Wednesday, June 9, 2004

Sharp pain sidelines Larkin

Captain comes home early to see doctor

By Kevin Kelly
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Reds shortstop Barry Larkin (No. 11) is helped off the field after injuring himself on a fielding play in the fourth inning.
The Associated Press
OAKLAND, Calif. - The captain sat at a round table, wearing an uncomfortable and somber expression.

"I just kind of got in an awkward position," Barry Larkin said Tuesday night. "I just really felt a pretty good strain."

The Reds will be without their 40-year-old shortstop for today's series finale against the Athletics at Network Associates Coliseum.Larkin felt a sharp pain on the lower left side of his abdomen while chasing after a ground ball in the fourth inning of a 10-6 Reds loss before 19,302 fans.

He will fly to Cincinnati today and be examined by Reds medical director Dr. Timothy Kremchek.

"I'm going÷to make sure I don't have a hernia," said the 40-year-old, whose 2001 season ended because of a sports hernia on his lower right side. "Hopefully I don't have one and it's just muscular.

"Then, if everything is okay, I plan on meeting the team in Cleveland. Hopefully I'll be all right to play."

At the time he experienced the pain, Larkin was 2-for-3 with a three-run home run.

But his offensive contributions did little to offset sloppy defensive play in Cincinnati's second consecutive loss.

The failure to complete a double play in the first inning followed by a fielding error kept the A's first inning alive.

Oakland scored five unearned runs off Reds starting pitcher June Keun Bong after third baseman Tim Hummel's fielding error with two outs.

"If (Bong) makes it through that first inning without giving up a run it's a whole different ball game," Reds manager Dave Miley said. "He deserved a better fate."

Bong was making his first start for the Reds since Cincinnati acquired him in the Chris Reitsma trade this spring.

After pitching a scoreless second inning, Bong was pulled with two runners on and one out in the fourth.

Oakland scored four runs total in the fourth for a 10-5 leadBong, a native of Seoul, South Korea, allowed nine runs on nine hits in his 3 1/3 innings. Only four of the runs were earned.

"I tried to forget about (the error) and focus on the next hitter," Bong said, "but a lot of pitchers were up today."

Oakland has scored 23 runs on 29 hits in the first two games of the series.

Catcher Damian Miller did most of the early offensive damage.

His bases-loaded double in the first inning scored three and put Oakland ahead 4-1. A two-run double in the fourth put the A's ahead 10-5.

Miller's five RBI tied a career high.

Larkin had pulled the Reds to within one run, 5-4 with his three-run homer off A's starter Barry Zito in the second inning.

A strained abdominal muscle prevented Larkin from starting four consecutive games June 2-6. He returned to the starting lineup Monday and Tuesday.

But with two outs in the bottom of the fourth, A's third baseman Esteban German hit a grounder up the middle off Reds reliever Brian Reith.

He fielded the ball but could not make the throw to first.

"After I caught the ball I went to pull up to throw the ball to first base and that's when I felt it," Larkin said. "My angle was just awkward÷.

"I just felt it as I was getting ready to make a motion to throw the ball."

A prolonged absence by Larkin would further complicate matters for the first-place Reds by adding to a growing list of injured.

Right fielder Austin Kearns went on the 15-day disabled list before the game with a sore on his right thumb.

Pitcher Aaron Harang is on the disabled list with a sprained ligament in his right elbow. Infielder Juan Castro also is on the disabled list with a strained left ribcage muscle.

Catcher Jason LaRue added the Reds' fifth run with a solo homer off Zito in the fourth while second baseman D'Angelo Jimenez scored in the eighth. Brandon Larson struck out with the bases loaded to end the inning.

"We've said from Day 1 that we needed to play good defense to have an opportunity," Miley said. "We didn't play good defense (Tuesday).

"Against a team like Oakland, who obviously can swing the bat a little bit, you just can't give as many outs as we gave."

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