Reds face fresh opposition
Cincinnati opens exhibition play against Korean team
By Hal McCoy / Dayton Daily News
SARASOTA, Fla. — For the most part, the necessary drudgery and monotony of daily workouts — drills and batting practice against rag-armed coaches — is over.
Exhibition games begin this afternoon for the Cincinnati Reds, "And it's about time," said outfield candidate Quinton McCracken. "This other stuff gets old in a hurry. Let's get it on."
The Reds play the Kia Tigers of the Korean professional league this afternoon in Ed Smith Stadium with newly acquired left-hander Dave Williams, the man for whom the Reds traded Sean Casey, on the mound.
And the Reds won't be facing a Korean pitcher at the start. Kia is starting Seth Greisinger, the No. 1 draft choice of the Detroit Tigers in 1996. After a non-illustrious four-year career with Detroit, Minnesota and Atlanta — 1016 in 39 major-league starts. Greisinger bolted for Korea.
Said Ryan Freel, who arrived in camp three weeks before spring training officially began, "I'm ready and I'm excited."
For guys like McCracken, Tuffy Rhodes, Chris Denorfia, Frank Menechino, Scott Hatteberg and a long red line of prospective pitchers, the early exhibition games are a chance to draw attention to their abilities and what they might contribute.
"Tomorrow (today) will be a good day. We get to play games," said Denorfia after a baserunning drill Monday.
After Tuesday's game, the Reds play a five-inning intrasquad game Wednesday, Brandon Claussen and Luke Hudson starting for each team. On Thursday, the Reds travel to Lakeland to play the Detroit Tigers.
"Everybody is ready for games after a couple of days," said right fielder Austin Kearns. "But I'll say one thing, the workouts are better than they've been in the past because we get our work done and get to leave. No standing around for hours."
Manager Jerry Narron feels the same way.
"The last two years we put in a lot of quantity, but not much quality during workouts and it made me sick," he said. "I've been around spring trainings so long (28 years) that I know what works and what doesn't work. I've been through camps runs by Johnny Oates, Cal Ripken Sr., Earl Weaver and Paul Richards and that's a pretty good lineup.
"I'm very happy with the way our players have gone about their business and the way they've paid attention when the coaches talked," he added. "Last year I was very disappointed in the bunting of our starting pitchers and we've worked hard on that this spring."