Bengals re-sign offensive lineman T.J. Johnson

Published: Friday, March 17, 2017 @ 3:56 PM

            CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 12: Offensive linemen Tanner Hawkinson #72 and T.J. Johnson #60 of the Cincinnati Bengals work out during a rookie camp at Paul Brown Stadium on May 12, 2013 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 12: Offensive linemen Tanner Hawkinson #72 and T.J. Johnson #60 of the Cincinnati Bengals work out during a rookie camp at Paul Brown Stadium on May 12, 2013 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Ten days after extending a tender offer to restricted free agent T.J. Johnson, the Cincinnati Bengals have signed the offensive lineman to a two-year contract.

A fourth-year player from South Carolina, Johnson is expected to compete for the starting spot at right guard after Kevin Zeitler signed with the Cleveland Browns.

Johnson appeared in all 16 games last year and started at left guard in the season finale.

“T.J. has raised his level of play every year he’s been with us,” offensive line coach Paul Alexander said. “He is smart, tough and reliable. It’s great to know he’s back.”

Dragons drubbed, but Siri extends hit streak to 28 games

Published: Saturday, July 22, 2017 @ 10:52 PM

By John Cummings

Contributing Writer

Somewhere, a switch was flipped on the Dayton Dragons and manager Luis Bolivar is trying to switch it back.

The Dragons, who had five of their last seven games decided by two runs or less, were banged out of Fifth Third Field for the second consecutive night Saturday, 8-2 by Burlington.

Dayton lost 8-1 to Peoria on Friday. Burlington, with 12, made it three straight games in which Dragons pitching has allowed at least 10 hits.

The Dragons had five hits, three in a two-run ninth inning.

“It’s a tough one,” manager Luis Bolivar said. “We had been playing good games and we have to get back to where we were earlier.”

While Burlington was putting together a five-run fourth to take a 7-0 lead, the Dragons were still trying to figure out Bees starter Andrew Vinson, who was perfect through three innings and allowed two hits over five.

“He has some pretty good stuff, but we still should have made some adjustments to him,” Bolivar said. “He was pitching good, but we just didn’t adjust.”

The Dragons scored in the ninth on an RBI single by Bruce Yari and a wild pitch that plated Taylor Trammell.

“We’ll be OK,” Bolivar said. “We just have to find a way to get everything back together and finish strong.”

Still streaking: Jose Siri had to wait a couple innings to stretch the longest current hitting streak in minor league baseball to 28 games.

Siri struck out in the first before lacing the first pitch he saw in the fourth into the gap in left-center for his lone hit.

“That is the fun part of the job when you see them getting better,” Bolivar said of Siri. “You can see his work is paying off.

“He told me he is just taking each day as a normal day and wanting to have a good at-bat. He’s not feeling pressure or thinking about keeping the streak going, he is just playing each day like it is a normal day.”

Siri’s streak is the longest in the Midwest League since Michigan’s Garvin Wright hit safely in 29 games in 2000. The MWL record is 35 set in 1977 by Waterloo’s Tony Toups, then an Indians farmhand.

Still searching: Dragons pitcher Wennington Romero entered Saturday’s start looking for his first win since May 5.

Romero is still looking.

The lefty from the Dominican Republic exited with the Dragons down 8-0.

All eight runs were earned against Romero on 10 hits and two hit batters. Romero struck out four and did not walk a batter in 6 2/3 innings.

Romero fell to 3-8 and has lost eight straight decisions after starting 3-0.

Roster moves: It was a hectic 24 hours for the Dragons.

Pitcher Alfredo Mena was placed on the disabled list with an undisclosed injury and was replaced by Aaron Quillen, who was called up from rookie-level Billings.

Infielder Gavruel Ovalie was shuttled off to Triple-A Louisville to help out and was replaced by Billings infielder Carlos Rivero, who started at shortstop Saturday.

Moss resting: Ace pitcher Scott Moss was placed on the disabled list to get him some rest for the stretch run.

Moss, who leads the MWL in wins (10) and strikeouts (119), had some arm issues in college at Florida.

“It’s something that happens to every starter,” Bolivar said. “There are no issues, we are just giving him more time to recover to keep him healthy for the playoffs.”

Bolivar said the Dragons will do the same thing with other starters as their innings increase.

On deck: Dayton and Burlington hook up again at 2:07 p.m. today at Fifth Third Field. Tony Santillan (5-6) pitches for the Dragons.

