05/14/2013 7:44 PM ET
Reds eager to improve on the road
By David Villavicencio / Special to MLB.com
MIAMI -- The Reds sport one of the best records in the National League, but their struggles away from Great American Ball Park could be a concern as they opened a nine-game road trip Tuesday night.
Cincinnati has lost four of five road series this year, going 6-10 overall in games away from home. Part of that can be attributed to the differences in the club's home and road splits. The Reds are batting .265 at home and just .224 on the road. The pitching has also had more success at home, posting a 2.87 ERA at Great American Ball Park. Reds pitchers have allowed nearly two more runs on the road with a 4.70 ERA.
The Reds kicked off this road trip with three games in Miami. They will then travel to Philadelphia and New York before returning home to host the Cubs on May 24. Reds manager Dusty Baker acknowledges that this trip will be challenging for his club.
"This is a very tough road trip, city-wise, noise-wise and sleep-wise," Baker said."
With the Reds set to play nine games in nine days, Baker will look to get his players rest while putting a competitive lineup on the field. That balance is a challenge for any manager, but Baker feels it is important for his club.
Baker's plan to rest his regulars began Tuesday with starting right fielder Jay Bruce taking his first day off of the season. Bruce, who is batting .258 with three homers and 21 RBIs, had played in all 38 games this season. Baker chose to start rookie Donald Lutz in right field, but did not rule out using Bruce later in the game, if necessary.
"He hadn't had a day yet," Baker said. "I am going to try to get one to some of the guys that haven't had a day yet on this road trip. I am going to try to store up some energy on some guys who haven't had much time off."
The Reds, who entered Tuesday 2 1/2 games behind the Cardinals in the National League Central, are aware of their road woes. While they are not happy with how they have played on the road this year, most believe it is a matter of coincidence.
"There is no rhyme or reason to where you win and where you don't win," pitcher Mike Leake said. "We just haven't won on the road, but they will come around. It's not a big deal."
Leake, who is slated to start Wednesday's game against the Marlins, hopes those wins will start coming this series. The Reds took three of four from Miami when the Marlins traveled to Cincinnati in April.
Heisey suffers setback during rehab game
MIAMI -- The Reds hoped to have injured outfielder Chris Heisey back in the big leagues in a few days, but those plans may have changed.
Heisey, who is rehabbing a right hamstring injury with Class A Pensacola, left Monday's game after making a shoestring catch to end the first inning.
"They said he re-strained it," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "That's something you're always apprehensive about when they're coming back. You never really know, because one wrong move could send them back to zero. We hoped that he would be back by Philly, but it looks like now he won't be."
The 28-year-old was playing center field and batting second for the Blue Wahoos, but he never stepped in the batter's box. Pensacola manager Delino DeShields pinch-hit for Heisey in the bottom of the first. The outfielder was originally scheduled to play seven innings.
The catch helped end fellow rehabbing Red Manny Parra's outing. The left-hander allowed no runs, one hit (a double) and struck out two. Once he is fully healthy, Baker is looking forward to getting the lefty back in the big leagues.
"Hopefully he does well so we can get some bodies back up here," Baker said.
Baker has been dealing with injuries for the majority of the season. The Reds currently have Johnny Cueto, Ryan Ludwick and Nick Masset, as well as Heisey and Parra, on the disabled list.
Chapman feeling comfortable in return to Miami
MIAMI -- Pitching in Miami is special for Reds closer Aroldis Chapman.
The Cuban defector enjoys playing in front of crowds filled with his fellow Cubans, and the lefty will have the opportunity to do that over the next three days.
"The first thing I look for every time the schedule comes out is when we play the Marlins in Miami," Chapman said.
Chapman, who tossed a third of an inning of scoreless relief at Sun Life Stadium in 2011, has not been able to play in front of his fellow countrymen as often as he would like. But the 25-year-old is excited about potentially taking the mound against the Marlins this series.
"I'm happy to have the opportunity to play here in Miami where there are so many Cuban fans," Chapman said. "It's great to know there are so many people like you in the stands."
Chapman makes his offseason home in Miami and is excited to have the opportunity to be home after leaving the city in February for Spring Training. He enjoys Miami's culture and nightlife, citing Mango's in South Beach as a favorite hangout.
Another thing Chapman enjoys about being in Miami is an opportunity to see fellow Cuban Adeiny Hechavarria. Chapman has known the Marlins shortstop since the two were young baseball players in Cuba.
"We know each other since we were kids in Cuba," Chapman said. "It's great to see him, especially since we have known each other for so long. I am older than he is, so we never played on the same team. But we have known each other since we were kids, so it's always good to catch up with him."
While Chapman looks forward to his annual trip to Miami, he is even more excited to be anchoring the Reds' bullpen. The left-hander entered Spring Training working as a starter, but ended up back in the bullpen by Opening Day.
"I am happy because that is what I wanted," Chapman said. "They wanted to see how it would work with me starting, but I am happy that I am closing games."
When he originally signed with the Reds, Chapman preferred to be a starter over a reliever because he had been a starter in Cuba. But that all changed after having a chance to pitch late in games over the past few seasons.
"Having the opportunity to close, I really got to know what it was like and I feel very comfortable closing," Chapman said. "I didn't want to pitch in relief at first because I had always been a starter. But now that I have had the chance to close for a couple of years, I really enjoy it."
Despite having a preference to close, Chapman believes his time spent working as a starter this spring helped him develop his secondary pitches. That is something the young flamethrower feels will make him a better pitcher now and in the future.
"I worked as a starter and that forced me to add pitches so that I could pitch more innings," Chapman said. "I work less now than if I was starting, but I have the other pitches to use if I need them. They are helpful now, but will be even more important later in my career if my velocity starts to go down a bit."
Baker decided to flip Mat Latos and Tony Cingrani in the starting rotation to give Cingrani extra rest as the rookie deals with shoulder soreness.
"We moved the rotation around because we wanted to get Cingrani some extra days," the manager said. "With his delivery and the way he throws, there is a little bit of soreness in his shoulder. His delivery in unorthodox, so if he gets out of whack a little bit, there can be some soreness. We just wanted to get him some extra days between starts."
Latos will now start the series finale in Miami on Thursday, with Cingrani taking the mound on Friday in Philadelphia.
David Villavicencio is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.