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Tag:Ramon Hernandez
Posted on: July 28, 2011 12:14 am
Edited on: July 28, 2011 1:36 am
 

Span-Storen rumor highlights Wednesday buzz

By Evan Brunell

A possible trade between the Twins and Nationals has surfaced on the rumor mill in recent hours, with CBSSports.com's Scott Miller reporting that Washington is zeroing in on Denard Span to be its center fielder of the future, while the Twins target closer Drew Storen in a possible multi-player trade.

It's possible that shortstop Ian Desmond and catcher Wilson Ramos could be part of a deal, as they did not play on Wednesday, fueling speculation that the two could be part of a trade for Rays' center fielder B.J. Upton, who also rode the pine Wednesday.

Of course, the Twins have Joe Mauer at catcher, so it's doubtful they're looking to re-acquire Ramos even if they're regretting the deal that sent him to the Nats for Matt Capps last season, who recently lost his closer's job. But Desmond? The Twins do need infield help, but Alexi Casilla and Tsuyoshi Nishioka crowd the middle infield spots, while Danny Valencia is still starting regularly at third, even if he should hit the bench against right-handers. All this is probably more smoke than it is fire.

What clearly is something, though, is the Span-Storen deals. The Twins need to stabilize their bullpen, both for 2011 and in the future, and adding a young reliever like Storen would go a long way toward locking the ninth inning down for years. We'll find out by Sunday if there's any truth to these rumors.

Here are some other trade rumors to whet your appetite:
There is a live trade deadline chat this Sunday, starting at 2 p.m. Write it into your calendar now!

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Posted on: July 10, 2011 11:14 pm
Edited on: July 10, 2011 11:24 pm
 

Futures Game: Mesoraco on waiting for the call

By C. Trent Rosecrans

PHOENIX --Two years ago, Devin Mesoraco was being called a bust by some, even though the Reds' former first-round pick was still just 21. Through his first three seasons in the minors, he had hit just 18 home runs.

Last season, Mesoraco hit 26 while playing on three levels and hitting .302/.377/.587. This season at Triple-A Louisville, he's hitting .303/.378/.510 and is the reason the Reds could be looking to shop Ramon Hernandez for teams hungry for a catcher. 

Before singling and being hit by a pitch in Sunday's Futures Game at Chase Field in Phoenix, Mesoraco talked about his breakout 2010 and waiting for his shot at the Major Leagues:

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Posted on: July 8, 2011 5:03 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 1:05 pm
 

Offense rules in NL Central

By C. Trent Rosecrans
2011 All-Star Game

SEE THE OTHER DIVISION ALL-STARS: AL East | AL Central | AL West | NL East | NL West

The National League Central has the most teams, some of the game's brightest stars and perhaps its best story in the Pittsburgh Pirates. How deep is the talent in the NL Central? The last two men to win the National League MVP are first basemen in the division and neither makes this NL Central All-Star team. The pitching isn't too deep, at least in terms of starters, but this lineup can absolutely mash the ball.

Ramon HernandezC Ramon Hernandez, Reds: This one is a surprise, as Yadier Molina -- perhaps the game's best defensive catcher -- is an All-Star and a deserving one at that. But the nod here goes to the guy Reds manager Dusty Baker calls "Clutch Man Monie." On opening day, his three-run homer gave the Reds a walk-off victory and he's been producing at the plate since, including a ninth-inning homer yesterday against Brewers closer John Axford and the delivered the game's winning hit in the 13th inning Wednesday night in St. Louis. Hernandez's overall line -- .316/.374/.526 -- makes up for the difference between his defense and Molina's. Molina is hitting a respectable .279/.329/.408, but Clutch Man Monie has been money, especially for a player who is still essentially splitting time with Ryan Hanigan.

Prince Fielder1B Joey Votto, Reds: Votto was the National League MVP in 2010, but Prince Fielder's been the league's MVP for the first half of this season. Fielder is hitting .302/.418/.588 with 22 home runs and 71 RBI, tied for the most in the league. Votto's been good as well, but Fielder's power numbers put him over the top. So why is Votto listed here instead of Fielder? Because as I filled out the lineup card, I looked and had Votto as DH and Fielder at first. Anyone who has seen those two with gloves on their hand know you'd rather have Votto (especially with Starlin Castro also in the infield) playing the field. So Fielder wins the spot, but Votto gets the nod, if that makes sense.

