Thursday, March 11, 2004

Lefty Sanchez is sharp again


Reds notebook

By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer

SARASOTA, Fla. - When you're a long shot to make the club like Jesus Sanchez, you have to make the most of your chances early.

Sanchez, a 29-year-old left-hander, certainly has done that.

He made his second start for the Reds Wednesday, a 6-1 win over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. It was almost a carbon copy of his first; Sanchez went four innings, allowed two hits, struck out three and walked none. In seven innings this spring, he has struck out five and walked none.

"I've working in the bullpen on keeping my ball down," Sanchez said. "The last couple of years, I've been overthrowing. The ball stays up. Now, I'm not trying to throw hard. I'm just keeping the ball down and throwing strikes."

Sanchez is a non-roster invitee, but he has been in the major leagues for at least parts of the last six seasons. He spent most of 1998 in the Florida Marlins' rotation.

"He's in the mix with those guys competing for the fourth or fifth spot (in the rotation)," said Reds manager Dave Miley, who managed Sanchez in winter ball for two years.

It would be an upset if the Reds picked Sanchez over young prospects Jose Acevedo, Brandon Claussen or Aaron Harang. But Sanchez at least has earned a long look for one of the left-hander spots out of the bullpen.

"He's got some pretty good left-handers out," Miley said.

Phil Norton, considered one of the favorites for that role, has given up runs in each of his three appearances this spring.

LARSON HOT, HURT: Brandon Larson had his second three-hit game in three days Wednesday.

Larson went 3-for-3 with a two-run homer and a double. He was scheduled to leave the game after his at-bat in the fifth inning when he twisted his foot while getting out of the batter's box.

"The ground's so hard," he said. "My spikes got stuck."

Larson did not think the injury was serious.

"I'm able to put full weight on it," he said.

He was sent to a Sarasota hospital for precautionary X-rays.

Larson is hitting .461 with two home runs and a club-high eight RBI this spring.

"I feel good," he said. "You want to carry it over into the season."

HAYNES UPDATE: Jimmy Haynes, who was sidelined last season because of a bulging disc in his back and was shut down this spring because of weakness in his core abdominal muscles, passed another test Wednesday. He threw 10 minutes of live batting practice.

"He was great. No problems," Miley said.

The tentative plan is to have Haynes throw an inning Saturday in one of the Reds' two split-squad games.

The Reds are hopeful that Haynes, a 31-year-old right-hander, can be ready in time to join the rotation at the start of the season.

"We think there's enough time," pitching coach Don Gullett said. "He'll work every fourth day like everyone else."

The Reds could put Haynes in the fifth slot of the rotation, to buy time in getting him ready.

NUMBERS GAME: The Reds' retired uniform numbers are displayed on the front of the press box at Ed Smith Stadium: 1, Fred Hutchinson; 5, Johnny Bench; 8, Joe Morgan; 18, Ted Kluszewski; 20, Frank Robinson; and 24, Tony Perez.




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