Saturday, March 17, 2001

Reds Notebook

Boone juggles rotation

By Chris Haft
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        SARASOTA, Fla. — Looking toward the regular season, the Reds altered their rotation by rescheduling Osvaldo Fernandez's next start from today against Boston to Monday against Philadelphia.

        Pete Harnisch, Cincinnati's probable Opening Day starter, pitches Sunday against Minnesota. The Reds want Fernandez to follow Harnisch in the rotation, although manager Bob Boone won't confirm that.

        “You'll have to read into that,” he said.

        Also, Danny Graves became the first Reds reliever to work two innings this spring, blanking Detroit in the sixth and seventh innings. Boone said Graves' extended outing was planned. Soon, Graves and other relievers will start working not only multiple innings but consecutive days.

        YOUNG RETURNS: Dmitri Young, inactive since leaving a March 7 game with a bruised right shoulder, made his return as a pinch hitter in Friday's seventh inning and bounced an infield single up the middle.

        To keep Young's bat sharp and preserve his shoulder, Boone plans to use the left fielder as the designated hitter when the Reds visit American League opponents today (Boston) and Sunday (Minnesota). That way, Young won't have to throw before Wednesday, because Tuesday is a scheduled off-day and Boone plans to rest him Monday.

        BELL DENTED: Reds starter Rob Bell escaped with a bruise when Jermaine Clark's line drive smacked him on his right biceps and forced him from the game with two outs in the fourth inning.

        “If it was 4 inches lower, it might have been "game over' for a while,” said Bell, who expects to make his next start.

        This is getting to be a habit for Bell, who was hit on the hat by Philadelphia's Doug Glanville on March 8. Glanville's drive caromed into center field.

        “There's still a mark on my hat,” Bell said. “I had never been hit by a ball before, and now this is two times in three starts that I've been grazed or drilled head-on.”

        FAMILY TIES: The Boone family enjoyed another special day as infielder Matt Boone, the youngest of Bob Boone's three ballplaying sons, struck out against Graves as a pinch hitter in the sixth inning.

        “You might as well face the best if you're going to make a trip all the way down (from Lakeland),” Bob Boone said.

        Matt, a 21-year-old who's expected to play at Double-A Jacksonville this year, joined Detroit's traveling squad as a favor to the family.

        GRIM REAPER: Bob Boone, on roster cuts: “It's not fun. They're giving their life to doing this, and all of a sudden you put up a roadblock.”

        Players' reactions, said Boone, vary according to their perspectives.

        “You tell Jackson Melian, and he's fine. He understands completely,” Boone said. “You tell Hector Mercado, who's right there and was there (with the Reds) at the end of (last) year, that's tough for him. Same thing with Brady Clark.”

        Boone said that with players on the fringes of the majors, such as Mercado and Clark, he tries to soften the blow by telling them they'll probably be needed in Cincinnati during the season.

        “For me, it's about saying: "You're still right there. It's not a give-up thing,'” Boone said.


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