Lineup
No. Name Team Pos
1 Andrew McCutchen PIT CF
2 Rickie Weeks MIL 2B
3 Joey Votto CIN 1B
4 Prince Fielder MIL DH
5 Lance Berkman STL RF
6 Ryan Braun MIL LF
7 Aramis Ramirez CHI 3B
8 Ramon Hernandez CIN C
9 Starlin Castro CHI SS

Rickie Weeks2B Rickie Weeks, Brewers: Another Brewer nips a Red. While Cincinnati's Brandon Phillips is far and away a better defensive player, Weeks is having an incredible offensive season so far. Weeks is hitting .275/.345/.476 with 15 home runs. Phillips has 10 more RBI, but that's not all that surprising considering Weeks is used as a leadoff man. 

Aramis Ramirez3B Aramis Ramirez, Cubs: It's easy for Ramirez to get lost among the Cubs' mounting losses, but the 33-year-old is having a solid season, which may be his last with the Cubs. The Cubs hold a $16 million option on Ramirez for 2012, with a $2 million buyout. The Ricketts family may want to find a cheaper option, but Ramirez has produced this year, hitting .298/.346/.495 with 14 home runs and 49 RBI. He's also playing a decent third base, much better than his reputation would suggest. 

Starlin CastroSS Starlin Castro, Cubs: Sure, he's a mess defensively, but the kid can absolutely rake. Castro is hitting .305/.334/.428 with two home runs and 38 RBI, while stealing 10 bags as well. The 21-year-old is the player the Cubs will build around in the future, and for good cause. He also doesn't have a lot of competition in this division. The Pirates' Ronny Cedeno has been good defensively, but lacking offensively. The Cardinals' Ryan Theriot is hitting well, but was a below-average defensive second baseman and now he's playing short and then there's Yuniesky Betancourt, who has been terrible offensively and defensively.

LF Ryan Braun, Brewers: Talk about a stacked offensive division -- in left field you've got Matt Holliday and Braun. Braun, though gets the nod. He's been healthy (of course, Holliday's problems may make his numbers more impressive) and produced, hitting .320/.402/559 with 16 home runs and 62 RBI. He's also stolen 19 bases to boot.

Andrew McCutchenCF Andrew McCutchen, Pirates: If Bruce Bochy doesn't want him, I'll sure as heck take him as my starter in center. A Gold Glove-caliber fielder, plus a .291/.389/.491 slash line and 12 homers and 15 stolen bases. McCutchen should be in the MVP discussion with the season he's had. If it weren't for McCutchen, Michael Bourn would be the pick. Bourn's hitting .288/.350/.399 with 35 stolen bases. Between those two and Cincinnati's Drew Stubbs, you could put together a heck of a relay team.

Lance BerkmanRF Lance Berkman, Cardinals: Sure he's a first baseman playing in the outfield, but who cares because he's made up for his atrocious defense with an offensive rebirth. The Cardinals gambled on Berkman this offseason and have been rewarded to the tune of .287/.399/.598 with a league-leading 23 home runs and 62 RBIs. The division also has Jay Bruce, Corey Hart and Hunter Pence, so it has right fielders to spare (not to mention Jon Jay, who played right field while Berkman was playing first for Albert Pujols.)

Prince FielderDH Prince Fielder, Brewers: This is a bit of a cheat, since I initially picked Fielder at first base. The decision here was between Votto and Holliday, and in a toss-up, I went with the reigning MVP, although either has a good case. Votto's hitting .319/.434/.497 with 12 home runs and 52 RBI, while Holliday is hitting .320/.417/.570 with 13 home runs and 46 RBI. Votto's seen fewer pitches to drive than he did a year ago, but is still producing. And once I was filling out the lineup card, I went with Votto at first base and Fielder as the DH.

Johnny CuetoSP Johnny Cueto, Reds: This division doesn't have a Cy Young candidate in the bunch, but does have several good young pitchers, including the 25-year-old Cueto, who started the season on the disabled list but is 5-3 with a 1.77 ERA in 11 starts this season. The Cardinals' Jaime Garcia is 8-4 with a 3.23 ERA and one of the best young left-handers in the game and Chicago's Matt Garza has been a victim of pitching for the Cubs, going 4-7 with a 4.26 ERA and an xFIP of 2.86.

