Williams allows 5 runs in debut
By Marc Lancaster / Post staff reporter
SARASOTA, Fla. - It wasn't the Reds debut he had in mind, but Dave Williams didn't think any drastic measures were in order.
After the left-hander surrendered five runs - two of them earned - in a lengthy first inning against the Kia Tigers on Tuesday at Ed Smith Stadium, he had little choice but to shrug it off.
"When you go out there your first time, you're trying to execute pitches and get back in the swing of things," said Williams. "Am I going to kill myself over this outing? Probably not. If it was going into the season? Probably."
True enough, the pitcher acquired from Pittsburgh in the Sean Casey trade has plenty of time left to work out the kinks. His outing against the Korean professional team was shorter than he would have liked, but he accomplished a few of his goals.
Among them: not issuing a walk. The closest he came was a 3-2 count to the seventh-place hitter, Lim Sung-min, with two on and two out in the first. Williams fired one down the middle, doing his best not to issue the walk, and Lim lifted it over the fence in left-center for a three-run homer.
"Dave's going to be fine; it was his first time out," said Reds manager Jerry Narron. "He didn't have a real good feel, and he's a feel guy."
Williams said he had trouble staying in a rhythm on the mound. But he did use all his pitches and threw strikes fairly consistently.
Still, those five runs didn't look very good on the board.
"Hopefully it'll improve," Williams said. "I definitely left myself room."
As did the collection of reserves that played the vast majority of what ended up being a 12-4 loss to the Tigers. The Reds committed four errors and didn't crack the scoreboard until the sixth inning.
Aside from Williams, most of the damage was absorbed by reliever Travis Chick, who allowed three hits and walked two men on the way to giving up four runs in the fifth. He couldn't get out of the inning, racking up 36 pitches and recording two outs before Narron brought the hook.
The pitching news wasn't all bad, as Matt Belisle and Mike Burns worked 1-2-3 innings and Todd Coffey struck out the side in his frame with an error and single mixed in.
PATIENCE - Paul Wilson admits he'd prefer to "go-go-go-go" on his rehab from shoulder surgery, but he knows that wouldn't be the wisest approach.
Last year's Opening Day starter continued his comeback Tuesday with a 70-pitch bullpen session under the eyes of pitching coach Vern Ruhle and trainer Mark Mann. He came through it with no problems.
"The last 20 were better than the first 20," said Wilson. "I got to the point where I got loose. I wasn't as strong today, but you have those kinds of days. It's a roller-coaster ride."
Wilson will throw a bit today then go back for another bullpen session Thursday. He said no one has broached the subject of when he might face hitters in a live situation. That would be counterproductive, in his mind.
"What we're doing right now feels like we're going in the right direction," Wilson said. "I need to face hitters and all that stuff, but we're going fast and at the same time we're really just taking it day-to-day. When you start making schedules and having to meet deadlines, then we're really not listening to what my arm is saying."
LOCKED IN - Narron said Tuesday that he considers at least four spots in the Reds' starting rotation to be set.
"I hope so," he said.
Aaron Harang, Brandon Claussen, Eric Milton and Williams are in, with Wilson's health the only question. Asked whether anything could change the status of the other four, Narron replied, "Trade or injury."
"Trade or injury," Narron repeated.
As is the custom, the Reds will ease their starting pitchers in slowly during the spring. Narron said starters would go two, possibly three, innings in their first appearances, depending on how many pitches they throw.
"If they go out there and have back-to-back eight-pitch innings, you're not going to want to sit them down," said Narron.
ON TRACK - David Weathers began spring training a bit behind his peers after tearing a tendon in his right index finger while playing catch at home in January, but he's fine now.
Narron said the veteran reliever and de facto closer is among the pitchers scheduled to take the mound in today's intrasquad game "if he feels OK."
TRANSACTIONS - The Reds agreed to terms Tuesday with Chick and infielders William Bergolla and Ray Olmedo. Of the players on the 40-man roster, only Belisle, Ryan Wagner and Miguel Perez remain unsigned for 2006.