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savafan
04-03-2006, 12:44 AM
http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060402/SPT04/604020346/1071/SPT04

BY JOHN FAY | ENQUIRER STAFF WRITER

Ryan Freel is the Reds' interchangeable defensive part.

Put him at second, third or any of the three outfield positions and he's solid.

In 2004, he became the first player to start at least 10 games at five positions since Tony Phillips did it for Detroit in 1991 and '92.

Freel came up as a second baseman but his speed and a strong, accurate arm allow him to play third and the outfield, as well.

We talked to Freel about each of his positions:

SECOND BASE

"Double plays are the biggest thing. You've got to focus on your double-play footwork, where the ball takes you, turning to throw, where the shortstop wants the flip."

THIRD BASE

"React to the ball. The ball's hit harder. It's all instincts. The throw's longer, so you don't have as much time. If you bobble it at second, you've got a chance; at third, you probably don't."

LEFT FIELD

"The ball doesn't come straight at you. It's slicing a lot of times. You're going to get a lot of hard-hit line drives from right-handed hitters."

RIGHT FIELD

"It's similar to left. The ball slices a lot but the angles are different."

CENTER FIELD

"Get on your horse. You've got to cover a lot of ground. It's important to get good jumps. Guys like Andruw Jones and Jim Edmonds, they run to where the ball is going to land."


The mightier the pitcher, the mightier Ryan Freel's bat gets. Freel's first career home run came in 2003 off Randy Johnson. Five other players accomplished the task before him (Jack Voigt 1993, Ron Coomer 1995, Shane Halter 1997, Marcus Thames 2002).

Two days later, Freel hit his second home run off former Houston closer Billy Wagner. Freel hit his first lead-off home run off Cubs' heralded prospect Rich Hill in 2005.

As far as versatility, Freel became the first player to make at least 10 starts at five different defensive positions since Tony Phillips did it for Detroit in 1991 and '92.