Posted on: July 11, 2011 9:10 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 9:21 pm
PHOENIX -- To hear some people tell it, there are people upset with Derek Jeter for his decision to skip the All-Star Game.
Maybe so, but all I heard about Jeter on Monday was praise, respect and amazement at his 5-for-5, 3,000th-hit day Saturday.
"For him, that's fitting," Reds outfielder Jay Bruce said. "At this point, he's Mr. Baseball. I'm disappointed he's not here, but only in the fact that I'd like to be on the same field as him."
Bruce, like many All-Stars, was able to see the 3,000th hit on television. So was Phillies third baseman Placido Polanco, who was riding an exercise bike in the clubhouse.
"I was super happy for him," Polanco said. "Jeter is one of the best, if not the best, person in the game."
"It couldn't have happened to a better person," Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun agreed. "And it couldn't have happened in a better way."
Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who wears No. 2 because of Jeter, agreed. Tulowitzki said his only regret is that he doesn't get to see Jeter this week.
"I feel like I got robbed twice, because he was on the disabled list when we went to New York," Tulowitzki said. "It would have been great if he was here, but at the same time he's got to do what he's got to do."
Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson, a longtime Jeter admirer, said he saw the 3,000th hit.
"Who didn't watch it?" Gibson asked. "A special day. It was meant to be. The great thing is that the perception of Derek Jeter is the truth. There is nothing phony about Derek at all."
The truth is that Jeter's not here. And the truth is that he's still held in great, great respect by his fellow All-Stars.
For more All-Star coverage from CBSSports.com, click here.
Posted on: May 26, 2011 2:26 am
Edited on: May 26, 2011 2:27 am
PHILADELPHIA -- Roy Halladay didn't no-hit the Reds.
Wilson Valdez did.
Roy Halladay didn't make this game memorable. Wilson Valdez did.
No one will ever forget the night Halladay no-hit the Reds in the playoffs. And no one will ever forget the night (early morning?) that Valdez no-hit the Reds in the 19th inning.
I know this much: The next time Halladay pitches against the Reds at Citizens Bank Park, I'm there. And you should be, too.
The first time he faced them, Reds starter Travis Wood took a perfect game to the ninth inning. The next time he faced them, Halladay made like Don Larsen.
And Wednesday night -- early Thursday morning -- Valdez made like . . . Roy Halladay?
Well, sort of.
Halladay is the best pitcher in baseball. He has 175 career wins, and a 3.29 career ERA.
Valdez is a utility infielder, who last pitched in some town game in the Dominican Republic, nine years ago. And he now has a 1-0 career record, and a 0.00 career ERA.
He got Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Carlos Fisher in the top of the 19th, and Raul Ibanez's sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 19th made the Phillies -- and Valdez -- a 5-4 winner in one of the craziest games you'll ever see.
And Wilson Valdez was absolutely the star.
"He's wanted to pitch for a while," said Dane Sardinha, who caught him. "Now I'm sure he'll want to even more. But I'd hang it up right now if I were him. Perfect record."
Valdez was having none of that.
"Anytime they need me," he said.
And why not? He threw one pitch at 90 mph, most of the others at 88-89.
"That's better than some guys," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.
Manuel hates the idea of using a position player to pitch. He said he'd never done it. But he ran out of pitchers, Danys Baez had already thrown 73 pitches (easily the most he'd thrown since he became a reliever eight years ago), and Manuel decided it would be too risky to use one of his other starting pitchers.
So Valdez it was, in the 19th inning, at 1 o'clock in the morning.
At first base, Ryan Howard told Reds coach Billy Hatcher, "If he throws anything like he throws it [across the infield] to me, he'll be nasty out there, because he throws sinkers."
Behind the plate, Sardinha put down one finger for a fastball, over and over. Valdez tried to shake him off ("I thought, what is he about to throw," Howard said), but Sardinha put down one finger again.
Votto flied out to center field, but then Valdez called his catcher to the mound. Actually, two catchers, because Carlos Ruiz was playing third base, and he joined the conversation, as well.
"He told me he wanted to throw his other pitches," a disbelieving Sardinha said. "Then he hit [Scott] Rolen with a slider."
In the stands, where a surprising number of fans remained, the crowd got as loud as it had in hours.
