By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer
LOS ANGELES - Quietly and mostly in low-pressure situations, Ryan Wagner is starting to pitch like the Ryan Wagner we saw last season.
Wagner went 1 2/3 innings and did not allow a hit in Thursday's 8-2 loss to San Diego. He struck out two.
Wagner, a 21-year-old rookie, has not allowed a run in his last four appearances. That has lowered his ERA from 11.25 to 7.30.
"He's looked pretty good the last few times out," Reds manager Dave Miley said. "He realizes that with his natural movement, he doesn't have to try to spot the ball."
Pitching coach Don Gullett also corrected a flaw in Wagner's delivery.
"That definitely made a difference," Wagner said. "I'm not standing so straight up. I'm finishing my pitchers."
Wagner might never get his ERA down to where he wants. When you give up five runs in one-third of an inning - as he did in Chicago April 19 - it's hard to lower the numbers. Throw out that game, and his ERA is 3.75.
But if he can get back to what he was last year when he went 2-0 with a 1.66 ERA, it will be a huge boost to the bullpen.
"I feel like I'm getting there," he said.
LATE SCRATCH: Sean Casey was a late scratch for Friday's game. Casey has a sore left thumb. He injured it in the San Diego series.
Ryan Freel was moved from right field to left field. Adam Dunn went from left to first base. Wily Mo Pena started in right field.
CORKY OUT: As expected, Corky Miller was optioned to Triple-A Louisville to make room on the roster for Jason LaRue Friday.
Miller lives in nearby Calimesa. He was going to spend the night there, then head to Louisville today.
JIMMY THE YANKEE? The New York Yankees reportedly are talking to Jimmy Haynes about signing a Triple-A deal. The Reds released Haynes Monday.
PROBABLY 100: Todd Van Poppel, who makes his second start of the year tonight, will have a longer leash as far as pitch count.
"Off the top of my head, I'd say we'll let him go 100 pitches," Miley said.
Van Poppel went four innings, allowing two runs on three hits in his first start - a 7-6 loss to San Francisco on Sunday. Van Poppel threw 75 pitches in that game.
NICK, NO JESSICA: Nicky Lachey, the Cincinnati native who stars with wife Jessica Simpson in MTV's Newlyweds, was at Dodger Stadium to film a piece for This Week in Baseball.
Lachey took batting practice off first base coach Randy Whisler. Whisler dialed it down enough that Lachey made contact on most pitches, one of which would have been a hit.
VANDER WAL: John Vander Wal had another successful day at extended spring training in Sarasota. He went 1-for-4 with three walks.
"He led off the first seven innings," trainer Mark Mann said. "But the pitching got so bad that he shut it down and worked in the cage."
Vander Wal is scheduled to play first base today.
"He'll progress to playing in the outfield," Mann said.
FARM REPORT: Potomac left fielder Tony Blanco lifted the Cannons to a 4-3 victory with an RBI double in the bottom of the ninth.
REDS FACT: Todd Van Poppel, today's starter, is 0-2 with a 5.18 ERA in eight career appearances vs. the Dodgers.
UP NEXT: The Reds play the second game of the three-game series with the Dodgers. Van Poppel (1-1, 4.50 ERA) faces left-hander Odalis Perez (2-1, 3.63) at 10:10 p.m.
Through Thursday's game
|Team Totals ||.246||.340||1140||160||280||62||8||35||148||153||276||14||4||25|
|Van Poppel ||1||1||4.50||7||1||0||16.0||16||8||8||1||6||11|
|Team Totals ||17||17||4.97||34||34||14||297.0||329||179||164||41||103||207|
Wilson remains unbeaten
ONLINE EXTRA: Photos of Friday's game
LaRue joins Reds in L.A.
Wagner's recovery will benefit bullpen
Sosa ties Schmidt with 548th HR
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