Sunday, March 26, 2000

REDS NOTEBOOK


Gookie isn't cooking yet

BY CHRIS HAFT
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        SARASOTA, Fla. — Though Gookie Dawkins appears bound for Triple-A Louisville, the shortstop spoke appreciatively of his first big-league spring training stint.

        Dawkins is hitting .171 (7-for-41) with 16 strikeouts but has played slick defense, despite his four errors.

        “I'm not trying to impress anyone,” Dawkins said. “I just wanted to see major-league pitching and kind of get used to it.”

        He agreed that he'll benefit from more minor-league seasoning. “I feel once I get more at-bats and see different pitchers, that will help a lot,” he said.

        REMAINING CALM: McKeon refused to overreact to Rookie of the Year Scott Williamson's uneven spring performance, which has resulted in a 4.82 ERA. Williamson looked vulnerable Friday against To ronto, allowing a ninth-inning run on three hits and blowing a save opportunity.

        “He got a couple of pitches up. But he pitched great the (previous) time out against Boston,” McKeon said. “This is a long season.

        ” Williamson rebounded Saturday against Tampa Bay, pitching a scoreless sixth inning.

        BARRY BIG TALK: Barry Larkin says he said it. But he prefaced it with a big if.

        Larkin is quoted in Baseball American as saying: “It's not of a matter of whether we'll win the division. It's matter of by how many games, we win the division by.”

        Larkin didn't back away completely.

        “What I said was if we get good pitching, there's no question we'll win the division,” he said. “It will be matter of by how games.”

        But the pitching part, Larkin said, is the key.

        “It's the key to every division,” he said.

        The Reds' lineup will make up for bad pitching sometimes.

        “We have the ability to come back,” he said. “That should take some of the pressure off the pitching. They don't have to pitch shutouts to win.”

        Larkin knows his quote will make bulletin boards.

        “That's all right,” he said. “We can handle it.”

        NO PARKING ZONE: Ken Griffey Jr. was among the players who did not make the trip to St. Petersburg for Saturday's game. He took batting practice at Ed Smith Stadium instead. Had the driver of a Ford Expedition known that, they would not have parked about 40 feet behind the right field wall.

        A towering home run to right-center from Griffey broke the windshield and the windshield wiper on the SUV.

        Pitcher Mark Portugal retrieved the ball and had Griffey sign it.

        “Write "this isn't a good place to park,'” Portugal said. “I'm going to tape it to the windshield.”

        ETC.: Third baseman Mark Lewis received a cortisone shot for his painful right big toe. With Lewis sidelined and Aaron Boone playing with a mildly sprained left ankle, Moeller High School graduate Mike Bell has suited up the last two games. Bell had an RBI double to the Reds' four-run eighth inning Saturday.

       



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