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Dynamic Hamilton making dash at Reds history

Durable outfielder on pace for club's first 60-steal season since Davis in '86

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PITTSBURGH -- It's never too hot in the hot tub for Billy Hamilton. Not only will it make him sweat and make him wet, it's helped keep the dynamic Reds rookie center fielder on the field.

"I hear from the older guys all the time about me being in the training room hot tub and stuff, but it's something you've got to do. It keeps you loose," Hamilton said.

In a season where it seems like every player wearing a Reds uniform has been forced to the disabled list, the 23-year-old Hamilton has managed to stay healthy despite a daily pounding he has put on his body.

When the calendar turns from August to September, the grind of a baseball season nearing its end usually has players feeling the wear and tear more than ever.

"As of right now, I feel good and my body feels good," Hamilton said. "I still feel fresh. I keep my legs loose.

"I take care of my body so well during the season as far as the hot tub and cold tub so that by this time of the year, it feels like the start of the season. I knew it would be a long season, and I run so much. I also dive and slide, and my body takes a good beating. Taking care of my body is one thing I do really well."

Tuesday will mark the one-year anniversary of Hamilton's first big league callup to the Reds. Unlike last year, when he was limited to a few starts and mostly pinch-running duties, Hamilton is expected to remain a daily fixture at the top of manager Bryan Price's lineup.

Hamilton is batting .267/.302/.382 with six home runs in 131 games. During Sunday's 3-2 win over the Pirates, he tied a 105-year-old club record by stealing his 54th base of the season.

In June, Hamilton was the National League Rookie of the Month when he batted .327/.348/.500 with three homers and 18 RBIs. While his numbers have cooled in the second half -- like much of the Reds' lineup -- Price believes it's special the way that Hamilton has kept himself ready to play all year.

"A full baseball season will challenge anybody, especially someone doing something for the first time," Price said. "Billy is in a full six-month season of playing every day. This isn't coming in for September and being a pinch-runner and getting three or four starts. This is an everyday player for a six-month season. I'm very pleased with how he's handled it physically.

"I'm even more impressed with how he's handed it mentally. Of course, everyone's curious about this kid. He's got a lot of things coming at him for the first time at this pace and intensity. From at least what I've witnessed, he's handled it very well."

Stolen-base pace
Hamilton's 54 steals are second in the Majors behind the 58 claimed by Dee Gordon of the Dodgers. The last player to steal 60 in a season was Michael Bourn of the Indians, with 61 in 2011. In 2009 for the Red Sox, Jacoby Ellsbury became the last player in the league to swipe 70 bags.

Only nine Reds have ever stolen 50 or more bases during a season, including Hamilton. Bob Bescher, who is now tied with Hamilton, set the rookie record in 1909. Bescher's 81 steals in 1911 still remains safe as the overall franchise record.

Deion Sanders stole 56 bases for the Reds in 1997. The last Reds player to swipe more than 60 bases was Eric Davis in 1986, with 80 steals.

"I'm just looking to keep the season going, learn more about the game and hopefully get some more wins. It's not about records or numbers -- it's you want to win," said Hamilton, who stole a professional-baseball-record 155 bases in 2012 with Class A Bakersfield and Double-A Pensacola.

Rookie of the Year?
Hamilton leads NL rookies in runs (70), hits (133) steals, RBIs, doubles (25), multihit games (36) and total bases (190). He is third among rookies in batting average.

Hamilton leads all NL center fielders with a .997 fielding percentage while committing just one error this season. His eight outfield assists rank second among center fielders behind the nine of Ender Inciarte of the D-backs.


Sabermetrically, Hamilton's ultimate zone rating (UZR) of 15.5 is second among NL center fielders behind Juan Lagares (20.6) of the Mets, according to Fangraphs.com. His eight defensive runs saved above average (DRS) ranks second behind Lagares' 30.


Heisey's second homer lifts Cueto, Reds in ninth

Outfielder supplies all of Cincinnati's offense in comeback victory

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PITTSBURGH -- Outfielder Chris Heisey made Reds ace Johnny Cueto absolutely giddy in the visitors' dugout in the top of the ninth inning on Sunday afternoon.

That was because Heisey delivered his second home run of the game for a 3-2 series-salvaging win over the Pirates. It also made Cueto the Major Leagues' second 16-game winner behind Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers.

"He gave me a big hug when I came into the dugout," Heisey said. "It was good for him to pitch like that and line himself up for the win like he was. He was excited and excited for the team."

It was a 2-2 game in the Cincinnati ninth with one out when Heisey lifted a 1-1 Jared Hughes fastball inside the left-field foul pole for his seventh homer of the season. It also gave Heisey the fifth multi-homer game of his career.

Although they are small sample sizes, Heisey is now 4-for-6 lifetime against Hughes. Manager Bryan Price gave Heisey the start in right field over regular right fielder Jay Bruce because he was 4-for-10 going in against starter Francisco Liriano, while Bruce was 1-for-19.

In the fifth inning with Cincinnati trailing by a 2-0 score, Heisey hit a first-pitch changeup from Liriano for a two-run homer to left field.

"You have to face a pitcher for the first time at some point. Then if you have success, in the back of your mind, you say, 'I've had success against this guy,' and you're able to take a little bit of more positive attitude into a game against a certain pitcher," Heisey said. "I've been fortunate to get a couple of hits off of Liriano, so I know his stuff doesn't overpower me or give me a world of trouble. You relax, trust your instincts and try to get a good pitch to hit and do it."

Cueto, now 16-8 with a 2.26 ERA in a Major League-most 207 innings, pitched eight frames and allowed two runs, nine hits and one walk with six strikeouts. It was the 12th time this season Cueto pitched at least eight innings and gave up two earned runs or fewer.

Cueto's day started off in rocky fashion, however. As showers fell, Cincinnati native Josh Harrison stung Cueto's first pitch in the first inning for a home run to left field. It was reminiscent of his previous start vs. the Cubs, when Anthony Rizzo hit a three-run homer in the rain before a delay in the first inning at Great American Ball Park.

"I don't know what's going on with me," Cueto said. "I think I have to tighten it up a little bit in the first inning. I have to be more aggressive. I cannot be so confident when I go in there the first inning."

With one out in the second, Jordy Mercer lifted a 2-2 pitch to the left-field seats for a homer and a 2-0 Pittsburgh lead. But Cueto settled in and gathered momentum.

"We couldn't have done without the way Johnny pitched today," Heisey said. "He's the definition of an ace in the big leagues for me. I'm sure a lot of people feel the same way. To give up those two early runs and bear down and give us a chance, he's the best that we've got and one of the best around in all of baseball."

Reds manager Bryan Price contemplated removing Cueto after both the sixth and seventh innings, but he stuck with his ace.

"We talked a lot about Johnny being a guy who never quits, never underappreciates an opportunity to compete and win a game," Price said. "I thought he was done after six, and he wanted one more. We thought he was done after seven, and he wanted one more. His pitch count suggested he could do it. It's been a long year for him and he's pitched a lot of innings -- he's up over 200 now -- but he's earned that right."

Cueto gave up two hits in the eighth and had runners on the corners with two out. Price visited the mound, but he stuck with Cueto to face lefty hitter Ike Davis. He induced a foul pop behind third base where Kristopher Negron ran back made a beautiful diving catch.

"If he doesn't catch it, foul ball, it's still one more pitch to a dangerous left-handed hitter," Price said.

Aroldis Chapman closed it with a 1-2-3 ninth for his 29th save to avoid a three-game series sweep. All three games were decided by one run, but the Reds, snakebit by one-run losses all year, are now 20-33 in those games.


Behind the scenes of a Reds documentary

A unique look at everything that happens at a ballpark between games

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Co-writing, narrating and starring in a baseball documentary is one of those things I never would have predicted I'd do as an extension of my job with Major League Baseball.

But I'm certainly not complaining about it.

During Opening Week 2012, back when I was a wide-eyed 15-year-old snapping a million pictures while on the field at Great American Ball Park, the AA batteries in my point-and-shoot camera died. A nice guy standing near me with a camera that probably costs 10 times as much as mine took notice and gave me a few of his spares.

That guy was Craig Lindvahl, a documentary filmmaker whose production company, Callan Films, has churned out a number of remarkable films, baseball-related and otherwise.

Craig and I became fast friends, and before I knew it, he asked me if I would be willing to work with him on his latest project, tentatively entitled "From the End to the Beginning," which would follow various Reds staffers as they prepared the ballpark for a game -- from the end of the previous game.

