Sunday, March 17, 2002

Reds notebook

Boone backs up - Graves may start yet

By John Fay,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        BRADENTON, Fla. — Different day, different answer.

        Reds manager Bob Boone wavered when asked the Danny Graves Question Saturday.

        “Don't know,” he said. “We've got to make a commitment pretty soon. We've got to decide what we're going to do.”

        That says it hasn't been decided whether Graves will continue to start or go back to the closer role.

        Boone said two days ago that Graves would be the closer because the Reds had no one else that he was confident enough in for the role.

        Then Graves threw three more good innings against Detroit Friday. In four outings, Graves has gone 12 innings, allowing one run and seven hits. He walked one and struck out seven.

        “He's very intriguing as a starter with the way he pitches,” Boone said. “The question is still: Who pitches the back end? But (Graves) would a terrific starter.”

        Boone's decision will come soon. He plans to start managing games like he would in the regular season next week. That means bringing in relievers to get out of jams and using a closer.

        If Scott Williamson were 100 percent and not coming off Tommy John surgery, the decision would be easy. Williamson would close, right? Not necessarily.

        “We'd consider Williamson as a starter,” Boone said.

        The other pitcher suited for closing, John Riedling, is also coming off surgery. So, if Graves were used as a starter, the Reds would have to go with a closer by committee with Scott Sullivan, Gabe White and Jim Brower.

        NO SHAW:

        Boone's vagueness on Graves' role doesn't mean the Reds have resumed negotiations with Jeff Shaw.

        “Nothing is going on at all,” said Shaw's agent, Joe Bick.

        Bick said he hasn't spoken to Reds general manager Jim Bowden since Bick was in Sarasota two weeks ago.


        Williamson's second outing of the spring was a lot better than the first. Williamson pitched one perfect inning in the Reds' 3-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates Saturday.

        He struck out one.

        “I threw mainly my fastball and slider,” he said. “The slider was good today.”


        Former Reds manager Sparky Anderson has been following the Reds for three days as part of a tour. His scouting report on the Reds reads like everyone else's.

        “As far as position players, they're fine,” he said. “There ain't too many who are a whole lot better. But it's going to come down to pitching. I think the pitching is starting to come together. They might surprise some people.”


        Barry Larkin made it clear that if this were the regular season he'd be playing.

        “Oh yeah, definitely,” he said.

        That said, Larkin won't play in a game until Wednesday when the Reds play Texas at home. Larkin had to leave the game Thursday after experiencing discomfort in his lower abdomen near where he had a sports hernia repaired.

        Larkin suspected the problem was irritation from the mesh used to repair the hernia.

        “Dr. (Tim) Kremchek talked to the surgeon and she thought that's what it was,” Larkin said. “That's expected.”

        Larkin said he felt much better Saturday.


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