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reds44
03-14-2007, 08:01 PM
http://cincinnati.reds.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20070313&content_id=1841664&vkey=spt2007news&fext=.jsp&c_id=cin

http://cincinnati.reds.mlb.com/images/2007/03/13/o3ioo9Xf.jpg


TAMPA, Fla. -- Reds pitcher Matt Belisle knows exactly what he wants to do, and he has known it for quite some time.
"Right around the middle of last year, it just started hitting me," said Belisle, a middle reliever for Cincinnati last season. "I'd hit the bed at night thinking, 'I'm going to start,' and I really think that's where I see myself in my head."

Belisle was given two starts at the end of the 2006 campaign, and he looked pretty good with an 0.93 ERA, including six shutout innings in the second start at Pittsburgh. Coming off that audition late last season, the 26-year-old right-hander has done everything he could to position himself as a serious contender for the Reds' vacant fifth starter spot.

Over his career, Belisle made 125 Minor League starts and seven in the Majors. But he's yet to firmly establish himself in the big leagues since breaking in during the 2003 season.

Soon after the '06 regular season ended, Belisle went to Puerto Rico so he could make starts in winter ball. Although the competition wasn't considered as high as it is in the Majors, the results were positive enough to draw encouragement. Belisle posted a 2.53 ERA in eight games, including five starts, for Manati.

"I worked on all of my weaknesses," Belisle said. "I made sure that I met all of my goals down there, as far as working on all my breaking pitches, better in the zone for strikes where I want them. I threw the changeup a lot more, which is something I diverted from out of the bullpen.

"Utilizing my whole repertoire was what I really wanted to do. I wanted to be real comfortable and confident with all of [my pitches]. That's what I did. It was real successful for me, and I got a tremendous amount out of it."

The Manati team is owned by big-league player Jose Valentin, and his brother, Reds catcher Javier Valentin, also played for the team.

"I saw him being more confident with every pitch he made," Javier Valentin said. "He concentrated more. Every pitch he threw, he made adjustments. He threw a lot of strikes. He could throw anything at any time in any situation. He looked different than the Matt Belisle we saw last year during the season."

Belisle was 2-0 with a 3.60 ERA in 30 games in 2006, but he was limited to 40 innings because of a back injury that put him on the disabled list twice. At one point before going on the DL, his back was so sore that he couldn't sit down in the bullpen at Wrigley Field.

"We really felt last year when he came down with the back problems that he'd be better suited to be on a regular schedule than doing the bullpen thing," Reds manager Jerry Narron said.

After returning from the second DL stint in mid-August, Belisle got through the rest of the season without incident. More importantly, his back also held up under the rigors of starting, and preparing himself to be a starter, this past winter.

"I knew going to Puerto Rico I had to do that to test my back and make sure [to prove], 'OK, this is a viable option that this guy is a reliable every fifth-day guy,'" Belisle said. "To be in our rotation, we had to make sure about the back. The back wasn't a problem."


Looking to maintain the momentum from the winter, Belisle followed the advice of Manati teammate, and San Francisco Giants pitcher, Russ Ortiz. He never stopped throwing after the Puerto Rican season ended.

"[Ortiz] said you keep the edge from winter ball by not going into a lull with rest and then getting your arm back in shape," Belisle said. "It was good advice from a guy from a pitcher's standpoint."

It's not yet known if Belisle's offseason efforts benefited him. But it certainly didn't hurt him, either.

"I put stock in that he's played [winter ball]," Narron said. "His pitching has a chance to get better. Matt had 40 innings last year. That was a huge part of it. It definitely gives him a better chance of making the club this spring than if he wouldn't have had it."

Also not hurting Belisle has been his performances this spring. Through three games, he is 3-0 with a 1.00 ERA over nine innings. On Monday, he got his first chance to start. Belisle turned in his best effort of camp, allowing just one soft hit and one walk while striking out three over four scoreless innings against the Blue Jays. He used just 46 pitches and faced one batter over the minimum.

"He used all his pitches," Narron praised. "He used both sides of the plate extremely well with his fastball. He kept the ball down. He threw strikes. A lot of times it seems like guys don't want to throw a strike with their fastball. He did a great job. It was an impressive outing for him."

That still doesn't guarantee Belisle a rotation spot. While he was improving himself in Puerto Rico, the Reds were improving their depth and stockpiling arms like Kirk Saarloos, Bobby Livingston, Paul Wilson and Victor Santos. Competition has been fierce, with every candidate turning in mostly decent outings.

If Belisle doesn't earn a rotation spot, he could wind up starting at Triple-A Louisville since he has Minor League options remaining.

