Wednesday, September 15, 1999
McKeon campaigning for Reese
BY CHRIS HAFT
The Cincinnati Enquirer
With National League managers and coaches having received their Gold Glove Award ballots, Reds manager Jack McKeon renewed his call for second baseman Pokey Reese to be recognized for his fielding excellence.
But McKeon realized that Reese, who is completing his first full season, probably has not gained enough of a reputation to earn enough votes.
I think it's going to have to be a gradual process, McKeon said Tuesday. He's a guy that richly deserves the darned thing, but we don't know what people think.
McKeon didn't give up hope for Reese, who is temporarily sidelined while he receives treatment for back spasms.
I think he has made a tremendous impression on managers this year, McKeon said. I'm not so sure the ones I talked to won't vote for him (San Francisco's) Dusty Baker, (Colorado's Jim) Leyland, (Arizona's Buck) Showalter, (Chicago's Jim) Riggleman, (Atlanta's) Bobby Cox. Bobby Cox raved about him.
McKeon added, If some of those guys haven't filled (their ballot) out, I'm going to politick.
Since managers and coaches are prohibited from voting for players on their own teams, McKeon named New York's Edgardo Alfonzo as the second baseman on his ballot. McKeon believes that the vote will be a close one among Reese, Alfonzo, Houston's Craig Biggio and Atlanta's Bret Boone, who won last year's award as a member of the Reds.
McKeon was critical of anybody who might select an undeserving candidate just to skew the voting in favor of a player from his team.
You have to have a little integrity, McKeon said. You have to vote pretty honestly. Otherwise, it's a joke. And I'm not going to vote for a guy who has 25 or 28 home runs and can't field his position.
Reese and right fielder Dmitri Young missed their second consecutive starts Tuesday. However, Reese's condition was said to have improved, and Young entered the game in the ninth inning to play first base before hitting a hard smash to shortstop for the game's final out.
Trainer Greg Lynn said it's possible that Reese could play today. It's still a little sore, Lynn said of Reese's back. But I think he's better today than he was yesterday.
McKeon said before the game of Young, I just wanted to give him another day.
Though McKeon has stressed the one-day-at-a-time approach, he couldn't help but ponder the Reds' schedule.
Noting that the Reds have played two fewer games than Houston, McKeon reasoned: If we can win those two while they're not playing, that's a game (off the Astros' lead). Then, if we can get in there with two to play (at Houston Sept.28-29), we'll take our chances.
McKeon expressed healthy respect for the Reds' current opponent, the last-place Chicago Cubs (On any day they can beat you). He also noted that this weekend's foe, the Pittsburgh Pirates, will start two of their better pitchers against Cincinnati, Todd Ritchie (12-9) and Jason Schmidt (12-10).
There's no easy ones there, McKeon said. There aren't ever going to be any easy ones. You just have to bust your butt and go for it.
After Pittsburgh, the Reds go to San Diego. You can't take them lightly, McKeon cautioned.
Reds catcher Jason LaRue and shortstop Travis Dawkins received honorable-mention recognition on Howe Sportsdata's All-Prospect team. Second baseman Antonio Perez and outfielder Adam Dunn, who played for Single-A Rockford, made honorable mention All-Teen. Howe is the official statistician of the minor leagues.
Before the gates opened to fans, one of the most riveting sights was right-hander Kerry Wood's brief but electric game of catch. The 1998 Rookie of the Year, who has missed the entire season after undergoing Tommy John surgery to repair his elbow, has been throwing every other day at about 75 percent velocity for more than a month.
Denny Neagle, who has won his last three starts, will test his streak against the Cubs and Jon Lieber, who has defeated the Reds twice this year.
Neagle (6-5) is 6-2 with a 3.79 ERA in nine starts since coming off the disabled list.
Lieber (8-9) beat Cincinnati on April 14, allowing three runs in eight innings.