Saturday, March 20, 2004

Lidle in Opening Day hunt


Pitcher adds seven-inning outing to solid spring training resume

By Kevin Kelly
The Cincinnati Enquirer

SARASOTA, Fla. - The Reds could name their Opening Day starter in a matter of days.

[img]
Reds starting pitcher Cory Lidle delivers a first inning pitch against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays Friday.
(AP photo)
Manager Dave Miley is offering no hints except to confirm Cory Lidle remains a possibility for the honor.

Lidle, a right-hander who signed with the Reds in the offseason, threw 73 pitches over seven innings against the Devil Rays on Friday at Ed Smith Stadium.

It was the longest outing by any major league pitcher this spring.

"Today was the first time I actually got out of my rhythm by rushing a little bit," Lidle said. "But I feel good about my outing. I was changing speeds well, keeping them off balance and getting a lot of ground balls."

Lidle allowed three earned runs on seven hits and got 14 ground-ball outs. The only tangible mistake was a fastball that Jose Cruz Jr. hit for a two-run homer in the sixth inning.

"Other than the home run Cruz hit, it was a great job," Miley said.

Lidle is 1-0 with a 2.65 ERA in four starts this spring.

"I feel pretty close," he said. "A couple more outings won't hurt, just to get to that point where you're not thinking about your mechanics."

OFF THE BENCH: When Reds catcher Javier Valentin came off the bench to pinch-hit in the ninth inning Friday, he carried a unique advantage to the plate.

Valentin not only had seen Devil Rays pitcher Jorge Sosa before, he also caught him several times last season while with Tampa Bay.

"He's aggressive with the fastball," Valentin said. "And when he's on, he's on."

Valentin got the fastball he was looking for and hit a game-tying solo home run in the ninth inning. The Reds lost 7-5 in 10 innings.

"In that situation, I'm looking for one pitch," he said. "A fastball down that you can drive."

SIMULATION: Because Valentin's homer forced extra innings, reliever John Riedling had to loosen up in a matter of minutes. The right-hander, who had allowed one earned run in his first six appearances, gave up three runs on two singles and two doubles.

ODDS AND ENDS: Catcher Jason LaRue celebrated his 30th birthday Friday. ... Outfielder McKay Christensen's five-game hitting streak ended. ... Infielder Juan Castro has a hit in eight of his past 12 games. ... Outfielder Austin Kearns is 2 for his past 28. ... Pitcher Jimmy Haynes is scheduled to make his second start, and third appearance this spring, against the Pirates on Sunday.




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