Friday, March 10, 2000

Griffey making a habit of homers


REDS NOTEBOOK

BY CHRIS HAFT
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        SARASOTA, Fla. — A week into exhibition games, Ken Griffey Jr.'s hitting has stirred talk of the regular season.

        Griffey homered for the second consecutive game Thursday by hitting a two-run shot off Minnesota starter Joe Mays that began Cincinnati's three-run, fourth-inning uprising. With three spring homers overall, Griffey would appear to be warming up for April. He has 33 homers in the season's opening month in the last three years, including a major-league record 13 in 1997.

        “Y'all do all the homework on stats and stuff,” said Griffey, unimpressed with himself. “I just try to hit the ball hard somewhere.”

        Griffey categorized Thursday's homer as more of a line drive, not a classic, parabolic wallop.

        “I can't control the ball after it leaves my bat,” the center fielder said. “I would like to sometimes, but I can't.”

        UC BOOSTER: Like most University of Cincinnati basketball fans, Griffey hated receiving the news from Memphis of center Kenyon Martin's broken leg and the Bearcats' first-round loss to Saint Louis in the Conference USA tournament.

        “Man, that's upsetting. He's the best player in the world,” Griffey said.

        Griffey also joked: “I'm going to UC. They need somebody. I still have all of my eligibility left.”

        Griffey played football and baseball at Moeller High School but said he hadn't played basketball competitively since Schwab Junior High.

        MORE CUTS: For Adam Dunn and perhaps a couple of other aspiring Reds, Wednes day's roster cut down was a case of “see you later,” not “goodbye.”

        Dunn, the 20-year-old outfielder who's expected to develop into a offensive powerhouse, was among 13 players sent to the minor leagues, which dropped Cincinnati's spring-training contingent to 43. That doesn't include reliever Mark Wohlers, who's certain to open the season on the disabled list.

        After beginning the spring with a whopping 71 players, the Reds now have the smallest camp in the majors.

        Manager Jack McKeon said all Dunn needs is more experience. The left-handed slugger, a former University of Texas quarterback, began playing baseball full-time only last year.

        “I think with 800 to 1,000 minor-league at-bats, he might be pushing somebody for a big-league job,” McKeon said. “He has great presence about himself.”

        Technically, 10 players were reassigned to minor-league camp: infielders Mike Bell, Brandon Cromer and Brandon Larson; outfielders Dunn, Brady Clark and Pat Watkins; right-handers Pat Flury and Larry Luebbers, and catchers Mike Hubbard and David Toth.

        First baseman Ron Wright, outfielder Mike Frank and right-hander Elmer Dessens were optioned to Triple-A.

        ETC.: Pete Harnisch called his four-inning, one-run effort against the Twins an improvement over his three shutout innings Sunday against Texas. “I think my stuff was better,” said the Reds' likely Opening Day starter. “I had a lot better fastball.”

       



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