CLEVELAND — Homer Bailey is coming to town, and he is coming with a new weapon in his holster, a split-fingered fastball that he’ll aim at the Cleveland Indians.
Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Josh Roenicke, a recent call-up, was in Louisville when Bailey came up with the pitch, a gift from teammate Justin Lehr.
“It’s really good,” said Roenicke. “It’s real hard, in the mid-90s and it not only goes straight down, it goes right or left. Never straight. It looks like a fastball coming out of his hand, and I saw a lot of bad swings at it.”
Roenicke said Bailey learned the pitch from Lehr, who pitched for Louisville, left for Japan, then came returned to the Bats.
“It was weird because one day they were just playing catch, Lehr showed it to him, and the next day Homer threw it 11 times, eight for strikes. Mostly swinging strikes, really effective.”
When Bailey used it against Columbus, a Cleveland Indians affiliate, Matt LaPorta, the Tribe’s top prospect, told Louisville outfielder Drew Stubbs, “That’s the best pitch I’ve seen all year.”
In five starts this month for the Bats, Bailey has held Class AAA batters to two earned runs in 38 1/3 innings with 38 strikeouts.
Reds acquire catcher
General Manager Walt Jocketty made a trade with the Chicago White Sox, but it wasn’t for Jermaine Dye. It was for catcher Corky Miller, who played for the Reds from 2001-2004, always as a back-up, which he has been for all of his nine years in the majors (.179 career average).
The Reds sent outfielder Norris Hopper to the White Sox.
With the injury to Wilkin Castillo, the Reds are short on backup catchers, and manager Dusty Baker said, “We needed some experienced catching in case something happens. Miller has experience in the big leagues as a backup.”
Miller will play at Louisville until needed because of an injury to Cincinnati catchers Ramon Hernandez or Ryan Hanigan.
Janish keeps hitting
Paul Janish had started only twice since June 3 when he was penciled into the lineup at shortstop Thursday, June 25, in Toronto. He responded with his fourth two-hit game this year, and he now has hits in nine of his 13 starts.
How does one do it when one mostly sits and sits and sits?
“I don’t know, but I do know it’s a tough gig,” he said. “With Alex Gonzalez being hurt, I figured I’d play a little bit. When you don’t get many at bats, you go do the best you can, stay as ready as you can.
"But it's way easier to stay ready defensively than with the bat," he added. "Offense is a lot more difficult to duplicate in preactice, game-like stuff. When I get the opportunity, I go do my best."
Gomes swings away
Jonny Gomes is flourishing as a designated hitter in interleague games, but he says it isn’t because he has experience as a DH or because he came from the American League and knows the pitchers.
It is getting to play more than one game in a row, getting to play more than pinch-hitting once a game.
“It helps mentally knowing you’ll be in there every game,” he said. “When you aren’t, you find yourself swinging at 3-and-1 and 2-and-1 pitches when you shouldn’t, so you can get hits and get in there.
“It’s a lot better when you know you’ll play the next day whether you go 4-for-4 or 0-or-4,” he added. "And with four at-bats you can make adjustments. You might pop up the first one, ground out on the second one, but make an adjustment and hit the third one square. You can't do that pinch-hitting."
In his last 14 games, Gomes is hitting .389 with three homers, five doubles and seven RBIs.
Quote of the day
“You have to control your fastball before you think about a split-finger or any other finger.” — Baker, when asked about Homer Bailey’s new split-finger fastball.
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