Posted on: July 6, 2010 2:57 pm
Edited on: July 6, 2010 5:04 pm

Reds pitching switch could benefit Mets

Jose Reyes Reds manager Dusty Baker has filled out his lineup card for every position in the lineup but the last one, his pitcher.

Rookie left-hander Travis Wood was scheduled to start today, but Aaron Harang was a late scratch Monday against the Mets with low back pain and hoped to start Tuesday.

However, reports were that Harang was really struggling to get around following Monday's Reds victory and the Cincinnati Enquirer 's John Fay reports there is a Matt Maloney checked in at the Reds' New York hotel .

Maloney was scheduled to start Tuesday for the Reds' Triple-A team in Louisville. Maloney is 6-5 with a 3.50 ERA in Louisville.

If Maloney does indeed pitch, that could help the Mets, who were hoping to return Jose Reyes to the lineup on Tuesday against the left-handed Wood. Those plans were up in the air against the right-handed Harang, but Maloney is left-handed, meaning Reyes could return as planned. The Mets are hoping to limit the switch-hitting Reyes to batting right-handed to help rehabilitate his oblique muscle, according to the New York Post . Reyes has said he's unsure if he can swing from the left side.

UPDATE: Reyes is in the lineup, leading off. Maloney is at Citi Field in case he is needed.

UPDATE 2: Harang has been placed on the disabled list with lower back spasm, retroactive to June 30. He is eligible to come off the DL on July 16. Maloney will start for the Reds tonight.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Posted on: July 6, 2010 1:05 am

Reds' Rolen says Wrigley holding back Cubs

Scott Rolen When you ask Scott Rolen a question, there's usually a pause before he starts to answer it. There's a reason -- he likes to think before he speaks.

Never is Rolen bombastic or does he seek a headline. Usually, whatever the Reds third baseman says is backed with experience and reason.

When the Reds were in Chicago, he was asked about the Cubs' ails. Here's what he told the Chicago Tribune :
"The Cubs are very limited facility-wise and that dramatically limits the work the players can do day to day," he said. "The clubhouse and weight room are significantly below par. They play a different schedule than everybody else in baseball. The day games are very hard to deal with day after day. Plus, when you have so many different starting times from 1:20 to 12:05 to 7:05 then play mostly all night games when you go on the road, I think the Cubs have their back against the wall.

"In Cincinnati we have a track to get loose on and three batting cages that a pinch hitter can use before he comes up to hit. (The Cubs) don't have anywhere for a pinch hitter to get swings in before he hits."

Rolen also told us that he believes that to win the Cubs need a younger team because of the grind of day games.

"However, with young players in a great city like Chicago, you have to make sure that you have guys who are committed to winning because the night life in Chicago can keep a player from performing at his very best," he said.
Rolen's words appparently also carry great weight with the umpires. In one of Monday's oddest plays, a Rolen strikeout was changed to a hit-by-pitch, starting a six-run Reds rally in the team's 8-6 victory over the Mets.

With the bases loaded and two strikes no outs in the fifth, New York's Mike Pelfrey threw a pitch inside to Rolen and home plate umpire Jerry Meals initially called it a foul tip, caught by the catcher for a strikeout as Rolen trotted toward first base. When Rolen noticed the runners weren't advancing, he saw that Meals had called him out.

"I said, 'if that’s your call, you got it wrong.' I wasn’t going to yell and scream.," Rolen told the Cincinnati Enquirer 's John Fay .

The umpire conferred and overturned the call, ruling the ball did indeed hit Rolen, sending him to first and breaking the 1-1 tie and leading the Reds to a win.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
Posted on: July 5, 2010 7:05 pm

Reds' Harang scratched

Aaron Harang Less than an hour before the scheduled start of the Reds-Mets game, Cincinnati scratched starter Aaron Harang because of low back pain.

Harang, 6-7 with a 5.02 ERA, was replaced by rookie Travis Wood, who will be making his second big-league start.