"Probably the best scenario would be for him to be a starter," Narron said. "[But] I'm not going to discount him as a long guy from the bullpen."

Belisle remains undeterred in achieving the goal he first formulated last summer.

"I'm not even worried about the chances," he said. "I don't know what's going on with it, to be honest. I'm just doing what I need to do and what I want to do and taking care of that. I've got more confidence and complete belief in my abilities, and solid preparation going after that, now than I've ever had."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

pedro
03-14-2007, 08:13 PM
I really hope the Reds put Belisle in the rotation.

ND_redsfan10
03-14-2007, 08:18 PM
The future continues to look bright for the Reds' rotation. How about a solid core of four starters consisting of Harang, Arroyo, Bailey, and Belisle! It doesn't have quite the ring of a "Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz" YET...but in a few years who knows!

I think with the exception of Hamilton's play, Belisle has been the best surprise of camp.

wheels
03-14-2007, 08:25 PM
Everyone knows where I stand on Matt Belisle, but I'll say it again, he's the best in house option for shoring up the rotation.

Superdude
03-14-2007, 08:25 PM
I really believe he's got the best raw stuff on the team. If the crap about his secondary pitches is even close to true, I'd love to see him starting. Here's my rotation if this story isn't a load of crap, and if Milton magically disappears out of our lives...

1) Harang
2) Arroyo
3) Lohse
4) Ramirez
5) Belisle

Matt700wlw
03-14-2007, 08:26 PM
So far, he has got to be the front runner. As long as he showes he can stay healthy, and contiunes to show the consistancy he has this spring, I'm all for it.

Right now, he's on my list.

VR
03-14-2007, 08:28 PM
Much like Coffey, if he ever gets it between the ears, he will be a very good pitcher. I do think both will make that move this year, especially Coffey.

Patrick Bateman
03-14-2007, 08:33 PM
I really hope the Reds put Belisle in the rotation.

Agreed. I've always been intrigued by him, and at this point I think he's our best chance out of the number 5 candidates to be a reasonable back end of the rotation starter.

UPRedsFan
03-14-2007, 08:46 PM
Belisle yes, Ramirez no.

I'd rather see Livingston replace Milton or Lohse than Ramirez. He did not look good a week ago against the yankees.

Regardless it's nice to have options for a change. Most depth we've had in a long time.

OnBaseMachine
03-14-2007, 09:17 PM
I also would like to see Belisle in the Reds starting rotation. His curveball is a very good pitch to go along with his 92-93 mph fastball. I don't remember much about his changeup, how does it rate? Anyway, my rotation would go like this: Harang, Arroyo, Belisle, Saarloos, and Lohse. Replace Lohse with Homer Bailey after he makes about 8-10 starts at Louisville.

pedro
03-14-2007, 09:18 PM
I also would like to see Belisle in the Reds starting rotation. His curveball is a very good pitch to go along with his 92-93 mph fastball. I don't remember much about his changeup, how does it rate? Anyway, my rotation would go like this: Harang, Arroyo, Belisle, Saarloos, and Lohse. Replace Lohse with Homer Bailey after he makes about 8-10 starts at Louisville.


I agree that Belisle is probably best positioned to be a decent #3 on this team.

TheWalls
03-14-2007, 09:37 PM
Kriv: Now Mr. Saarlos, we like Matt's stuff really well and we like yours too. So, you're going to start in the pen and you get the first shot at the starters spot after Belisle's back gives out or Miltie gives up 20 HRs.

rotnoid
03-14-2007, 10:20 PM
High five Belisle on speaking out about it. Might just put him over the top. Narron seems to like "grinders" and guys that play "the right way." His confidence and "put me in coach" attitude probably play well in Baseball Guy's world. Here's hoping Jerry and the Kriv get it right.

justincredible
03-14-2007, 10:25 PM
I would love it if Belisle was in the rotation when they headed North. I would feel more comfortable on days he pitched than I would when Milton or Lohse took the mound.

Superdude
03-15-2007, 12:28 AM
Belisle yes, Ramirez no.

I'd rather see Livingston replace Milton or Lohse than Ramirez. He did not look good a week ago against the yankees.

Livingston over Ramirez? Ramirez pitched better in the majors than Livingston did in AAA last year. You're going to form an opinion on one spring training start?

KoryMac5
03-15-2007, 01:54 AM
Everyone knows where I stand on Matt Belisle, but I'll say it again, he's the best in house option for shoring up the rotation.

