Sunday, March 16, 2003

Dempster keeps coming up aces


Reds notebook: Right-hander goes 6 scoreless innings against Minnesota

By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Ryan Dempster is proving how effective accentuating the positive can be.

"Last year, I focused on the negative," Dempster said. "When I was successful in the past, when I made the All-Star team in 2000, after an outing good or bad, I always looked at the positive."

That's worked pretty well this spring. Dempster threw six innings of three-hit shutout ball in the Reds' 6-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins Saturday. Dempster struck out five and walked none.

It's the second straight start Dempster (3-0) has gone six innings.

He has looked nothing like the pitcher who went 10-13 with a 5.38 ERA for the Marlins and Reds last season.

How did he change things?

"A long look in the mirror," he said.

He's also following the game plan of pitching coach Don Gullett.

"I'm being really aggressive in the strike zone," he said, "getting ahead of hitters. Part of it is confidence. Last year, confidence wasn't very strong."

Dempster needed only 68 pitches to get through the six innings.

"(Denny) Hocking was yelling from the Twins dugout about me going nine innings," Dempster said. "I had a lot of fun out there."

NEWEST RED: Benny Agbayani was asked if he wanted to play against the Twins.

His answer? Sure.

Agbayani, whom the Reds picked up off waivers Friday, was anxious to get to work.

"I've got to play to show them what I can do," he said.

Agbayani is on a minor-league contract but he could become part of the major-league plans if he shows he can be an effective bat off the bench.

Agbayani got calls from the Reds and Milwaukee Brewers after the Boston Red Sox released him.

"This was a better situation," Agbayani said.

One of the big reasons is Reds hitting coach Tom Robson, who was the New York Mets' hitting coach when Agbayani had his best years.

NO RUST: Brandon Larson's layoff with a sore rib cage muscle hasn't affected his bat.

Larson went 2-for-4 with three RBI and a home run Saturday. He's 6-for-10 with two homers and seven RBI in the three games since returning from a 10-game absence.

"Usually when I come back after being out, I'm super aggressive," he said. "This time, I've been a little more relaxed. I'm seeing the ball real well. But the big thing is I'm not swinging at bad pitches."

Larson hasn't played in the field yet, but probably will do so today or Monday. The injury occurred while he was throwing.

GOING NINE: Once the Reds get past Monday's split-squad doubleheader and Wednesday's off day, the starting eight will begin playing nine innings.

"We'll start playing it straight," manager Bob Boone said. "We'll bring in relievers in situations."

ONE MORE GONE: Outfielder Dernell Stenson was outrighted to Triple-A Louisville.

Stenson hit .200 in 20 at-bats since being picked up off waivers from Boston on March 1.

The Reds now have 40 players in camp, not counting Jose Rijo, Luke Prokopec and Russell Branyan - all of whom are likely to start the season on the disabled list.




REDS / BASEBALL
Injuries slow down RHP Wilson
Bottom of the 9th, but the big job's done
Reds 6, Twins 1
Hamilton grateful, now a Cardinal
Dempster keeps coming up aces
Reds Q&A
Reality bites players bound for minors
Cardinals expecting to be grand in Central
Robinson: Minorities have a long way to go
Trammell asks Sparky for guidance
A's say they won't re-sign Tejada

BENGALS / NFL
Daugherty: Bengals' perception
Bengals Q&A
Douglas will make impact on Jaguars

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
UC confident bid will come
Good seeding likely for XU
XU rifle team 2nd
Kentucky thumps Auburn
Daniels' scary fall gives fans pause
SEC: Mississippi State 76, LSU 61
This is how to win your office pool
College basketball today
Teams can get Dance Card punched here
Atlantic 10: Dayton stops Temple
Big East: Pitt wins title
Big 10: Illinois withstands Coverdale's heroics
C-USA: Cardinals win first title
MAC: Central Michigan blows past Kent
Top 25: Missouri exacts revenge on No. 4 Kansas
Tournaments at a glance

PREP SPORTS
Spartans' repeat hopes fizzle
Moeller turns Hamilton blue
Regina easily wins fourth straight title
Prep Insider: State titles on the line

GOLF
Love in control at Honda
Greater depth on PGA Tour astounds veterans

HOCKEY
AHL Ducks set playoff roster

HORSE RACING
Empire Maker takes Florida Derby by record margin

NBA
Hawks' bench packs powerful 1-2 punch
Kemp overcame demons to salvage career
Stackhouse may test the market
Wizards turn up defensive heat to douse Miami

COLLEGE SPORTS
Baseball: Xavier overcomes its early struggles

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