Wagner working to regain star status
By Brian Bennett
Ryan Wagner looked like a sure-fire star when the Cincinnati Reds drafted him in the first round in 2003.
The right-hander rocketed his way to the major leagues just months after the draft, posting a 1.66 ERA for the Reds in 17 appearances. Future closer, many said.
So, three years later, just what the heck is Wagner doing back in the minor leagues with the Louisville Bats?
The 23-year-old was the last pitcher cut by the Reds in spring training, despite finishing camp with 12 scoreless innings. Cincinnati officials want him to work on his command and pitch selection.
"He has very good stuff," Bats manager Rick Sweet said. "He just needs to throw more strikes. That's the problem."
Wagner is baffled by the criticism.
"I don't understand that, because I never had a problem with walking guys or anything like that," he said. "I'm just going to continue pumping strikes and getting guys out."
After going 3-2 with a 4.70 ERA in 2004, Wagner struggled to a 6.11 ERA last season with the Reds. He said he pitched hurt until he was diagnosed with shoulder inflammation. He shut it down for good July 15.
The knock on him is that he relied too heavily on his slider. The pitch can be devastating, but hitters were ready for it and let the pitch sail out of the strike zone. Wagner said he's now focusing on using his fastball more to set up the slider. He also began throwing a changeup this season to keep hitters even more off-balance.
It's working so far with the Bats, where Wagner has a 3.60 ERA with seven strikeouts in five innings.
LaRue to join Bats
Cincinnati catcher Jason LaRue is scheduled to join the Bats today on a rehab assignment. LaRue underwent arthroscopic knee surgery March 27 and has been working out in Sarasota, Fla., to get ready.
LaRue, who hit a career-best .260 last year and was rewarded with a two-year contract, is expected to catch nine innings today and start again tomorrow.
The timetable for his return to Cincinnati hasn't been determined.
I'm thinking Wagner just needs to tweak a few things with his delivery and he'll be fine. When he's on, he's amazing.
Wagner is better right now than half the guys in our bullpen. I'm trying to be patient and let this injustice sort itself out.
But he's young..can't have young unknowns, have to have proven guys..even if they have proven they are bad.