Thursday, February 27, 2003

Reds Notebook

Pena's HR atones for error

By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer

SARASOTA, Fla. - Wily Mo Pena's day didn't begin very well, but it ended nicely.

Pena's first chance as a first baseman - a routine throw from third baseman Wilton Guerrero - went past him for an error.

But Pena ended the Reds' intrasquad scrimmage with a long, two-run homer to left center in the ninth to lift the visitors to a 4-4 tie.

Pena, a 21-year-old super prospect, is getting a shot at first base while Sean Casey continues to recover after offseason shoulder surgery.

"That first ball, I was waiting for it, then it hit the ground," Pena said. "I pulled up."

Pena did make every other play.

"He looked good except for the first one," Reds manager Bob Boone said. "It's his first game there. It's spring training."

Pena had an eventful day. In the second inning, he was hit by a pitch from Jose Acevedo. In his second at-bat, he faced Jose Rijo, a fellow Dominican who was in his second year of pro ball the year Pena was born. Rijo told Pena he was throwing him a fastball.

"He said, `Get ready, Wily,' " Pena said. "It was a fastball, but way away."

Pena hit a routine fly ball to right.

He faced John Riedling in the ninth, and Riedling hung a slider.

"He did what you're supposed to do with it," Boone said.

Pena gets the start today at first when the Reds go to Tampa to play the New York Yankees, the team that traded him to the Reds.

"That will be exciting," Pena said.

STINNETT SCRATCHED: Kelly Stinnett was supposed to start the intrasquad game and bat leadoff for the home team, but he was held out with a tender hamstring.

"He thought it was OK," Boone said. "But he felt it hitting and throwing during infield. So he shut it down."

NO CHANCES: Aaron Boone played three innings at second base Wednesday, but he did not have any chances in the field.

NICE DEBUT: Newcomer Felipe Lopez had two hits, including a double, and two RBI in the intrasquad game.

VINTAGE JOSE: Rijo worked a four-pitch fourth inning. Two of the pitches were fastballs he tipped Pena and Gookie Dawkins about. "To be able to get them out with fastballs is impressive," Rijo said. "Maybe not to anyone else, but it was to me."

PITCHERS DH: Boone used Danny Graves, Jimmy Haynes and Ryan Dempster as designated hitters.

"I wanted to get them some at-bats," Boone said. "I lost my best hitter (Elmer Dessens)."

SIGNED: Acevedo and Luke Prokopec signed contracts Wednesday, leaving the Reds with 11 unsigned players.


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