Thursday, September 06, 2001

Larkin: Leadoff not a worry

He or Walker can fill role in power lineup

By John Erardi
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Barry Larkin, who's already rehabbing from his surgery for a sports hernia, was asked if he has seen anybody in the Reds lineup who looks like a possible leadoff hitter for 2002.

        “(Todd) Walker has done well,” Larkin said. “I did well for a while.”

        Does Larkin still prefer being a two-hole hitter rather than leading off?

        “No, not really,” he said. “It's a function of what we have here. I felt I was a better No.2 hitter (in recent years) because we didn't have anybody to fill that role, to consistently get a guy over with no outs. But we have that now (Adam Dunn and, before Dunn, Dmitri Young). My role changes as the personnel around me changes. I think that's why I was a little more accepting of leading off for this team.”

        Larkin said he doesn't believe hitting leadoff will put more wear and tear on his 37-year-old body next season.

        “That (the wear and tear) is more a function of stealing bases,” Larkin said. “I don't think with Junior (Ken Griffey Jr.) hitting, or with Adam Dunn hitting, that there's going to be much running. So I don't think it makes a dif ference (on his wear and tear) whether I'm hitting first or second.”

        Larkin said he's already eager to get back in the lineup setting the table for Dunn and Griffey Jr.

        “I'd like to get on base and score at least a hundred runs,” Larkin said. “If I'm on base, and the way those guys hit, that should be a foregone conclusion.”

        One would think hitters 1-4 (Larkin, Dunn, Griffey and Sean Casey) are locks to be here next season. Dmitri Young, who has hit No.5 (15 times) and No.6 (24 times), would not appear to be quite in the “lock” category. After all, somebody might have to go if the Reds are going to bolster their pitching.

        Larkin doesn't think there's anywhere the line can be drawn. When the names of the 1-4 hitters were brought up, he smiled.

        “I would assume they'd be around, that they (the Reds) will try to get some pitching without dangling those guys too much,” Larkin said. “But the nature of the game is if a deal comes about and is too good to pass up, Jim (Reds GM Jim Bowden) is going to go for it. If somebody has to leave or go somewhere else to accomplish that, then that's what's going to happen.”


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