I said yes, and this past summer, Craig and I taped many of the segments that will appear in the film. What a weekend it was.

It started when Craig told me that although we'd be filming over a stretch of three days, I'd need to be wearing the same outfit the entire time the cameras were rolling to ensure a sense of continuity. That meant my mom had to go buy me two of the same shirt.

The novelty of the entire affair kicked in when Craig mic'd me up for the first time -- and let me use an actual clapperboard! -- then quickly faded as he focused his camera in on me. I was nervous!

Over the course of the weekend, Craig and I taped interviews with the Reds' director of ballpark operations, a groundskeeper, an usher, a night crew supervisor and a maintenance director.

I quickly learned how to think and talk off-the-cuff as I filmed short reflective segments to be inserted between interviews. This proved to be difficult, especially at first, because Craig would give me four or five separate thoughts to blend together -- and I had to do it seamlessly for the show. Naturally, I gave Craig enough material for a veritable blooper reel, but by the time our time was up, talking in front of a camera became old hat to me.

As beneficial as the experience was for my interview skills, it may have been even better for me as a writer. I discovered the parallels and differences between column writing and scriptwriting as Craig and I delved into a rough draft of our script.

I gained an understanding of which phrases were better to use than others for the purpose of eliciting a different response in readers -- similar to the lesson I got in wording a question at the All-Star Game -- and of how to introduce characters and concepts at the appropriate times. I learned about making proper transitions from one segment to another and about including only the things viewers would be most interested in.

And now that it's all over, I'm 17, but still wide-eyed in awe of baseball and everything that happens around it. And I've got a new friend -- and a new film -- to prove it. I couldn't be more excited to share this with my MLB.com readers.

This is a truly unique glimpse at everything that happens at a Major League ballpark from the last pitch of one ballgame to the first pitch of the next. I can't wait for you to watch "A Ballpark Story."

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Latos, Reds visit Camden Yards for second time

Latos takes on Norris in Cincinnati's second series at Camden Yards

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The Reds will visit Camden Yards on Tuesday for only the second time in franchise history for the start of a three-game series.

Cincinnati starter Mat Latos pitched better in his last start against the Cubs than the numbers indicated. He allowed back-to-back home runs in the second inning, but he bounced back to last into the eighth inning. Latos was credited with the win after allowing four runs on seven hits while striking out 10.

"The [third] inning, I made sure I worked on getting a feel of where my release point should be and getting the ball out in front. I think it helped out," Latos said. "I threw my offspeed pitches for strikes better and threw my put-away pitches also."

In his last five starts prior to that one, Latos was 2-0 with a 2.48 ERA.

Bud Norris is slated to open the home series for the Orioles. The right-hander had a solid string of starts until his last two, in which he allowed eight combined runs over eight innings to raise his ERA to 4.00 this season.

After a 12-8 victory over the Twins on Sunday afternoon, the O's sat nine games ahead of the Yankees for first place in the American League East.

Reds: Broxton traded to Brewers
Cincinnati dealt Jonathan Broxton to Milwaukee on Sunday in exchange for two players to be named later.

Broxton served as the Reds' setup man and is 4-2 with a 1.86 ERA in 51 appearances this year, but he has struggled recently. In his past seven games, he has allowed five runs, 11 hits and walked four in 6 2/3 innings.

The move gives the Reds some added payroll flexibility. Broxton was owed $9 million for the 2015 season and carried a $9 million club option for 2016 with a $1 million buyout.

Worth noting
• Latos will make his first career start against the Orioles. Nelson Cruz is 2-4 with an RBI in his career against the Reds righty.

• Billy Hamilton stole his 54th base on Sunday, tying a Reds rookie record set by Bob Bescher in 1909.

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Broxton dealt to Brewers for two players to be named

Setup man owed $9 million in 2015 with $9 million club option for '16

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PITTSBURGH -- The Reds traded right-handed setup man Jonathan Broxton to the Brewers on Sunday for two players to be named.

Sunday was the deadline for teams to acquire players who can be eligible for postseason rosters. Milwaukee is leading the National League Central, but it is struggling of late and in need of bullpen help to bridge the gap for closer Francisco Rodriguez.

Trades made after July 31 require players to clear waivers. The Brewers put in a successful waiver claim for Broxton before the two teams worked out the deal.

While the transaction seems to indicate that the struggling fourth-place Reds (66-71) have given up on contending for a postseason berth, Reds general manager Walt Jocketty felt otherwise.

"Although it may be something that's hard to understand, I do not want anybody to think we're signaling that we are not still hoping to be competitive and stay in this race," Jocketty said. "We still have a lot of games with teams in our division, and so forth.

"However, this was a deal that at this time, because of the timing of the trade waivers and everything, that was something we felt that we had to do for next year. It's something that was a very difficult decision to make, but we have some guys coming from the Minor Leagues on Tuesday and we feel with the guys we have and the guys that are coming, it won't be the same as having Broxton, but I think [they] can certainly cover the innings in the bullpen quite well."

This is a move that should assist the Reds some with their offseason payroll flexibility. The club is carrying several large contracts -- including two that can't be moved -- in Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips. Cincinnati also has four starting pitchers in Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Mike Leake and Alfredo Simon who can be free agents before the 2016 season. The latter three will be third-year arbitration eligible.

Broxton is owed $9 million for the 2015 season and had a $9 million club option for '16 with a $1 million buyout. A clause in his contract stipulated that Broxton's option switches to a mutual option once traded with an additional $1 million added to the buyout.

The 30-year-old Broxton is 4-2 with a 1.86 ERA in 51 appearances. He has stranded 10 of his 14 inherited runners and has kept the opponent scoreless in 43 games.

"There's no question he left a huge imprint on this organization and all those guys down in the bullpen and all his teammates," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "He may be the best I've ever had in the bullpen, as far as being a professional and preparing the right way and showing everyone else how to get it done."

Broxton has struggled recently, however. In his last seven games, totaling 6 1/3 innings, he has allowed five earned runs 11 hits and four walks. That included giving up two runs and three hits in his final appearance for the Reds on Friday and taking the loss in a 2-1 defeat to the Pirates.

The deal wasn't completed until shortly before Sunday's game against Pittsburgh. Broxton had already departed for the airport by the time the Reds finished their 3-2 victory.

"It's sad," lefty reliever Manny Parra said. "In the bullpen, he was down there the whole game and he led the way. I feel like he was the leader in the bullpen and everybody respected him. He's kind of an old-school type of guy. He doesn't say a lot, but he lets his actions and everything speak for him. It is a shock."

The players coming over from Cincinnati will be Minor Leaguers, likely to be named in the next couple of weeks.

"We have a list of several players. We're still making a final decision on the two that we get," Jocketty said. "I think there's one in particular that we've agreed on, but the other one we have to determine which one we want. We'll probably announce it within the next couple of weeks."

Ultimately, Jocketty looked at the deal as a plus for both moving the contract and getting something in return.

"The players we are getting back are both guys who will contribute in the next couple of years at the Major League level," Jocketty said. "Certainly, we're saving quite a bit of money going forward, which will help us in dealing with next year's roster.

"You guys know the constraints we have going forward, the pitching and so forth. That's just a tough decision you have to make."

Of course, Broxton will be headed to a Reds division rival, and they play Milwaukee six more times this season and likely 18-19 times next season.

"That certainly went into the thought process, but again it was something we felt that we had to do," Jocketty said.

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Hamilton ties Reds rookie stolen base record

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PITTSBURGH -- It appears that a Reds rookie stealing 54 bases happens only once a century. In the seventh inning of Sunday's 3-2 victory over the Pirates, Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton swiped second following an infield single. It gave Hamilton 54 stolen bases, tying the 105-year-old rookie record set by Bob Bescher in 1909.

Bescher also holds the Reds' single-season stolen base record of 81, set in 1911.

Before the game, Hamilton was not aware he was on the verge of setting a club record.

"It's not about records or numbers ... you want to win," Hamilton said. "Records are good things, but I realize the year I tried to break the record in Double-A (155 steals in 2012), I was thinking about it so much that it actually slowed me down. I went back to playing the game and it just happened."

Hamilton's stolen base total is the most for any Reds player since Deion Sanders swiped 56 bases in 1997.


