Tuesday, July 02, 2002
Larkin defers to hotter players
Captain: 'I'm not one of best players'
By John Fay, email@example.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer
You couldn't call it a benching, but Reds shortstop Barry Larkin probably could have played any of the four games he missed with a sore trapezius muscle.
The fact that Larkin didn't play had as much to do with his struggles at the plate as it did with the injury.
I'm a realist, Larkin said. You have to play your best players. I haven't been one of the best players this year.
With Russell Branyan on the team, the Reds can move Aaron Boone to shortstop and play Branyan at third and not lose a great deal offensively.
So Larkin didn't lobby to play when Reds manager Bob Boone made out the lineup card without Larkin on it.
The sore shoulder was a factor.
I wasn't 100 percent physically, Larkin said. If I were, I would have wanted to play. But Russ brings a lot of punch to the lineup. Aaron has been one of our most consistent players lately.
Larkin returned to the lineup Monday and doubled his first time up, breaking an 0-for-20 skid.
Bob Boone said Larkin understood why he wasn't playing.
Now that we have Branyan, it's easier for him to accept, Boone said. Barry's the ultimate team guy. He's a Red to the core.
Boone thinks resting Larkin on a consistent basis will help his performance.
You see what he does when he gets a little time to rest, Boone said. This is a tough time of the year.
Again, Larkin is being realistic. He entered the night hitting .227 70 points below his career average.
I needed a mental break as much as physical, he said.
Despite Larkin's batting average, the Reds are 38-30 with him in the starting lineup.
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