"Let's go Wilson!" they chanted. "Wil-son! Wil-son!"
Sardinha -- and Valdez -- went back to the fastball to get Bruce and Fisher, the final Reds pitcher, who threw 95 pitches in 5 2/3 innings and was in the game long enough to get two at-bats.
Then the Phillies scored, and the game was over, just 6 hours, 11 minutes after it began.
"It was a grind," Howard said. "But we got a new spark of life when Wilson went out there."
Valdez was the happiest Phillie around, even happier when a reporter told him he was clocked at 90 mph.
He admitted that he went to the mound with no pressure ("I just thought, throw a strike, because if [Votto] hits a home run, they're not going to say anything. He's a tough hitter.").
He said he was ready to keep pitching if the Phillies didn't score in the bottom of the 19th.
"I could go three more, four more, whatever," he said. "This is something I'm never going to forget."
I'm with him on that. And if you saw it, I'm guessing you are, too.
Two more memorable lines from a memorable night:
Sardinha, on whether Valdez had good stuff: "I told him he did, but it was [just] all right. He had a good sinker, and that was it."
Baez, on his 16th-inning at-bat, when he struck out: "I put on the wrong helmet. I put on a helmet to hit left-handed, and I thought, 'There's something wrong.' And I forgot to put pine tar on the bat."
Manuel, on Valdez: "I put him in against the heart of the order, [to] see what he's got. I think he passed the test."
Posted on: April 22, 2011 10:01 am
Some Reds try to play down their new-found rivalry with the Cardinals.
"There's no extra significance at all," Jay Bruce told the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Oh yeah? Tell that to Brandon Phillips.
When the Reds' team plane landed in St. Louis on Thursday night, Phillips went straight to his Twitter account .
"Just landed in St. Louis! Sad face," he posted. "But these wins will make me happy!"
One hour later, he was at it again, saying he told teammates that the best thing to eat in St. Louis was Lunchables.
No extra significance?
How about those T-shirts they're selling in St. Louis , the ones that read "Mike Leake stole this shirt for me"?
Look, we know rivalries can be overblown. Most teams don't really hate each other as much as the fans would like them to. Players change teams. As Reds manager Dusty Baker told reporters Thursday, it's not like the Reds have anything against Lance Berkman or Ryan Theriot.
Besides that, the Cardinals and Reds know better than most teams that head-to-head meetings often don't decide division titles. The Cardinals won 12 of 18 games against the Reds in 2010 -- including six of the final seven -- and the Reds still won the National League Central.
But please don't tell me that these games have "no extra significance."
On to 3 to watch.
1. As we mentioned in the last 3 to watch, the Indians and Royals are on top of the American League Central -- right now. And one scout who just finished watching the White Sox said they "look uninspired" and "look like they're still going through spring training." Perhaps they'll look more inspired this weekend in Detroit, starting with White Sox at Tigers, Friday night (7:05 ET) at Comerica Park. Mark Buehrle (5-0 in his last eight starts against the Tigers) faces Justin Verlander (5-0 in his last five starts against the White Sox). It's the first Buehrle-Verlander matchup in more than three years, since an April 2008 meeting when the White Sox won, 13-2, in a game where Nick Swisher and Pudge Rodriguez were the two leadoff hitters.
2. Mike Leake won't be starting in this weekend's Reds-Cardinals series. Chris Carpenter will be. All he's done against the Reds is win each of his last 10 starts, dating back to 2006. Last year alone, Carpenter was 5-0 with a 1.78 ERA against the Reds. He goes against Travis Wood in Reds at Cardinals, Saturday afternoon (4:10 ET) at Busch Stadium. The Fox network even thought enough of the matchup to send its top crew (Guess the Yankees and Red Sox aren't playing this weekend). ESPN even noticed. "We haven't been on the Sunday night game in I don't know how long," Baker told the Enquirer.