Chapman poised to set record for fastball velocity

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PITTSBURGH -- Reds closer Aroldis Chapman's fastball has established its presence with authority since he broke into the Majors in 2010. But he's got a chance to do something that neither he, nor anyone else, has done before -- have a fastball average 100 mph for an entire season.

According to Fangraphs.com, Chapman's fastball has averaged 100.3 mph in 2014. Since the PitchF/x tracking system was installed in 2006, no pitcher has remained over 100 mph for an entire season, though Chapman was close with 99.6 mph in '10.

"At any point, I can't remember him coming in and throwing with that consistent velocity, game-in and game-out, 99-102 almost every single game," Reds manager Bryan Price said on Sunday.

Earlier in his career, Chapman's velocity would dip below 100 if he worked back-to-back days, and especially three days in a row. This season, he's been mostly durable and though he's mixed in more changeups and sliders, his fastball has remained more often in triple digits.

Just how often, exactly? According to BaseballSavant.com, there have been 14 Major League pitchers who have reached 100 mph this season on a combined 469 pitches. Entering Sunday, Chapman had thrown 325 of those pitches. He had thrown 767 pitches over 43 appearances, meaning 42 percent of his total pitches have been 100 mph or higher.

The second most, from the Royals' Kelvin Herrera, was 46 pitches at 100 mph or more. Reds reliever Jumbo Diaz touched 100 mph once.

Price noted that Chapman used to throw 40-45 pitches to get loose as a rookie, and the closer is now conditioned to get ready within 15-20 warmup pitches.

"I think there is probably a maturation process to how to get loose, how not to do too much before a game, when to long toss, when not to long toss and how to be ready to post up every day as a relief pitcher," Price said. "It's certainly a learned craft."

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Reds turn two after Price's successful challenge

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PITTSBURGH -- Reds manager Bryan Price successfully challenged a call at first base on Sunday vs. the Pirates that helped get his club a double play.

Pittsburgh had a runner on first base with no outs and a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning when Starling Marte hit a ground ball to second base. Brandon Phillips made a backhanded flip to shortstop Ramon Santiago, who fired a throw to first. Marte was ruled safe by first-base umpire Manny Gonzalez.

First baseman Todd Frazier gestured that he thought Marte was out, and it brought Price out of the dugout to challenge the call. It was overturned, giving the Reds the 4-6-3 double play. Jordy Mercer followed with a single, but the inning ended with a Chris Stewart popout.

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Simon's strong start undone by shaky first inning

Frazier goes deep in Reds' Major League-leading 33rd one-run loss

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PITTSBURGH -- It always seems to come down to that one run for the Reds this season, doesn't it?

Saturday's 3-2 defeat to the Pirates at PNC Park was another instance where they did just enough to lose, and not quite enough to win. Where this loss stands out, Pittsburgh scored all of its runs in the first inning on Neil Walker's home run and had no hits after the second inning.

Cincinnati has played 52 games with one-run decisions this season, with a Major League-leading 33 losses. The club record of one-run losses is 41, done in 1916 and '46. The one-run defeats in 2014 almost account for half of the 65-71 Reds losses.

"It's a lot of losses -- one run. It's pretty amazing. You don't see that in a two-year span, really," Reds third baseman Todd Frazier said. "I don't know what it is. We talk about finishing games; it's really ... words can't explain with what's going on with 33 one-run losses. You win a third of those, you're in contention."

Reds starter Alfredo Simon was on the hook for three runs and four hits over his seven innings, with two walks and seven strikeouts. A well-pitched performance, indeed, but he and the Reds paid for a rough bottom of the first.

With one out in the first, Andrew Lambo lined a single to left before Andrew McCutchen walked on five pitches. Walker then attacked a first-pitch fastball over the middle of the plate and deposited a homer to the seats in right-center field for a 3-0 Pirates lead.

"The first inning, I just tried to attack the zone and they jumped on the first pitch. I think that was the thing," Simon said.

Simon then allowed a double to Russell Martin before getting out of the first. After that, he retired 19 of his last 21 batters, including a stretch of 12 in a row and 15 of 16.

After Josh Harrison hit a two-out single in the second inning and was caught stealing for the third out, no Pittsburgh batter reached until Martin worked a leadoff walk in the seventh on a 10-pitch plate appearance. Simon retired the rest of the side in order.

"It's kind of the theme to the second part of the season, how he gets out of the gates," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "It's not typically five or six great innings followed by a tough seventh. The damage is early, and then he's able to recover."

Simon, who was 12-3 with a 2.70 ERA in the season's first half, is 1-6 with a 4.62 ERA in the second half. His last two starts have been stronger, as he's allowed four earned runs over 14 innings. He is 13-9 with a 3.28 ERA in 27 starts overall.

Pirates starter Vance Worley kept the Reds hitless for three innings and until Frazier connected on a 3-1 fastball for a one-out long ball in the fourth. Frazier's ball traveled into the left-center-field seats for his 23rd homer of the season.

Devin Mesoraco drew a leadoff walk against Worley in the seventh, which was followed by a Brayan Pena single. Lefty Justin Wilson took over and struck out Jay Bruce. The potential third out, a popup behind first base by Zack Cozart, saw three players converge before it fell in past first baseman Ike Davis' outstretched glove as Mesoraco scored. The play was ruled an error on Davis.

The inning ended when Skip Schumaker struck out against Wilson, leaving runners on the corners.

"We have to find a way to push across more runs and be a better offensive club on a more consistent basis," Price said. "We had some opportunities there in the seventh and just weren't able to kind of finish it off."

With back-to-back losses to the Pirates before Sunday's finale, the Reds are assured of losing the sixth out of their last seven series.

In each of the Reds' last five losses, they've scored two runs or fewer. In Wednesday's and Thursday's wins over the Cubs, they scored seven.

Price was clearly frustrated that his team hasn't found a way to take control of games for much of the season.

"We can talk about our team at length and our strengths and weaknesses. That's not really necessary at this point in time in the season," Price said. "It's more essential we find a way to win that game, find a way to win every game. We don't get blown out a whole lot. But there are games that sit out there with a chance to do something, and we haven't consistently been able to do enough to run together a win streak."


'Humbled' Bruce addresses season-long slump

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PITTSBURGH -- Jay Bruce isn't going to take the easy way out, and manager Bryan Price wouldn't let him even if the Reds right fielder wanted to. Even as one of the most difficult seasons of his Major League career is winding down, Bruce will keep working to find a way to improve.

Bruce did not search softer words to self-describe the year he's had.

"It's been miserable. It's honestly been the most embarrassing year of my life," Bruce said on Saturday. "But I know this isn't me. It's definitely humbling, not that I needed to be more humbled by anything. I feel like I'm pretty self-aware and have some humility.

"It's just one of those things. You have to find a way to take some positive out of it to get better. I think this is going to make me better."

Bruce entered Saturday batting .218/.294/.372 in 113 games with 14 home runs and 55 RBIs. He's walked 44 times and struck out 128 times. In the month of July, he batted .139/.209/.278.

Thursday vs. the Cubs was the low point of Bruce's season, when he went 0-for-5 with five strikeouts to complete a 3-for-25 homestand. It was a product of his season-long struggles and his latest efforts to tinker with his hitting approach.

"My hands were six, seven or eight inches lower than they have been. I made the change myself. It was a test and it failed miserably," Bruce said. "I'll tell you what, I almost had a panic attack when I struck out the fifth time. It was the most embarrassing moment I've ever had on the field. It happens. It better not happen often, I'll tell you that."

On Saturday, Price was asked if there were thoughts to give Bruce a rest from the lineup to regroup. Saturday marked the 27-year-old's 900th career game in right field, extending his own club record for the position.

"Truth be told, he's working on making some adjustments and he's not going to say it. He still has to deal with trying to get 100 percent on his knee, which won't happen until next year," Price said. "He's not going to complain about it. He's not going to complain about anything, he's just going to show up and play and play hard.

"There are going to be certain matchups that I'll give him a periodic day off, but I'm not trying to find reasons to get him out. ... You have your guys that you think are going to be your everyday players, you have to let them work through their challenges, and it's been a challenging year for Jay. That's an understatement."

Bruce was on the disabled list from May 6-20 following arthroscopic surgery to repair torn meniscus cartilage in his left knee. He returned after an accelerated rehab process, but he has always refused to use the injury as an excuse. Even while finally admitting he wasn't 100 percent himself, that no-excuse mantra remained.

