Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Larson back with big club

By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer

PITTSBURGH - Brandon Larson was in the lineup for the Reds on Monday in the series wrap-up against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Larson took the field hoping that his luck has changed.

"I just hope nothing else happens," he said.

Larson, the 27-year-old third baseman, has had "buzzard luck,"a popular expression in baseball circles.

He suffered a turf toe injury on March 10. He was listed as day-to-day at the time, which was 47 days before he returned the Reds' lineup. It was fourth time in Larson's 69-game major career that he's been on the disabled list.

The toe injury lingered longer than expected. Then on the first day of his rehab assignment with Triple-A Louisville, he was hit by a pitch. That cost him six more days.

"It seems like it's been forever," he said. "But it's good to be back."

The Reds, given Larson's struggles with major league pitching, were going to err on the side of caution with the rehab. That was OK with Larson.

"I said all along that I trusted what they were doing," Larson said. "I needed to get at-bats to make up for the time I didn't get in spring training."

Larson played 12 games at Louisville. He hit .349 with four home runs and nine RBI.

"Everything feels great," he said. "The toe is good."

Ryan Freel has played well at third in Larson's stead. But Reds manager Dave Miley didn't hesitate to put Larson in there.

"He's been playing," Miley said. "That's what we brought him up for."

Larson has his problem hitting at the big league level. He hit .101 in the 89 at-bats last year before he was sent to Louisville.

Larson expects it to be different this time.

"I'm pretty confident," he said. "I think I can pick up where I left off (in Louisville)."


E-mail jfay@enquirer.com

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