Thursday, November 11, 1999

Pokey sees room for improvement




BY CHRIS HAFT
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        DANA POINT, Calif. — Pokey Reese, whose extraordinary range helped him win his first Gold Glove on Wednesday, has more ground to cover: He said he sees room for improvement.

        “I hope I can keep getting better every year,” Reese said in a conference call. “This is one of many, I hope.”

        The Reds' only other second basemen to win the award were Joe Morgan (1973-77), Tommy Helms (1970-71) and Bret Boone (1998) in voting by the league's managers and coaches.

        “I thought he was the best in the league, and his selection indicates I was right,” Reds manager Jack McKeon said.

        Reese committed seven errors to five for New York's Edgardo Alfonzo, finishing behind Alfonzo in fielding percentage, .993 to .991. But Reese truly established himself in ways that couldn't be measured. He made outstand ing plays almost daily by using his range, quickness, soft hands and strong arm he developed while playing shortstop through most of his career. He played deeper than most second basemen, usually on the edge of the outfield area, which helped him cover more ground.

        Though he played only 11 games at second base in the majors before this year, Reese regarded his new position as easier in some respects.

        “I could knock down a lot of balls and throw runners out, unlike shortstop, where you don't have too much time,” he said.

        Reese was considered the organization's top infield prospect almost from the moment the Reds chose him in the first round of the 1991 amateur draft. But his relatively weak bat and Barry Larkin's presence at shortstop impeded his rise. Reese's .285 average this year quieted doubts about his hitting.

        “It was very hard, but the best things come to those who wait,” said Reese, 26. “I'm not the type of person who speaks out about not playing, because you can learn by watching other people play. I knew one day I'd get my chance.”

       



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- Pokey sees room for improvement
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