Monday, February 22, 1999


Springer takes BP; nothing leaves infield

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Jerry Springer takes his cuts in the Reds' batting cage.
(Craig Ruttle photo)

| ZOOM |
        SARASOTA, Fla. — Next on Jerry: Men who wear red with pinstriped knickers! That could have been the theme for Sunday's workout as television talk show host Jerry Springer, who has a nearby home, visited the Ed Smith Stadium complex and even took a few hacks in the batting cage.

        Springer exchanged pleasantries with General Manager Jim Bowden and manager Jack McKeon and shook hands with right-hander Brett Tomko before wandering to the field where early arriving position players were taking batting practice.

Springer greets mark Lewis while Jeff Branson looks on.
(Craig Ruttle photo)

| ZOOM |
        “They laughed at me when I signed Deion (Sanders) and (strike replacement player) Pedro Borbon,” Bowden said as Springer, wearing red batting gloves on both hands, took a few warmup swings. “What's the difference?”

        Standing in right field, Reds players Sean Casey, Michael Tucker and Dmitri Young heralded Springer's appearance in the cage by chanting, “Jerry, Jerry.”

        Springer never hit a ball out of the infield in approximately 20 swings, though he stroked a sharp grounder up the middle on the second pitch from coach Buddy Bell. A few swings later, he switched to the left-handed's batter's box.

        REALISTIC VIEW: Nobody can accuse right-hander Todd Etler of suffering from delusions of grandeur.

        Etler, the Covington Catholic High School graduate who excelled as a reliever at Double-A Chattanooga last season, knows he has virtually no chance of making the Reds' pitching staff. He'd settle for a promotion to Triple-A Indianapolis, but he knows he'll have to work hard for that.

        “Looking at the numbers and who else is here, I know they're not just handing it to me,” he said.

        Otherwise, Etler is trying to learn as much as possible, as one would expect from a 24-year-old in his first big-league camp. “I'm in a situation where I'm trying just to make a good impression,” said Etler, who was 6-0 with a 1.92 ERA and five saves in 46 appearances last year.

        BONUS FRAMES: Manager Jack McKeon got his wish for additional exhibition games, which should help his pitchers' preparation. McKeon had been concerned that the Reds wouldn't play enough innings to get the pitchers ready.

        Cincinnati and Toronto will play two seven-inning games at Dunedin March 7, instead of the single nine-inning game that had been scheduled. The Reds also added “B” games for March 8 (Minnesota), March 12 (at Tampa Bay), March 23 (at Minnesota in Fort Myers) and March 24 (Tampa Bay).

        Intrasquad games have been slated for March 1-2. The Grapefruit League opener is March 4 against Minnesota.

        LEFTY COVETED: Those Milwaukee trade rumors were mostly accurate, except for the identity of the pitcher the Reds wanted with second baseman Fernando Vina.

        The Reds actually asked for Mike Myers, who was 2-2 with a 2.70 ERA and one save in 70 appearances last year. Myers is left-handed, which would fill a noticeable void in the bullpen. But Bowden said Sunday that prospects for such a deal are dead.

        IN HIS THOUGHTS: Outfielder Michael Tucker, an Atlanta Braves teammate of Andres Galarraga's, was as stunned as anyone by the news that the powerful first baseman had developed a cancerous tumor in his back and will miss the season.

        “You think, wow,” Tucker said. “You look at Andres and that's the last thing that would come to your mind, with somebody who's in as good of shape as he's always in.”

        ETC.: Position players will undergo physical examinations today, preceding Tuesday's first full-squad workout.

        • Left-hander Dennys Reyes, who was sidelined Saturday with back spasms, managed to exercise and throw batting practice Sunday.


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