"People play with injuries. People play through injuries," Bruce said. "I'm not injured, but it's not where it should be. I look forward to the offseason, getting home and having it get to 100 percent and coming back stronger than ever. It's just the strength and conditioning of it. It's just not there. That's what brings the consistency when you're staying on your back side. Something happens with the base of your swing. It's a big deal."

Bruce tells himself every morning that it will be the day his season-long slump ends, and that the adjustments he's made to his swing will finally pay off.

"You just have to keep working and not give into the frustration, to the pressure, to everything that comes with struggling and not being 100 percent," Bruce said. "I know it's been miserable to watch for everybody. I understand it. It's miserable for me to watch too. But I take a lot of pride in doing things the right way and never settling for whatever it is.

"Even when I had successful seasons, I felt like I was underachieving. These 400 or whatever at-bats of my hopefully 8,000 at-bat career or more -- if this is going to bring something positive in the end, I'm willing to make the sacrifice for the bigger picture."


Reds deny no-no but drop opener to Bucs

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PITTSBURGH -- The Reds have now faced the prospect of being no-hit two Fridays in a row. And although they found ways to break up the bids in the late innings, they haven't found a way to avoid the sting of losing the close games.

Cincinnati got a superb performance from Mike Leake, broke up Edinson Volquez's no-hitter in the seventh and took a lead in the top of the eighth, but all of that was rendered moot in the bottom of the eighth, when the Pirates scored two runs off Jonathan Broxton, handing the Reds a 2-1 loss at PNC Park.

It was the Reds' Major League-leading 32nd one-run defeat of the season.

"You've got to keep going out there and battling," said catcher Devin Mesoraco, who got the Reds' first hit and drove in the lone run with his second. "A loss is a loss, I think. It always stinks when you have the lead and you have the opportunity to win. We just weren't able to score enough runs to not be in that situation, and we couldn't hold it down. There's not a lot to say. That's just what happened."

There was one out in the Pittsburgh eighth for Broxton when pinch-hitter Andrew Lambo sharply bounced a ball off first baseman Todd Frazier's glove; it was ruled a single. The next batter, Josh Harrison, delivered his third hit of the night with a triple off the right-field wall that scored the tying run. Jose Tabata followed with a single past drawn-in third baseman Kristopher Negron to plate Harrison with the go-ahead run.

"I got two ground balls that got hits and I got one that was hit off the wall. It's not like they were knocking the cover off the ball," said Broxton, who is now 4-2 with a 1.86 ERA in 51 appearances.

The Reds' bullpen is 0-12 in decisions since the All-Star break, but Broxton has been one of the most dependable relievers. In his last seven games, totaling 6 1/3 innings, he has allowed five earned runs 11 hits and four walks.

"It looked like a couple of pitches that got the inning started … weren't terribly well-located pitches," manager Bryan Price said of Broxton's outing. "One thing he's done as well as anybody on our staff is, he's been good at locating his fastball this year. It's tough. He's been unbelievable this year. This is a blip on the radar, really."

Last Friday at Great American Ball Park, Braves lefty Mike Minor had a no-hitter for 7 2/3 innings before the Reds lost in 12 innings. This time Volquez kept them hitless for six innings despite a poor track record vs. his former club. Volquez entered 1-2 with a 5.86 ERA in five career starts vs. the Reds, and 0-2 with a 9.64 ERA in two 2014 starts.

On the other side, Leake gave up six hits but worked nicely for seven scoreless innings, with no walks and one strikeout.

"It's a tough one," Price said of the outcome. "You had two pitchers that were locked in -- Volquez threw a great game, and Leake matched him."

Leading off the seventh, Mesoraco rolled a single past diving shortstop Jordy Mercer for the Reds' first hit. Jay Bruce followed with a single off the glove of first baseman Ike Davis. Negron grounded to third base, where Harrison made a diving stop and touched the bag with his hand before throwing out Negron at first base for the double play -- causing the rally to fizzle.

"[Harrison] really kind of made a game-saving play on the ball Negron hit down the line," Price said.

Billy Hamilton hit a one-out single off Volquez in the top of the eighth and swiped second base for his 53rd steal of the season. With one out, Volquez hit Brandon Phillips with a pitch. Lefty Tony Watson replaced Volquez and gave up Mesoraco's RBI single to left field, which scored Hamilton. Left fielder Starling Marte misplayed the ball for an error that allowed Phillips to move to third. As the cutoff throw got away from Mercer, Phillips tried to score, but Harrison recovered the ball and threw out Phillips sliding headfirst at the plate.

"It's his read," Price said of Phillips. "[Third-base coach Steve Smith] had stopped him because you can't anticipate that the ball is going to be bobbled out there. … It was a reaction play and a bang-bang play at the plate. I didn't think it was a terrible play by any means."

{"content":["injury" ] }

Votto dealt setback after taking grounders

Votto dealt setback after taking grounders play video for Votto dealt setback after taking grounders

PITTSBURGH -- Plans to get injured first baseman Joey Votto back on the field seemed optimistic earlier this week when he commenced performing some baseball activities.

But on Friday came the news that the distal strain in Votto's left quadriceps did not respond well to taking ground balls on Wednesday at Great American Ball Park.

"It wasn't as good a result as we had hoped," manager Bryan Price revealed. "There was still some fairly significant discomfort when he got lateral side-to-side [movement], so we had to back off with that and stay with some strengthening and whatever the physical therapy protocols are. We hope when we get back there is some marked improvement. He took some light swings [on Thursday] and he'll be able to gradually increase baseball workload based on how he feels."

Votto went on the disabled list with the quad strain for the second time this season on July 8. Last week he began a running program and started taking swings and playing catch on Tuesday.

Recently transferred to the 60-day DL, he is eligible for activation on Sept. 4. With the Reds' hopes for a postseason berth having faded drastically, does the club's place in the standings play a part in the decision of whether he plays again in 2014?

"Well, I think that's a great question. It's a legitimate question," Price said. "The one thing we have to do is get him to the point where he can play. It's a moot point until we get there. We don't know for sure when that time is going to be. That's one thing about this particular injury -- there's no deadline as to when he's supposed to be physically capable of playing without re-injury, which takes us back to square one with the rehab. I think if he gets back to where he can play, he plays. That certainly could change with where we are in the standings and sitting down with Dr. [Tim] Kremchek and making a decision about what's in the best interest of Joey moving forward."

Price was asked if Votto's injury could be chronic and career-threatening.

"I think if there was a concern about this being a long-term thing that could set him back or with him chronically for the rest of his career, we wouldn't be considering playing him in September," he said.

{"content":["injury" ] }

Negron parlays hot hand into more starts

Negron parlays hot hand into more starts play video for Negron parlays hot hand into more starts

PITTSBURGH -- The Reds have featured 105 lineups this season, not counting the pitcher's spot, but manager Bryan Price wrote out the same top eight for the third game in a row on Friday. It's only the second time he's done that all season.

"Continuity, wow. It's a new managerial style," Price joked.

Largely because of injuries, Price has used his projected Opening Day lineup just 12 times in 2014.

"You like to have continuity in your lineup, because what that typically represents is productivity -- health, No. 1, productivity, No. 2," he said. "We haven't had any true continuity for the bulk of the season."

For the fourth straight game and fifth time in six games, rookie utility player Kristopher Negron started at third base, with Todd Frazier moved to first. Negron has had a hot hand lately at the plate, and has also played good defense.

"It's a great opportunity for Kris," Price said. "He's given us a boost. It's not necessarily statistical stuff, it's from an energy perspective. It's like you're playing with fresh legs."

Negron, 28, logged 3,250 Minor League at-bats and played four Major League games for the Reds in June 2012. Shortly after returning to Triple-A Louisville, he sustained a catastrophic injury to his right knee while playing left field, and he didn't get back to the big leagues until July 10 of this season.

"It feels great to get this opportunity. Coming off the knee surgery, I wasn't sure I would come back healthy enough to get the opportunity again," Negron said. "I'm very lucky and grateful. I just try to play hard every day and be a sparkplug still."

{"content":["top_pitching_performances" ] }

Reds excel on bases, at plate to support Axelrod

Six steals spur two three-run innings; righty K's eight in five frames

Reds excel on bases, at plate to support Axelrod play video for Reds excel on bases, at plate to support Axelrod

CINCINNATI -- A water main break outside Coors Field on Aug. 16 led to Dylan Axelrod being sent to the Minors after a strong start in his Reds debut the next day. But there were no such external forces in his way on Thursday afternoon.