Sean MarshallRP Sean Marshall, Cubs: The Cubs' left-hander is 5-2 with a 2.40 ERA, striking out 43 in 41 1/3 innings, while walking just nine. His xFIP is 2.27 and he's induced ground balls on 60.4 percent of the balls put in play, a good characteristic for a middle reliever, who will often come into the game with runners on base. Apologies to the Reds' Bill Bray and the Cardinals' Jason Motte.

Joel HanrahanCL Joel Hanrahan, Pirates: Hanrahan leads the division in saves with 25 and hasn't blown a single save this season.  Of the eight runners he's inherited this year, none of scored. He has 33 strikeouts in 39 1/3 innings and eight walks. He's allowed just six earned runs (good for a 1.37 ERA). The division has several good starters, including the Reds' Francisco Cordero (17 saves, 1.69 ERA), the Brewers' John Axford (23 saves, 2.90 ERA) and the Cardinals' Fernando Salas (15 saves, 2.41 ERA).

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Posted on: June 8, 2011 3:01 pm
Edited on: June 8, 2011 3:58 pm
 

Who could Giants pursue at catcher?

By Evan Brunell

Now that the Giants have had some time to evaluate Eli Whiteside as a starting catcher, they're readying to acquire a new catcher -- if not two, the San Jose Mercury News reports.

Whiteside has been the Giants' backup catcher since the beginning of 2009 but hasn't shown any capability with the stick. He's at .164/.266/.255 in 64 plate appearances and as the Mercury News days, has fared poorly on throws to second base and allowing too many passed balls or dropped pitches.

Now, it appears the Giants are ready to move on. One name being mentioned is Ivan Rodriguez, awho is transitioning into a backup role and would find more playing time in San Francisco. However, there are two major roadblocks: Rodriguez is struggling at the plate himself and reportedly told the Nationals he does not want to be traded. While I-Rod would contribute to the Giants on defense and intangibles, the combination of no stick and desire to be traded despite being moved into a backup role could be enough to scare San Francisco away, at least for now.

Not counting the flotsam that's floating around (lookin' at ya, Matt Treanor), here's a look at what catchers could be considered for San Francisco:

SnyderDoumitChris Snyder and Ryan Doumit, Pirates: Snyder (left) was acquired from the Diamondbacks last season and has a .263/.371/.389 line in 118 plate appearances and has been battling Doumit for playing time all season. Snyder was a bit of a contract dump last year, but has rebounded nicely after two sub-par seasons. He is due $5.75 million this year with a $750,000 buyout of a $6.75 million club option. The Pirates also have $3 million in their pocket from the Diamondbacks to help defray both his 2010 and 2011 salaries. While his power still hasn't returned, he's a strong defensive catcher with a great OBP that would profile well with the Giants and their miserable .306 OBP. Doumit (right) isn't as good a fit as he's defensively challenged and injury prone but does have a .269/.333/.441 mark in 103 plate appearances. He wouldn't be that bad as a stopgap if the club really wants power. But Snyder's defense and on-base pop should outweigh the added power Doumit brings. The Pirates would accept a minor-league player or young major leaguer, so a fit wouldn't be difficult to find.

BarajasRamon Hernandez, Reds: Hernandez is working on just a one-year deal for $3 million and has a career-best .902 OPS in splitting time with Ryan Hanigan. The 35-year-old has a .312/.374/.528 line and solid defensive production, so it's hard to argue that he wouldn't be the perfect fit. But the Reds are trying to win games themselves, and Ryan Haniganhas yet to deliver on the promise of 2010. Devin Mesoraco is ripping apart Triple-A, but Cincy is no hurry to move on from Hernandez and it will take a competitive offer for the Reds to part with Hernandez -- an offer that is probably out of the Giants' price range.

BarajasRod Barajas, Dodgers: Yeah, the Dodgers are a division rival and are hanging tough in the division at 29-33 and 5 1/2 games out, one of -- if not both -- the win-loss record or games behind figures will likely dip and put L.A. into selling mode the closer the deadline arrives. It doesn't hurt that owner Frank McCourt is scrambling to cut corners in order to meet payroll and keep his team. Barajas is at .208/.271/.371 on the year, putting him squarely in the flotsam category, but really, he's the best of that grouping as he's capable of knocking 20 home runs. If he starts hitting better, the Giants could be interested. Dodgers GM Ned Colletti was Sabean's right-hand man for many years so there is a rapport there.

