s progress will be closely watched.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

An ERA explosion at GABP

Eric Milton's earned run average ballooned from 2.63 to 6.00 in 4 1/3 innings pitched tonight against the Marlins.

And, Milton can give partial credit to Matt Belisle for costing him a full point.

Milton's ERA was 5.00 when he left the game. But, Belisle proceeded to allow each of the base runners who were Milton's responsibility to score.


Look familiar?

In his first two starts this season, Eric Milton went 2-0 with a 2.63 ERA. He allowed four earned runs and two home runs in 13 2/3 innings.

In the first two innings tonight at Great American Ball Park, Milton has allowed six earned runs, seven hits and three home runs helping the Marlins build a 6-0 lead.

Milton, who went 8-15 with a 6.47 ERA and allowed a club-record 40 homers last season, was greeted by a chorus of boos when he came up to bat in the second inning.

Way to digress.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Good to see

Reds pitching prospect Josh Hall is trying to work his way back to the big leagues after a two-season hiatus due to multiple shoulder surgeries.

Hall, 25, earned his first Triple-A victory for Louisville yesterday.

He was 1-0 with a 1.69 ERA in two starts for the Bats having allowed only seven hits and two earned runs in 10 2/3 innings.

I will always remember Hall as the rookie pitcher who borrowed my pen to get an autograph from Barry Bonds who had homered off him the day before.

At the time, it was a priceless baseball moment.

Hall is a hard-working kid with great stuff when he's right. I wish him the best.

Fresh fish

The Reds would appear to be getting a reprieve, on paper at least, when they welcome the last-place Florida Marlins (3-8) to town beginning tonight.

After getting knocked around pretty good in the final two games of their series in St. Louis, Reds pitchers will be looking to turn things around against the sub-$20 million payroll Fish.

Here are the probable pitching matchups for the three-game tilt at Great American Ball Park:

Tonight: LHP Brandon Claussen (0-1, 5.40 ERA) vs. RHP Brian Moehler (0-2, 13.50 ERA)

Tuesday: LHP Eric Milton (2-0 2.63 ERA) vs. LHP Julio Vargas (1-1, 5.73 ERA)

Wednesday: RHP Aaron Harang (2-1, 5.30 ERA) vs. LHP Dontrelle Willis (1-0. 1.93 ERA)

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Why the worst-case scenario?

Well, the rain delay ended up being 2 hours and 25 minutes.

Being well-aware of the weather situation, I was prepared for three eventualities going into the evening:

Best case scenario: Game gets rained out before it starts and we play a doubleheader when the Pirates return later in the season.

Next-best case: Game gets rained out before it starts and we play a doubleheader on Saturday, which is today.

Worst-case scenario: Game is delayed for a long period time then played in its entirely into the wee hours of the morning with a day game looming on Saturday.

Yep, we got the worst case. Well, not the WORST case which would have been the Reds bullpen completing the collapse and sending the game into extra innings.

Anyway, Reds 7 Pirates 6. I left the ballpark at 1:07 a.m. I arrived at 2:30 p.m.

Time for bed.

Friday, April 07, 2006

It was a dark and stormy night ...

We're in the 46th minute of a rain delay at Great American Ball Park. From what we hear, it's been a stormy evening throughout the Tri-State area.

It began to hail while we were sitting in the Pittsburgh dugout earlier in the night. When the civil defense sirens began to wail, some of the Pirates players - who obviously weren't raised in the midwest - asked what that meant.

Free-spirited outfielder Craig Wilson perked up when he heard the sirens meant the conditions were ripe for a tornado to develop in the area. Other Pirates players seemed less amused.

Frankly, as it approaches 8 p.m., many of us in the press box aren't sensing the comedic value of our situation either.

Monday, April 03, 2006

More about President Bush's ceremonial first pitch

All about the hoopla

Well, it's history nonetheless

History was made today at Great American Ball Park but not the kind the Reds would want to place in their trophy case.

The Reds allowed five runs in the first inning of an Opening Day game for the first time since 1877 when they allowed five runs in the first frame of a 24-6 loss to Louisville.

The Cubs just scored seven runs in the top of the sixth inning. That's the most in an inning by a Reds opponent on Opening Day since the Giants scored eight runs in the second inning of an 11-5 win over the Reds in 1979.

Reds trail the Cubs, 12-6, in the bottom of the sixth at frigid Great American Ball Park.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Griffey wants answers

Ken Griffey Jr. courageously approached a goup of White House staffers during the Reds' pre-Opening Day workout on Sunday at Great American Ball Park and said he had a few questions for President Bush.

Bush is throwing out the ceremonial first pitch prior to Monday's Opening Day game against the Chicago Cubs. Great American Ball Park was inundated on Sunday with secret service in preparation for the President's visit.

Griffey asked that he be allowed to speak to the President with the cameras off. The Reds outfielder had three questions for Bush:

1) Why are gas prices so high?

2) When are interest rates going down again?

3) Why are my taxes so high?

Good luck Junior.