View Full Version : Hot start makes Coffey the Reds' bullpen workhorse

05-04-2006, 11:16 AM

Hot start makes Coffey the Reds' bullpen workhorse
By Hal McCoy

Staff Writer

DENVER | If Cincinnati Reds manager Jerry Narron expects relief pitcher Todd Coffey to, "Just say no," well, Coffey assures everybody, "It ain't gonna happen."

And, yes, Narron is concerned that he might burn up his best relief pitcher, a guy he called to the mound 14 times in the team's first 27 games, for 17 innings of pitching.

But when you have a strong horse, you ride it. And Narron is riding Coffey as if he is Secretariat at the Belmont Stakes. Coffey has responded at 2-0 with a 0.53 earned-run average.

"Yes, I'm concerned about using him too much," Narron said. "He pitched two innings Tuesday (in a 3-2 win over St. Louis) and I'm hoping we don't have to use him in the two-game series against the Colorado Rockies.

"But he is a guy who wants to throw every day and feels like he can throw every day," Narron said. "I saw him in the outfield (Wednesday) playing long toss and throwing hard. I don't really know what's the best way to handle him."

Coffey says there is no need for discussion, just call him in from the bullpen for his full-sprint gallop to the mound, hand him the baseball, get out of the way, end of discussion.

"I'm definitely ready to go whenever Jerry asks me, no questions asked," said the one-time 300-pounder, who is now a 6-foot-5, 230-pound plowhorse from Forest City, N.C.

"My job is to be in the bullpen and come out whenever he calls me," said the guy who bursts from the bullpen like a rodeo bull. "And I do whatever it takes every day to be able to do that.

"I won't ever say no," he said. "I do listen to my body to see how it feels, but I'm used to doing what I need to do to get ready. My arm has bounced back really well ever since I came back from Tommy John (elbow) surgery from Dr. (Tim) Kremchek in 2000. My arm has bounced back real well ever since then."

Narron hoped to give Coffey a Denver vacation, but Coffey is ready for what he calls the longest run from the bullpen to the mound in the league, compounded by Denver's thin air.

"I remember it from last year," he said. "I was a little extra winded. But when the moment comes, I can't hold anything back — on the run to the mound or when I'm on the mound."

Coffey is a rare find, a guy drafted in the 41st round, a round so far down the list that some general managers use it to draft their nephews, the sons of their brothers-in-law and, just for giggles, their family pets.

Shortly after Coffey was drafted, the scales groaned under his 300 pounds, but he said, "My brother was even bigger than me."

Coffey removed the weight, but has taken on the added burden of being Narron's big guy out of the bullpen, in more ways than one.

He took a big game with him Tuesday against the Cardinals. Narron brought him into the eighth inning of a 2-2 tie, a normal move. Usually, though, Narron would replace Coffey with David Weathers for the ninth. He didn't do it Tuesday.

"He had a quick eighth inning, hadn't thrown many pitches," Narron said.

That's a fine and valid explanation, but it also was a vote of supreme confidence to send a 25-year-old second-year major-leaguer to the mound in the ninth inning of a tie game against the mighty, mighty Cardinals.

It worked. Coffey pitched another scoreless inning, and pinch-hitter Javier Valentin's game-winning single in the bottom of the ninth made Coffey the winner.

To Narron, Coffey was a winner long before then.

05-04-2006, 11:31 AM
What a great start for Todd! And this is certainly an article that will endear him to Reds fans.

Coffeybro, you must be on Cloud 9 these days, considering that this article even mentions you. ;)

Roy Tucker
05-04-2006, 11:37 AM
Fay and Hal must share notes. From this AM's Enquirer...


Reds notebook
Coffey finding plenty to do; Narron trying to be careful not to overuse workhorse reliever

DENVER - Give Reds manager Jerry Narron credit for honesty. When someone asked Narron if he were worried about overusing Todd Coffey, Narron shot back:


Going into Wednesday's game with the Colorado Rockies, Coffey led Reds relievers in appearances (14) and innings (17).

At that pace over a full season, Coffey would wind up pitching 102 innings over 84 games.

Coffey threw two innings and got the win in the 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals Tuesday.

"Since he pitched two innings - even though he stayed under 30 pitches - we're going to do everything we can to not use him (Wednesday)," Narron said.

Coffey is the kind of guy who is never going to turn down the ball.

"He feels good," Narron said. "He's a guy who wants to and feels like he can throw every day."

Pitching coach Tom Hume says the coaches don't always believe Coffey's self-assessments.

"I know when to say when," Hume said. "But he's one of those guys who can come back."

Coffey says that has been the case since he had Tommy John elbow surgery in 2000.

"Since then, my arm bounces back quick," he said.

But the most innings Coffey has ever thrown is 801/3. That was in Single-A Dayton in 2002 when he was going back and forth between starting and relieving.

Coffey has been effective. He went into Wednesday 2-0 with a 0.53 ERA - second-lowest among National League relievers. Only two of the eight runners he had inherited had scored.

Narron admits he doesn't have a hard and fast formula for how much to use Coffey.

"I don't know what is the best thing to do," Narron said.

If he calls, Coffey will be there.

"I'm ready to go every day, wherever they need me," he said.

GRIFFEY UPDATE: Narron didn't have anything new on Ken Griffey Jr.

But he hinted that the weather here - it was in the high 40s with a chance of rain - kept Griffey from being activated for this two-game series. Narron said the Reds knew the forecast.

"Yes sir, we did," he said. "I know Griff did."

The Reds go from here to Arizona, where the games are played indoors.

Griffey will be activated when he tells the Reds he's ready. Narron doesn't think the way the club is playing - winning 11 of 13 going into the Colorado series - is keeping Griffey from making that call.

"I don't think that has anything to do with it," Narron said. "He's a pretty good player. I hope that's not it."

ANOTHER CLUE: Chris Denorfia, brought up Tuesday to take the roster spot of the injured Cody Ross, offered another tea leaf into the Griffey situation.

"Jerry brought me in and said I could be here three days or I could be here the rest of the year," Denorfia said. "He told me to enjoy it. I am - getting some good food, having fun."

WILSON REPORT: Narron said the reports on Paul Wilson were good after his six-inning, two-run stint for Triple-A Louisville Tuesday.

Velocity remains a concern, however. Wilson is throwing in the 81, 82 mph range.

"I know his velocity isn't what everybody would like," Narron said. "But hopefully, that'll come."

Wilson, rehabilitating from shoulder surgery, is scheduled for three more starts for Louisville.

FARM REPORT: Dayton swept a doubleheader from Burlington 4-3 and 8-7 to get to 13-13.

Johnny Cueto won Game 1, going five innings, allowing two runs on five hits. Cueto, a 20-year-old right-hander, is 2-1 with a 3.24 ERA. He has allowed only 16 hits, struck out 33 and walked four in 25 innings.

E-mail jfay@enquirer.com

05-04-2006, 11:44 AM
Coffeybro, you must be on Cloud 9 these days, considering that this article even mentions you.

Yeah this has been a great start to the season for everyone. :) I saw the BBTN where Kruk and Gammons mentioned Todd too. I just wish Dish had a dvr with more than 100 hrs of hd space. I'm running out too fast :-)

Jr's Boy
05-04-2006, 01:41 PM
Plus I love reviewing his performance after each game ,scalding hot Coffey,warm,lukewarm,cold which we havent seen,and hope not too.