Sunday, June 04, 2000

Replica uniforms create some indecent exposure


By Chris Haft
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Reds were glad to get out of those replica double-knit uniforms they donned for Saturday's game to mirror the duds the 1975 championship team wore.

        “The uniforms were terribly uncomfortable,” shortstop Barry Larkin said diplomatically.

        Though most of the players' jerseys fit adequately, many Reds, even the slender ones, had trouble fitting into their pants.

        “They kept slipping down,” catcher Eddie Taubensee said. “I looked like one of those plumbers. Everybody in back of home plate was getting a peep show.”

        NEVER AS GOOD AS ...: Dante Bichette said combining with Ken Griffey Jr. on back-to-back home runs in Saturday's fifth inning was special.

        “For me, it is. For Junior, it's not a rare thing; he's done it 400 times, so the guys behind him have had a lot of opportunities,” Bichette said. “But for me, it was the first time, so it was neat. Because he is Junior.”

        Griffey, who recorded his 413th career homer, began Saturday in a tie with Baltimore's Cal Ripken Jr. for 28th place on the all-time list. The Reds are 12-1 when Griffey homers.

        McKEON'S BENCHED: One could almost hear the managerial file cards in Jack McKeon's brain fluttering as he pondered the question before Saturday night's game: If he could take only one of the Big Red Machine's star players, who would it be?

        McKeon thought for a while before delivering his answer: Johnny Bench.

        McKeon said his selection was influenced by the relative scarcity of quality catching.

        “That's one of the toughest positions to find an All-Star-quality guy,” McKeon said. “If you can get a catcher who's an All-Star for five or six years, that's a pretty good start.”

        HARNISCH UPBEAT: Pete Harnisch's optimism about his continuing recovery from weakness in his right rotator cuff revolves around a simple yet significant development: He now can throw with a higher arm angle. “I'm getting on top of it, the way I did when I was younger,” Harnisch said. “I'm emphasizing being way on top, as high as I can be, so I can get more of a downward plane on the ball.” Harnisch has begun long-tossing and throwing about 20 balls at a 60-foot distance on alternate days. He long-tossed Saturdy and said he'll need at least “a few more sessions of this” before he knows when he can try to throw off a mound.

        NOT IN THE BOX SCORE: Third baseman Aaron Boone made a subtle yet expert play in Friday's fifth inning, pouncing on a weak tapper hit by Twins pitcher Joe Mays and firing the ball to second base for a forceout on Matt LeCroy. Boone was creeping toward home plate as Rob Bell was delivering the 2-1 pitch to Mays, though the Reds weren't expecting a bunt. Had Boone been playing at normal depth or even just a few feet in, he would have faced a tougher play.

        “We were just trying to be aggressive and kind of force their hand,” Boone said. “Knowing that the pitchers don't hit in the AL, you're not sure how they're going to be able to handle the bat, so we wanted to be able to put some pressure on them defensively.”

        Boone said he often tries to anticipate when he defends pitchers.

        “You usually have kind of an idea of who handles the bat well,” he said. “In obvious bunting situations, I think when you're aggressive, you put a lot of pressure on them. Sometimes they're going to try to be a little too fine with the bunt and maybe foul it off. Or they go to swing and don't handle the bat that well, so it sometimes can play into your hands.”

        ETC.: A unique moment occurred hours before the game when Pat Darcy, a Big Red Machine pitcher, led his 11-year-old son, Ryan, to the bullpen for some one-on-one tutoring from pitching coach and former teammate Don Gullett. Darcy did the catching while dressed in the tie and slacks he wore during the pregame ceremony.

        • The Reds are one of only three teams in the majors without a complete game this season. San Diego and Kansas City are the others. Having played 54 games, Cincinnati has endured its longest season-opening stretch without a complete game since 1997, when Dave Burba went the distance in Game 81.

        UP NEXT: Osvaldo Fernandez takes a 2-0 record and 3.08 ERA into today's start against Minnesota.

        He will oppose Twins left-hander Mark Redman (4-0, 3.59), who leads all American League rookies in wins and strikeouts.

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