Saturday, March 1, 2003

Injury will push back Wilson's debut 7-10 days

Reds notebook: Pitcher strained his rib cage in intrasquad game

By John Fay and Kevin Kelly
The Cincinnati Enquirer

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Paul Wilson, the projected No. 4 starter, has been scratched from his first start as a Red today.

Wilson strained a ribcage muscle Wednesday in the intrasquad scrimmage. He didn't mention it at the time, but when he came in Thursday he was having back spasms.

He will not throw for seven to 10 days. He was examined by Dr. Tim Kremchek Friday and underwent an MRI, which was negative.

Chris Reitsma will start today's home opener against the Minnesota Twins at Ed Smith Stadium.

Reitsma had been scheduled to follow Wilson.

If Wilson gets back to throwing by March 10, he still could make four exhibition starts.

"I don't think it's a major setback," pitching coach Don Gullett said. "Seven to 10 days is an estimate. But you want to be cautious any time anyone has spasms in the back."

Wilson, a 30-year-old right-hander, was the Reds' big free agent acquisition in the offseason. They are paying him $4 million over the next two years ($500,000 this season; $3.5 million next).

Wilson was 6-12 with a 4.83 ERA last season for Tampa Bay.

WALKER REUNION: It was an hour after the Red Sox had finished batting practice, but Todd Walker was still on the field.

"That tells you how many friends I have over there," he said. "Too many guys to hug, too many guys to talk to."

Walker was traded from the Reds to the Red Sox in December in a salary-trimming move.

Walker played against the Reds for the first time Friday, going 2-for-3 with a double in Boston's 12-7 victory.

Walker, despite the move to a team considered much more of a contender, was sad to leave the Reds.

"I had a blast over there," he said. "It's a good bunch of guys with a lot of talent. That's kind of a unique situation."

Walker led the Reds with a .299 batting average and played the best he's ever played defensively. Still, after being traded for the third time in his career, he came to spring training a bit wary.

"It's kind of like being the new kid in school," he said.

HOMER, NOT A HOMER: Brandon Larson hit what appeared to be a home run - well it was a home run - but it went in the box score as a single.

Larson was called out because he passed Ruben Mateo while rounding first base.

So a two-run homer went down as a single, RBI.

"It's the second time I've seen it in my life," Reds manager Bob Boone said. "(Tim) McCarver did it on a grand slam."

Larson wasn't completely to blame.

"Mateo was too close to first," Boone said.

The ball barely got out to left center, but Mateo still should have gone halfway to second.

GRAVES NOTE: There are times Danny Graves steps back to begin his windup and feels like he's about to fall over.

As Graves continues to learn, the move from Reds closer to starter involves more than pitching more innings.

"I have the balance, but it's so hard for me to find the plate again when I'm in the windup," said Graves, who allowed four runs in 21/3 innings in his first spring start.

Graves, who made four starts for the Reds toward the end of last season, said he would consider pitching exclusively from the stretch if he doesn't feel comfortable with the windup by the time camp breaks.

"I think it will come," he said.

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