Wood pitched last Thursday in Chicago on an extra day's rest. Wood went seven-plus innings, allowed two hits and two runs, walking three and striking out four. Wood threw 91 pitches in his victory over the Cubs.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
Posted on: July 5, 2010 6:56 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2010 11:37 pm

Reds' Hernandez out with knee injury

Ramon Hernandez For most of the season, the National League Central-leading Cincinnati Reds have been lucky not to have an injury that's drastically altered their plans from the beginning of the season.

Only two regulars -- starter Homer Bailey and catcher Ryan Hanigan -- have been on the disabled list.

While not on the DL, the team's other catcher from the opening day roster is hurting. Ramon Hernandez hurt his knee in Sunday's victory over the Cubs and left the game. Corky Miller is starting for the Reds.

"He's got swelling in there that he didn't have yesterday," Reds manager Dusty Baker told the Cincinnati Enquirer 's John Fay. "He's a little sore. Hopefully he'll be better tomorrow. He'll get treatment all day in case I've got to pinch-run or pinch-hit for Corky late in this game."

Baker said he didn't know if Hernandez could catch in a pinch if needed tonight.

Hanigan, on the disabled list since May 29 with a broken thumb, is currently on a rehab assignment at Triple-A Louisville. Hanigan was hitting .200/.300/.229 in 10 games and 35 at-bats for the Bats, catching the last five games. He's also catching for the Bats in Monday's game in Indianapolis.

Hernandez missed 57 games last season with a left knee injury and had arthroscopic surgery in July, coming back for the last two weeks of the season.

When Hanigan went on the DL, he'd taken over the primary catching job from Hernandez. But over the last month, Miller's started 10 games with Hernandez starting the rest. Last season, his troubles started when he played first base in Joey Votto's absence.

Hernandez is hitting .287/.365/.403 with three home runs and 23 RBI for the Reds.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Posted on: July 5, 2010 1:17 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2010 3:50 pm

Stubbs, Colvin deliver fireworks on July 4

Drew Stubbs There were plenty of fireworks during the Reds-Cubs game on Sunday -- just not the kind you're thinking.

Drew Stubbs and Tyler Colvin both have quite a few things in common: both are young, play the outfield for a NL Central team and are fighting to get extensive playing time.

They can also add hitting multiple home runs in a game as something in common. Stubbs hammered three home runs to pace the Reds to a 14-3 rout over the Cubs, driving in five. That gives him 11 homers on the season. Along with 16 steals, Stubbs is performing to a .240/.313/.417 line in 305 plate appearances. He's generally the starting center fielder for Cincy but due to his struggles, has been riding the pine a bit more frequently.

Safe to say he won't be doing that anytime soon.

Colvin has more trouble fighting his way into the lineup but has amassed 176 plate appearances, knocking 12 dingers for an impressive .568 slugging percentage (.278 batting average, .320 OBP).

As the Cubs continue to flounder, Colvin will get more playing time at the expense of Kosuke Fukudome, as Alfonso Soriano and Marlon Byrd are both producing.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
Posted on: July 4, 2010 6:13 pm
Edited on: July 4, 2010 6:14 pm

Plenty of names available to Mariners for Lee

Cliff Lee Could Jack Zduriencik of the Mariners be trying to engineer a three-team trade?

Buster Olney of ESPN speculates on Cliff Lee's future -- as everyone will do up until he is traded -- and notes that Seattle wants a "difference-making hitter" in any Lee trade.

Olney suggests Justin Smoak from Texas, but it's hard to imagine the Rangers agreeing to that. Perhaps Chris Davis is a more viable alternative, but Texas would then have to upgrade other elements of the package.

Another player that may catch Seattle's eye is Yonder Alonso of the Reds. Alonso was drafted as a first baseman but since Joey Votto has that position locked up, has been playing left. The Mariners could return him to his natural position of first or even slot him as DH, and the Reds would certainly love Lee as they make a push for the NL Central crown.

