View Full Version : Denorfia a hit with Narron (3/7)

03-07-2006, 09:22 PM

Denorfia a hit with Narron
Outfielder likely headed to Triple-A
By Marc Lancaster / Post staff reporter

SARASOTA, Fla. - From the commonly accepted spring training point of view, there was no reason for Chris Denorfia to dive.

But as the sinking liner headed his way in the bottom of the ninth inning Saturday at Legends Field, with two on and two out and the Reds leading the Yankees 4-1, the outfielder found himself in the air. Denorfia gloved the ball, retiring Mitch Jones to end the game, and came out unscathed.

He'd do it again every time.

"That's kind of my style of playing anyway," Denorfia said. "Those are the fun parts of the game for me, when I'm kind of making plays to change games or getting up in situations where you can make a difference in the box score. When it comes down to it, you're not really thinking about 'I better not dive here' or something like that; it's always kind of the instinct just to do it."

Playing like Ryan Freel with a restrictor plate, Denorfia's approach has opened plenty of eyes around baseball over the past year. On principle alone, Reds manager Jerry Narron almost wishes that wasn't the case.

"I can remember being at the Arizona Fall League last year and there were some scouts with other clubs and they were impressed with how he played the game," said Narron. "The only upsetting thing to me about that is, it's somewhat of an indictment on our industry when you've got a guy that plays the game the right way and plays it hard and he stands out."

That said, Denorfia fits seamlessly into Narron's preferred mold. The manager's appreciation of the former 19th-round draft pick's game is evident as he recalls specific moments from the past week of games off the top of his head, unprompted.

"The game in Fort Myers the other day, we had a man on second and nobody out and he bunts for a hit, pushes it to the right side, and he gets the guy over. He's going to do whatever he can to get the job done," said Narron. "(Sunday), he has a man on third base, he hit the ball to the big part of the field and got a sacrifice fly. He had an idea of what he wanted to do."

Those are the little things Narron is always preaching, and Denorfia is right there soaking it all up. Of course, blue-collar grinding will only get a player so far. At some point, he has to produce, and that's where Denorfia took a giant step forward last season.

He entered 2005 firmly on the fringe when it came to his prospect status. He would turn 25 in the middle of last season, and had made the jump to Class AA Chattanooga midway through 2004. Denorfia got some early big-league exposure during spring training, being summoned from minor league camp when the Reds needed an extra body for the late innings. He didn't exactly tear it up.

Denorfia came to the plate 11 times in 14 games, and he barely put the ball in play. He walked twice and struck out seven times, failing to collect a hit in Grapefruit League action.

"He looked like an out," said Narron.

Once the season started, though, everything clicked into place. Denorfia returned to Chattanooga and hit his way out of the Southern League, compiling a .330 average, 17 doubles, three triples and seven home runs in 46 games. He didn't slow down after a promotion to Louisville, hitting .310 with 12 doubles, six triples and 13 homers in 91 games.

Suddenly, Denorfia became a can't-miss prospect, drawing comparisons to former Reds farmhand Brady Clark (now the Brewers' starting center fielder) and reaching the majors as a September call-up. The Reds learned they could rely on Denorfia during his stint in the majors last year, and Denorfia picked up a few things as well. But he has no illusions about where he stands.

"I'm still a rookie, so I definitely know what my place is here and I try to stay as far under the radar as I can," he said. "But when I go out there and play, I definitely don't get as many butterflies as I used to. I know that I have to go out there and produce, or else I'm going to end up on the other side (in the minor league clubhouse) sooner rather than later. The comfort level on the field is definitely something that was helped by getting called up last year."

Denorfia entered spring training this year as one of several players battling for a spot as a backup outfielder, a pool that deepened considerably in the final weeks before spring training with the additions of veterans Quinton McCracken and Tuffy Rhodes. Adding them to the mix greatly diminished Denorfia's chances of breaking camp with the Reds.

Unless Denorfia blows by the competition in the coming weeks (he's 3-for-12 at the plate in five games), there's a good chance either McCracken or Rhodes will get that final bench spot, with Ryan Freel also serving as a backup outfielder, and Denorfia will go to Louisville to play every day.

"There definitely would be a level of disappointment, but I realize that I am young and I definitely have not stopped learning," Denorfia said of that scenario. "I feel like I learn something new just about every day here. To get a chance to play every day, I would just take the attitude of taking advantage of that opportunity and basically making it very hard for them to keep me down there.

"It's one of those things where it's kind of a motivational factor either way. If I make the squad, it's motivation to stay in the big leagues, and if I do get sent back down, then I really know what it takes to get here now and what I need to be for the club. I'm in a good position this year, and I'm really looking forward to the season starting."


Ron Madden
03-08-2006, 05:25 AM
I would love to see Denorfia make the 25 man roster.

Chris is a "Good Young BallPlayer"..and that is exactly why he will be sent to Louisville. Jerry Narron likes "Bad Old BallPlayers". :bang:

03-08-2006, 09:37 AM
never mind

03-08-2006, 10:01 AM
Another "Plays the game the right way article".


NC Reds
03-08-2006, 10:07 AM
I just don't think more AAA baseball is going to make Denorfia better. I say keep him in Cincinnati and send the veteran roster fodder (McCracken/Rhodes) to Louisville.

Falls City Beer
03-08-2006, 10:52 AM
If Freel and Denorfia ride the bench for the MLB team, then the Reds would have the greatest bench player duo on one team in human history.

03-08-2006, 11:02 AM
Another "Plays the game the right way article".

Check the calendar, it means spring is almost here.

03-08-2006, 11:49 AM
Another "Plays the game the right way article".


But at least he's saying it about a young guy this time.

03-08-2006, 04:16 PM
But at least he's saying it about a young guy this time

At least Denorfia knows how to play the game the right way, and actually does it. Usually Narron doesn't even care if they do play the right way. It's just whether they know or not.

03-09-2006, 09:41 AM
I think Denorfia makes the team this year he is the type of guy that can come of the bench and play solid defense, run the bases well, and plays hard every day.

03-11-2006, 12:09 PM
If Freel and Denorfia ride the bench for the MLB team, then the Reds would have the greatest bench player duo on one team in human history.


Well put. Gotham had Batman and Robin, we have Ryan and Chris!