07/28/12 8:40 PM ET
Paul thriving early with Reds in pinch-hitting role
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
Paul, who entered Saturday batting .500 in 10 at-bats, has two hits as a pinch-hitter, including a ninth-inning single Friday.
"[I'm] very pleased," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "I heard about Paul years ago from Gene Cline on the Dodgers. I liked him with the Pirates, especially off of the bench and playing late-inning defense. He was a guy I tried to manage away from late in the games with right-handers. He could do some things and is much needed on our team in that situation."
Simon excels with increased role in bullpen
DENVER -- Reds reliever Alfredo Simon has earned trust and an elevation in his bullpen role. He's no longer just relegated to mop-up work.
Simon, who has a 1.41 ERA in 23 appearances this season, has two victories and a hold in his past four outings and hasn't allowed a run in any of his past seven games.
"Right now, every time I go out there, I just try to do the best I can and right now I feel really comfortable and I have to be ready for every situation they put me in," Simon said Saturday. "I try to put a zero on the board and win games."
Pitching in Friday's 3-0 Reds win over the Rockies, Simon replaced Bronson Arroyo and worked 1 1/3 scoreless innings with one hit. He was working on eight days of rest.
The 12th man in the bullpen when he was acquired just before Opening Day, Simon was used in only one winning game over his first 15 appearances of the season. In his last eight outings, the Reds have won in five of the games.
"He's elevated his game and his position since he's gotten here," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "We're a team. Everybody has a job, a time, a place and situation."
Simon, who has pitched three innings twice this season, felt that staying sharp in between lengthy idle periods was his biggest challenge.
"It's really hard," Simon said. "I've never been in this situation before. I know the starters are doing good right now. And when they go seven or eight innings, I don't have a chance to go in. Everybody is doing a great job. I just have to adjust and handle it. Right now, I'm the long reliever."
Chapman racking up strikeouts, saves
DENVER -- Reds closer Aroldis Chapman has converted each of his last 12 saves opportunities and has mowed down the opposition in the process. Entering Saturday, 34 of his past 43 outs recorded were strikeouts.
Despite Chapman's triple-digit fastball velocity, Baker felt the left-hander had become more of a pitcher than a thrower this season.
"I think it's safe to say that," Baker said Saturday. "He has the ability to come in and out and up and down. He's feeling comfortable and very confident with what he's doing. And he's using more than just his fastball. Getting ahead helps to use more than just your fastball."
On Friday, Chapman struck out first batter Todd Helton with an 88 mph slider. He needed only 11 pitches to record his 20th save and that type of pitch efficiency could make him more repeatable.
"That helps a lot. It puts him in a position even to possibly go a third day if that second day is not a lot of work," Baker said.
Chapman has worked three straight days only once this season -- July 13-15 vs. the Cardinals.
Reliever Nick Masset (shoulder injury) began his rehab assignment well on Friday. Masset started for the rookie-level Arizona League Reds and struck out the side in his one inning of work.