Olney then turns his attention to Brett Lawrie of Milwaukee. When Jack Z worked for the Brewers, he selected Lawrie in the first round of the 2008 draft. Lawrie has since emerged as one of the best prospects in the game while manning second base. Even though the Brewers are out of the race and wouldn't be interested in a Lee-for-Lawrie swap, Olney speculates that Zduriencik could engineer a three-way trade, sending Lee to the Reds, a stable of pitching prospects from Cincinnati to Milwaukee (fulfilling the Brewers' need for pitching) and Lawrie to the Mariners.

There's nothing to support this trade, but it's an intriguing idea.

All that said, Charley Waters of the Pioneer Press hears that the Twins are the frontrunners for Cliff Lee and are currently deciding whether Wilson Ramos should be made available to Seattle, who craves a young catcher. Interestingly enough, Waters says the Mariners love their 26-year-old catcher, Adam Moore, so Ramos may not be as available. Hard to imagine any team turning Ramos down who is head and shoulders above Moore but even if that's the case, Minnesota has more chips they can send out.

That starts with center fielder Ben Revere, who -- despite a clear lack of power -- has advanced well in the system since being selected in the 2007 draft. Joe Benson is another outfielder in the system that could be available, as well as major-league starting pitcher Nick Blackburn. It's doubtful Seattle would entertain Blackburn as the last thing they need is another back-of-the-rotation starter.

The Cliff Lee sweepstakes are heating up, and it's anyone's guess who plucks the prized left-hander with an obscene 89/6 K/BB ratio.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Posted on: July 3, 2010 1:59 pm
Edited on: July 3, 2010 7:47 pm

Cubs silence their own bats

Alfonso Soriano Practice makes perfect? Maybe not. Maybe practice makes Cubs. And that's not good.

Chicago manager Lou Piniella told the Chicago Tribune 's Dave van Dyck that "sometimes less is more" before he cancelled batting practice and closed the Cubs' outfield hitting area before Saturday's game with the Reds.

The Cubs have scored three or fewer runs in 11 of their last 13 games, including five shutouts.

It doesn't help that the team is facing one of the National League's hottest pitchers, Johnny Cueto on Saturday, either. Cueto is 8-2 with a 3.74 ERA and entered the game having given up just 11 hits and one earned run in his last three starts, good for a 1-1 record and a 0.71 ERA.

UPDATE: Well, no real shocker here, but it looks like Piniella knows more about his team -- and baseball -- than I do. The Cubs have hits in each of the first five innings against Cueto, including leadoff hits in four of those innings. As of the bottom of the fifth, though, that hasn't led to any runs. The Cubs now have seven hits, including a leadoff double by Marlon Byrd in the fifth, while Randy Wells has held the NL's leading offense hitless through five.

UPDATE 2: The Cubs banged out 10 hits on Saturday in their 3-1 victory over the Reds, so Piniella's plan worked, although not perfectly. Sure, it's picking nits when you win, but Chicago left 17 runners on base. The National League record for most men left on base in a nine-inning game is 18, done most recently by Atlanta on June 23, 1986. The Yankees left 20 on base on September 21, 1956.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Posted on: July 1, 2010 3:28 am

Phillips finds his spot at top of Reds' lineup

Brandon Phillips CINCINNATI -- Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips is already thinking about spending time with his family when the All-Stars gather in Anaheim later this month.

It's not that he thinks he doesn't deserve to be an All-Star, he's thought he's deserved it the last couple of years and hasn't gotten the call, so he's not expecting it on Sunday, when the teams are announced.

"I feel like I should have been an All-Star years ago, so I'm not looking forward to it. I don't really care," Phillips said. "I'd like to have my four days off and be in Georgia and go do some things with my sister. That's it."

With Chase Utley on the disabled list, Phillips, 29, certainly deserves a spot on the squad, alongside Atlanta's Martin Prado. Still, with Dan Uggla also fighting for a spot, it wouldn't be a shock if Phillips were left off.