MathisJeff Mathis, Angels: Manager Mike Scioscia loves Mathis, even though Mathis couldn't hit the broad side of a barn if he tried. Owner of a career 48 OPS+ (that's OPS relative to the league, with 100 average, so he's miles worse than the average league hitter), he's been especially putrid this season with a .207/.237/.279 line while splitting time with Hank Conger and making Bobby Wilson get splinters on the bench. As much as Scioscia values Mathis's defense, Conger is the catcher of the future and the Angels may still be able to extract some value for Mathis in a trade given his defensive reputation. If the Giants can't find a bat to replace Posey, they can at least find an elite defender.

FloresJesus Flores, Nationals: A bit of a surprise name here. Flores was a Rule 5 pick of the Nationals way back in 2007 and received the bulk of playing time in 2008 with 324 plate appearances. He hit for a .256/.296/.402 line. He broke out in 2009 with a .301/.375/.505 mark in 29 games before biting the dust with a right shoulder stress fracture that finished his 2009 season and kept him out of the 2010 season as well. He's been predominantly playing in Triple-A this year but has struggled to get back in the groove with a .243/.262/.360 line in 36 games. He offers upside and could get better as the season goes on and is just 26. He could be a flier for Sabean and provide some depth at the position once Posey returns. He could also offer insurance should Posey not return as catcher. The Nationals wouldn't want to deal him at such a low trade value, though, which could affect things.

That's really it for catchers who currently have significant roles and could be considered a significant upgrade. It's very difficult to find an elite catcher like the Giants had in Posey, which makes it all the more devastating a blow. It's going to be impossible for the team to replace Posey's production behind the plate, which means it needs to look elsewhere for upgrades, like cutting bait with Miguel Tejada, which may occur shortly.

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Posted on: May 14, 2011 11:42 pm
 

3 up, 3 down: Billingsley, Bergesen dazzle

Billingsley

By Evan Brunell


Chad Billingsley, Dodgers -- Billingsley actually drew the loss, but it was far from his fault. He went eight strong, limiting the Diamondbacks to just one hit and an unearned run, walking two and whiffing eight. Hardly deserving of a loss, no? The "loss" dropped his ERA to 3.36, which is 21st in the NL which sounds unimpressive but the 26-year-old appears to be returning to the dominance of his 2008 season. The Dodgers are sorely in need of some good news amid the fracas surrounding the owner, Frank McCourt, and declining attendance. Billingsley is that guy.

Ramon Hernandez, Reds
-- A fine performance for Hernandez, who is actually playing less than Ryan Hanigan these days. That should change, as Hernandez contributed a 3-for-3 night with two runs scored and two RBI, adding a walk and punching two home runs off of Kyle McClellan. The night, which was already high in tension given Johnny Cueto's first start against St. Louis since effectively ending Jason LaRue's career, ended in a 7-3 Cardinals victory. The win pushed the Reds to half a game ahead of St. Louis for the divison lead.

Brad Bergesen, Orioles -- Who saw this coming? Bergesen is a good-enough No. 4/5 starter, but a complete game against the first-place Rays, limiting them to four hits? Yeah, didn't see that coming. Yet, that transpired Saturday as Bergesen punched out five Rays to one walk. Sadly, this probably is his career highlight, but it's quite a fine one, indeed. The win was his first of the year against four losses and pushes Baltimore to two under .500, with Tampa Bay holding onto a two-game lead over the Yankees thanks to a suddenly surging Red Sox taking down New York.



Juan Rivera, Blue Jays -- Rivera did end up scoring a run in the 11th thanks to walking, but prior to then he was 0-for-4 with four strikeouts. That's just not going to fly, especially since Toronto has been trying to deal Rivera and his slightly-bloated contract the second they gladly took it from the Angels to dump Vernon Wells. Rivera is at .217/.314/.283 on the season. At this rate, not only is he untradeable, but he's at risk of being released by Toronto if and when they deem Travis Snider ready to return.

