Thursday, July 22, 1999
Casey backs Larkin's demand for grass
BY CHRIS HAFT
The Cincinnati Enquirer
As politely as possible, Sean Casey suggested that Barry Larkin was right: Installing grass at Cinergy Field would be a nifty idea.
A pregame discussion Wednesday with Casey about his health and conditioning led to his feelings about artificial turf, which matches that of virtually each player in baseball and football: It's terrible.
Not to cause any stir or anything, but I think getting grass is one of the best things they could do, Casey said. Three years (the Reds' projected tenure at Cinergy after this season until a new stadium opens) is a long time. I think it would be definitely in our interest to look into it.
Despite playing on relatively fresh, 25-year-old legs, Casey feels the physical erosion that artificial turf causes.
Your body knows when you've been here for a week and when you've been away for a week, he said. Baseball is totally different on the dirt. It really makes a big difference.
Artificial turf's novelty temporarily obscures its faults.
When I first got on turf, I thought, "This is pretty squishy. It's got to be awesome,' Casey said. Then people were saying, "You know, the turf kills your body sometimes.' I said, "Yeah, right.' But you play on it more and you realize that it really does.
Cinergy's turf became an issue July 12 when Larkin declared that he wanted to play on grass once his contract expires following the 2000 season. Larkin later said he would consider helping to pay for a new, natural carpet.
What led to all this was a chat about Casey's weight, which has dropped from around 240 pounds to 230 since the start of spring training.
I always come to spring training trying to be big and bulky, because I know I'm going to lose weight, Casey said. Every year, it's unbelievable. I'll probably be 225 at the end of the season, no matter what I do. I try to keep it on. But it's tough.
Casey, who had regained the NL lead in hitting with a .373 average entering Wednesday, lifts weights as much as four times a week to maintain strength and bulk.
Reds outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds will play host to 240 children and their families at today's game. Hammonds' guests will come from the Center for Children and Families and the Cincinnati Recreation Commission.
Hammonds, who plans to meet his guests this morning before the game, will provide the kids with caps and T-shirts, while the Reds will donate hot dogs, peanuts and soft drinks. He also has purchased 360 tickets for the same two groups for the Aug.5 game against Colorado.
Catcher Brian Johnson, who went on the disabled list June 14 with a right knee injury, will begin his rehabilitation assignment Friday with Triple-A Indianapolis.
The Reds received a huge boost Tuesday night when Rob Bell, the minor-league right-hander acquired from Atlanta last November in the Bret Boone trade, pitched six no-hit innings in Double-A Chattanooga's 12-inning, 1-0 victory at Carolina. Bell, whose only baserunner came on a third-inning walk, has been sidelined virtually all season with tendinitis in his elbow. Let's take our time with him, Reds manager Jack McKeon said. We need him.
McKeon recycled the lineup that helped generate Tuesday's 5-2 victory over Detroit. That's one of my superstitious things, to stay with the same group. I do that occasionally, McKeon said.
McKeon spoke approvingly of B.J. Ryan, the Triple-A left-hander who probably will ascend to Cincinnati if Dennys Reyes is moved into the starting rotation. He has a deceptive delivery, a little bit like Randy Johnson, McKeon said of the 6-foot-6 Ryan, whom he saw last year during instructional league play.
St.Louis Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa, who missed Monday's game with stomach irritation, checked into Good Samaritan Hospital with the same symptoms and was expected to remain there overnight for rest and observation. Coach Rene Lachemann managed Wednesday.
The starting time for the Reds' Aug.14 game against Philadelphia at Cinergy Field has been moved ahead to 1:19p.m. from 7:05p.m. to accommodate the Fox Sports Network, which has made the matchup its primary telecast.
St.Louis' Kent Bottenfield (14-3), the NL's leading winner, opposes the Reds' Brett Tomko (3-5) in today's 12:35p.m. series finale. Since stadium parking will be extremely limited, fans attending the game are encouraged to use one of the Metro shuttles leaving at 11:30a.m. from four locations (Anderson Township, Fields Ertel, Forest Park and Western Hills).