04/13/2013 7:06 PM ET
Hoover turns to curve after early-season struggles
By George Von Benko / Special to MLB.com
PITTSBURGH -- Reds reliever J.J. Hoover has struggled early this season, taking three losses in the Reds' first 10 games. Two of the losses came in extra innings, and the third spoiled a comeback attempt by the Reds' offense after trailing, 5-1, on Friday against the Pirates.
"It's disappointing," Hoover said. "You want to go out there and give your team good, quality innings out of the 'pen, because when you're out there, you've got to get those hitters out, and it's imperative that you do. I just haven't done it yet. I've gotten away from some of my strengths, and we're working on making those adjustments."
Hoover pitched well in 2012 with a 2.05 ERA in 28 relief appearances and won a bullpen spot out of Spring Training.
"I was working on bringing my slider back," Hoover said. "I had it in the Minor Leagues, but last year I predominately threw fastball, curveball and changeup. I think that's what we're going to go back to and kind of get away from the slider and go back to the curveball."
Phillips leaves club to attend to family matter
PITTSBURGH -- Second baseman Brandon Phillips was absent from the starting lineup for Saturday's game at Pittsburgh due to a family matter. It was the first game Phillips has missed this season, and there is no indication how long he will be away.
"Hopefully Phillips will be back tonight," manager Dusty Baker said. "It's a family emergency. He told me he might try to come back tonight, but I told him take whatever you need."
Cesar Izturis took Phillips' spot in the lineup against the Pirates.
Phillips homered twice in Friday's series-opening 6-5 loss.
Reds sign Italian right-hander Anselmi
PITTSBURGH -- The Reds announced the signing of Italian right-handed pitcher Davide Anselmi. The Reds have been following Anselmi's progress since 2007 and recently saw him throw again at the 2013 MLB European Academies Tournament.
Born in 1995, Anselmi is a member of Unipol Bologna organization in the Italian Baseball League, and is also attending the Italian Baseball Academy in Tirrenia. Bill Holmberg, who was the pitching coach for Italy in the World Baseball Classic, is Anselmi's pitching coach, as well.
Anselmi went 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA in two appearances for Italy a year ago in the XXV IBAF 18U Baseball World Championship. He threw 6 2/3 innings against Australia and Canada, and allowed three runs -- two earned -- on eight hits and two walks, striking out eight.
He has been a regular member of Italian youth teams and was invited to the MLB European Academy in Tirrenia the past two years. Anselmi will report as soon as possible to Goodyear, Ariz., where he will join Slovakian left-hander Jakub Izold, a fellow European Academy participant and new member of the organization.
• Reds hitters entered Saturday's game hitting .235 (32-for-136) with 19 runs scored in the first four games of their road trip.
• Reds relievers are 1-1 on their current road swing entering Saturday's game with a 4.50 ERA. Starters are 0-2 with a 6.65 ERA.
George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.