Saturday, June 12, 2004

Playing short-handed the norm

Injuries lead to repeated use of only a 24-man roster

By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer

CLEVELAND - The Reds have to lead the major leagues in one category: games played with a 24-man roster.

While the Reds played the Cleveland Indians here Friday night, shortstop Barry Larkin was in Cincinnati getting treatment for a strained abdominal muscle.

photo gallery
Photos of Friday's game
Larkin is listed as day-to-day. It is conceivable he could rejoin the club today.

Playing with 24 players is easier in an American League stadium, where the designated hitter is used.

But the Reds have played one man short a lot. Austin Kearns was on the active roster seven days with an open sore on his thumb before he was placed on the disabled list Thursday.

The Reds also played a game with 24 players after Kearns suffered a broke wrist in Pittsburgh on April 26.

In Larkin's case, the Reds are hopeful he can avoid the disabled list.

"He's improving," Reds manager Dave Miley said. "He's getting treatment. He's still day-to-day."

Felipe Lopez started in Larkin's place at shortstop. Lopez has started six of the Reds' last eight games.

Larkin's absence is exacerbated by Juan Castro being on the DL with a strained rib cage muscle.

Castro is eligible to come off the DL Wednesday.

LaRUE OK: Jason LaRue, who left Wednesday's game after being hit on the left hand with a pitch, was back in the lineup Friday. LaRue suffered a bruise on the hand.

STILL IDLE: Kearns continues to rest his injured right thumb. He's still under orders not to pick up a bat. He's eligible to return Thursday. "They're going to look at it Sunday," Kearns said. "Hopefully, I'll start taking (batting practice) then."

DH GRIFFEY: Miley used Ken Griffey Jr. as the designated hitter Friday night.

"He'll probably stir it up with you guys over it," Miley said.

Griffey does not like to DH. But Miley wasn't taking his vote. The weather was behind the decision.

"It rained all last night," Miley said. "Then it rained some today."

NO REST: Miley was awakened around noon Thursday by the hotel fire alarm.

"I'm on the 19th floor," he said. "That's a long way to go. I get to the lobby and everybody's walking around like nothing happened."

Turns out a child pulled the alarm. "Nobody's told me it was a false alarm yet," Miley said.

SIGNEES: The Reds signed 16 draft picks Friday, including fifth-round pick Paul Janish, a shortstop from Rice; No. 10 pick Terrell Young, a right-hander pitcher from Grenada, Miss.; and No. 12 pick Cody Strait, an outfielder from Evansville. Janish and Strait were assigned to Billings. Young was sent to Sarasota.

FARM REPORT: Edwin Encarnacion continues to hit well for Double-A Chattanooga. He went 2-for-4 and hit his sixth home Thursday in the Lookouts' 4-3 win over Jacksonville. Encarnacion, 21, is hitting .309 overall.

UP NEXT: The Reds play the Indians in the second game of the three-game series. Right-hander Todd Van Poppel (2-2, 4.43) faces right-hander Scott Elarton.

Van Poppel needs to get out of the first inning cleanly. In his last starts, he has given up seven runs on nine hits in the first inning (31.50 ERA) and one run on eight hits in the other eight innings (1.13 ERA) he has worked. In his six starts, his ERA in the first is 16.50 and 1.69 after the first.

The Indians signed Elarton after Colorado released him. He was 0-6 with a 9.80 ERA with the Rockies.

REDS FACT: Today's starter, Todd Van Poppel, is 0-0 with a 2.60 ERA in five career appearances at Jacobs Field.

Reds statistics

(Through Thursday)

Casey .374.417227458521111431620102
Castro .298.3378411256119517004
Larkin .292.3331953557824231325201
Cruz .260.36250101330212817000
Pena .260.313777202149531102
Jimenez .255.36022028561123213634554
Larson .255.328557144016511005
Griffey .254.358209365312017483247100
Dunn .251.42618739479018405475202
Freel .239.335180224355181931837
LaRue .205.3291171424702131333015
Kearns .195.327871017213131630111
Hummel .184.2203827200425002
Valentin .146.191827123038511003
Lopez .125.12524131002011002
Team Totals .248.3391968280489991370264246470211042

Matthews 101.8611009.2832253
Riedling 403.16270031.123141121220
Graves 133.183402634.03417129422
Wilson 703.181111070.269272581939
Jones 414.01300133.228161521528
Norton 004.03250022.124131021014
Van Poppel 224.43126044.24822223928
Acevedo 355.091212070.2764140131559
Lidle 455.201313083.0874948121847
Harang 425.431111059.279373672244
Reith 215.63200024.026151541622
Bong 0110.801103.1994130
Valentine 0114.542104.1777273
Team Totals 34254.73595927521.057030027473173346



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