Series preview – Reds vs. Houston

As long as the weather clears up, the Reds will begin a three-game series against Houston tonight at Great American Ballpark.  Here’s what to watch for from each team;

CINCINNATI REDS

Monday’s rainout came at convenient time for the Reds. They and the Houston Astros both were scheduled to be off on Thursday. So the game was rescheduled for then.

Thursday was the day right-hander Homer Bailey was scheduled to throw his final rehab start up the road at Single-A Dayton. Bailey will start against Astros instead.

“What do they say? Rain’s a good thing,” Bailey said. “Isn’t there a song about that?”

Bailey, on the disabled list since the season because of a shoulder impingement, pitched very well in his rehab assignment.

In his three starts, he was 2-0 with a 0.54 ERA. He allowed 11 hits, four walks and struck out 14 in 16 2/3 innings. His fastball was clocked at 97.

“I’m definitely glad I can be back at this level competition,” Bailey said. “More than anything I feel prepared. I went down and thought I threw well in all my rehab starts.

“Everything progressed pretty well. I’m kind of ready to step back and get this thing started.”

It worked out well for the Reds because they didn’t want to completely redo the rotation.

“Had we had a game that day, without revamping the rotation, he would have thrown that day,” Baker said. “He didn’t really feel he needed or necessarily wanted another rehab assignment.

“It’s just that it would have been better for rotation.”

NOTES, QUOTES

–RHP Sam LeCure, scheduled to start Wednesday, will move to the bullpen with RHP Homer Bailey’s return to the rotation. LeCure is 0-1 with 4.57 ERA. He made nine appearances out of the bullpen last year.

–RHP Francisco Cordero is least used member of the Reds’ bullpen so far. Cordero has pitched in 11 games. He’s four-for-four in save chances. He got the victory in rare two-inning performance his last time out.

–OF Chris Heisey was scheduled to start Monday before the rainout. Heisey has only made five starts, none since April 21.

–SS Edgar Renteria was slated to start at shortstop Monday. Reds manager Dusty Baker talked about giving Renteria a start at third base. “I changed my mind,” Baker said. “He’s comfortable there yet.”

–RHP Johnny Cueto will make one more rehab start on Friday, probably at Single-A Dayton. Cueto only allowed one earned run in his last outing for Triple-A Louisville. But his pitch count was 99 over 4 2/3 innings.

BY THE NUMBERS: 294 –– RHP Francisco Cordero’s career saves through Sunday, ranked 22nd on the all-time list, six behind No. 21 Bruce Sutter. Cordero’s 117 saves with Cincinnati are fourth on the all-time club list, two short of tying No. 3 Clay Carroll.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “It’s harder to play from behind than it is when you’re ahead and you can relax a little bit. What was disappointing today was they got the lead and we tied it up, and they got the lead and we tied it up again. You’ve got to keep grinding. This game is so full of streaks. Right now, it’s not happening for us.” — RHP Bronson Arroyo, after giving up a season-high three home runs in Sunday’s 9-5 loss to Florida.

ROSTER REPORT

MEDICAL WATCH:

–OF Fred Lewis (strained right side) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 27. He began a rehab assignment with Class AA Carolina on April 14, and he moved his rehab to Class AAA Louisville in late April. There was still no timetable for his return.

–RHP Johnny Cueto (right shoulder impingement) had to leave his March 11 start after two innings, then had to leave after one inning March 19. He went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 22. He made rehab starts for Class AAA Louisville on April 16, April 21 and April 26. Cueto will make one more rehab start for Louisville, and he could be activated in early May.

–3B Scott Rolen (sore left shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 21. He had yet to resume baseball activities as of April 29.

–INF Juan Francisco (strained left calf) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 17. He ran lightly and hit off a tee April 29.

–RHP Homer Bailey (sore right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 24. He made rehab starts for Class AAA Louisville on April 17, April 24 and April 30, and he could be activated in early May. He was scheduled to make his final rehab start on May 5, but will start that day for the Reds instead because the game rained out May 2 was rescheduled for that day

–RHP Jose Arredondo (Tommy John surgery in February 2010) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 25. He began a rehab assignment with Class AA Carolina on April 11. He moved from Carolina to Class AAA Louisville to complete his 30-day rehab assignment.

–RHP Jared Burton (right shoulder inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 29. He suffered a setback in early April, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on April 18. He underwent arthroscopic surgery April 22, and the timetable for his return was unknown.

