Friday, April 05, 2002

Reds notebook


Hits fell in communication gap

By John Fay, jfay@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The two pop flies that dropped in Wednesday night were not the story of the Reds' 10-3 loss to the Chicago Cubs, Reds manager Bob Boone pointed out.

        True, two misplays that led to one run in a seven-run game weren't a big deal, but a major-league team can't have balls falling in on them like that and hope to win.

        “We talked about it,” Boone said.

        Both plays were cases of miscommunication between shortstop Barry Larkin and third baseman Aaron Boone.

        The first happened in the fourth inning. Boone thought Larkin was going to field a pop-up hit by Sammy Sosa — until the third baseman looked over and saw Larkin getting out of the way so Boone could take it.

        Boone then went after the ball but couldn't pick up its path in the air until it was too late. The ball went off his glove for an error, which led to a run.

        The second misplay came in the seventh. Larkin was camped under an Alex Gonzalez ball in shallow left field.

        “That was a case of overcommunicating because we had screwed the early one up,” Boone said.

        Boone yelled, “B, you're all right!” meaning it was Larkin's ball. Larkin mistakenly thought he was being called off the ball.

        “It's tough to hear, particularly along the line,” Larkin said. “I thought it was (left fielder Adam) Dunn calling me off.”

        Right fielder Juan Encarnacion tried to make a shoestring catch on another ball Wednesday. Encarnacion had misplayed a ball for a two-base error Opening Day.

        “That's a judgment call for him,” Bob Boone said.

        Encarnacion is somewhat new to Cinergy Field. He did play in Cincinnati with Detroit in interleague games the last two seasons.

        “There's an adjustment to a new park,” Boone said. “But the better outfielders are good wherever they play. I'm not worried about Juan in the outfield.”

        NO OFFENSE TAKEN: Larkin noticed that the fans cheered sarcastically when he caught pop-ups in the seventh and eighth Wednesday.

        “It didn't faze me,” said Larkin, who has been critical of the “negativity” surrounding the team.

        Fans just having a little fun?

        “I guess so,” Larkin said.

        CONTROL LAPSE:

        Elmer Dessens and pitching coach Don Gullett watched some video of Dessens in 2001 and compared that to Wednesday's performance.

        “My leg kick was too open,” Dessens said. “I didn't have my control. I'll work on it (today) in the bullpen.”

        Dessens worked 3 2/3 innings, allowing four runs on five hits. He walked four.

        Manager Boone talked to Dessens in spring training about the importance of getting ahead in the count.

        “Absolutely, throw it down the middle of the plate,” Boone said. “He's a control pitcher. That's his forte. He can't pitch behind in the count.”

        Boone said Dessens' mechanical problems were similar to Joey Hamilton's during one spring training start.

        Dessens struggled in half his spring starts. He says he is confident he can get his control back.

        “It's a long season,” he said. “I'm working on it.”

        THIRD'S A CHARM:

        Boone used the same starting eight in the same order for the third straight game.

       



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