Thursday, March 22, 2001

Reds Notebook

Bowden compares Pena to Sosa

By Chris Haft
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        BRADENTON, Fla. — Reds GM Jim Bowden spared no rhetoric in heralding the arrival of Wily Mo Pena's.

        “We think Wily Mo Pena is comparable to a Sammy Sosa at the same age. That caliber of player. A star-type player,” Bowden said.

        Admitting that the Reds could not have afforded the type of deal required to lure Drew Henson from football, Bowden added that Pena, unlike the University of Michigan quarterback, is “a guy who we know will play baseball.”

        Though news of the deal leaked Tuesday, it couldn't be finalized until the commissioner's office approved the financial terms. Bowden said the Yankees are paying $1.9 million of the $2.2 million remaining on the five-year, $3.7 million package Pena received when New York signed him in 1999.

        Pena, 19, underwent his physical examination at the Reds' training complex in Sarasota early Wednesday, then donned a near-complete uniform — without a jersey — and joined his new teammates for batting practice at McKechnie Field in nearby Bradenton. He left the ballpark before the game with Jorge Oquendo, the Reds' international scouting coordinator who brought the teen-ager to America from the Dominican Republic two years ago.

        With Oquendo interpreting, Pena said he was “very surprised” by the trade, because he thought he was progressing with the Yankees. Said Oquendo, “He had (Yankees outfielders) Bernie Williams and Paul O'Neill helping him a lot.”

        WALL BALL: Predictably, Reds hitters weren't excited about major-league baseball's edict that the new 30-foot center-field wall at Cinergy Field must be 38 to 40 feet instead.

        “If you hit one thinking it's a home run, you can expect to stand up at second,” left fielder Dmitri Young said.

        First baseman Sean Casey tried to look at the bright side.

        “Hopefully that means more doubles,” said Casey, aware that balls hit off the wall will remain in play. “You're going to lose some home runs, but you might gain a couple of hits.”

        ETC.: Projected starting pitchers Elmer Dessens and Osvaldo Fernandez remained in Sarasota to get their work in. Dessens threw about 70 pitches in a minor-league intrasquad game while Fernandez threw extensively off a bullpen mound. Relievers Danny Graves and John Riedling pitched against minor-leaguers.

        • Though Young's name initially looked odd in the No.2 spot in the batting order, research showed he batted second 29 times in 1999 and 11 times last season. “I have no problem with it,” said Young, noting he often hit second in high school and when he played for St.Louis. “It's just a spot in the lineup. You get to hit in the first inning.”


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