Intrasquad Scrimmage

Johnny Cueto pitched an inning and recorded a groundout from Edwin Encarnacion and struck out David Ross and Chris Dickerson. Video of that is below. Jay Bruce went 1-3 with two ground outs and a single. Joey Votto had a rough day as he went 0-3 with 2 strikeouts. Matt Maloney allowed a hit to Jerry Gil (stolen base and went 2-2 with a double) and an unearned run while recording a strikeout. Richie Gardner allowed a walk and had a strikeout. Alexander Smit pitched an inning, allowed a single, walk and had a strikeout. Ryan Hanigan went 1-1 with a single and a stolen base. Josh Roenicke pitched an inning and allowed a double and an unearned run to go with a hit by pitch and a strikeout. Daryl Thompson allowed 3 singles and a double (Gil lost it in the sun, likely shouldn’t have been a double). Chris Dickerson went 1-3 with a double and a stolen base. Paul Janish made several very good plays defensively at SS and drew a walk. Ramon Ramirez allowed a single and had a strikeout in an inning of work. Tyler Pelland worked a 1-2-3 inning. Sergio Valenzuela was roughed up big time as he allowed a 3 run HR and 6 runs total in 2/3rds of an inning.

Video of Johnny Cueto taken by C. Trent Rosecrans of the game

He looked pretty good there, can’t wait to see him throw some more.Prospect articles and newsJohn Fay has this up on his blog where Dusty Baker talks about possibly putting the young starters into the bullpen role.

There’s no question that Johnny Cueto, Edinson Volquez and Homer Bailey have three of the best arms in camp. They’re being prepared as starters. So, if they don’t make the rotation, do they start the year in the minors?

“Not necessarily,” Dusty Baker said. “I come from the Dodger way. With young guys, the next best thing is long relief. It’s in between starting and relieving. It’s probably the less pressure on the staff because most of the time you’re coming in when you’re behind. We did it with Dave Burba in San Francisco, and he ended up winning nine, 10 games.

“Throw up zeros, so the offense can come back. You can’t let add on or trade runs. That’s where that guy is really important. If you’re not going to come back (and win games), you’re not going to win the pennant or the wild card. You need a guy who allows you to come back.”

Nolan Ryan, Johan Santana, Pedro Martinez, Don Gullett and Roy Oswalt are among the dominant starters who began their careers in the bullpen.

“A lot of young guys start out in long relief,” Baker said. “If a guy’s not going to start, that’s the next best thing.”

This will make for interesting decisions at the end. The Reds owe Mike Stanton and Todd Coffey a lot of money. They’re going to have to pay them regardless of whether they’re on the team or not. Sounds like Baker would like to go with 11 or 12 best arms.

Hal McCoy has an article up on Matt Maloney in the Dayton Daily News. Here are some of the better excerpts from it:

“He not only has good breaking stuff, he has deception and late movement on his fastball,” Baker said. “He has control and he is not afraid to throw the ball inside on right-handers, which is one of the toughest things to teach a left-handed pitcher. A lot of them don’t like to try that because the ball tends to creep back over the heart of the plate.

“Most of the left-handers I didn’t like facing were guys who could throw their fastballs inside,” Baker added.

Baker didn’t put Maloney into the same category as Jerry Koosman and Frank Tanana, “Left-handers who were nasty on everybody,” but said Maloney appears to be trying to do what they did.

Matt Maloney throws during the intrasquad game (Photo: Jeff Swinger)

Mark Sheldon has a piece up on Richie Gardner on reds.com. Here are some of the better excerpts from that article.

Pained and discouraged by the long, slow slog that is shoulder surgery rehab, pitcher Richie Gardner once considered chucking his big league dream, packing his bag and going home to California.

What stopped him? His wife, Heather.

“My wife is what kept me going,” Gardner said. “I wanted to quit. Well, I didn’t want to quit, but at times it got so rough that I felt like, ‘Why am I doing this?’ She was on me and told me to give it two years. If it’s not back after two years, I could shut it down. It took about a year and a half.”

“It was terrible. It really was,” Gardner said. “It’s probably the worst thing a player can go through.”

In 2004, Gardner won the Sheldon “Chief” Bender Award as the Reds’ Minor League Player of the Year as he led the farm system with a 2.53 ERA. In 2005, USA Today named Gardner the Reds’ best pitching prospect.

The surgery forced Gardner to start over. In 2006, he was with the Gulf Coast League and Class A Sarasota and made nine starts. Last year, he got back on track.

“I couldn’t even throw from the windup last Spring Training,” Gardner said. “When the season started, [Sarasota pitching coach] Tom Brown helped me. He kind of got my motion and rhythm back. Everything was good from there.”

“It’s a remarkable story,” Reds Minor League director Terry Reynolds said. “A year ago, he was stuck in rehab wondering if he could pitch again. His attitude was great. He knows how to pitch. I don’t know if he’s back to where he was, but he’s close. He’s kind of right back on schedule.”

The Reds added Gardner to their 40-man roster in November, which brought him to big league camp this spring.

“It’s a great reward for the work he put in,” Reynolds said.

The right-handed Gardner said his velocity is back up to the high 80s and 90 mph.

“It’s exciting. I can’t say that I can’t sleep because I’m tired,” Gardner said. “But I’m excited every time I wake up. Two years ago and last year, I was basically on the rack. I had no idea if I was going to play well again like I was capable of.

“My arm strength is different. I don’t get as tired. I feel like I can extend better. It’s just easier to pitch.”

I really hope Gardner gets his chance in the majors. He is a great story and from everything I have read, a real good guy.