Reds pitcher Lohse says right things, but he wants to start
By Hal McCoy
CINCINNATI | Somebody mentioned to Kyle Lohse that insiders are saying he will be the starting pitcher Saturday against the Atlanta Braves, and he smiled as if doing a toothpaste commercial and said, "That's what everybody keeps saying to me, all kinds of people. That would be fine with me."
Brandon Claussen made a rehab start for Class AAA Louisville on Monday, so Saturday would be his time to pitch again. But he gave up six runs, seven hits and three walks in 5 2/3 innings to Columbus on Monday.
"Health-wise, I'm fine," said Claussen. "They haven't said anything to me, and we'll know better after I throw my bullpen (today). But, yeah, I'm ready to start Saturday."
Manager Jerry Narron is noncommittal.
"We'll talk about it (today or tomorrow) and go from there," he said. "We'll know by Thursday for sure."
With that recent start and with his 3-8 record and 6.19 earned run average, is that who the Reds want to send against the Braves, or do they want to try new blood?
Lohse is playing the good soldier, saying he'll do whatever the teams wants, but to anybody who asks, and to anybody who doesn't ask, he says, "I'm a starting pitcher and I'd like to start."
When Eddie Guardado was closing games for the Minnesota Twins, Lohse was young and effective, going 27-19 his first two seasons in 47 starts.
"He was young, but he threw strikes and I think he has great stuff," said Guardado. "I could tell he was a pitcher who was going to be around for a while. He ran into a few little bumps in the road this year, bumping heads with the manager (Ron Gardenhire), and that seems to affect a lot of guys.
Things aren't going your way and (you) bump heads with the manager, it is difficult to pitch. You feel like the world is against you. It's a good thing he got out of there and came here where he can help us win.
Lohse says coming to Cincinnati is the start of a new baseball life, that he knows it was time to leave Minnesota.
"Good to be here. I'm glad to be on a team that is contending, and hopefully I can help out. The way things were going at the end, nobody was happy with the way things were in Minnesota, and things weren't working out. It seems like a good atmosphere, and it will be interesting for me, trying to get acclimated, figure out my role, and whatever it is, I'll be happy to fill it."
Shack goes back
Brian Shackelford made four appearances on the six-game trip to Houston and Milwaukee and was perfect — he faced four hitters and retired all four, two on strikeouts. He faced one hitter in each appearance, always a left-handed batter.
Shackelford's reward Tuesday was a demotion to Class AAA Louisville to make room on the roster for newly acquired 39-year-old left-handed pitcher Rheal Cormier.
What does Shackelford need to do?
"The one thing I hope he does in Triple-A is that I hope they use him for more than one batter," said Narron. "I hope they use him against right-handed hitters, too. Just the success (left-hander) Rheal Cormier and (left-hander) Bill Bray have had against right-handers gives us more flexibility to be able to use those guys for more than one hitter.
"Last year when he was here, Shack did a good job of getting right-handed hitters out, but for whatever reason this year he hasn't been as effective," Narron added.
Seeing his roots
David Ross looked forward to facing the Los Angeles Dodgers, the team that originally drafted him in the seventh round in 1998. And until he landed in Cincinnati, the Dodgers gave him the most playing time he ever had in the majors — 124 at-bats in 2003, when he hit 10 homers and drove in 18 runs.
"I'm excited because it's fun to see some familiar faces of guys I played with in the minors," said Ross. "A lot of guys up with the Dodgers now were young guys in rookie camp when I was there."
What did Ross do wrong in LA? Signed with the wrong team.
"For three years, I was the backup catcher to Paul Lo Duca, an All-Star," said Ross. "But I learned a lot."
Building a better bullpen
The Reds' bullpen on Opening Day: Mike Burns (since optioned to minors), Matt Belisle (on the DL), Chris Hammond (released), Kent Mercker (on the DL), Rick White (waived), Todd Coffey and David Weathers.
After acquiring two pitchers Monday, the bullpen now: Bill Bray, Rheal Cormier, Eddie Guardado, Kyle Lohse, Gary Majewski, Jason Standridge, Todd Coffey and David Weathers.
Coffey and Weathers are the only holdovers, although Belisle and Mercker are still on the team, just on the disabled list.
"It is not easy to get that many changes in the bullpen, but Wayne (Krivsky) has done a great job being able to do things," said Narron. "The biggest thing for all of us is there is a commitment to winning here and getting better from ownership and that's huge."
During Krivsky's first conversation with Cormier, he said, "I was the only scout watching you throw in the bullpen in 1988 at Eastern Connecticut State University. I compared you to Sparky Lyle. There was one other scout there, and they signed you (St. Louis in the sixth round) when I recommended you for the eighth round."