Aaron Harang, Padres -- Harang put together his fourth straight disastrous outing by turning in a 4 1/3-inning effort against the Rockies, giving up seven runs, four walks and seven hits. He punched out a paltry seven, and Harang's ERA is all the way up to 5.05. Not exactly what people expected after his hot start to the season combined with his new home in Petco Park. He'll get a chance to right himself next week against the Brewers at home.

Gavin Floyd, White Sox -- Floyd has been pretty good for the White Sox and has been one of the saving graces of their brutal season, but Saturday he contributed to it with five earned runs in 4 1/3 innings against the Athletics, which isn't easy to do in Oakland's park. Floyd's been so solid this season, the effort only pushed his ERA to 4.22.

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Posted on: April 4, 2011 10:01 am
Edited on: April 18, 2011 12:12 pm
 

Pepper: Closer concerns in NL Central

Brandon Lyon

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The National League Central appears to be one of the most competitive divisions in baseball, with up to four legit contenders for the crown, so every little difference is going to be magnified when it comes to the end of the season.

While we're a long way from magic numbers, but the division's closer could be cause for concern.

In the first weekend of games, NL Central closers blew four of eight save chances -- including the first three -- and had an ERA of 12.91. Only Pittsburgh's Joel Hanrahan (who is 2 for 2 on save opportunities) hasn't allowed an earned run among the division's six closers.

All six closers have had save opportunities, and half of them are save-less. Milwaukee's John Axford has allowed four earned runs and hasn't finished an inning in two appearances, allowing a walk-off three-run homer to Cincinnati's Ramon Hernandez on Thursday and allowing two hits on Sunday before being replaced.

St. Louis closer Ryan Franklin gave up a game-tying homer in an eventual opening-day loss to the Padres and Houston's Brandon Lyon allowed six hits and three runs, picking up the loss against the Phillies on Friday.

The Cubs' Carlos Marmol struck out the side on Saturday for his first save, but Sunday he walked one and allowed two hits to cough up a lead, sending the Cubs to a 5-4 loss to the Pirates (and setting up Hanrahan's second save).

And then there's Cincinnati's Francisco Cordero, who picked up a save, but didn't instill much confidence in anyone, allowing two hits and a run in Saturday's Reds victory against the Brewers.

It could be a wild ride this year in the NL Central this season, and that's just the ninth inning.

HOMETOWN BOY -- Padres manager Bud Black said part of his reason for setting his rotation as he did was to allow San Diego native Aaron Harang make the start for the Padres' home-opener at Petco Park on Tuesday.

Black said it also helped that Harang has a history of opening day starts. Harang started five consecutive opening days in Cincinnati. He is in his first season with the Padres. [San Diego Union-Tribune]

PRETTY MUCH -- Dustin Pedroia on the Rangers' sweep of the Red Sox: "They kicked our ass, that's it." [Boston Herald]

RAY OF HOPE -- On opening day, the Rays announced a long-term deal with Wade Davis. The team's No. 1 starter, David Price, said he'd be interested in a long-term deal as well.

"Everybody here knows that I feel very comfortable here with the Rays," Price told MLB.com. "And I feel like I fit in very well with this organization and how they do stuff. If it's something we're able to get done, it's definitely something I'd like to do."

TURF CALF? -- Johnny Damon said Tropicana Field's artificial surface may have contributed to his right calf tightness that forced him to be scratched from Sunday's lineup. [St. Petersburg Times]

ANGEL TOURISTS -- Howie Kendrick and Torii Hunter talk about how special the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City is to them. [Orange County Register]

BASEBALL ART -- Aubrey Huff made a diving catch in Los Angeles on Saturday and before Sunday's game, Pat Burrell, Dan Runzler and Brandon Belt taped a body outline in the outfield where Huff made his catch. Here's a picture of their art.

