Sunday, March 25, 2001

Reds Notebook

Important day for Reitsma

By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LAKELAND, Fla. — Chris Reitsma will follow Scott Williamson, the man he is battling for a spot in the starting rotation, in today's game against Boston at Sarasota.

        Reitsma, who has never pitched above Double-A, is coming off a three-inning, one-run performance.

        Another strong performance could earn him a spot on the Opening Day roster, either as a starter or reliever.

        “He throws strikes,” pitching coach Don Gullett said. “He uses both sides of the plate. He has an excellent changeup. And I like his mound presence.”

        Gullett wouldn't say today's game would make or break Reitsma.

        “We evaluate a lot of things,” he said. “It's not just results.”

        ON RIVERA: Bob Boone first became aware of Ruben Rivera in the fall of 1995.

        Boone had just been named manager of the Kansas City Royals. He went to scout the Arizona Fall League.

        “Michael Jordan was playing,” he said Saturday. “Everyone in the baseball world was there. I was at a night game. There were pockets of baseball people, and the two names they talking about were Ruben Rivera and Derek Jeter — in that order.

        Six years later, Boone, as manager of the Reds, is charged with trying to revive Rivera's career.

        “He still has all the tools,” Boone said.

        Rivera has been with the Reds only three days. He played in his first game Saturday, going 0-for-4 in an 8-5 loss to Detroit.

        “We've had some real good sessions in the cage,” Boone said.

        The first order of business is to cut down on Rivera's strikeouts. Rivera struck out 137 times in 423 at-bats last year. That's a big reason he hit only .208.

        Part of it, Boone said, is mechanical — Rivera swings so hard — and part of it is adjusting to the big leagues. If Rivera can develop a better idea of the strike zone and improve his mechanics, he could be a major find.

        “... That's a big if,” Boone said. “But when you've got all that talent, you get a bigger window to prove yourself.”

        NO RIDERS: Because the bullpen will be located behind the right-field wall at Cinergy Field this year, relief pitchers will have the option of riding in a golf cart to the mound.

        Don't look for it to get much use from the Reds' relief corps.

        “No chance,” Danny Graves said. “I'll pop all the tires so nobody can use it. Dude, they used those when our coaches played.”

        That started Mark Wohlers on a flurry of golf cart lines, some of which can't be used in a family newspaper. Here are two that can:

        • “Where is this organization going to get the money for a golf cart?”

        • “(Scott Sullivan) is the only one lazy enough to use it. He might take it to the dugout for coffee.”

        Graves, Wohlers and Sullivan gave a firm no on the cart. Dennys Reyes was a maybe.

        AT .500: Their loss Saturday dropped the Reds to 11-11. They had been 9-2 at one point.

        THE WALL: The center-field wall at Cinergy will be 40 feet. Major League Baseball wanted it 38 to 40 feet.

        “The framework is up,” Reds chief operating officer John Allen said. “It should be done Tuesday or Wednesday.”

        POKEY'S BACK: Pokey Reese retured to the lineup for the first time since being hit by a pitch Wednesday. Reese started at shortstop. He had a hit and a stolen base.

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