Monday, March 17, 2003

Opening Day pitcher still TBA

Reds notebook: Haynes, Dempster have inside track

By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer

SARASOTA, Fla. - Don't write Jimmy Haynes in as the Opening Day starter - yet.

"We'll have an announcement in the next few days," Reds manager Bob Boone said. "Jimmy's certainly deserving based on what he did last year."

Haynes went 15-10 last year. But Ryan Dempster has the Reds reconsidering after his back-to-back six inning performances.

Dempster, a 25-year-old right-hander, was particularly good against Minnesota Saturday. He allowed no runs on three hits. He walked none and struck out five.

Starting on Opening Day will be extra sweet this year with the opening of Great American Ball Park.

SETBACK? Brandon Larson played in the field for the first time since pulling a rib cage muscle. But he had to leave Sunday's 2-0 loss to Toronto Blue Jays in the second inning after making a throw.

X-rays were negative.

"There's nothing broken," Larson said. "I don't think it's a big deal. I just felt it more than usual."

"If he felt it at all, we were going to shut him down," Boone said. "Hopefully, it will be just a couple of days."

If anything, Larson was relieved.

"It wasn't the same kind of pain that I had before," he said. "I'll come in and get treatment (today). I think I could still DH and swing."

MR. GROUNDBALL: Jimmy Anderson continued to make a strong run for the fifth starting spot. He went five innings, allowing seven hits and one run in the Reds' 2-0 loss to Toronto.

"He's a groundball machine," pitching coach Don Gullett said. "Anytime you get a lot of groundballs, you're getting a lot of movement on the ball. The hitters are topping it. If you keep the ball out of the air and out of the gaps, you've got a chance to win."

Anderson's outing Sunday left his ERA at 1.84.

Gullett said he'd like to wait until the end of spring training before picking the No. 5 starter. Anderson, Seth Etherton, Chris Reitsma and Pete Harnisch are the candidates.

GOOD NEWS: Paul Wilson was able to throw off the mound Sunday. He was supposed to long toss.

But his strained left hamstring felt good enough to do long toss and a mound session at three-quarters speed.

"It went pretty good," he said. "We'll see how I feel. I may throw a bullpen (today)."

Wilson, the projected No. 4 starter, needs to get some innings in to be part of the rotation at the season's start.

Wilson has not pitched since the intrasquad game on Feb. 26. He pulled a rib cage muscle in that game. He injured the hamstring after the rib cage muscle healed.

KEARNS UPDATE: Austin Kearns has started to swing the bat six days after having bone chips removed from his left elbow.

If all goes well, he'll begin hitting in a day or two. "I have more range of motion now than I did when they tested us at the beginning of spring training," he said. "There's just a little soreness."

Kearns was expected to miss a week to 10 days, so he could be back by the end of the week.

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