Saturday, March 23, 2002

Walker lands at the front of Boone's lineup


Dunn bats 6th, likely to move to cleanup spot

By Gary Estwick, gestwick@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        SARASOTA, Fla. — Manager Bob Boone announced the Reds' Opening Day lineup Friday, with Todd Walker leading off. And in a slight surprise, outfielder Adam Dunn will bat sixth.

ROSTER TAKING SHAPE
   By putting Jose Rijo on the team Friday, the Reds did a lot to clear up a cloudy roster. Twenty-four of the 25 spots are taken. The last spot depends on whether the Reds take 11 or 12 pitchers north:

    • They're in:

    Starting rotation: Joey Hamilton, Elmer Dessens, Jimmy Haynes, Jose Acevedo and Chris Reitsma. Bullpen: Danny Graves, Scott Williamson, Scott Sullivan, Gabe White, Jim Brower and Rijo.

    Starting eight: Sean Casey, Todd Walker, Barry Larkin, Aaron Boone, Juan Encarnacion, Ken Griffey Jr., Adam Dunn and Jason LaRue.

    Bench players: Brady Clark, Robin Jennings, Wilton Guerrero, Juan Castro and Kelly Stinnett.

    • They're on the bubble:

    Hector Mercado, Luis Pineda, Ruben Mateo, Gookie Dawkins and John Riedling (if healthy). These five are fighting for one spot.

        Boone also said the lineup could change during the season.

        “If somebody's in a funk and not swinging good, we'll move it around,” he said. “This is basically my gut feeling coming out of here.”

        Barry Larkin, whom Boone also considered in the leadoff spot, will bat second. Boone said Walker has performed best when he was the leadoff hitter; he also said Larkin will be the best No.2 hitter in the big leagues this season.

        Walker led off in 46 games last season. Larkin, slowed by injuries, led off in 31. Larkin's missed seven consecutive spring training games because of pain associated with sports hernia surgery. He has, though, looked sharp in batting practice.

        Ken Griffey, Jr., Sean Casey and Aaron Boone will follow. Boone said he hopes to have Walker and/or Larkin on base when Griffey is at bat.

        Dunn, who Boone said will eventually move to the fourth spot, will bat after Aaron Boone for now.

        “I think he's got some things to learn and some things to experience,” Bob Boone said. “The key is that he's in the lineup.”

        He also said by eventually putting Dunn in the fourth position, the Reds can break up left-handed batters and right-handed batters.

        Boone said there was no timetable as to when Dunn would move to the fourth spot.

        “It doesn't matter to me where I hit,” Dunn said. “Just as long as I'm in the lineup.”

        Juan Encarnacion will bat seventh, followed by Jason LaRue.

        “I'm going to put out there what gives us the best chance (to win),” Boone said. “That lineup is what I think does that.

        “We'll have lots of opportunities to watch it to see if that's true.”

        Walker joined the Reds last summer in a trade from the Colorado Rockies. He has been one of the few bright spots offensively for the Reds during spring training. He went 2- for-4 Friday against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

        “Hopefully I'll get 600 at-bats and be able to do my thing,” Walker said about the upcoming regular season. “I think the only way you're able to feel like you're capable is by getting at-bats. So far in spring training, it's been like that.”

       



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