Friday, September 17, 1999


Young wants to get in the games

        Since a pennant race whets everybody's desire to play, right fielder Dmitri Young didn't particularly enjoy being out of the starting lineup for the fourth consecutive game Thursday.

        Young insisted that his left hamstring, which forced him to leave Sunday's game and has kept him on the bench except for two pinch-hitting appearances since then, had healed enough to allow him to play. His comments indicated that he felt well enough to start Wednesday, too.

        “I can run on this thing,” Young said. “Everybody's needed, me included. If I'm not out there helping the team, it's only 24 guys (on the roster) as opposed to 25. Right now it's suck-up time. I have to definitely be careful, but at the same time I can't just sit there and nurse this thing. I've gotten it to where it's good enough for me to go back out there.”

        With left-hander Andrew Lorraine starting for Chicago, Young probably wouldn't have been in Thursday's lineup. Manager Jack McKeon tends to rest the switch-hitting Young against lefties.

        “Dmitri said he can run, but with a left-hander going tonight, we'd get (Jeffrey) Hammonds in there anyhow,” McKeon said.

What if?
        It's tempting to believe the Reds would have a better record, and thus a firmer grip on their postseason prospects, had they not played the June 11-13 series against the Cleveland Indians, who have the American League's best record. Cleveland swept that series.

        The Reds could have faced the Chicago White Sox instead, but management requested a home series against Cleveland to draw bigger crowds.

        While acknowledging that the White Sox might have proven to be a less challenging foe, McKeon downplayed the notion that an extra series against the Indians could ultimately cost Cincinnati a playoff spot: “You have to play 162, so it doesn't mean (anything). We have no excuses.”

A big month
        With 10 home runs in September's first 15 games, left fielder Greg Vaughn moved within reach of Frank Robinson's club record for homers in one month. Robinson amassed 14 in August, 1962.

        With 13 games left in September, including Thursday's, Vaughn would have to accelerate his pace somewhat to threaten the major-league record of 20 set by Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs in June 1998.

Reese rallies
        Despite missing his fourth game in a row with a sore lower back, second baseman Pokey Reese felt relatively confident that he'll be able to rejoin the lineup tonight.

        “I sure hate sitting out in the heart of the race,” Reese said. “If it was anything else, I'd want to be out there helping my team. But it's my back. And that (artificial) turf doesn't make it any better.

        “But, the heck with it.”

        Reese was penciled into Wednesday's lineup but was scratched after he struggled through batting practice. “The pain is on the lower right side,” he said. “It's kind of sharp and doesn't want to go away.”

        As a result, Reese refrained from baseball-related activities Thursday and focused on receiving treatment. “He's doing better,” trainer Greg Lynn said.

Fickle finger
        Scott Williamson wasn't expected to be able to pitch Thursday, one night after suffering a cut on his right middle finger that forced him from the game.

        Reds medical director Dr. Tim Kremchek treated the wound by laying down the tiny flap of skin that remained and covering it with Dermabond, a glue-like substance taken from the emergency room at Good Samaritan Hospital. Dermabond, explained Lynn, closes over wounds and provides a protective barrier.

        “It's still a little soft,” Lynn said of Williamson's cut. “That was one of the reasons he shouldn't have thrown any more pitches. If you pull that piece of skin away, that increases the healing time or you can tear it more jagged.”

        Williamson admitted that his finger felt “pretty sore” and said that he'd rather have a blister, usually the bane of pitchers, than a cut.

        “A cut has a flap of stupid skin on it and hurts more than a blister,” Williamson said. “I've had blisters on my fingers and they didn't bother me. They were just a little tender.”

Up next
        Ron Villone (7-5), who received no decision in his previous two starts against Pittsburgh, faces Todd Ritchie (12-9) in tonight's series opener at Three Rivers Stadium. Ritchie pitched well against Cincinnati but absorbed a 4-2 loss in Pittsburgh on Aug. 9, allowing seven hits and walking none in eight innings.


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