Thursday, March 04, 1999
LaRue bides his time
BY CHRIS HAFT
The Cincinnati Enquirer
SARASOTA, Fla. Jason LaRue isn't adjusting his approach. It's not necessary.
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LaRue almost surely won't start the season in Cincinnati. But as the Reds' top catching prospect, he can pave a smooth route to his future with a solid performance in camp.
One thing he's going to do: He'll hit, McKeon said with absolute certainty.
McKeon indicated LaRue could be called up to Cincinnati next year or even later this season if he improves defensively.
LaRue showed that potential in the Reds intrasquad games Monday and Tuesday, throwing out three baserunners trying to steal.
LaRue, 24, batted a robust .365 with 14 homers and 82 RBI for Double-A Chattanooga, leading Baseball America to rate him fourth among the Reds' prospects. He also hit .235 in 15 games with Triple-A Indianapolis.
I'm just trying to show the coaches I think I'm ready for the big leagues, LaRue said. If I don't start there now, that's fine. I just want to make a good impression on them and hopefully I'll be there soon.
LaRue attributed last year's production to maturity, though he also excelled in 1997 (.315, 81 RBI at Sin gle-A Charleston). I got a little more patient at the plate, said LaRue, who struck out only 60 times in 386 at-bats with Chattanooga.
ETC.: The first rainstorm of spring training shortened the Reds' workout and forced hitters into the covered batting cages. Though McKeon's plans to review defensive fundamentals such as bunt plays and cutoffs were washed out, he said, We have plenty of time for that.
Now that Buddy Bell, Dave Collins and Bill Doran are busy instructing minor leaguers, Triple-A manager Dave Miley and pitching coach Grant Jackson will join the major-league staff for about a week. It makes sense, said McKeon, because basically, we have their team.
Danny Graves, Scott Sullivan, Scott Williamson, Rob Bell and Manuel Barrios are the pitchers expected to be available after Pete Harnisch in the spring opener today.
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