Notes: Lohse has rough night vs. Twins
Ex-Minnesota pitcher tweaks hamstring, beans Hunter
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Facing his former team, the Twins, very little went right for Reds pitcher Kyle Lohse during his spring debut.Lohse suffered a mild strain of his right hamstring while covering first base on a Justin Morneau groundout in the first inning Friday night. It wasn't yet known if he would miss his next start. The right-hander said the hamstring had felt tight at one point last week but had shown improvement. "I don't think it's going to be a big thing," Lohse said. "But it's kind of scary when it's your hamstring because those things can kind of linger. We'll see how it works itself out and take it easy." Lohse remained in the game for one more batter, but it proved to be a scary moment. He accidentally plunked former teammate Torii Hunter hard in the back of the head with fastball than ran up and in. The contact with the helmet reverberated loudly around Hammond Stadium. Lohse appeared quite concerned as Hunter spent several moments on the ground. Lohse was relieved when Hunter eventually winked at him before getting up and leaving the game. "It's a sickening feeling," Lohse said of the incident. "I've never hit anybody in the head before. That's not something I want to do again." The night ended right there for Lohse, too. The line wasn't a pretty one. He faced only six batters in two-thirds of an inning and gave up one earned run and two walks, plus the hit batter. Lohse was able to kid around a little when told Hunter did not have a concussion and would be OK. "I guess I don't throw hard enough then," Lohse joked. Despite leaving on bad terms before his July 31 trade from Minnesota to Cincinnati, Lohse remains close with many of his teammates, including Hunter. Lohse said he and another former Twins player, Reds reliever Eddie Guardado, went to Hunter's Fort Myers house last week to play cards. "[Hunter] knocked me out of the hold 'em tournament," Lohse said. "So it's payback, you know? Just kidding." Hunter said he knew the pitch wasn't intentional. "[Lohse] came and apologized," Hunter said. "We squared that away. I thought I died and went to heaven for a minute."
Lohse was a combined 5-10 with a 5.83 ERA in 34 games, including 19 starts, with the Twins and Reds in 2006. He is expected to be Cincinnati's third or fourth starter this season.Hermanson arrives: Even losing his luggage didn't dampen new Reds reliever Dustin Hermanson's enthusiasm. In the past couple of days, Hermanson flew from Phoenix to Cincinnati with a layover in Chicago. After he passed his physical and signed a Minor League deal with the club on Thursday, the 34-year-old flew from Cincinnati to Sarasota, with a connection in Charlotte. The only bag of his that made it to his final destination was the one with his baseball stuff. The multi-flight journey certainly wasn't ideal for someone that missed most of last season with back problems, but Hermanson was eager to prove he's put his injury issues well behind him. "I feel great. I'm excited the Reds gave me an opportunity," Hermanson said Friday. "There were a lot of teams looking at my medical reports and they just didn't like it. They didn't care about seeing me or anything. They looked at that and said, 'That's it.' I think a lot of times, you have to diagnose the person and not diagnose the injury." The injury was a serious one and enough to give some clubs pause. In 2005, Hermanson was the White Sox closer when he came down with a dual fracture of his L2 vertebrae and a condition called spondylolisthesis -- a weakening of the vertebrae. Amazingly, he continued to pitch through pain but had to yield his closer's job to Bobby Jenks as Chicago made its way to a World Series title. "The only reason I was pitching was because we were in the playoffs," said Hermanson, who had 34 saves and a 2.04 ERA in 2005. "There was no way I was going to give that up." Although Hermanson chose not to undergo surgery, the fractures healed. But the 12-year veteran spent most of 2006 rehabilitating and appeared in only six games for the White Sox last season. The right-hander began a new workout regimen that focused less on using his back and he also dropped about 10 pounds. He said he is throwing 89-90 mph during his bullpen sessions and expects to add a couple of more ticks on the radar gun before camp ends. "I am throwing just as hard as I was before I went down with the injury," Hermanson said. Cincinnati currently lacks a closer until Guardado can return from elbow surgery in June or July. Stocked with several veteran relievers in camp this spring, Reds manager Jerry Narron said he would "find a way" to get everyone enough work. "He competes extremely well," Narron said of Hermanson. "He did a great job with the White Sox in the closer's role. We'll do everything we can do to make sure he's healthy, and we'll give him a chance to show us he's healthy and see what happens." Griffey update: Center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. said he felt OK following Thursday's batting practice session, his first of the spring. Griffey is trying to come back from a broken left hand suffered in December. The 37-year-old Griffey told Narron he wasn't 100 percent yet, but didn't hold back with his swings. "I'm more or less getting the hand strong," Griffey said Friday. "Structurally, everything is intact." Griffey, who is left-handed, planned on testing his hand with some throws on Friday. There was no word when he would make his spring debut for the Reds. Seen and heard: Reliever David Weathers returned to the team Friday after leaving camp for a few days to be with his ailing mother. Reds.com will broadcast seven exhibition games live this spring that are not being carried by flagship radio station WLW. Former Reds voice Steve Stewart will have the call of the games being played on March 5, 8-9, 12 (at 1:05 p.m. ET) and 14-16 (at 7:05 p.m.). Sign up for Gameday Audio to hear every call.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.