Wednesday, March 31, 1999

REDS NOTEBOOK


Young back to old self

BY JOHN FAY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        SARASOTA, Fla. — For a guy who recently couldn't swing a bat for a whole week, Dmitri Young is swinging a mean one right now.

        Young went 2-for-3 Tuesday, with a double and an RBI in the Reds' 4-2 win over the New York Yankees.

        Since returning from a knee injury Saturday, Young is 5-for-9 (.556) with a double, triple, homer and four RBI.

        “All I could do while I was hurt was do visualization exercises,” he said. “I'd visualize the pitch and then put the right swing on it.”

        Young hit off of coach Dave Collins in the cage Thursday and Friday.

        “I saw a lot of left-handed pitches,” he said. “So, in the games, I'm seeing the ball from right-handers really well.”

        Young did make his first error of the spring. It was a tough chance. He ran down Derek Jeter's wind-blown fly ball, but the ball popped out of his glove.

        “I made a valiant effort, in a hurricane,” he said. “I don't want to be called a bad fielder because of it. I've worked my butt off this spring. I'm not going to catch every ball.”

        RECORD CROWD: The Reds drew 7,517 Tuesday, a record for them at Ed Smith Stadium here.

        They drew a total of 60,415 for 15 home dates this spring. That's an average of 4,027, up from 3,314 a year ago.

        JAYHAWK GONE: The Reds reassigned catcher Jayhawk Owens to the minor league camp. With Steve Parris being optioned to Indianapolis, 28 healthy players remain on the roster.

        Jeff Branson and Carlos Baerga will be sent down. Infielder Ralph Milliard will likely be the other cut.

        TEST DAY: Pete Harnisch returns to the rotation today after missing a turn after suffering back spasms. Harnisch must pass the test to remain the Opening Day starter.

        If Harnisch can't go more than an inning or two, Brett Tomko will relieve today and become the Opening Day starter.

        BACK A DAY: Reliever Scott Sullivan threw on the side Tuesday, rather than in the exhibition game with Yankees.

        “They didn't want me to go out there with the adrenaline flowing,” he said. “They were afraid I might overdo it.”

        Sullivan hasn't pitched in a game since March 23. He pulled a gluteal muscle pitching against Tampa Bay that day.

        “I've been throwing on the side,” he said. “I haven't thrown on the mound.”

        LARKIN RETURNS: Barry Larkin was back in the lineup after missing two games with a bruised shoulder.

        “It's nothing,” Larkin said. “During the season, I'd play with it.”

        GOOD DEED: Greg Vaughn was walking around the clubhouse Tuesday morning getting three balls signed by the Reds. The balls were for the clubhouse workers.

        “They were too embar rassed to ask,” Vaughn said. “So I said give them to me.”

        PROBABLES: The San Francisco Giants announced their starting rotation for the season-opening series against the Reds: RHP Mark Gardner will start Monday, LHP Kirk Rueter Tuesday, RHP Russ Ortiz Wednesday.

        GRAVES SITUATION: Danny Graves wasn't sure Saturday if he wanted to return to the Reds on Sunday, the day after his father Jim's funeral.

        “Before I got here, I wasn't sure if I wanted to come back so soon,” he sad. “But once I got here, all the guys made me feel like I never left. Even the guys I haven't known that long came up and gave their condolences and said I had a lot of courage to come back soon.”

        The ordeal obviously shook Graves.

        “My dad and I were real close,” he said. “Baseball meant everything to him.”

        TICKETS: About 1,000 standing-room only tickets remain for Opening Day.

       



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