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HOUSTON ASTROS

When manager Brad Mills opted for the right-handed Jason Bourgeois over the left-handed Brian Bogusevic to man left field in Carlos Lee’s absence against Reds right-hander Mike Leake, he was simply going with the hot bat.

Probably the hottest bat on the team, in fact.

“The last couple of days, he’s been given an opportunity to get in there, and he’s done a real good job,” Mills said. “With the skills that he has, he’s going to be able to show those when he gets the opportunity.”

Bourgeois would have started his third consecutive game Monday were it not for a steady rainstorm that postponed the game to Thursday. Including two hits in Wednesday’s game against the Cardinals, Bourgeois is 7-for-his-last-11 to raise his average to .361 in 36 at-bats.

His most valuable tool hasn’t traditionally been his bat, which might be late blooming compared to his legs.

Despite starting five games all season, Bourgeois came to the park Monday ranking seventh in the National League with eight stolen bases as he has been Mills’ favorite choice for pinch-running.

Bourgeois has an ever-present green light, but said that he is still refining that part of his game. He is 8-for-9 this season, the only time he was caught coming to end the Astros’ home opener as the Marlins guessed right and pitched out.

“Mentally, I want to get better at stealing bases,” Bourgeois said. “I want to be more aggressive. I want to take advantage of any chance I get to set the table up for the guys behind me.”

NOTES, QUOTES

–LF Carlos Lee flew to Cincinnati the day after the rest of his teammates, remaining overnight in a Houston hospital for tests on a ribcage contusion. X-rays and a CT scan were negative for a fracture, and Lee is considered day-to-day. “We’ll check him out and see how it is and go from there,” manager Brad Mills said.

–LHP J.A. Happ played catch Monday to stay fresh after his scheduled start was washed out because of rain. Because the game was called early enough in the day, Happ never really got warm and can start Tuesday’s game against the Reds. He’ll be seeking an improvement over his last start against the Reds, when he gave up seven earned runs in four innings.

–RHP Aneury Rodriguez should have the luxury of a very rested bullpen when he makes his first major league start on Wednesday. The rainout Monday added to the rest provided by Wandy Rodriguez’s eight-inning start Saturday and Bud Norris’ 7 2/3-inning outing Sunday. Anuery Rodriguez will likely need the support, as he has gone longer than one inning in just one of his relief appearances.

–CF Michael Bourn entered Monday leading the National League in stolen bases with 11, as he aims to capture that title for the third consecutive year. Perhaps as important is the fact that he hasn’t been caught and leads the team with the best stolen base percentage in the league. The Astros are 24-for-27 (88.9 percent) this season, outdistancing the Reds and Diamondbacks in that department.

–1B Brett Wallace was slated to start in the cleanup spot for the first time in his career before Monday’s game was rained out. Wallace has been the Astros’ top offensive performer this year, hitting .382 with a .517 slugging percentage, and will likely get at least a start or two in the cleanup spot in LF Carlos Lee’s absence.

BY THE NUMBERS: 2.39 — The ERA of the Astros’ starting pitchers during their 3-3 home stand. In victories against the Brewers in the final two games, Wandy Rodriguez and Bud Norris combined to work 15 2/3 scoreless innings, allow 10 hits, walk three and strike out 17.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “I wanted to try to let him take a little breath. I just don’t want him to put so much pressure on himself that it just drives him up a wall. It’s tough to hit here anyway. You put pressure on yourself sometimes. There’s a line to be drawn with the frustration. I don’t know if he’s there yet. He’s not to the point where he’s driving himself crazy. Hopefully it doesn’t get to that point.” — Astros manager Brad Mills, on benching .185-hitting 3B Chris Johnson on Sunday.

ROSTER REPORT

MEDICAL WATCH:

–1B Brett Wallace (right hip pointer contusion) left the April 29 game. He appeared as a pinch hitter April 30, and was in the lineup May 1.

–RHP Wilton Lopez (right elbow ulnar nerve irritation) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 14. He threw a bullpen session April 28, and he threw a simulated game April 30. He was activated after the May 1 game.

–INF Jeff Keppinger (left foot surgery in January 2011) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 22. He played his first game in extended spring training April 22.

–OF Jason Michaels (separated left shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 25.

–RHP Alberto Arias (sore right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 22. He threw to live hitters at extended spring training for the first time April 10. Arias felt another impingement in his shoulder April 15.

–C Jason Castro (right knee surgery in March 2011) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 22. He is expected to miss most or all of the season.