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03/22/07 6:30 PM ET
Notes: Spring slump reaches Lohse
Righty endures rotation's latest hiccup; Narron not worried
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
SARASOTA, Fla. -- That makes four. Reds starter Kyle Lohse was the latest member of the starting rotation to absorb some rough innings during his start against the Yankees on Thursday. Lohse allowed six runs (five earned) and seven hits in five innings. At one point, New York held a 5-0 lead before Cincinnati rallied late for an 8-7 win. Eric Milton (five runs, eight hits in five innings), Bronson Arroyo (four runs, seven hits over 4 2/3 innings) and Aaron Harang (four runs, eight hits in five innings) did not look stellar, either, their last times through the rotation. With the top four spots set, none of these pitchers is battling for a job. Reds manager Jerry Narron felt that a stretch of rough outings is inevitable as pitchers prepare for the regular season. "In the spring, absolutely," Narron said. "Most guys are going to have some games where they don't go out there and dominate -- that's for doggone sure." Lohse's outing was the total opposite of his previous effort of five scoreless innings against the Red Sox on Saturday. Except for an unearned run, he got through the first two innings against the Yankees without much trouble. The New York third began when Lohse issued consecutive walks to leadoff hitter Melky Cabrera and Derek Jeter. Bobby Abreu followed by hitting a first-pitch fastball for a three-run homer to right field. "I thought he made some good pitches on the back-to-back bases on balls," Narron said. "They were close. But I don't know what he was thinking right there after the walk to Jeter. He gave Abreu a little bit too good of a pitch to hit. I hope he didn't let the at-bat to Jeter affect him." Leading off, Alex Rodriguez added a solo homer on Lohse's first pitch of the fifth inning. "The fastball really wasn't where I wanted it," Lohse said of his command. "It was one of those days where if it wasn't Spring Training, I would have pitched a lot of guys backwards. [Catcher David] Ross and I were talking about it. I still need to try to locate the fastball, and it seemed like every time I tried to get a quick one over, they hit it hard." Lohse, who threw 92 pitches, was not concerned about the results of his third spring start. "That's why we're here," Lohse said. "You see what you need to work on. My curveball was really good. My changeup was good. My slider -- I didn't throw it a lot. But it was there when I needed it. I just know I have to work on my fastball location and keeping it down." Lohse missed two turns in the rotation with a strained right hamstring. It gave the right-hander no issue on Thursday, even when he had to field a slow grounder and run the bases with a two-run single in the bottom of the fourth. Lengthy injury report: Injuries have continued to nag several Reds as they enter the final stretch of exhibition games. First baseman Scott Hatteberg was scratched from Thursday's starting lineup because of a sore groin muscle. With Jeff Conine away from camp because of the death of his father-in-law, backup catcher Javier Valentin started at first base. Valentin pulled up lame in the fourth inning and couldn't score from second base on Paul Janish's drive to the right-field wall. Valentin later scored but left the game after the inning, diagnosed with a strained left hamstring. Infielder Juan Castro is out with a tender right elbow and will miss another one or two days. Janish was called over from Minor League camp to start at shortstop.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.