Sunday, September 19, 1999

REDS NOTEBOOK


LaRue has solidified place with Reds

        PITTSBURGH — Jason LaRue doesn't need to cement his status with the Reds. It has hardened beyond the rock-solid point.

        LaRue has been the starting catcher in four of Cincinnati's major league-leading 11 shutouts, an especially impressive fact considering he has started only 25 games.

        “Hopefully, there'll be a lot more in my career,” LaRue said Saturday after the Reds' 3-0 victory.

        Besides handling Steve Parris' six-hitter, LaRue supplied most of the offense, homering in the third inning off Pirates starter Chris Peters (5-2) and doubling in a ninth-inning insurance run.

        “Talk about rookies coming through under pressure — he carried us today,” manager Jack McKeon said of LaRue. “He called a heck of a game, too.”

        Being relatively inexperienced, LaRue said he relies extensively on scouting reports to help him prepare for games.

        “I want to know my pitcher as best as I can,” he said. “And I want to know the opposing team's hitters, their strengths and weaknesses, and match them up to our pitcher every at-bat.”

        Said Parris of LaRue: “I shook him off a few times, but not too many. We have a pretty good rapport working. It's important for a pitcher and catcher to get that. He did an outstanding job. He blocked balls and set up great on the corners (of home plate).”

No big deal
        Scott Sauerbeck wasn't exactly paralyzed by tension Friday night when he retired Dmitri Young and Eddie Taubensee to notch his first major-league save.

        “We were up by two runs with one out, so it wasn't that pressure-packed a situation,” said Sauerbeck, the Pittsburgh left-hander who attended Northwest High School and Miami University. “I've been in with the bases loaded and two outs, facing a great left-handed hitter. I guess, as a set-up guy, you don't get much credit for that.

        “But it's like my first win. I can always say that, no matter what, I had a save in the big leagues.”

        As any Cincinnatian might guess, Sauerbeck derived some extra appreciation from excelling against the Reds.

        “It's kind of nice for me that it came against Cincinnati,” said Sauerbeck, noting that he has arranged to obtain tickets for any Reds home postseason games. “I know all my friends back home are probably a little irate with me, because they're pulling for the Reds. Heck, I'm pulling for them. I want them to make the playoffs probably just as much as they want to. But when I'm out there between the lines, I have a job to do. They can win some other time.”

Put me in, Jack
        Mentally, Scott Williamson is ready to pitch, even if the cut on his right middle finger has limited him physically.

        A Reds trainer cut off the flap of skin covering Williamson's wound, which resumed bleeding Friday when he tried playing catch. McKeon thinks Williamson should lay off pitching a couple of days. But the rookie wants to get on the mound, though that was a moot point Saturday with Parris throwing a complete game.

        “We have only 14 days left. I've got all offseason to heal my finger,” Williamson said. “It's not a career-ending thing, not even close. A little pain like this ... All the guys have pain. Some guys have bum knees that are really sore. Pokey (Reese) is playing with a sore back. I don't think this should put me out. You have to help your team.”

Etc.
        Reese ended a season-high 0-for-21 skid with a fifth-inning single that proved essential. It sent LaRue to third base, setting up Barry Larkin's sacrifice fly for Cincinnati's second run.

        • With the left-handed Peters starting for Pittsburgh, McKeon rested first baseman Sean Casey, who is 3-for-32 lifetime at Three Rivers Stadium.

        • Reds Assistant General Manager Darrell “Doc” Rodgers and his wife, Dorothy, became parents Saturday when Jazmine Nicole, who weighed 5 pounds, 8 ounces, was born.

Up next
        Pete Harnisch (14-9) will pitch against Pittsburgh's Jason Schmidt (12-10) in today's series finale.

        Harnisch, who also won 14 games last year, is two victories short of his career high, which he reached with Houston in 1993.

        Schmidt has lost four of his last five home decisions after starting the season 6-0 at Three Rivers Stadium.

       



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