Tuesday, March 13, 2001

Reds Notebook

Boone likes knuckleballer

By Chris Haft
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        SARASOTA, Fla. — Manager Bob Boone is impressed by non-roster invitee Jared Fernandez, who threw 2 2/3 scoreless innings in Monday's 7-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

        Fernandez, 29, a knuckleballer who has never pitched in the majors, has allowed two earned runs and five hits in 8 2/3 innings.

        “The thing that's intriguing about him is that he gets so many easy outs,” Boone said. Against Fernandez, the Devil Rays had two harmless outfield flies, two pop-ups, a groundout, a strikeout, a double-play grounder and a soft single to center field by Mike Caruso, who Boone said “just stuck his bat out at the ball. They really didn't have any good swings against him.”

        Boone said he would consider keeping Fernandez as a long reliever. “He'd be a great staff-saver,” said Boone, referring to knuckleballers rarely getting tired arms. LEFTY OPTION: Another rookie pitcher, Clayton Andrews, probably won't make the team. But the left-hander acquired from Toronto last Nov. 22 in the Steve Parris deal has impressed the Reds with his command, posting a 1-0 record while allowing one run in 3 2/3 innings.

        “I've seen some good breaking balls from him,” pitching coach Don Gullett said of Andrews, 22. “He's not intimidated by situations.”

        A starter for most of his five-year professional career, Andrews might find his quickest path to the majors could be as a reliever.

        “I think ideally, he'd be in a starting role,” Gullett said. “But at the major-league level, he'd pitch an inning or as a situational guy at this point.”

        Andrews said he's learning a reliever's mindset. “I always have to continue to maintain that focus, alert and aware of situations,” he said.

        INJURY UPDATE: Boone said shortstop Barry Larkin (groin) and left fielder Dmitri Young (right shoulder) felt improved, adding that Young probably won't play before the weekend. Larkin is sidelined until at least this weekend.

        ETC. Tampa Bay left fielder Greg Vaughn, who played for Cincinnati in 1999, expressed relief that Reds closer Danny Graves didn't make the trip here. “I get to save a bat. I don't have to worry about break ing one,” said Vaughn, in tribute to Graves' buzzsaw pitches.

        • Non-roster catcher Tim Spehr needed four stitches to close a cut on his stomach, which he suffered Sunday while trying to fix his glove in the bullpen. Spehr declined to comment, but Boone jokingly said, “I have a new rule: If you're going to work on your glove, you have to have a chest protector.”

        • Instead of traveling with the portion of the squad that faced Tampa Bay, Boone remained at the Reds' training complex for part of the morning to discuss baserunning situations with the players who were left behind.


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