By John Erardi
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Wily Mo Pena got his first start of the season Saturday. He flied out, struck out and grounded out.
"It's hard to develop him (on the big-league level)," said Reds manager Bob Boone. "But one of the things you try to do is put him in situations where you think he can succeed. Today (Saturday) is the day I was looking for."
Pena started in center field.
"The stars are aligned," Boone said. "You've got to play some time."
The Reds have to keep Pena in the big leagues to retain his rights. He showed again in batting practice Saturday why the Reds love him. He hit a ball in the upper left-field deck that easily went 480 feet.
"I'm OK with it (staying in the big leagues)," Pena said. "It's going to work out. I'd love to get a start once a week - it felt great to be able to put three at-bats together, to see some pitches - but I know that's asking a lot. I've just got to keep doing my work, and stay as sharp as I can."
LA-ROUGH: Reds catcher Jason LaRue, who was barreled into in a home-plate collision Friday night but held on to the ball, took a hard foul tip off the right shoulder in the fourth inning Saturday and had to leave the game. He said afterward he'd be able to play today - X-rays were negative - but manager Boone expects to give him the day off.
CLEAN-UP BUNTER: Aaron Boone was called on to bunt again Saturday, in the eighth inning, with no outs, men on first and second and the scored tied at 6. He bunted one foul and then fouled out swinging to Padres third baseman Sean Burroughs.
Manager Boone said he'd call for the same thing again if the situation arises.
"Absolutely," he said. "If he gets it down, they're going to walk (Adam) Dunn and you're going to get (Austin) Kearns with the bases loaded and one out."
Aaron Boone is "probably the best bunter we have," and he would normally get that bunt down, said the manager.
DUNN DEAL: Dunn's looking better at the plate by the day. On Saturday, he was 1-for-2 (two-run home run) with three walks and a hit-by-pitch.
"I felt good yesterday and I feel good today," Dunn said. "Those walks mean I'm seeing the ball real good right now. I try not to swing at too many bad pitches, which is easier said than done."
His roommate, Austin Kearns, who entered the game in the seventh inning as a pinch hitter, was 1-for-2 (double in the 10th inning setting up the win) with a walk.
Of his 10th-inning at-bat following an eighth inning strikeout with the bases loaded, Kearns said:
"With Adam on first, I wanted to try to get something where I could get him around the bases. I was trying to relax a little more, try to slow down, take a deep breath, not swing so hard."
Kearns was so upset that he struck out with the bases loaded in the eighth that he smashed the bat into the ground and broke it.
"I don't like seeing him do that," Dunn kidded. "It takes him a while to get new bats in, and that means he's going to be over here in my locker looking for new lumber."
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NL: Dodgers finally get big hit
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UK unveils two-headed QB
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Enquirer Power Rankings
Sports on TV-Radio
HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
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Saturday's High School Results
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