LaRue to fill leadership void
He's longest-tenured Red
By John Fay
Enquirer staff writer
Reds catcher Jason LaRue, who hit .260 with 27 doubles, 14 home runs and 60 RBI last year, expects to adopt a bigger leadership role with Sean Casey gone.
Reds catcher Jason LaRue has always considered himself a leader.
But he also realizes that the role becomes more important now with the absence of Sean Casey.
"No doubt," he said. "I like to think I've been a leader in the past. But I'm going to have to do it a little more."
LaRue, 31, is the longest-tenured Red. The club showed its confidence in him by signing him to a two-year, $9.1 million contract. He was in town Thursday for a physical.
"The Cincinnati Reds are the only team I know," he said. "They drafted me. I'm going on my seventh year in the big leagues. I'm very, very pleased with the deal."
Again, LaRue is ready for a bigger leadership role.
"To me, a catcher has got to be a leader," he said. "No. 1, everyone is looking at you. You've got to handle the pitching staff. But (with Casey gone), other guys are going to have to step up more."
LaRue is coming off his best year offensively. He hit .260 with 27 doubles, 14 home runs and 60 RBI.
But the key part of his job is handling the pitching staff.
The Reds added Dave Williams through the Casey trade, and signed free-agent reliever Chris Hammond. Other than that, they are relying on the same staff that finished last in the National League with a 5.15 ERA.
LaRue thinks the returning pitchers are the key to success. And he thinks they can be successful - with a lot of ifs thrown in.
"If Paul Wilson is healthy and goes out and does what he's capable, if (Eric Milton) continues to do what he did in the second half, and if (Aaron) Harang and (Brandon) Claussen pick up where they left off ..." he said, "that's four pretty solid starters."