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07/07/09 6:45 PM ET
Manuel makes first trip to big leagues
Needing an extra arm in 'pen, Reds call up right-hander
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
PHILADELPHIA -- Reliever Robert Manuel wasn't even in Philadelphia when the Reds were dealt a 22-1 pounding by the Phillies on Monday, but there's no doubt that he'll remember that game forever. In a clubhouse in Indianapolis after his Triple-A Louisville team played its game, Manuel was watching TV highlights of the Reds' loss when he got the word from manager Rick Sweet that he was going to the big leagues for the first time. "It was real weird," Manuel said on Tuesday after his arrival to Citizens Bank Park. "There were too many people in the room and they were all around me for some reason. I was just paying attention to the highlights. He said they might need somebody to pitch in Cincy. I looked around and every one of the guys standing up were position players and starters. [Sweet] was looking at me. I thought he was talking to somebody behind me and was joking around." This was no joke, especially for a Reds bullpen that pitched 11 1/3 innings over the past two games -- both big blowout losses. Cincinnati still had six more games to go before the All-Star break. "It really put us in a bad situation," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "You can't limp in here or you'll crawl out of here." To make room on the 25-man roster for Manuel, infielder Drew Sutton was optioned to Louisville. Sutton, who made his big league debut on Thursday, was 0-for-4 with one RBI. "It was nothing that he did. We needed an arm," Baker said of Sutton. Manuel was 3-3 with a 2.51 ERA in 32 appearances for Louisville with eight saves in nine chances. In 43 innings, the right-hander allowed 33 hits, 12 earned runs, nine walks, two homers and struck out 33. Opponents batted .209 against him and interestingly, it was lefties that fared worse by hitting .169 (10-for-59). "He throws strikes. The big thing is he's gotten left-handers out better than right-handers," Baker said. "They said give him a shot. He's not going to pop your eyes out but he gets people out, which is what it's all about." Manuel, who hasn't pitched for Louisville since Friday, began the season as a middle reliever but eventually moved to setting up and closing. He has experience throwing multiple innings and developed a changeup to get him through longer outings to go with his fastball and slider. "Wherever they stuck me, I was going to do my job regardless," said Manuel, who turns 26 on Thursday. He was acquired in 2006 from the Mets' organization for discarded starting pitcher Dave Williams. Manuel will have the good fortune of having his parents, Rocky and Lisa, at the ballpark if and when he makes his Major League debut. They were in Indianapolis when their son got his promotion and had been planning to follow the Bats' trip when it moved to Toledo. Those plans obviously changed. "He was eating a cookie and almost choked to death," Manuel said about his father. "I told him and my mom and they were hysterical. I was the only cool one there." The callup wasn't a total shock for Manuel. Aware that Cincinnati's bullpen has piled up the innings lately, he did quietly make some preparations. "I never do it, but I packed a couple of red-sleeved shirts just in case," he said. "I saw that their bullpen got used the last couple of days. In the back of my mind, I thought I had a chance to come up here."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.