CINCINNATI — Bill Bray is back and J.J. Hoover is gone — a sort of good news, bad news scenario that gladdens and saddens Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker at the same time.
He is ecstatic that Bray is back, giving him a much-need left handed arm in the bullpen, but wasn’t happy to lose the right handed Hoover.
And Bray was put to the test immediately, making his 2012 debut Friday night against the Minnesota Twins and it was a disaster that led to a 5-4 Cincinnati defeat, their fourth straight loss.
BRAY REPLACED STARTER Homer Bailey with one out and the bases loaded in the sixth, the Reds leading, 4-3. Bray’s assignment? Retire two lefthanders.
Instead, he walked Dennard Span on a full count to tie it, then gave up a sacrifice fly to Ben Revere for the go-ahead run — a run that turned out to be the last run of the game.
“That’s part of hiss job, that situation,” said manager Dusty Baker. “I’d hoped to get him in a less pressurized situation, but we didn’t want to use Sean Marshall that early (sixth inning), but they had those lefthanded hitters coming up.”
Chris Heisey and Scott Rolen homered early in the game to give the Reds the 4-3 lead, but after that the Reds left another runners strewn on the basepaths to populate Norway.
IN THE BOTTOM OF the sixth, the Reds filled the bases with one out, but Devic Mesoraco took a called third strike and pinch-hitter Todd Frazier flied to center.
IN THE BOTTOM OF the ninth, they put runners on first and third with one out against lefthander Glen Perkins, who had one save all season. But Zack Cozart took a called third strike and Chris Heisey went down swining.
Bailey pitched 5 1/3 innings and gave up four runs and five hits with two walks — and he was not happy when Baker came to get him in the sixth to replace him with Bray.
“I still felt good,” said Bailey. “I gave up a broken-bat hit (Trevor Plouffe) and Ryan Doumit hits the double that bounces over the fence, so what can you do? On flip side, Doumit hit the crap out of the ball (home run in the fourth) No, I didn’t want to come out. It’s tough to come out in situations like that, but Dusty is the manager and he makes the call.”
THERE WAS A might scare in the fourth inning when Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco’s bat shattered and the barrel hit home plate umpire Jerry Layne flush on the left side of his face. He went down and stayed down.
Layne eventually got up and had no cuts or abrasions on his face and Reds team physician Dr. Tim Kremchek said it didn’t appear Layne had a concussion. He was taken to Methodist Hospital for observation. The game was finished with a three-man crew with Bob Davidson shifting behind the plate.
Bailey, at times, did not appear happy with Davidson’s strike zone, but said after the game, “In every game there is a few questionable calls, but I don’t think a change of umpires made any different,” said Bailey.
OF THE PRE-GAME DEMOTION of J.J. Hover, Baker said, “It was a very tough decision because J.J. did a really good job for us (1-0, 3.00 ERA in 17 appearances.”
The Reds acquired Hoover from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for third baseman Juan Francisco just before the season began and Hoover was quickly recalled from Class AAA Louisville to make his major-league debut in mid-April.
“He got ready a lot quicker than we anticipated — we figured he might be ready by mid-season,” said Baker. “But he was pressed into action because of bullpen injuries (Ryan Madsen, Nick Masset, Bill Bray) and he performed well.
“The demotion was not anything he did or didn’t do, it was just a matter of numbers,” Baker added. “We told, ‘You’ll be back,’ and hopefully he’ll be back to stay because he certainly has the stuff and the intestinal fortidude for the job. You don’t even know he is around half the time and that’s what you like to see out of rookies. That’s old school — be seen and not heard.”
BRAY SUFFERED a groin injury in spring training and tried to come back too soon. He altered his mechanics and other problems surfaced, causing a major setback.
“I tried to push through the groin injury and it just didn’t work,” said Bray. “I changed my mechanics to compensate and it just messed up everything. My back started hurting, my arm started hurting and it took a while to figure out what was wrong — just some minor adjustments in my mechanics.”
WHO HELPED AND what were the mechanical issues?
“It wasn’t me fixing it, it was (pitching coaches) Ton Fossas and Mack Jenkins in Arizona and Bryan Price up here,” said Bray. “We sat down and looked at video and compared things. It was where I was landing. I was four or five inches off in my step toward home plate, stepping four or five inches toward first base. That closed off my delivery.
“I was jerking the ball toward home plate, not throwing strikes,” he said. “Once we figured that out, things went back to normal.”
Bray appeared in 79 games last season and was 5-3 with a 2.98 ERA, second most appearances in the National League.
SO IT HURT TO sit and watch, but with the way the team was playing, it was not a painful hurt.
“It’s not a good feeling not to be here, but it is awesome to watch your friends and teammates do well and be in first place,” he said. “The only thing you’d want to change is that you want to be be here helping.”
Of Bray’s activation, Baker said. “There were times when we wished we had more than one (lefthander) for situations instead of just a prime-time one. Bray said he is ready to roll and we’re glad to have him back and we’re slowly getting back to our original plans.”
DREW STUBBS IS in Dayton to rehab this weekend with the Dayton Dragons, with the grand plan to have him back in center field Monday.
“It depends on how he feels and hope there are no setbacks,” said Baker. “Let’s hope he stays healthy because he’s always healthy — this is the first time he’s been hurt. Even when he is dinged up he doesn’t say much about it. You knew when he said something was wrong, something was really wrong because he doesn’t complain about anything.”
JOEY VOTTO IS not pleased when he is a stereotyped as a hockey fan. Just because he was born and raised in Toronto, Canada, he is constantly asked, “Did you play hockey and who is your favorite hockey team and player.”
Votto is not interested in hockey, never played hockeyk can’t ice skate. He was more interested in the NBA playoffs than the NHL playoffs.
After the Miami Heat took care of the Oklahoma City Thunder Thursday night, Votto was asked about LeBron James winning an NBA title and he said, “I can finally sleep in peace. Now who are they going to hammer for not winning a championship, Dwight Howard (Orlando Magic)?”
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Hey, Marty, you have a glow about you.” — Manager Dusty Baker, kidding broadcaster Marty Brennaman, who was married to his fiancée, Amanda, while the Reds were on their last trip.
QUOTE OF THE DAY II: “If you don’t like it don’t look at it.” — Joey Votto, talking to a teammate who ws poking fun at Wilson Valdez’s Mohawk hair-cut.Tweet