Sunday, July 11, 2004

Larkin to Reds: Take a risk

Veteran shortstop wants help for NL wild-card race

By John Fay
Enquirer staff writer

MILWAUKEE - Barry Larkin has been around long enough to know that opportunities like this one don't come around every year.

"I hate to be critical of how the organization does things," he said. "But I see other organizations addressing issues and trying to get better, especially when injuries affect things.

Brewers' Scott Podsednik steals second as Reds shortstop Barry Larkin waits for the throw in the third inning Saturday.
(AP photo)
"I just think you don't have very many chances with an opportunity to win. When you have a chance, in my opinion, you should try to take advantage of that chance."

That's Larkin's not-so-subtle way of urging the Reds - who started Saturday a half-game out of first place in the National League wild-card race - to be buyers, not sellers, at the trade deadline.

It's also a way of saying the Reds should have addressed some of the problems earlier. The club has played all year without free agent John Vander Wal, who injured his knee in the offseason. Injuries have limited right fielder Austin Kearns to 25 starts. Brandon Larson has missed 41 games during two stints on the disabled list. Sean Casey is currently on the DL.

The Reds have filled holes with minor-leaguers - often journeyman minor-leaguers.

The Reds replaced Casey on the roster with catcher Corky Miller. Going into Saturday, Miller had not played since being recalled from Triple-A Louisville.

The only player the Reds have added in a trade since the season began is left-handed reliever Gabe White.

"I feel like this organization should be really aggressive in trying to give these guys a chance to win," Larkin said.

But Larkin says he isn't surprised the Reds haven't made moves. Reds general manager Dan O'Brien has talked about long-term goals since he got the job.

"They've been pretty consistent about that," Larkin said.

But Larkin knows from experience that teams like the Reds have to seize opportunities.

"I've played almost 20 years," he said. "In 1990, we had a chance. In '94 and '95, we had a chance. In 1999 we had chance. Four years, really three years, because 1994 didn't count because of the strike.

"It just comes so few and far between."

NO FREEL: Ryan Freel was re-examined Saturday in Cincinnati. His left knee was improved but not enough for him to join the team for the final two games here against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Freel injured his knee trying to make a sliding catch in the final game of the St. Louis series at Busch Stadium. Freel suffered a bruise under the surface of his kneecap.

The Reds have played with 24 players since Freel's injury. That leaves the Reds with four players on the bench each night - two of whom are catchers.

"It's tough without (Freel), especially the way he was swinging the bat," Reds manager Dave Miley said. "It's difficult to double-switch without Freel and Casey. There are only so many moves you can make."

ROTATION: The Reds have set their post-All-Star break rotation.

Left-hander Jesus Sanchez will start Thursday against the Cardinals at Great American Ball Park when play resumes. Paul Wilson, Cory Lidle and Jose Acevedo will pitch the other three games against the Cards.

Aaron Harang will pitch the first game of the Milwaukee series July 19.

It's a little surprising the Reds skipped Aaron Harang, who went 7 2/3 shutout innings Friday.

"We were just looking at matchups," Miley said. "(Harang's) throwing, but he still needs an extra day or two."

Harang was on the disabled list for three weeks in June with a strained elbow ligament. He'll get a nine-day break.

WORKOUT WEDNESDAY: The Reds will have a voluntary workout at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Great American Ball Park.

"We made it at 6 so they have time to travel," Miley said.

The Players Association prohibits mandatory workouts during the All-Star break.

FARM REPORT: Bubba Nelson, the right-hander obtained in the Chris Reitsma trade, continues to pitch well at Double-A. Nelson went eight innings Friday night, allowing one run on three hits in Chattanooga's 2-1 win over Birmingham.

Nelson, who was 1-10 at Triple-A Louisville, is 1-0 with a 1.64 ERA in three starts at Chattanooga.

UP NEXT: The Reds face the Brewers in the finale of the four-game series. Right-hander Acevedo (4-7, 5.20 ERA) faces right-hander Victor Santos (8-3, 3.91) in a 2:05 p.m. game.

REDS FACT: Center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. is the only player to win the Home Run Derby more than once.

Reds statistics

(Through Friday's game)

Casey .352.4022875510126115542321104
Larkin .292.34325344741224332127202
Freel .281.381267327510511635441457
Castro .277.3171371838131110824005
Pena .260.306150143931825948302
Dunn .260.4062895575140255368107303
Cruz .259.33785142250218825000
Hummel .259.304859224017512103
Jimenez .259.36729041751426265046964
Griffey .253.352293487417020604465101
LaRue .224.31721025471207271656027
Larson .210.3061051222603121331105
Kearns .195.327871017213131630111
Valentin .170.221112111950310817003
Miller .000.3481510000166000
Team Totals .250.33629044027261491399378344677371452
Graves 132.774803248.24720159527
Jones 623.38440150.238201932134
White 013.38110010.2844308
Wilson 923.6617170108.11134744133572
Riedling 423.91410046.045242032328
Harang 524.251414078.193383782765
Lidle 664.8418180115.11216362142871
Acevedo 475.201717098.21065857202477
Norton 125.73350033.036242131922
Van Poppel 335.871710069.0824545101442
Wagner 215.94190016.226131131110
Sanchez 016.9722010.11388376
Matthews 218.84220018.12319186108
Team Totals 46404.86868633764.2831441413111267516

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