Axelrod tossed five scoreless innings to pick up his first win in a Reds uniform, and Cincinnati stole six bases in a game for the first time in more than eight years in a 7-2 victory over the Cubs at Great American Ball Park. The Reds took two games out of three from Chicago, scoring at least seven runs in back-to-back games for the first time since Aug. 5-6 against the Indians.

The Reds purchased Axelrod's contract from the White Sox on July 17 and called him up from Triple-A Louisville to make the start against Colorado in place of the injured Homer Bailey (strained right flexor mass tendon). The game was postponed due to the water main break, and the right-hander instead pitched the nightcap of a doubleheader against the Rockies on Aug. 17, turning in six solid innings and allowing two runs while striking out seven.

But because he started one day later than originally anticipated, the Reds needed a fresh arm the next Thursday, optioning Axelrod back to Triple-A Louisville and recalling left-hander David Holmberg.

"Kind of after the game [against the Rockies], I was like, 'When's my next start?' And then I was like, 'Oh boy,' Axelrod said. "So yeah, I saw that coming."

Axelrod awaited his next chance, and it came on Thursday. He labored through the first two innings, needing 58 pitches. But Axelrod settled down nicely after that, needing 42 to get through the next three frames. He allowed two hits, walking three (one intentionally) and striking out eight to tie a career high.

Axelrod said he made an adjustment when his pitch count began climbing, which helped him the rest of the way.

"It was more just attacking the hitters. They laid off a lot of good two-strike pitches and battled and made me throw a lot of pitches," Axelrod said. "So I just wanted to start attacking more and getting early contact."

"I think there was an awful lot of offspeed stuff, which typically isn't put in play early in the count," Reds manager Bryan Price said of Axelrod's early approach. "He went more to his fastball in those last three innings and had a lot more balls in play early in the at-bat, and it kept him out there through five."

Reds hitters did their part with three-run innings in the second and fourth. In the second, Kristopher Negron led off with a walk against Cubs starter Jake Arrieta, stole second and scored on Zack Cozart's single one out later. Following an Axelrod strikeout, Billy Hamilton doubled home Cozart and scored on Todd Frazier's single to make it 3-0.

With one out in the fourth, Cozart singled again. One out later, he stole second and Hamilton walked. Frazier followed with another RBI single, then stole his second base of the game and 19th of the season. Brandon Phillips doubled home both Hamilton and Frazier to make it 6-0.

The six stolen bases by the Reds were the club's most in a game since they stole six against the Nationals on May 10, 2006. Price said there was an emphasis on running in the game plan against Arrieta.

"Arrieta, we knew, was going to be very hard to score on," Price said. "So I felt kind of like we needed to create some scoring opportunities by running. He's a little bit slower and more deliberate to the plate, and we were able to take advantage of that."

Cincinnati tacked on another run in the sixth. Cozart doubled to left-center and moved to third when center fielder Arismendy Alcantara bobbled the ball. One out later, Hamilton singled to left to add to the lead.

Cozart, who has struggled at the plate most of the season, said the hits are finally beginning to fall for him.

"I've been feeling pretty good, to be honest with you. It's been like three weeks," Cozart said. "I haven't had the results that I've wanted, but I've felt pretty good. I think it's starting to show. I'm getting more confident, attacking the ball and using the right side of the field."

The Cubs scored their two runs in the ninth on an RBI single by Jorge Soler and a sacrifice fly by Alcantara off Jumbo Diaz.

As they head out on a road trip to face the Pirates and Orioles, the Reds are looking at an 8 1/2-game deficit in the National League Central and a six-game deficit in the NL Wild Card race. That's not impossible to overcome at this stage of the season, but it's certainly an uphill climb.

"September has to be fun," Price said. "You couldn't be more of an underdog than we are right now. So forget pressure; go out, have some fun and make things difficult for these other clubs and maybe find our way back into this thing."

As the Reds approach September, it appears that Axelrod will continue to fill in for Bailey while he's out, and Price has made it clear to the right-hander that he's earned that opportunity.

"He said, 'You should have been here the whole time,'" Axelrod said. "The water main thing was a freak thing. You're where you belong.'"

{"content":["top_pitching_performances" ] }

Reds swipe six, run away with rubber match

Cincinnati hasn't accomplished rare feat in more than eight years

Reds swipe six, run away with rubber match play video for Reds swipe six, run away with rubber match

CINCINNATI -- The Reds accomplished something on the basepaths in Thursday's 7-2 victory over the Cubs at Great American Ball Park that they hadn't done in more than eight years.

Cincinnati stole six bases in a game for the first time since May 10, 2006 against the Nationals.

Manager Bryan Price said after the game that running on Chicago starter Jake Arrieta was part of the game plan.

"Arrieta, we knew, was going to be very hard to score on," Price said. "So I felt kind of like we needed to create some scoring opportunities by running. He's a little bit slower and more deliberate to the plate, and we were able to take advantage of that."

Todd Frazier and Zack Cozart had two steals each. Frazier has 19 stolen bases this season, one shy of making him the third Reds third baseman to hit 20 home runs (he has 22) and steal 20 bags in the same season. Aaron Boone had 26 homers and 32 stolen bases in 2002, and Chris Sabo had 25 homers and 25 stolen bases in 1990.

"[Arrieta's] kind of slow to the plate, so might as well take that opportunity and go," Frazier said. "It's exciting; when people run, you get more opportunities to get RBIs."

Billy Hamilton stole his 51st base in the first inning, bringing him to within three of the franchise rookie record of 54, set by Bob Bescher in 1909. Kristopher Negron had the other stolen base in the second inning.

"It makes it fun," Cozart said. "You can just tell, even throughout this year, we've been so much more aggressive on the bases. Obviously you've got Billy, but other guys chipping in to get more stolen bases. And it opens up opportunities. You get guys in scoring position and you get big hits like we did today."

The Reds entered Thursday third in the Majors with 106 stolen bases as a team, behind the Dodgers (120) and the Royals (117).


Frazier more comfortable with role at first base

Frazier more comfortable with role at first base play video for Frazier more comfortable with role at first base

CINCINNATI -- Todd Frazier's route from the field to the dugout and back has become a little shorter over recent days. Normally the Reds' third baseman, Frazier's time at first base has been increasing.

On Thursday vs. the Cubs, Frazier started his third straight game at first base, and it was also his fourth time in five games. It has allowed manager Bryan Price to get hot-hitting utility player Kristopher Negron into the lineup at third base.

"I haven't really talked to [Price] about it, but with Negron doing so well, why not?" Frazier said Thursday morning. "He's a great defender. He's a great utility guy. You want to put the guy in that's hot right now. You have Skip [Schumaker] doing well too.

"As a manager, you have to play the guy that's hot and find the right place for him. If that means moving me to first base, that's awesome."

To try to fill the void without the injured Joey Votto since July 6, the Reds have often used backup catcher Brayan Pena at first base. On days Pena needs to catch, Frazier has been used to step in. Thursday marked his 27th game at first base. He didn't play there at all last season, when Votto played all 162 games. In 2012, Frazier played the position 39 times.

"I feel great over there," Frazier said.

During Wednesday's 7-5 win, Negron sparked a four-run fourth inning by hustling for a double and scoring the go-ahead run. He also helped turn a key double play in the first inning.

"He's looked very comfortable over there," Frazier said. "He made some great plays yesterday. He's got a great arm."


Bruce fans five times as Reds rout Cubs in finale

Bruce fans five times as Reds rout Cubs in finale

CINCINNATI -- It was an overall splendid day for a Reds lineup that tallied 11 hits on Thursday in a 7-2 victory over the Cubs to win a three-game series.

Take away the victory, and it would be a miserable afternoon at the plate for Jay Bruce. The right fielder went 0-for-5 with five strikeouts -- the rare platinum sombrero, perhaps.

A five-strikeout game has happened only seven times in Reds history since 1900, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. It last happened on the club to Adam Dunn at Arizona on Aug. 20, 2002.

Here are the others, which all happened in games that lasted longer than nine innings:

Eric Davis on April 25, 1987, vs. the Astros (10 innings).
George Foster on Aug. 8, 1972, vs. the Dodgers (19 innings).
Pete Rose on Aug. 15, 1970, vs. the Phillies (14 innings).

Deron Johnson did it twice in just over one month of the 1964 season -- on Aug. 29 vs. the Astros in 11 innings and Sept. 30 vs. the Pirates in a 16-inning game.