With a 30/30 season under his belt, Phillips is actually enjoying his best season in the big leagues. Phillips is hitting .313/.371/.481 with nine home runs, 25 RBI and 10 stolen bases.

He's also finally found his spot in the lineup. He'd been used as a cleanup hitter the last couple of years, a role he was miscast in, but still managed to rack up at least 75 RBI in each of the four seasons and 94 or more in two of the last three.

That's where he started this season, as well, but Dusty Baker moved him up in the order in May and let Scott Rolen bat cleanup.

"He's fit in in every spot we've put him in," Baker said. "He fit in at second, he did well in the cleanup spot, even though he was much-maligned, he still had 97 RBI. Now he's taken to this leadoff spot, he's taking pitches, he's a smart player. He's not hitting .313 because he can't play."

Still, Phillips said he's changed his approach dramatically since he's been moved up in the lineup, cutting down his swing and laying off pitches outside the strike zone.

"I'm not the same hitter I was when i hit fourth, the way I hit right now, I can't hit fourth doing it," Phillips said. "Hitting fourth, it's all about RBI, I proved to everybody I can hit fourth. I didn't hit for a high average, but I had the power numbers and I had the RBIs. I had 90-plus RBIs every year, but that's not me. I'm the type of guy who has gotten the team going. I'm trying to show everyone that I can do many things."

Too often, perhaps, he was trying to show others who he was instead of listening to himself.

"He hits the ball to the opposite field very well, I don't want to put words into his mouth, but I think with a man on first base he feels like he can hit that hole instead of swinging for a double or a home run," Rolen said. "For me, I'm not going to hit that hole, I'm not going to shoot a ball into the hole or bunt. I'm going to try to hit the ball in the middle of the field and hit the gaps. If I hit second, that's what I try to do. He's got a nice compact, right-field swing, but he can also hit the ball out of the ballpark. He sprays singles around and that's healthy."

Rolen has been something of a mentor to Phillips. It's not overt or like Rolen has put his arm around Phillips' shoulders and telling him the secrets of the game. That's not Rolen's style, but Phillips has been sure to keep an eye on the veteran and listen to everything he says.

"Scott Rolen told me, 'Brandon you don't know what type of player you are until you start winning.' I'm starting to see what he meant by that," Phillips said. "Scotty said he's seen so much potential in me and I have yet to see it. I'm starting to see it now. Coming from Scott Rolen, someone who has been at it a long time, to get a comment like that… I'm just going to run with it and do what I'm do."

What he's been able to do so far is spark the Reds offense at the top of the lineup. He has a career-high .371 on-base percentage. Last season he got on base at a .329 clip and has just a .318 career OBP.

"I like hitting leadoff, I jut have to change my role. Ever since they've moved me to first or second, my job is to get on base," Phillips said. "I'm not trying to hit for power or do what I was doing when I was hitting fourth. Right now, my main objective is to get on base for Joey Votto, Rolen and (Jonny) Gomes."

It's a sound strategy -- Phillips leads the National League with 60 runs, in part because he's on base for Votto, Rolen and Gomes, all three in the top 11 in RBI in the National League.

Phillips has just seven games in the leadoff spot, but the numbers aren't that much different than what he's been doing over the last month. As a leadoff guy, he's hitting .417/.447/.556 and in the last 30 games, .395/.424/.543, including a 2-for-5 performance against Roy Halladay in Wednesday's Reds victory.

The Reds have been searching for a leadoff man for the last couple of years, using the likes of Jerry Hairston Jr., Ryan Freel, Drew Stubbs, Cabrera, Willy Taveras and Corey Patterson. In the end, maybe the player they were searching for was right there under their nose, even if he wasn't ready for it. But, now, Phillips says, it's his time.

"I've got to be the Jose Reyes, Jimmy Rollins for this team. I'm just trying to get things started," Phillips said. "It's fun. Winning is really just turned me into a different player, it's made me stay on top of my game and made me stay focused."

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com