3. Remember when John Lackey was the Angels' ace? Remember when it seemed like another black mark against Angels owner Arte Moreno that he allowed Lackey to leave as a free agent, the same winter the Angels tried but failed to trade for Roy Halladay? Now Jered Weaver and Dan Haren are a combined 9-0 with a 1.20 ERA, while Lackey carries a 9.82 ERA into his start in Red Sox at Angels, Sunday afternoon (3:35 ET) at Angel Stadium. That's not to say the Angels couldn't use more rotation depth. While Weaver and Haren are 9-0 (going into Haren's Friday night meeting with Jon Lester), the rest of the Angels pitchers are 3-7.
Posted on: July 3, 2008 12:49 pm
Edited on: July 3, 2008 1:00 pm
Two scouts who watched the Red Sox get swept at Tropicana Field don't agree.
"If you look at the two clubs out there last night, there's no comparison," the first scout said. "And I'm serious. Tampa Bay has a better ballclub."
"It's not even close," the other scout agreed. "In every facet but the closer."
There are still questions about the Rays, particularly about whether their bullpen can hold up (especially if Troy Percival can't stay healthy). And there are those who wonder whether a young team that hasn't been through a pennant race before can survive through August and September.
"The second half is tougher," the scout admitted. "And they have a younger club. But they've got some talented guys, and talent overrides that."
The Rays are in the market for another bat in the outfield, with Xavier Nady the name most mentioned. They're also in on the C.C. Sabathia sweepstakes, even though their rotation is already the best in the division.
Another weakness is at first base, where one scout said that Carlos Pena "looks just like he did when he was playing for Detroit."
As for the Red Sox, they have to be looking for bullpen help.
"If the guys they have don't get any more consistent, I can't see them winning," the scout said. "Other than (Jonathan) Papelbon, there's no one there to rely on, that I can see."
Could the Braves actually be sellers in this month's trade market?
It's almost hard to imagine, because the Braves of recent years have always been a team that goes for it. And despite being five games under .500, the Braves are only six games behind the first-place Phillies.
But one club that has spoken with the Braves said that Atlanta officials intend to meet in the near future and decide whether or not they have a realistic chance of winning. If not, they'll sell, with Mark Teixeira the biggest and most interesting name available.
The Braves don't believe they have any chance of signing Teixeira long-term, and he's a free agent at the end of this season. Teixeira told reporters in Atlanta that he hopes the Braves don't trade him, but with no chance of keeping him past this year.
"It could happen tomorrow, or it might not happen until the 31st," said one person who speaks regularly with GM Mark Shapiro.
The Royals have told teams that they would at least listen on Zack Greinke, because he's one of the few players they have who could bring a big return. "It's going to take three good pieces to get him, but (GM Dayton Moore) will listen," one official said. . . . The Reds have told teams that only five players are off-limits in trade talks. The five? Edinson Volquez, Jay Bruce, Joey Votto, Johnny Cueto and Edwin Encarnacion.
Posted on: May 31, 2008 8:25 pm
Edited on: May 31, 2008 8:27 pm
OK, I give up. Give Jay Bruce all the attention you want. Give him all the love you want.
Forget about Ken Griffey Jr. and 600 home runs if you have to. The Boy Wonder is here in Cincinnati, and it's all about him.
And rightfully so.
Seriously, how many big-time prospects have had first weeks like Jay Bruce just had with the Reds? He's 11-for-19, he scored the winning run in extra innings on Friday night and he hit a walkoff home run today in an 8-7 win over the Braves.
Griffey walked out of the Reds clubhouse without talking about his 599th, but who cares? Jay Bruce is here, and if anything he's been better than advertised.
"A lot of times, the hype is overhyped," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "This hype is real."
It's easy to get caught up in Bruce-mania, in part because the 21-year-old outfielder (baseball's minor-league player of the year in 2007) doesn't seem to ever get caught up in it himself. Even riding the high of a walkoff, he deferred to Griffey.
"He probably would have hit 600 if I didn't hit mine," said Bruce, whose walkoff homer left Griffey smiling in the on-deck circle. "You can't steal the show from him. He is the show."
I'll still maintain that Griffey's pursuit of 600 home runs should be getting more attention than it has. And yes, Griffey's 599th has a lot more historical significance than Jay Bruce's first.
But anyone who has been anywhere near Cincinnati this week has to have been affected by Bruce-mania. And I'll admit, it's gotten to me, too.
"If he's living a dream, I'd like to get in that dream," Baker said.
Wouldn't we all?