Notes: Standridge enjoys new role

Notes: Standridge enjoys new role

CINCINNATI -- Jason Standridge admits he's a little surprised by how well he's adjusted to pitching out of the bullpen.

After making 171 career Minor League starts, and nine big league starts for the Devil Rays, Standridge says both his mind and his throwing arm have grown accustomed to the culture of the 'pen.

"I'm enjoying it," he said. "I have to throw strikes whether it's the first inning or the ninth inning, but I'm developing a comfort level down there."

Standridge was promoted from Triple-A on July 6. He allowed two hits and a run in two innings in his Reds debut at San Francisco, but has tossed 12 1/3 scoreless innings since.

"He's never been in this kind of role before," said Reds interim manager Jerry Narron. "He's still learning what it takes to get ready. He's got very good movement and he's throwing quality strikes. We haven't discussed making him a starter. All of the scouts said he'd be a good bullpen guy."

Standridge often turns to Reds bullpen mates Kent Mercker and David Weathers for assistance.

That makes sense, considering those two pitchers have a combined 26 years of Major League experience.

"It's a different mentality in the bullpen," said Standridge. "I've been picking their brain down there. It's really helped me out a lot."

Standridge hasn't thought about a return to the starting rotation. In fact, he's having so much fun in the bullpen that he's a little confused about what he wants.

"Yeah, I'm starting to ask myself," Standridge said. "I'll just do whatever helps the team. I'm surprised how my arm has responded to pitching every day. I'm feeling good."

Sticking with Milton: Despite another rough outing for starter Eric Milton on Friday, Narron said he still has no plans to change the left-hander's role.

"I hadn't thought about pulling him out of the rotation," Narron said. "I think he's pitched much better the past couple of months."

Milton is the first Reds pitcher since Tom Browning in 1988 to allow 33 homers in a season. He gave up 43 home runs last season as a member of the Phillies. Milton is 5-12 with a 6.75 ERA in 24 starts.

Claussen plays by Ruhle: In his first four starts after Vern Ruhle took over as Reds pitching coach on June 21, Brandon Claussen's ERA has dropped from 4.07 to 3.61.

Despite his ups and downs, the 26-year-old left-hander has responded well to Ruhle's constant instruction, something Claussen didn't feel he got enough of from former pitching coach Don Gullett.

"Gully was a great pitching coach and a great guy, but he was just very reserved," said Claussen. "I think he waited for you to ask for help instead of giving voluntary help. Vern will tell you whether you ask or not."

Claussen has seven quality starts in his last 12 appearances. He will make his 19th start of the season against the Cubs on Monday at Wrigley Field.

"Every game, good or bad, I try to stay positive," he said. "In this ballpark, if the ball's in the air, it might be a home run. You just have to tip your hat and move on."

Lineup shuffle: Edwin Encarnacion was not in the lineup on Saturday. Narron said it was just a "mental" day off for his rookie third baseman.

Rich Aurilia, who's batting .327 in 15 games since the All-Star break, started at third base batting eighth.

"As well as he's hit the past month, and he's hitting eighth," said Narron. "That's a pretty good lineup."

In addition, Javier Valentin was behind the plate, giving Jason LaRue a spell.

Dunn OK: Adam Dunn was struck on the right hand by a pitch from the Marlins' Jason Vargas in the seventh inning on Friday night.

Although he was experiencing some swelling, Dunn was back in the lineup on Saturday.

"It'll be fine," he said. "I can't grip as tight as I'd like, but it's OK."

Down on the farm: Triple-A Louisville beat Columbus, 5-1, behind 7 2/3 strong innings from right-hander Elizardo Ramirez, who allowed just one run on five hits. Josh Hancock was scheduled to make his third rehab start for the Bats on Saturday night. ... Reds right-hander Ben Weber pitched one scoreless inning and had one strikeout in Double-A Chattanooga's 5-3 loss to West Tennessee. Weber is rehabbing a bulging disc in his neck. ... Second baseman Luis Bolivar was one of the few bright spots during Class A Sarasota's 7-3 loss to Brevard County, going 2-for-3 including his second home run of the season. ... Travis Wood, the Reds' second-round pick in the First-Year Player Draft in June, will make his Billings debut on Saturday. Wood was 0-0 with a 0.75 ERA in eight appearances with the GCL Reds. He fanned 45 batters in 24 innings.

On deck: The Reds conclude their three-game weekend series with the Marlins on Sunday at 1:15 p.m. ET with right-hander Ramon Ortiz (6-7, 6.30 ERA) facing tough lefty Dontrelle Willis (14-7, 3.03 ERA).

Jeff Wallner is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.