Sunday, July 02, 2000

Diamondbacks 9, Reds 6

Griffey seethes; Aybar snaps

By Chris Haft
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Jack McKeon escorts Manny Aybar off the field after the pitcher was ejected.
(AP photos)
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        PHOENIX — When the time finally came for the Reds to lose a game in Bank One Ballpark, they also lost their self-control.

        Cincinnati dropped a 9-6 decision to the Arizona Diamondbacks, but that was just a subplot to the anger expressed by Ken Griffey Jr. as he was removed from the game in the top of Saturday's fifth inning. Television cameras caught Griffey yelling at his father, bench coach Ken Griffey Sr., who was pushing his son toward the dugout tunnel.

        Griffey Jr. wasn't available for comment afterward. Reds manager Jack McKeon and others agreed that the star center fielder was upset about leaving the game. Griffey had twisted his right knee while chasing Jay Bell's fourth-inning triple.

        “It's nobody's business but mine and his,” said Griffey Sr., declining to provide details of the incident. “I don't talk about family arguments. The camera just happened to be nosy, that's all.”

        In the bottom of that inning, Reds reliever Manny Aybar was ejected from the game after hitting Tony Womack with a pitch. Aybar denied that he was retaliating for nearly being struck by an Armando Reynoso pitch in the top of the fifth inning. That occurred immediately after a Reynoso fastball bruised Pokey Reese's left hand.

  • X-rays of Pokey Reese's hand were negative.
  • Reds manager Jack McKeon said Ken Griffey Jr.'s twisted right knee was “not bad,” indicating he could play today.
        Maybe the Reds aren't unraveling. But they looked that way while dropping their first game in eight tries here and falling 91/2 games behind first-place St.Louis in the National League Central.

        The next players to throw fits won't be mad because they're being removed from games. It'll be because they have to finish the rest of this joyless season.

        Since losing 11 of 12 games between June 5-18, the Reds (38-41) have maintained a disturbing pattern. They've won and lost alternately since June 20, posting a 6-6 record. When an encouraging victory is followed by a dispiriting defeat, the sum is mediocrity. Or worse.

Pokey Reese reacts after being hit by a pitch.
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        “We're the best at winning one and losing one,” a player who requested anonymity said sarcastically.

        Starter Osvaldo Fernandez (2-2) continued his recent struggles, allowing seven runs and seven hits in 2 2/3 innings. After posting a 2.53 ERA in his first seven starts, the right-hander has a 14.73 ERA in his last two. Cincinnati also collected just six hits against a motley assortment of Diamondbacks pitchers.

        The finest of those Arizona pitchers, closer Byung-Hyun Kim, sealed his 13th save by retiring pinch-hitter Dmitri Young on a called third strike. Fittingly, Young jawed with umpire Paul Emmel all the way back to the dugout because the pitch appeared to be outside.

        So, for pure entertainment value, the Griffey-Griffey incident broke up the monotony of another dreary defeat.

        The saga began in the bottom of the fourth when Griffey Jr. bent over in apparent pain in center field after barely missing Bell's drive. Trainer Greg Lynn and McKeon went to check on him, but Griffey waved off McKeon's first attempt to remove him from the game.

        “He didn't want to come out then, so I let him stay in,” McKeon said.

Ken Griffey Jr. lunges back to first base after a pickoff throw.
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        With the Reds already trailing 9-2, McKeon decided to take out Griffey after the inning ended to avoid further injury. He told Griffey Sr. to convey the news, as managers often do with bench coaches. McKeon also reasoned that Griffey Sr. could communicate with his son better than anyone else.

        “We had a better chance if his father tells him,” McKeon said. “I thought he could convince him. We were thinking about down the road, not a couple of innings.”

        But Griffey Jr. balked at leaving and apparently told his father so. After Griffey Sr. started to nudge his son toward the dugout tunnel, catcher Benito Santiago took over that duty, hustling Griffey Jr. off the premises.

        “I don't want to get in any detail. ... I don't like controversies,” Santiago said. “I just tried to (prevent) something going on in there. But it's not that much. My main concern was not to have any activity in the dugout. Everything is cool and everything's going to be all right.”

        Though a look at the television replay made it seem that Griffey Jr. was bellowing at McKeon, Santiago and other witnesses said that wasn't the case. “It looked worse than it was,” one player said.

        Engrossed in a discussion with pitching coach Don Gullett about deploying the bullpen for the remainder of the game, McKeon initially didn't realize his No.3 hitter was venting fury: “I just saw him in the background. Gully and I were trying to figure out our pitching. My guess is it (the disagreement) was (between) him and his father.”

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