Williams knows Reds are counting on him
Pitcher says he won't worry about stadium's home-run reputation
By Hal McCoy
Dayton Daily News
Dave Williams realizes he is not only under a bright spotlight, but it is shining directly into his eyes. And he hopes he isn't blinded by the light.
As the only starting pitcher acquired by the Cincinnati Reds since season's end, and as the guy for whom the Reds traded Sean Casey, Williams knows his comfort zone is as small as a major-league umpire's strike zone.
Manager Jerry Narron plans to do all he can to put a soft pillow under Williams' hot seat because, after all, Williams is a left-handed pitcher and he is breathing, which makes him desirable.
"That's something I'll talk to Dave about, because there was a lot more to the Sean Casey deal than people know," Narron said Thursday at the Dayton Agonis Club luncheon.
Interpretation: Casey was dealt to save the team $6.1 million, plus as a free agent after 2006, he would command more than the Reds were ready to spend.
Williams, 27, was 10-11 with a 4.41 ERA in 25 starts last year with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He didn't pitch in September due to a rib-cage injury.
"Everything I've heard about him is that he has a tremendous work ethic and is an outstanding competitor," Narron said. "With that reputation, it can only be a plus for us. And everybody is looking for left-handed pitching, so that's another plus for us.
"He changes speeds very well and locates well, and with our ballpark we all know how important that is."
Williams gave up 20 home runs in 138 2/3 innings last year and smiled when asked about the home run reputation of Great American Ball Park.
"Everybody keeps talking about the park," he said. "The only park I've ever been in where you do take that into consideration is Coors Field (Colorado). Dimensions are, uh, dimensions. You play at Fenway and all these stadiums with weird dimensions.
"It's more about just doing your job," he added. "You go in with a game plan and can't let the dimensions dictate how you pitch. You do that, then it doesn't matter how far out they put the fences. PNC Park (Pittsburgh) was deep, (but) it seemed as if I gave up all my home runs there. Worrying about dimensions is just another thing to worry about that you don't need to worry about."
About being the guy traded for Casey, Williams said, "From what I've heard, the guy was awesome off the field as well as on, but I'm not trying to fill any shoes. I just want to be a part of this puzzle they're putting together to be a winning team, and my part is winning games. The pressure will be there, but I have enough experience to filter out any pressure."
He had shoulder surgery in 2002 and said he shut it down at the end of last year with the rib problem, "Because the way the Pirates were going (last season) it was more about getting ready for next season. I could have pitched a couple more games, but it wouldn't have been worth it."
Told the Reds are counting heavily on him, he said, "I'm counting on myself. This is a great opportunity for me."