HALLOWED GROUND -- Volunteers cleaned up at the old Tiger Stadium and finished off with a pickup game of baseball. The Navin Field Grounds Crew will be doing this every week during the summer in Detroit, hoping to allow everyone to use the field. [Detroit Free Press]

JAPANESE HERITAGE DAY -- The best highlight of Sunday's Japanese Heritage Day in Oakland was when Ichiro Suzuki caught Kurt Suzuki's fly in right and threw out Hideki Matsui at third base. The A's and their fans also raised more than $65,000 for earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan. [San Francisco Chronicle]

HUMIDOR SECURITY -- MLB has tightened its security procedures concerning the humidor at Coors Field, an "authenticator" will keep an eye on all the baseballs from when they're taken out of the humidor to the umpire's room where they're rubbed down to the Rockies dugout, where they're kept. During the game, he'll watch the bag. [Denver Post]

CARDS OWNER CONFIDENT -- Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. is happy with his team and confident, but added the team does have playroom flexibility of "several million dollars" if the team needs something later in the season. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

COPYING BAGWELL -- Astros shortstop Clint Barmes will wear a protective pad on his left batting glove when he returns to action. Barmes suffered a fractured bone in his hand late in spring training when he was hit by a pitch. Barmes said it's the exact same pad attached by velcro that former Astro Jeff Bagwell used to wear. Barmes said he wore a similar pad after breaking his hand in 2002, but will make it a permanent addition this time. [MLB.com]

VLAD THE ENIGMA -- Vladimir Guerrero has wowed us on the field for years, but not much is known about him off the field. But the Baltimore Sun's Kevin Van Valkenburg and Jeff Zrebiec have managed to write a really interesting feature on the new Oriole. For instance, before every home series, Guerrero writes down the name of all the Spanish-speaking players and coaches coming to town, and will then have his mom cook food for all the Latin players and bring it to the park. Guerrero's mom has lived with him since he was in Montreal. [Baltimore Sun]

REALLY? -- Wearing a guy's jersey to a game is one thing, but a whole uniform, catching gear and all? This Philadelphia fan was at Sunday's game wearing complete catcher's gear, a glove, mask and even taped wrists. I wonder if security allowed him through the gate with metal spikes? [Philadelphia Daily News]

OAKLAND'S 'DUMP' -- Apparently the field at the Oakland Coliseum smells like sewage. And that's not all that's wrong with the Coliseum. [San Francisco Chronicle]

GREINKE PROGRESSING -- The Brewers expect Zack Greinke to throw off the mound at some point during the team's week-long homestead starting today. Greinke still isn't expected to return this month, but throwing off the mound is the first step to determining when he can return. He played long toss and threw from 60 feet before Sunday's game in Cincinnati. [MLB.com]

BLAKE BETTER -- Casey Blake is eligible to come off the disabled list on Wednesday and hopes to be ready when he is eligible. The Dodgers are in Denver on Wednesday. [Los Angeles Times]

REWARD OFFERED -- A $10,000 reward has been offered for information leading to an arrest in the case of Dodger fans beating Giants fan Bryan Stow, 42, a Santa Cruz paramedic and father of two. Stow is currently in a medically induced coma. [Los Angeles Times]

SIGNS YOU'RE OLD -- When Jim Thome faced Blue Jays rookie Kyle Drabek on Saturday, the TV folks accidentally put up Thome's career numbers against Doug Drabek, Kyle's father. [UniWatch Blog]

IZZY SHELVED -- Jason Isringhausen, attempting a comeback with the Mets, left an extended spring training game on Saturday after feeling a "twinge" in his back. [New York Daily News]

DIFFERENT SWING -- John Smoltz talks about his attempt at a golf career. [Detroit Free Press]

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

 

Posted on: April 3, 2011 11:16 pm
Edited on: April 3, 2011 11:17 pm
 

3 up, 3 down for 4/3: Teixeira's hot start

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Mark Teixeira3UP

Mark Teixeira, Yankees -- Mark Teixeira is a notorious slow starter, but as CBSSports.com senior writer Scott Miller found out this spring, the Yankees first baseman overhauled his offseason routine and started hitting sooner. It appears it worked -- he homered for the third straight game on Sunday, joing Dave Winfield as just the second Yankee to homer in the first three games of the season. Speaking of homers in each of the first three games of the season, Texas' Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler became the first set of teammates to do that.

Jaime Garcia, Cardinals -- There were plenty of people worried about Garcia following a shaky spring. Well, once the games started to count, Garcia was back to his 2010 form. Garcia allowed just four hits in his shutout on Sunday, walking two and striking out a career-high nine against the Padres.

Reds catchers -- You saw what Ramon Hernandez did on opening day, well, he hasn't played since and it hasn't hurt the Reds. Between Hernandez and Ryan Hanigan, Reds catchers are 9 for 12 with three home runs and seven RBI after Hanigan went 4 for 4 with a pair of homers on Sunday's 12-3 victory over Milwaukee.