Bruce went down swinging in four of his five strikeouts and ended an inning three times. In the sixth inning, after he got the golden sombrero with strikeout No. 4 while facing Wesley Wright, boos echoed from the 21,316 fans at Great American Ball Park. In the eighth, Bruce chased a Kyuji Fujikawa pitch outside for his fifth strikeout and heard more boos.

Only two of the Reds eight position players came up hitless on Thursday -- Bruce and Skip Schumaker.

Bruce, who went 3-for-25 on the homestand, is batting .218 with 14 home runs and 55 RBIs this season.

{"event":["prospect" ] }

Prospect Corcino optioned to clear space for Axelrod

Prospect Corcino optioned to clear space for Axelrod play video for Prospect Corcino optioned to clear space for Axelrod

CINCINNATI -- Before Thursday's series finale, the Reds made the expected recall of pitcher Dylan Axelrod from Triple-A Louisville to start against the Cubs.

To make room on the roster, right-handed pitcher Daniel Corcino was optioned to Louisville. Corcino, 24, made his Major League debut during Tuesday's 3-0 loss to the Chicago. He worked a perfect ninth inning with two strikeouts.

Normally a starting pitcher and the Reds' No. 11 prospect, according to MLB.com, Corcino was called up Friday from Double-A Pensacola to add bullpen depth. In all likelihood, he will return to the Reds as a September callup once Louisville's season ends.

{"event":["prospect" ] }

Price, Reds discuss callups during stretch run

Price, Reds discuss callups during stretch run

CINCINNATI -- The Reds' front office has been meeting in recent days to discuss potential September callups from the Minor Leagues. Major League rosters can expand from 25 to 40 players on Monday.

"I think we're going to get somewhere in the neighborhood of seven to nine, I would say," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "I think that would be a reasonable assumption. There are some guys that we would really like to see. It kind of gives us a chance to take a better look at guys given that opportunity."

If that many names are on the list, it would mean that some new faces will be joining the familiar past callups from Triple-A Louisville, such as catcher Tucker Barnhart, outfielder Donald Lutz, infielder Neftali Soto and relievers J.J. Hoover and Curtis Partch.

"We've talked about a lot of guys, but we have some guys [who] haven't been here that are being discussed," Price said, without specifying names. "It will be interesting to see how much playing time they get, because a lot of that will be dictated by where we are in the standings. You can't really showcase your young players and give them a lot of opportunity if you're still chasing a postseason spot."

Only a handful of players on the 40-man roster have yet to play in the big leagues, including Double-A Pensacola outfielders Yorman Rodriguez and Juan Duran.


Bats back Latos early as Reds hold off Cubs

Righty shakes off consecutive HRs to fan 10; Heisey, Aroldis halt rally

Bats back Latos early as Reds hold off Cubs play video for Bats back Latos early as Reds hold off Cubs

CINCINNATI -- The Reds got a glimpse of what some robust (Jorge) Soler power looks like on Wednesday evening. That and some other lesser drives to the outer limits of Great American Ball Park were not quite enough to undo a very dependable start from Mat Latos.

A four-run fourth inning supported Latos nicely before the Reds had to hang on for a 7-5 victory over the Cubs. Cincinnati has won three of its last four games and stopped Chicago's four-game win streak.

"It was definitely something that we needed," Reds manager Bryan Price said of Latos' performance.

Latos worked into the eighth inning and survived giving up back-to-back home runs to Luis Valbuena and Soler to begin the second inning. Valbuena hit a 1-0 pitch to right field and Soler -- a top prospect who received a much-ballyhooed callup from Triple-A earlier in the day -- tattooed a 2-1 fastball an estimated 423 feet and over the center-field fence.

It made Soler the first Cubs player to homer in his first Major League plate appearance since Starlin Castro did it against the Reds, also in Cincinnati, on May 7, 2010.

"I felt like earlier in the game, I really didn't have a good release point," Latos said. "Both pitches were two-seamers. I wound up pulling it back over the middle of the plate instead of going down and away with it."

In seven-plus innings, Latos allowed four earned runs and seven hits with one walk and a season-high 10 strikeouts. He is 3-0 with a 2.95 ERA over his last six starts.

A single by Welington Castillo followed the two homers in the second inning, but Latos retired nine of the next 10 batters without another hit until Chris Valaika's leadoff infield single in the fifth.

"He had a few guys that had some relatively comfortable at-bats against him, and then he really turned a corner and made some outstanding pitches," Price said of Latos.

The Reds made it a 2-2 game in the bottom of the second before a four-run fourth provided the needed separation. Nine Reds batted in the fourth, but it started with a nice spark from Kristopher Negron, who legged out a double on a hit into short left-center field. That paid off when he scored the go-ahead run easily on Skip Schumaker's single through the left side.

"It was a hustle double. He never broke stride from what I saw. I thought he was thinking double the entire way. That's how you do it," Price said. "It's a great habit, a great thing to do. Of course, it's a great Pete Rose trademark right there to make the outfielder stop you. In that case, they weren't able to stop Kris, and it ended up being a really important play for us."

With two outs, a Billy Hamilton grounder was muffed by Castro at shortstop. Hamilton was credited with an infield hit, while Castro was charged for an error that scored Schumaker. Following Valbuena's fielding error on a Todd Frazier grounder, RBI singles by Brandon Phillips and Devin Mesoraco made it a four-run game.

Heading into the eighth, Latos had a stretch of five strikeouts over his previous eight batters but was pulled when his first two batters singled. Reliever Jonathan Broxton was ineffective, giving up a two-run double to Javier Baez before Castro smacked a long hit off the center-field wall. Castro admired the drive a little too long and was limited to a single. It may have saved the lead since a one-out RBI single by Soler made it a one-run game instead of a potential tie score. Broxton escaped by getting Castillo to ground into a double play.

Pinch-hitter Chris Heisey provided insurance with a long leadoff homer to left field in the eighth against lefty reliever Zac Rosscup. It was Heisey's third pinch-hit homer of the season, and ninth of his career.

Aroldis Chapman earned his 28th save in 30 tries in the ninth, but not without drama. A leadoff single and two-out walk brought Baez to the plate representing the go-ahead run. On a 102 mph, 0-2 fastball from Chapman, Baez hit a booming drive to right-center field. It landed just shy of the fence, where Hamilton caught it at the back of the warning track.

"I was already deep and everything, playing no-doubles. I had to take a couple of steps back, and I got a little scared; it sounded so loud and it was really high," Hamilton said. "The guy has some power. And he had power coming in at him; all he had to do was touch it a little bit. But we got the win, and we did a good job."


Hamilton becomes youngest Red to steal 50 bases

Hamilton becomes youngest Red to steal 50 bases play video for Hamilton becomes youngest Red to steal 50 bases

CINCINNATI -- Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton added another remarkable feat to an already impressive rookie campaign.

In the fourth inning of Wednesday's 7-5 win over the Cubs, the speedster stole his 50th base of the season, swiping third with two outs and later scoring on a single by Brandon Phillips.

At 23 years old, Hamilton is the youngest player in Reds history, and ninth overall, to steal 50 or more bases in a season, joining Bob Bescher (1909-12), Dode Paskert (1910), Bobby Tolan (1970), Joe Morgan (1972-76), Dave Collins (1980), Eric Davis (1986-87), Barry Larkin (1995) and Deion Sanders (1997). Tolan and Davis (in '86) were 24 when they stole 50.

"It feels great. That's just what I like to do is steal bases, and I got a chance tonight," Hamilton said. "I knew I had 49, but not knowing what comes behind the 50 steals. So it was pretty good to get."

Hamilton said he's become a better baserunner since getting to the big leagues, even though he leads the Majors in number of times caught stealing (19) and set a Minor League record by stealing 155 bases between Class A Advanced Bakersfield and Double-A Pensacola in 2012.

"I got caught last year less in the Minor Leagues, but that was more off of just going and not knowing the situation, not really caring who was batting or what the situation was," Hamilton said. "It was just running. ... It's mainly about learning the situation now."

"It's certainly a bonus for us," Reds manager Bryan Price said of what Hamilton has brought to the club with his speed. "We didn't have a ton of team speed last year. This is an added dimension to our offense. It's extremely exciting."

Hamilton is four stolen bases away from equaling the franchise's rookie record of 54, set by Bescher in 1909. The all-time single-season franchise record is 81, also set by Bescher in 1911.

