Giveaways highlight Reds’ series

Published 2:26 am Thursday, July 16, 2009

CINCINNATI — Maybe the Cincinnati Reds don’t know when pitcher Edison Volquez will return to the rotation, but he will be the focal point on Saturday night.

As part of many promotions during the post All-Star break homestand, the Edison Volquez bobblehead giveaway will be held Saturday as the first 30,000 fans to enter the stadium will get a free doll.

The Reds host the Milwaukee Brewers in a four-game series starting Thursday night that will be free T-shirt night to the first 12,000 fans.

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On the field the Reds are needing a strong start to the second half to remain in contention in the National League Central Division.

The Reds are fifth in the logjam known as the Central Division. Leading the division is St. Louis with Milwaukee two and one-half games behind in second place.

Houston has moved into third place along with Chicago, both three and one-half games back. The Reds are five behind and Pittsburgh is starting to fade at nine and one-half game out of first place.

While waiting on Volquez, the Reds did get third baseman Edwin Encarnacion back after a 58-game stint on the disabled list with a broken wrist.

But the Reds lost right-fielder Jay Bruce for 6-to-8 weeks with a broken wrist last Saturday.

Volquez is facing a lengthy rehab for back spasms and tendonitis in his elbow that have allowed him to pitch only one inning since May 16.

Fortunately, Homer Bailey is making the most of his recent recall from the minor leagues and may be the team’s best pitcher.

Bailey goes Thursday night against Braden Looper (7-4, 4.94 earned run average). Bailey is 1-0 with a 5.16 ERA, but he had a 3.44 ERA in his three starts since returning.

The tall, lanky right-hander had a career-high six strikeouts and did not walk a batter in his last outing. He gave up seven hits and only two earned runs in a 3-2 loss to the defending World Champion Phillies.

In pre-game ceremonies on Thursday the Reds will present a donation to UNICEF with Tea Leoni — a UNICEF board member and goodwill ambassador — participating.

Friday night will feature a fireworks display after the game while the Long Haul Bombers — the biggest sluggers in the World Softball League — perform prior to the game.

The Sonny Mooreman B and will play a pre-game concert in the Fan Zone, too.

Besides the Volquez bobblehead doll on Saturday, fans can try on an Eric Davis jersey won from Game Four of the 1990 World Series at the Hall of Fame museum. A $2 donation to the Reds Hall of Fame will enable fans to try their luck at Cornhole and Plinko to win discounts on Hall of Fame admission, memberships and merchandise.

Saturday’s pre-game concert in the Fan Zone will be courtesy of The Rubber Knife Gang.