3DOWN

MLB schedule makers -- Weather was a constant concern this opening weekend, but only one game was called because of the weather, Sunday's Rockies-Diamondbacks game. How difficult is it to look at the schedules and figure out that you've got a better chance of bad weather in Denver in early April than in Arizona? Ozzie Guillen was right, it's "very stupid."

Brian Broderick, Nationals -- In his major-league debut, the Rule 5 pick not only allowed four runs on two hits and a walk in two-thirds of an inning, he also balked in a run when his cleat got caught in the rubber and didn't throw the ball. "I was either going to throw it way over the catcher's head or not throw it at all," Broderick told MASNSports.com.

Angels bullpen -- For the third day in a  row, the Angels' bullpen gave up the lead and took the loss against the Royals. In 16 innings in four games, Angels relievers have allowed 19 hits, 12 runs (nine earned) five homers, 13 walks and 14 strikeouts. Closer Fernando Rodney walked three Royals before allowing a two-out double to Wilson Betimit to tie the game in the ninth on Sunday. Rodney has now walked four of the nine batters he's faced in 2011.

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Posted on: March 31, 2011 8:21 pm
Edited on: March 31, 2011 10:39 pm
 

Hustle, good at-bats spark Reds rally

Reds

By C. Trent Rosecrans

CINCINNATI -- Ramon Hernandez didn't expect to hit the game-winning homer -- even after it left his bat. All he was thinking was he wasn't making the last out.

He didn't, his three-run homer off of Brewers closer John Axford gave the Reds a 7-6 win on opening day, capping a four-run ninth inning for the defending National League Central champions.

"I have no clue how I hit it out, to be honest," Hernandez said after his 334-foot home run landed in the Brewers bullpen in right field of Great American Ball Park.

But he knew how he got there -- with help from his teammates, and Brewers third baseman Casey McGehee.

Ramon Hernandez "It took a three-run homer to win it, but you can't hit a three-run homer with nobody on," Reds left fielder Jonny Gomes said.

It was what led up to that homer that typified why the Reds led the National League in runs scored a year ago en route to their division title -- hustle and good at-bats.

The inning started with a Brandon Phillips single, which was followed by Joey Votto working a walk. With two on and still no outs, Scott Rolen hit a slow grounder to third, where McGehee fielded it and tried to tag Phillips going to third.

"I thought he was going to go to second, but when I saw him reach out with the glove, that's when I went into my Matrix mode and got out of the way," Phillips said.

McGehee felt he pushed Phillips far enough out of the baseline to get the out before throwing to first, where Rolen beat out the throw. Third-base umpire Dan Bellino ruled Phillips safe at third.

Rolen joked that he was thinking double out of the box, but then said he was just trying to get down the line fast enough not to be doubled up. When he looked up, he saw bases loaded.

After Jay Bruce struck out, Gomes was trying to avoid a game-ending double play and nearly ended the game in a different way, by hitting it over the wall. However, his liner went to the deepest part of the park for a sacrifice fly, scoring Phillips and brining up Hernandez.

"You saw two great hustle plays with Brandon and Scott in the same play," Gomes said. "What you're trying to do there, is extend the inning and not give up outs.

"That's what we did. When you start with a positive note, it's contagious and you're almost a goat if you don't do that. When you're not hustling to first, when you're not avoiding tags, you're the goat. It's a special group of guys here."

With an 0-1 count, Axford's 93 mph fastball stayed up and got over the plate. Hernandez crushed it, watching it and raising his hands in celebration before he even reached first base, while manager Dusty Baker danced what appeared to be a jig in the dugout.

"When you have all your teammates waiting for you because you just won a ballgame, it's one of the best feelings you can ever feel," said Hernandez, whose homer capped a four-hit day. "Celebrating with your teammates is the best part."

It's something the Reds have plenty of practice at. Last year they were second in the big leagues with 45 come-from-behind wins and tied for second with 22 wins in their last at-bat, including Bruce's walk-off, division-clincher last September.

Shortstop Paul Janish, who along with starter Edinson Volquez were the only different starters from last year's opening day lineup, called the hitting "infectious."

Rolen called it "good baseball," while Drew Stubbs called it "magic."

Whatever it was, it was fun.
 
 
 
 
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