But while Hamilton used to set a goal for how many bases he wanted to steal in a given season, that's no longer the case.

"After I got to the big leagues, I stopped doing that," he said. "Usually my goal was: every level in the Minor Leagues I wanted to double what I had the following season. When I got to last year, I stopped that; I just wanted to come here, learn and get better and see what happens."

Continuing to build a strong candidacy to earn the National League Rookie of the Year Award, Hamilton entered Wednesday's contest leading all NL rookies in RBIs (44), multi-hit games (34), runs (66), hits (126), total bases (182), doubles (24), triples (7), stolen bases and extra-base hits (37). He was also leading all NL center fielders with eight outfield assists.

Price sees big things in Hamilton's future.

"I'm excited, obviously, that he's gotten to this level," Price said. "He's only going to get better."

{"content":["injury" ] }

Bailey's season in question after MRI results

Bailey's season in question after MRI results play video for Bailey's season in question after MRI results

CINCINNATI -- Reds pitcher Homer Bailey underwent a second MRI exam on the strained flexor mass tendon in his right forearm, and the results learned Wednesday did not give him the green light to resume throwing.

"Unfortunately, it's not healing the way we thought it would," Reds head trainer Paul Lessard said.

Bailey has been out since Aug. 8, and he hasn't tried to throw since he had a platelet-rich plasma injection to help speed his healing shortly after going on the disabled list. A second PRP injection is under consideration, but if he has one, it would mean another week of not throwing.

"He's unfortunately very frustrated, [but] I have to think about his arm for the future as well, not just the next four weeks," Lessard said. "We're trying to figure out what's the best thing for him."

Reds medical director Dr. Tim Kremchek is seeking additional opinions from other orthopedic physicians.

"He has an opinion, but he isn't sure if we should continue what we're doing, [or if we] should shut him down completely," Lessard said.

{"content":["injury" ] }
{"content":["injury" ] }

Votto adds field work to recovery program

Votto adds field work to recovery program play video for Votto adds field work to recovery program

CINCINNATI -- Injured Reds first baseman Joey Votto took another baseball-related step in his effort to return to the club, fielding ground balls before batting practice Wednesday. Over recent days, Votto began running, taking swings and playing catch.

Reds manager Bryan Price was waiting to see how Votto responded from the session before looking ahead. It would seem unlikely, however, that there would be enough time for Votto to go out on a Minor League rehab assignment. Triple-A Louisville's season ends on Monday. Votto, recovering from a distal strain of his left quadriceps, can be activated from the 60-day disabled list as soon as Sept. 4.

"I'd hate to say there's no chance, but I think because we're initiating baby steps that ... I don't know if he'll be ready by Sept. 4 or not. I have no idea. I really don't," Price said. "It's been a real gradual recovery, and it's an injury that needs -- more than anything, beyond strengthening and therapy -- it needs time to recover. ... We just haven't been able to force the recovery faster. There's just no quick fix to this quad problem to where he can play on it with the stability that's needed.

"When we went into this injury, we felt like, to get to where he was recovered was about four months. However, we were going to try to get to the point where he somehow could play before that. And to this point, we haven't been able to get there."

Since Votto went on the DL for the second time on July 8, a public timeline for his expected progress and return has continually been vague.

"I don't know if we had any expectations," Reds head trainer Paul Lessard said. "The plan was really to work on his strength and his endurance. The strength is there, now we've been concentrating on his muscular endurance."

{"content":["injury" ] }
{"content":["replay" ] }

Cubs win challenge on safe call at first base

Reds' Negron initially given infield hit, but Renteria's eye proves otherwise

Cubs win challenge on safe call at first base play video for Cubs win challenge on safe call at first base

CINCINNATI -- The Cubs challenged a call at first base in the fifth inning, and it was overturned.

With Cincinnati leading, 6-2, Kris Negron led off the Reds' fifth by hitting the ball toward first baseman Chris Valaika, who flipped to pitcher Carlos Villanueva. First-base umpire Ben May ruled Negron was safe with an infield hit.

But Cubs manager Rick Renteria challenged the call, and after a 44-second review, it was overturned.

The Cubs now have challenged 48 calls this season, and won 20.

{"content":["replay" ] }

Cueto hurt by homers as Reds fall in shutout

Otherwise dominant, ace displeased with immediate rain delay

Cueto hurt by homers as Reds fall in shutout play video for Cueto hurt by homers as Reds fall in shutout

CINCINNATI -- Fired up and still seething, Reds ace Johnny Cueto didn't feel he was beaten only by the Cubs on Tuesday night. He also felt defeated by the fickle science that is meteorology.

It started pouring minutes into Cueto's start in the first inning. Anthony Rizzo hit a solo home run to right field three batters into the game before a delay stopped play for nearly an hour. When the skies cleared, the Reds went quietly in a 3-0 loss to the Cubs at Great American Ball Park.

"I was pretty upset," Cueto said with catcher Brayan Pena translating. "It was raining. The baseball was very slippery. It's difficult. If they knew it was going to rain, why couldn't they stop the game and wait until it was much better weather?"

Denied again to be the Majors' first 16-game winner, Cueto lost back-to-back starts for the first time since May 20 and 26. He gave up three runs -- all on home runs -- over 6 1/3 innings, including seven hits, two walks and eight strikeouts.

Following Rizzo's two-out homer on the 1-0 fastball, his 30th of the season, next batter Starlin Castro singled to center field as Billy Hamilton slipped and fell trying to catch the ball. A 50-minute rain delay sent both teams back to their clubhouses. Cueto tried to keep busy throwing in the batting cage, but it's not the same as game intensity.

"I'm not making excuses or anything like that, but it took a little time for me to get warm again," said Cueto, now 15-8 with a 2.26 ERA. "After you get loose and then sit down for an hour, your body breaks down a little bit."

After play resumed, Cueto retired 10 in a row and did not allow his next hit until the sixth inning.

Leading off the seventh, Matt Szczur hit a single before Arismendy Alcantara pulled a 1-0 pitch to right field for a two-run homer that made it a three-run game.

"Cueto's obviously a very, very good pitcher," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. "He had one pitch that Rizzo was able to handle, and Alcantara was able to get on top of a fastball up and just put the barrel on it. When you can score three runs on him, it's a pretty good feeling."

There was little if any offense produced against Cubs starter Travis Wood. The former Reds left-hander gave up only two hits over six dominant innings with one walk and five strikeouts. Todd Frazier hit a one-out single in the first inning, and after Wood retired 13 of the next 14, the second single came via Zack Cozart with two outs in the fifth.

Reds manager Bryan Price downplayed the effect the showers and delay had on the outcome.

"Johnny, I thought, handled it well, as did Woody. Both starting pitchers did a nice job," Price said. "There's just no way to avoid that, popup showers. We're in the Midwest, it happens. Certainly if we could avoid any type of rain delay, if we knew it was going to happen, we would never have started the game.

"It's unfortunate. It's not a reason we lost. They had to play under the same circumstances, and they played better than we did."

The Reds' third hit didn't come until a two-out, pinch-hit bunt single by Skip Schumaker in the eighth against Pedro Strop. Hamilton followed with a walk to bring the potential tying run to the plate, but Frazier grounded out softly to third base to end the threat.

Reds No. 11 prospect Daniel Corcino was the lone bright spot for the Reds. Corcino, on his 24th birthday, worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning, including two strikeouts, in his Major League debut.

As the Reds have sunk like a stone since the All-Star break, fading too are hopes for a postseason berth. Something more realistic, and far less desirable, is closer to reality if they aren't careful.

That would be last place.

Armed with young talent, the Cubs have gotten hot lately, and the Reds saw it firsthand. Fourth-place Cincinnati (63-69) now leads fifth-place Chicago (59-72) by a mere 3 1/2 games in the National League Central standings. The third-place Pirates are five games ahead of the Reds.

The Cubs have won four in a row and seven of nine, while the Reds' brief two-game win streak was snapped to leave them 12-25 since the break.

{"event":["prospect" ] }

Big league birthday: Corcino makes perfect debut

Reds reliever celebrates No. 24 with two K's, gets ovation; fiancée, son on hand

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CINCINNATI -- Birthdays come and go with various degrees of fondness as the years pile up. But Reds pitching prospect Daniel Corcino will always remember his 24th birthday and what he did on Tuesday night.

