Sunday, July 04, 1999


Pokey's pain 'a virtual nothing'

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Recovering from discomfort Friday night induced by a mild heart murmur, second baseman Pokey Reese missed only his third start of the season Saturday against the Houston Astros.

        Tim Kremchek, the Reds' team physician, said Reese's condition is not serious and that he could return to the lineup as early as today. Kremchek referred to Reese's heart murmur as “non-problematic” and “a virtual nothing.”

        “He's absolutely fine,” Kremchek said.

        Reese said he was diagnosed with the condition two or three spring trainings ago but said it never has been serious. Kremchek said Reese experienced related problems with the murmur this spring and during the Reds' May 31-June 2 trip to New York. Kremchek said a cardiologist examined Reese last month and gave the leadoff hitter a clean bill of health.

        “He's not sick. This isn't a problem,” Kremchek said. “This is something that a lot of players get when they're overexcited or overtired.”

        Assistant trainer Mark Mann said the pain struck Reese in the right side of his chest but that he “felt completely normal” after Friday's game, helping ease concerns.

        “That heat got to me and I caught a couple of chest pains,” said Reese, who declared himself available for pinch hitting or reserve duty.

        On Saturday, Chris Stynes made his third start of the season at second base and seventh overall. Though Stynes is one of Jack McKeon's favorite players, the manager said he'd miss Reese's presence in the lineup.

        “You put anybody else out there, you see the difference,” McKeon said.

Pitchers' progress
        Jason Bere and Denny Neagle improved enough in their bullpen throwing sessions to allow pitching coach Don Gullett to schedule “live” (full-speed) batting-practice stints for them Wednesday in St. Louis and Friday at Cleveland.

        Gullett said that Bere, who went on the disabled list June 16 with inflammation in his right elbow, is closer to starting an injury rehabilitation assignment than Neagle, whose weak left shoulder has plagued him all year.

        “But Neagle looks much improved with regards to his extension and his arm speed, which is arm strength,” Gullett said. “We'll just continue to build him up gradually.”

Power potential
        Sean Casey effectively has dispelled the notion that he can't hit for power.

        His 17 home runs, capped by his 447-foot blast Friday night, mocks the scattered skeptics who thought he'd never hit more than 10 to 15 homers a season.

        Even now, Casey doesn't dwell on power.

        “I've always known one day I would hit a lot of home runs. But I've never really followed home runs,” he said. “I'm more (concerned with) how many hits I'm getting a night. It's nice to hit a home run, but you'd like to get a couple of hits. I'd rather go 2-for-4 with a double and a single than maybe 1-for-5 with a "bomb.'”

        Casey added, “Don't get me wrong — there's nothing like the feeling of hitting a home run.”

On McKeon
        General Manager Jim Bowden echoed McKeon's recent comments about concentrating on the team's performance and not surrounding matters. Bowden repeated that McKeon's contract, which expires after the season, is not a critical issue now and that his situation would be addressed at the end of the year.

        “All of the focus is on winning on the field,” Bowden said. “All of the other issues will be taken care of at the appropriate time without them being a distraction.”

Heat is on
        McKeon said he wouldn't handle his personnel any differently in the extreme heat that's expected today and Monday, “unless some of them run out of gas. I imagine the next two days in the daytime is going to be extremely tough.”

        McKeon already announced that batting practice will be held in the cages underneath the grandstands.

        Saturday, Reds employees claimed that the temperature on Cinergy Field's playing surface climbed to 156 degrees between noon and 2p.m. while a youth clinic was being held.


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