Monday, April 12, 2004

Relievers leave club stress-free


Hume, veteran pitchers guide better-than-expected corps

By John Erardi
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Sometimes when one part of a team surprises by doing well, the part upon which everybody relies goes south.

Not so with the Reds bullpen, which everyone expected would be good, and has been even better.

PHOTO GALLERY
photo gallery
Photos of Sunday's game
Because the Reds' starters have pitched so well - except for Sunday, when Jimmy Haynes gave up four runs on eight hits in 4 1/3 innings - the bullpen's success has translated to four Reds victories in the first six games. The bullpen has given up no runs in the past four games, a total of 12 2/3 innings.

"Dave (Reds manager Dave Miley) isn't afraid to use anybody, and that's what makes everybody feel comfortable," closer Danny Graves said. "There are some staffs in baseball where a couple of guys are mop-up guys. But on this staff, everybody in the bullpen's going to be in a tight situation at some point or another. That gives everybody down there the confidence to go out there and pitch."

Graves and veteran bullpen mate John Riedling each credit bullpen coach Tom Hume, a former Reds closer.

"Hummer is a key guy down there; he has a way of making things right," Graves said. "Gully (Reds pitching coach Don Gullett) doesn't get as much opportunity to work with us as he'd like, but he knows he can trust Hummer, who knows what it takes to get ready and be a good reliever."

Riedling appreciates Hume's sense of humor.

"He says the right thing at the right time, whether it's something to keep you loose or something to make you aware of," Riedling said. "You couldn't ask for a better guy down there to get you ready. He's the constant. Me and Gravy are the only guys who've been regulars down there, but Hummer has been a constant through all the great bullpens."

Riedling is a key guy in the bullpen, because his stuff is so good he can be unhittable (no hits, three strikeouts in 1 2/3 innings Sunday). Having such a dominant setup guy allows Ryan Wagner to fit in easily, rather than to put a lot of pressure on him.

"People noticed I wasn't quite as effective in the spring," Riedling said. "They were questioning me about walks and things, but I was trying different things. I do that every spring."

Newcomer Todd Jones made a good impression Sunday, throwing two innings of no-hit ball, including two strikeouts. He showed his wiles, taking something off his pitches and catching Pirates hitters off-balance.

"This is his 10th or 11th year in the big leagues and to play that long, you know you have to be doing something right," Graves said.

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E-mail jerardi@enquirer.com




REDS / BASEBALL
Reds say foundation in place
Photos of Sunday's game
Relievers leave club stress-free
Kearns finally gets bat, ball to meet
Reds at Phillies series preview
Ephedra ban begins today
NL: Wood stymies Braves
AL: Ortiz bomb stops Jays in 12th
AAA: Louisville 12, Norfolk 3
Notes from Sunday's games

THE 2004 MASTERS
Daugherty: Fans share Lefty's joy
Just call him Major Mickelson - finally
Els is masterful, but it isn't enough
Another major comes and goes without Woods

HOCKEY
For Cyclones, the plot took wrong twists
Kovalev's two goals pace Habs

NBA
Pacers-Celtics rematch set
After five years, Sixers' playoff run is finished

MORE SPORTS HEADLINES
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Sports digest
Sports today on TV, radio

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