Corcino made his Major League debut out of the bullpen and pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning vs. the Cubs. It was the lone bright spot for the Reds in a 3-0 loss at Great American Ball Park.

"It was great," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "It was something that was fun to watch at the end of a game where there wasn't a whole lot going on. He came in and threw strikes, which was great to see. He had a real nice breaking ball, got a couple of strikeouts and ended up pitching a nice inning for us."

Corcino threw 10 pitches, with eight strikes. His first batter, Welington Castillo, went down on three pitches -- with strike three coming on a breaking ball. Chris Valaika followed with a strikeout before Chris Coghlan flied out to left field.

Reds fans gave a nice ovation to Corcino, who tipped his cap in appreciation. He received handshakes from Price and his teammates inside the dugout.

"Everybody was so excited to see me and tell me congratulations and happy birthday," Corcino said. "They're very happy with me, and I'm happy with them because they gave me the opportunity."

Corcino, ranked as the No. 11 Reds prospect by MLB.com, is a developing starting pitcher but was called up Friday from Double-A Pensacola to help a taxed bullpen.

Since he's been with the club, his fiancée and 11-month-old son, Kaden, have been on hand to watch for when he might appear. At his home in the Dominican Republic, family awaited the news. The first strikeout will especially be a fond memory of a nice debut.

"It's unbelievable. I was so excited," Corcino said. "My family is back home in the Dominican. My son was here watching. I'm so excited I have that ball for him."

{"event":["prospect" ] }
{"event":["prospect" ] }
{"event":["prospect" ] }

Winker, Howard among Reds to play in AFL

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CINCINNATI -- The Arizona Fall League announced its roster of players on Tuesday, and it included six Reds prospects who will play for the Surprise Saguaros. That club will be managed by Double-A Pensacola skipper Delino DeShields from the Reds' system.

Outfielder Jesse Winker, who is listed by MLB.com as the Reds organization's No. 2 prospect, will be on the roster when the AFL begins play Oct. 7. Winker participated in the MLB All-Star Futures Game in Minneapolis but has missed most of the second half of the season with a right wrist injury.

The organization's No. 5 prospect, Class A Dayton starting pitcher and 2014 first-round Draft pick Nick Howard, will also be participating. Howard has a 4.56 ERA in nine games, including three starts, for Dayton.

Also playing for Surprise are four more players from Pensacola -- third baseman Seth Mejias-Brean, second baseman Ryan Wright, right fielder Kyle Waldrop and right-handed pitcher Ben Klimesh.

{"event":["prospect" ] }

Reds to call up Axelrod for Thursday start

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CINCINNATI -- Right-handed pitcher Dylan Axelrod will be recalled from Triple-A Louisville to start on Thursday vs. the Cubs, the Reds announced on Tuesday.

Axelrod was called up Aug. 16 to replace injured Homer Bailey in the rotation, but his start at Colorado was postponed because of a water main break near Coors Field. After he pitched Game 2 of a doubleheader the following day -- a 10-5 Reds loss to the Rockies, during which he gave up two runs and seven hits over six innings for a no-decision -- he was sent back down, because the club needed another starter on Thursday vs. the Braves.

"I intend to get a good look at Dylan and give him every opportunity to pitch down the stretch for us and show his value to the organization," Reds manager Bryan Price said.

Axelrod last pitched on Friday for Louisville vs. Columbus, giving up two runs on four hits over seven innings.

{"content":["injury" ] }

Cingrani unlikely to return to Reds this season

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CINCINNATI -- Starting pitcher Tony Cingrani, who has been on Triple-A Louisville's disabled list since June 26 with a left shoulder strain, has yet to resume a throwing program and isn't being counted on to help the Reds again this season.

"At this point in time, I'm not anticipating him being back, simply because I don't think he would have enough time to get back and be able to help us in September," Reds manager Bryan Price said.

Cingrani, who recently tried to throw but was shut down after he still felt an impingement, had a platelet-rich plasma injection to try and speed his healing. That meant he could not throw for at least a week afterward. There is a possibility he will undergo a second injection, which would mean another week of inactivity.

Louisville's season ends on Sept. 1, leaving Cingrani no place to get into games before any potential callup.

{"content":["injury" ] }

Phillips likely not leaving Reds any time soon

10-and-5 rights, plus the money he's owed, make it hard to move second baseman

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CINCINNATI -- Tuesday should be just another day in the regular season for Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips. Contractually speaking, it's a whole lot more.

It's the day Phillips officially has 10 years of Major League service time, and because he's been with Cincinnati since 2006, his 10-and-5 rights will kick in.

What does it all mean?


Under the rules in the Basic Agreement, players with at least 10 years logged in the Majors, including the last five with their current team, gain full no-trade protection. With team turnover because of trades and free agency so common around today's game, these rights can be quite difficult to attain.

Phillips, who signed a six-year, $72.5 million contract on April 10, 2012, had a limited no-trade clause in the deal, but the 10-and-5 rights supersede that stipulation. He is signed through the 2017 season.

Because 10-and-5 rights are not easy to get, players aren't often in a rush to relinquish them. Players with the protection can approve a trade from their clubs, but they are not required to acquiesce. There are ways to entice the rights to be waived -- whether it's the chance to play for a winner, an offer of bonus money or the offer of a contract extension.

The desire to win motivated outfielder -- and 10-and-5 player -- Ken Griffey Jr. to approve of the Reds trading him to the White Sox on July 31, 2008, for right-handed reliever Nick Masset and second baseman Danny Richar.

The Reds looked into trading Phillips during the past offseason, amid heavy rumors he would be moved, but found no takers. A potential deal with the Yankees did not yield a match.

Even without his having 10-and-5 protection, the remaining salary on Phillips' contract after 2014 isn't one many teams would be willing to take on.

The 33-year-old Phillips, who is a three-time National League All-Star and four-time Gold Glove Award winner, is earning $11 million this season. He will get $12 million next season, $13 million in 2016 and $14 million in '17. It's a sizeable amount for a second baseman headed into the post-prime years of his career. Phillips will be 36 when the deal expires.

Phillips, the longest-tenured player in Cincinnati, was one of the best trade acquisitions in Reds history when then-general manager Wayne Krivsky got him from the Indians on April 7, 2006, for Minor League pitcher Jeff Stevens.

It didn't take long for Phillips to become a fixture in Cincinnati. From 2006-11, he averaged 151 games, 21 home runs and 81 RBIs a year, and he batted .280/.331/.449 during that span. Phillips also hit in several spots in the lineup -- including leadoff and cleanup. His best season -- 2011 -- came before his big contract extension, when he batted .300/.353/.457 with 18 homers and 82 RBIs.

The years since the contract was signed haven't been nearly as robust, as Phillips has been a .270/.314/.406 hitter from 2012-14. Last season, he notched a career-high 103 RBIs, but he had the good fortune of batting behind the league's two leading hitters in on-base percentage, Joey Votto and Shin-Soo Choo. Phillips also played with a left forearm contusion after being hit by a pitch on June 1 of that season.

This season, Phillips is batting .269/.308/.383 with seven homers and 41 RBIs, and he returned last week after missing 33 games with a torn ligament in his left thumb. The injury, which required surgery, happened during a diving-catch attempt on July 9. The bad luck aside, he's continued to be a dynamic fielder who is able to make some dazzling plays.

Looking at his advanced offensive statistics, Phillips had a 5.6 wins above replacement (WAR) figure and a 122 weighted runs created plus (wRC+ is an attempt to quantify a player's total offensive value and measure it by runs) during his 2011 season, according to Fangraphs.com. His WAR and wRC+ have dipped each season since, to 2.6 and 91 last season and a 1.3 WAR with a 91 wRC+ this season.

Off the field, it's often been interesting. Phillips has spent the past season declining to talk to any of the Reds' beat reporters. Last season, he was caught on video verbally attacking one Cincinnati writer who wrote about his low on-base percentage. One year ago, Phillips was quoted saying unflattering things about the team's management.

The Reds, who have disappointed with a 63-68 record, are headed into an offseason in which they are boxed in by big contracts. Besides Phillips, the deals of six players -- including Votto, Homer Bailey and Jay Bruce -- will tie up $63.5 million of next year's payroll. It could mean the small-market team will move future potential free agents like Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos or Mike Leake.

One player who is going nowhere is Phillips.

What could the next three seasons bring? A lot of that depends on Phillips, while Father Time is sure to have a say. But for better or worse, Phillips will likely finish his contract with the Reds.

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