Wednesday, July 31, 2002

Hamilton, Rijo yearn to start

Veterans say they're ready for the rotation

By John Erardi
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Joey Hamilton and Jose Rijo watch and wait. They're a couple of wily veterans on a Reds pitching staff that has more young guns these days than it does tribal elders. But Hamilton and Rijo say they will be ready when called upon to rejoin the starting rotation.

        The Reds need to string together some victories to get back on the heels of the National League Central-leading St.Louis Cardinals. As always, it starts with starting pitching.

        Do Rijo and Hamilton have a pennant race in those arms? They say they do.

        Going into Tuesday's game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Hamilton and Rijo hadn't pitched for the Reds in awhile. Hamilton has been doing a rehab stint at Triple-A Louisville after going on the 15-day disabled list July17 with an aggravation of his strained left hamstring. Rijo has made three appearances out of the bullpen since coming off the disabled list July13.

        Hamilton, who turns 32 in September, said he didn't know if he'd be asked to make another start in Louisville.

        Rijo, who turned 37 in May, said: “My arm feels good, but I haven't pitched (in a game for so long) I don't know how I'm doing. I can see a window there (for starting again). It's just a matter of time - whether it be for the race, or just for an experiment. I sit back and wait for the right moment. If it happens, fine. If not, amen.”

        Hamilton looked good in a recent start in Louisville.

        “I had five or six full counts and another guy I threw 12 or 14 pitches to, but I was pleased overall,” Hamilton said. “My velocity was real nice, and the leg is good. So it's just a matter of politics from here on out.”


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