Wright State baseball coach Jeff Mercer will provide the color commentary with Dragons play-by-play announcer Tom Nichols on Dayton’s CW 26.

Hartsock: Gilkison expands lead in Dayton Metro golf tournament

Published: Saturday, July 22, 2017 @ 3:51 PM

Highlights of third round at Heatherwoode G.C. in Springboro

He knows what it’s like to come from behind to win the Dayton Metropolitan Championship, now Josh Gilkison is on the other side.

The defending champion took a six-shot lead into Sunday’s final round at Heatherwoode Golf Club in Springboro.

He trailed by six shots a year ago before rallying to force a playoff with Adam Armstrong, he won in four holes.

Gilkison grabbed a two-shot lead after firing an eight under par 62 in Friday’s second round. He followed with a seven under 63 on Saturday.

“I’m playing really well right now, Gilkison said. “I’m hitting it well, and really seeing the lines of my putts.”

The 19-year old has played 33 straight holes without a bogey. He and his older brother Jake, playing in the final group, took turns making birdies on their home course Saturday.

“It’s a big advantage because I’ve played it so many times I really don’t have to think what I’m trying to do.”

Jake Gilkison was six under par through the first 11 holes to close within two shots, but he played the final seven holes in one over par and stands alone in third place at eight under par.

The Gilkison brothers will be joined in Sunday’s final pairing with five-time Metro champion Pete Samborsky. The 43-year old matched Josh Gilkison’s 63 on Saturday, shooting a five under par 30 on the back nine.

Newly crowned Ohio Amateur champion Austin Sipe started the day two shots behind, but the Centerville native had trouble figuring out the Heatherwoode greens. Sipe struggled to a one over par 71, and finds himself 10 shots behind with 18 holes to play.

Is there a ‘Scooter’ in the Reds future?

Published: Saturday, July 22, 2017 @ 5:39 PM

CINCINNATI — Now that Scooter Gennett is an every day player for the Cincinnati Reds, what might his future be?

His contract expires after this season. Either the Reds sign him to a multi-year deal or he can become a free agent and peddle himself to the highest bidder.

Every team needs a Scooter on its roster.

So far the Reds have made no move on Gennett, not even talked to him about where he stands for 2018 and beyond.

The 5-10, 185-pound Gennett is only 27, probably in the prime of his career, and could easily be considered part of the Reds rebuild.

AS HE IS SHOWING, HE is far more than the guy who dressed as the Easter Bunny one year for the children of the Milwaukee Brewers. And he got married in the cold beer cellar of the Miller Brewering Company in Milwaukee.

Gennett was born in this area and was a resident in Lebanon until he was about 10. And he wants to be part of the Reds future.

“They’ve been pretty busy with all the moves they’ve made (the pitchers shuttle between Louisville and Cincinnati) and the trade deadline is coming up,” said Gennett. “So I’m sure the time for me will present itself, but I haven’t heard anything yet.”

BECAUSE OF HIS DIMINUTIVE stature, his energy and hustle, his wear-it-on-his-sleeves love for the game, Gennett quickly became a fan favorite, even before hitting four home runs in one game.

Now he is a legend.

Asked if he wants to come back to a last place team still assembling building blocks, he said, “Absolutely. Everybody who has been with his coaching staff — hey, everything about being here has been great. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

GENNETT, THOUGH, REALIZES the business end of baseball and said, “Sometimes all that doesn’t matter and it doesn’t matter what the player thinks. They are in control of those things. But I’d love to play here and be here for a long time.”

Gennett was released at the end of spring training by the Milwaukee Brewers and quick signed by the Reds. All he has done so far is hit .308 with a career-best 16 home runs and 54 RBI in only 234 at bats. That’s 100 less at bats than Joey Votto and 120 less than Adam Duvall.

His numbers and his off-the-field contributions nearly forced manager Bryan Price to bench 22-year-old prospect Jose Peraza and put Gennett into the regular lineup.

About being a fan favorite, Gennett said, “Fans appreciate effort, they appreciate guys who play the game the right way. A lot of us on this team do that. And that’s why fans show up even though things might not be great right now.

“What brings fans in is guys playing the game the right way and respect the game,” he added. “True baseball fans really like that.”

GENNETT LIKES THE SOUND of ‘Every Day Gennett,’ something he never heard before, not even when he played in Milwaukee.

“It is nice knowing you will be in there every day and something I never had the opporunity to do, even with the Brewers,” he said. “It’s a good time for me and my career and all the hard work I’ve put in. Now they feel I’ve earned the right to play every day, so I’m honored and fortunate to be blessed with the ability to put myself in this position. I’m happy, but I put in the hard work. And it continues and it is about getting better every day. And being in there every day makes it easier to fine-tune your game.”

