Cincinnati Reds

Reds, Cardinals say their rivalry isn't heated

Cincinnati Reds' Brandon Phillips (4) is greeted at home plate by starting pitcher Homer Bailey, left, after hitting a three-run home run in the fifth inning of the baseball game on Friday, Aug. 19, 2011 in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Ryan Doumit watches at center.
Cincinnati Reds' Brandon Phillips (4) is greeted at home plate by starting pitcher Homer Bailey, left, after hitting a three-run home run in the fifth inning of the baseball game on Friday, Aug. 19, 2011 in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Ryan Doumit watches at center.

When the Cardinals and Reds played last week at Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati's fans booed every time St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina's name was announced. Their angst with Molina dates back to an August 2010 benches-clearing brawl that also involved the Reds' Brandon Phillips. But the players say the teams' rivalry is actually a friendly one.

"I don't understand why they boo Yadier," Reds first baseman Joey Votto told MLB.com. "Yadier has done nothing to deserve the boos. He's been nothing but professional."

"They're a good team," the Reds' Jay Bruce said. "We're a good team and we're going to play good, hard baseball. I think that's where it ends."

Going back to spring training, the Cards have also sent a lot of praise the Reds' way.

"The Central (Division) is a much tougher division than people give it credit for," the Cards' Lance Berkman said. "I clearly feel like we should be the favorites to win the division. But Cincinnati did some things this off-season that should really help them."

The Cardinals took two of three from the Reds last week.

"Everybody wants to hear hatred or dislike," Votto said. "I like competing against them because they always go after you."

Bad blood is still only one incident away, though. "Whenever you play someone 17 or 18 times a year, you get tired of them," Cards pitcher Kyle Lohse told MLB.com. "We'll see how it goes. It should be a battle."

Kentucky connection

Former University of Kentucky pitcher James Paxton was named the Class AA Southern League's pitcher of the week. He was 1-0 with a 0.87 ERA in two starts. He struck out 17 batters and walked one in 101⁄3 innings for Jackson, a Seattle Mariners affiliate.

Paxton was back on the mound Monday night and not quite as effective. He walked eight batters, but only gave up one run on two hits in 42⁄3 innings against Mississippi. He had four strikeouts and lowered his ERA to 1.20.

Short hops

■ Left-handed starter Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants agreed to a $35.56 million, six-year contract through the 2017 season. "Now I can go out there and just pitch," he said. "It kind of took the weight off my shoulders." The 22-year-old Bumgarner has a 3.12 ERA and a 21-20 record in three-plus seasons in San Francisco.

■ The Atlanta Braves announced that former pitcher John Smoltz will be inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame at Turner Field and his the No. 29 will be retired. The honors will take place during ceremonies on June 8. Smoltz is the only pitcher with at least 200 wins and 150 saves during his career.

■ The San Diego Padres activated utility player Mark Kotsay from the 15-day disabled list. Kotsay signed with the Padres as a free agent last November, but missed the opening 10 games of the season due to a strained right calf muscle. The 36-year-old turned in a solid spring training for the Padres, batting .345 with three RBI.

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