Which is actually why the Reds won't keep him up here. I think parts of the article really pointed out that unless Belisle pitches lights out and forces the Reds hands he will be optioned to AAA because he has options. I'm really tired of the Reds have all their eggs in one basket and than dropping the basket. Every so often you have to put your best eggs in the basket to make it easier to carry.

geniusMoment
03-15-2007, 02:30 AM
Here's my rotation:
1. Harang
2. Arroyo
3. Belisle
4. Saarloos
5. Lohse

Aronchis
03-15-2007, 02:42 AM
I would prefer Belisle starting just because of his back alone. While people worry about his back with starting, I think it may be better because he gets to warm up longer. Belisle always seemed to never be loose when he was called out of the pen and struggled. I am glad he is campaigning

Of course Pole's ability to hone up Matt's change will play a big part in that as well.

Just another reason to dump Milton asap. So we don't have a lefty in the rotation. At this point the Reds need talent in there, not scorecard matchups.

sonny
03-15-2007, 07:35 AM
I think with Belisle's attitude, determination and work ethic he certainly deserves to be in the rotation. That being said, Narron won't allow it to happen.

Redhook
03-15-2007, 08:57 AM
1) Harang
2) Arroyo
3) Lohse
4) Ramirez
5) Belisle

Ramirez's shoulder is now hurting again. I expect him to go on the Reds "day-to-day" plan for the next week or so, followed by the 15-day D.L. to start the season. Sometime in mid-April, he'll have surgery and we won't see him until 2008. I hope I'm wrong, but with the Reds players and medical staff, I have come to expect the worst.

Chip R
03-15-2007, 10:50 AM
High five Belisle on speaking out about it. Might just put him over the top. Narron seems to like "grinders" and guys that play "the right way." His confidence and "put me in coach" attitude probably play well in Baseball Guy's world. Here's hoping Jerry and the Kriv get it right.


Unfortunately, they prefer guys who make over $4.5M to guys like Belisle.

tbball10
03-15-2007, 11:47 AM
I also would like to see Belisle in the Reds starting rotation. His curveball is a very good pitch to go along with his 92-93 mph fastball. I don't remember much about his changeup, how does it rate? Anyway, my rotation would go like this: Harang, Arroyo, Belisle, Saarloos, and Lohse. Replace Lohse with Homer Bailey after he makes about 8-10 starts at Louisville.

belisle has always had great starts in the past and he's also had terrible ones too. he is similar to brett tomko was with the reds, with his good stuff but is also inconsistent. and his curveball is a great pitch when its working, but it's so inconsistent, and when it's off it is awful.

Chip R
03-15-2007, 11:51 AM
belisle has always had great starts in the past and he's also had terrible ones too. he is similar to brett tomko was with the reds, with his good stuff but is also inconsistent. and his curveball is a great pitch when its working, but it's so inconsistent, and when it's off it is awful.


No one's saying he's going to be a Cy Young award winner. Just that even with his inconsistancies he's better than Milton or Sarloos or even Lohse. Milton and Lohse are the picture of inconsistancy but they are guaranteed rotation spots cause they are vets and make a lot of money.

roby
03-15-2007, 11:55 AM
Kriv: Now Mr. Saarlos, we like Matt's stuff really well and we like yours too. So, you're going to start in the pen and you get the first shot at the starters spot after Belisle's back gives out or Miltie gives up 20 HRs.

Why would you want to stick with Milton for three starts? :evil:

cincy09
03-15-2007, 12:31 PM
Why would you want to stick with Milton for three starts? :evil:

ouch :laugh:

M2
03-15-2007, 12:41 PM
Here's my rotation:
1. Harang
2. Arroyo
3. Belisle
4. Saarloos
5. Lohse

That would probably be my choice too.

KoryMac5
03-15-2007, 01:27 PM
That would probably be my choice too.

I would love to see a lefty presence not named Milton in that rotation. We will see how that lefty does today in his start.

tripleaaaron
03-15-2007, 04:43 PM
I definately agree that Belisle should be our #5 starter, he has shown to be more than capable of being a reliable pitcher every 5th day. I also think that Sarloos should have a BP spot to be a flex starter/ reliever, a solid reliever esp for long relief and he is our 6th best option to start, unless Homer is ready mid-season.

tripleaaaron
03-15-2007, 04:47 PM
I meant to add that I also believe that Milton may be one of our top 5 options This season for the reason that it is a contract year and his future may rely on his performance this season, that being said Im not sure he really has much of a future so he may get what he really deserves after this year and have another terrible season.

OnBaseMachine
03-18-2007, 11:20 AM
Though it was only in a minor league game yesterday against the Orioles, Belisle threw two more perfect innings with one strikeout (23 strikes thrown overall). Please give Belisle-Lohse-Saarloos the 3-4-5 spots in the rotation and do whatever with Milton.

BEETTLEBUG
03-18-2007, 10:32 PM
I Agree / Onbase Machine. Go With Those Three Pitchers.