Friday, May 28, 1999

Reds hope to gain ground on road


Losing teams provide chance to leave pack

BY CHRIS HAFT
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Reds hope to return from their longest trip in 10 years with pursuers, not souvenirs, stuffed in their suitcases.

        Cincinnati faces mostly underwhelming opponents on a 12-game, 13-day road trip that begins tonight in Miami against the Florida Marlins. This gives the Reds a chance to separate themselves from the pack of teams hovering around .500 in the National League Central Division.

        “It's time to make some hay on this trip,” Reds manager Jack McKeon said Thursday.

        The Reds' 10-7 road record suggests that they're capable of seizing this opportu nity. Excepting the three-game sweep Atlanta administered April 30-May 2, the Reds have performed consistently in every series away from home, sweeping Colorado, winning two out of three at St. Louis, Philadelphia and San Diego and splitting a pair of games at Chicago.

        Moreover, the Reds shouldn't fall prey to intimidation. During their longest trip since a 13-game, 14-day sojourn in June 1989, they'll confront a pair of last-place teams (Florida and Minnesota) and a mediocre outfit (Kansas City).

        “If you look at the records, you say, "We can handle this club,'” McKeon said.

        Only the New York Mets, whom the Reds visit for three games starting Memorial Day, are truly formidable. New York defeated the Reds in two out of three games April 20-22 at Cinergy Field.

        But McKeon is wary of overconfidence, especially against the Marlins.

        He's aware that the Reds were 9-0 against Florida last year and that the Marlins are 15-32 this season, worst in the major leagues.

        But he stressed that past success is irrelevant.

        “That (9-0 record) is going to be tough to repeat,” McKeon said. “They (the Marlins) are a little different club. You don't know what to expect. They play either really well or (lousy).”

       



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