Either you haven't seen a single Cincinnati Reds game this year, or you want to give Brayan Pena a hug. There is no middle ground. He established himself as the kind of player you want to root for during a few early interviews in Spring Training, and the kind of person that his preceding reputation said he was showed daily through the Aroldis Chapman injury and recovery, and as C. Trent Rosecrans noted in a more recent interview with him, his production on the field has matched it. Pena's production in 2014 has been the best of his 10 year career, and he's performed well enough to not only get a pair of starts hitting 2nd and 5th in the lineup, but also to have nobody complain about him hitting there. It still pains me that the Reds moved on from Ryan Hanigan at a cut-rate price, but they certainly seemed to find an amazing person (and pretty damn good ball player) to fill his shoes.
The Class A affiliate of the Reds, the Dayton Dragons, continue to be one of the model franchises in all of professional sports, and they recently had their 1,000th consecutive sellout, a feat that pretty well speaks for itself. In case you were wondering, that's actually every single game the franchise has played in Dayton, having moved there to Fifth Third Field in 2000. They previously were in Rockford, Illinois, and had spent a sad series of years as affiliates for the Chicago Cubs, Kansas City Royals, and Montreal Expos from 1988-1998. The Reds claimed them before the 1999 season, their last in Rockford, before they collectively moved to their current location. Seems like that's turned out OK.
Though the Reds have repeatedly lost key players to injuries over the course of the 2014 season, they can at least take solace in the realization that their players are gradually returning. Jonathan Broxton, Sean Marshall, and Aroldis Chapman are back in the bullpen, and it appears Devin Mesoraco may soon return to catch them, according to Andy Call of MLB.com. While it appears Mes won't be back in time for the catcher challenge series against Yasmani Grandal and the San Diego Padres, he and his bum hamstring may be back in action when the Reds hit the road for the East coast and three game sets against the Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals. That'd be nice. Call also includes a blurb about Mat Latos and his recent bullpen session, which reportedly went well. I'd expect to see them both begin rehab assignments shortly.
The Padres have similarly been hit hard by the injury bug (who hasn't?), but they, too, have been bolstered by the recent returns of several regulars. Cameron Maybin and Chase Headley both recently returned from DL stints, and as some derpy jerkface detailed yesterday, it appears that Carlos Quentin will be rejoining them for tonight's series opener against the Reds. Quentin has played just 9 games in his career against the Reds, and he's got the second fewest PA against them of any team he's faced, and so far he's hit just .161/.235/.290 in those 34 PA. I'd be fine with seeing that trend continue.
Does Billy Hamilton's ability to run like the wind really "protect" the hitters hitting behind him? The premise, of course, is that if pitchers/catchers are trying to control the running game, any off-speed pitch would be considered more of a no-no since it would take too long to get to the plate, thereby ensuring that Hamilton would have the base stolen. Ben Lindbergh of Baseball Prospectus took a look at that and posted about it for FoxSports.com, and the results... Well, as you'd expect, the sample's way too damn small to really glean anything, and there are really too many variables involved for it to every really be proven true, or untrue, in my opinion. Pitcher/catcher bravado, unfamiliarity with playing with Hamilton on base, and the differing tendencies of the batters at the plate all have entirely too much of an impact to truly make anything conclusive...though I'm pretty damn sure that having Hamilton on 1B or 2B means the batter's either going to get a lot more fastballs or finish his AB with Hamilton standing on 3B.
In non-baseball news, while Christoper Columbus may not have "found" North America (or even really knew where the hell he was most of the time), it appears that the flagship of his 1492 voyage, the Santa Maria, may have been found off the coast of Haiti. If you're like me, you're already hoping that the documentary of its exploration is on the Discovery Channel and not National Geographic so I don't have to upgrade my cable package to watch it.