JOEY VOTTO TURNED DOWN an invitation to appear in the All-Star Game Home Run Derby. He didn’t want to wear himself out, didn’t want to risk changing his swing. He saw it happen with other players.

So he didn’t participate. And yet since the All-Star game his offensive production is at a much lower pace than he is accustomed to diplaying.

Heading into Saturday’s game with the Miami Marlins, Votto is 3 for 26 (.115) with seven walks and six strikeouts. And Votto has played every game this season, something he prefers to do. But does he need a day off?

“Joey and I keep an open line,” said Price. “One of these days you’ll walk into the clubhouse and see that he is not in the lineup. He prides himself on playing, but we have an open relationship as to when he needs a day.”

With the Reds playing 37 games in 38 days, Price indicated that a day off may come soon for Votto.

“When that time comes, I’ll initiate that but our line of communication right now indicates he will be in there regularly.”

THE OTHER MAN witho ‘Struggle’ as his middle name these days is Scott Schebler. He is 0 for 12 and 1 for 23.

And Price did give him Saturday off, replacing him with Patrick Kivlehan.

“It is just a day for Schebler,” said Price. “I’ve really struggled getting Kivlehan and Almendy Alcantara in there. I like the match-up (Miami pitcher Chris O’Grady) to give Kivlehan a start.”



Dragons lose, but Siri extends hitting streak to 27 games

Published: Saturday, July 22, 2017 @ 12:22 AM

            Dragons outfielder Jose Siri extended his hitting streak to 27 games Friday. He’s eight away from tying the Midwest League record set in 1977. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF
Dragons outfielder Jose Siri extended his hitting streak to 27 games Friday. He’s eight away from tying the Midwest League record set in 1977. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF(MARC PENDLETON / STAFF)

The Dayton Dragons managed four hits Friday night at Fifth Third Field in an 8-1 loss to Peoria, but Jose Siri had one of them, extending his team-record hitting streak to 27 games.

Siri swatted the first pitch he saw leading off the first inning for a double and now owns what is believed to be the fifth-longest hitting streak in Midwest League history, longest since 2000 when Garvin Wright of Michigan hit safely in 29 straight.

The league record is 35, set in 1977 by Waterloo’s Tony Toups, who played three seasons in the Indians farm system and never made the majors.

Siri’s is the longest current streak in the minor leagues. That record is 69 games by Joe Wilhoit of the Western League in 1919.

An outfielder from the Dominican Republic, Siri is hitting .342 with 15 home runs since May 21 with a slugging percentage of .658, third in the minors over that span.

After a rain delay of just over an hour, Peoria scored twice in the first and once in the second before adding three in the fifth for a 6-0 lead, eventually denying the Dragons their first series sweep since they took four in a row from Fort Wayne from June 30 to July 3.

Dayton scored in the fifth when Siri reached on an error and came home on a two-out error in the outfield on a ball hit by Taylor Trammell.

Trammell is another hot-hitting Dragon. A first-inning single gave him a hit in 20 of his last 21 games.

The outfielder is second in the MWL with 101 hits while leading the league in stolen bases (28). The Georgia native also ranks in the top five in the MWL in RBIs (54), runs (55), triples (9) and total bases (161).

Dragons tales

• After a slow start following his promotion from Billings on June 22, Mark Collymore has settled in. Over his last six games, he is hitting .375 with a home run to raise his average from .189 to .245. Gabrille Ovalle has also rallied, going from .071 to .208. Shane Mardirosian is still looking for a groove, hitting .196.

• It was a tough Fifth Third Field debut for pitcher Alex Webb on Friday. Starting in place of ace Scott Moss, who went on the disabled list July 18 with an undisclosed injury, he lasted three innings, allowing three runs on five hits, striking out two and walking three. Peoria hit back-to-back two-out home runs in the first off Webb. He allowed his third run on a bases-loaded wild pitch.

Moss leads the MWL in wins (10) and strikeouts (119).

• Dayton’s 6-5 win over Peoria in 13-innings Thursday night snapped an eight-game losing streak in extra-inning games. The Dragons had won five of their first six extra-inning games before the slide.

• Dayton steps out of Eastern Division play when it welcomes Burlington tonight at 7 to open a three-game set. Burlington enters 12-15 in the second half and three games out of a playoff spot in the Western Division.