Tigers, by any name, trump Reds
Taylor's homer off Wagner beats Cincinnati in spring opener
By Hal McCoy / Dayton Daily News
After losing a 12-4 game Tuesday to the Korean Kia Tigers, the Reds lost the official Grapefruit League opener Thursday to the Detroit Tigers, 8-5.
A familiar face broke a 5-5 tie in the seventh when former Cincinnati back-up outfielder Reggie Taylor, wearing No. 80 and in camp as a minor-leaguer with an invited, crushed a home run off Ryan Wagner.
And the Tigers, U.S. variety, scored two other runs off Wagner in that decisive seventh inning.
The loudest noise made by somebody wearing red came from a first baseman wearing No. 21 and, no, Sean Casey isn't back. Scott Hatteberg is wearing Casey's "21" and plays Casey's position and hit a home run Thursday, something the Reds thought Casey didn't do often enough.
Hatteberg's home run was significant to him in that it came off a change-up.
"That was good because a change-up is a tough pitched to adjust to this early in the season," he said. "I was able to stay back on it and hit it pretty good."
Hatteberg's main question is: What's in all this for me?
"I've talked informally (with manager Jerry Narron) and it is pretty obvious what my role is," he said. "It's not going to be a lot of playing time. I only play first base and as long as Adam Dunn is there I'm not going to play.
"I'll be available when they shuffle the lineup, late-inning replacement," he said. "That's the way it is right now and I totally understand it."
Milton injury not serious
Manager Jerry Narron isn't concerned about the strained right calf that prevented Eric Milton from making his start Thursday.
"Milton would have been OK to pitch if he didn't have to make quick movements," said Narron. "If it were a regular-season game I think he would have been able to pitch."
Kearns misses game
Austin Kearns was scheduled to make the trip, but remained home after he was hit on the right forearm in Wednesday's intrasquad game by pitcher Luke Hudson.
"That thing swelled up pretty good right away," said Narron. "There was no reason for him to come over here. I would think he'll be fine to play (today against Detroit in Sarasota)."
A second opinion
Infielder William Bergolla is in Cincinnati seeing Reds general surgeon Dr. Joann Lohr, getting a second opinion on his diagnosed high right groin strain.
His absence in Lakeland disappointed Venezuelan media folks who wanted to interview their countryman. Catcher Miguel Perez, a Venezuelan, was the center of attention.
As he talked, a fan yelled, "Hey, Miguel, how's your dad?"
"I'm not related to Tony Perez," he answered. Then aside, he said, "I get that all the time from fans."
Looking for Davey
Detroit shortstop Carlos Guillen was asked if there was any player he looked forward to seeing as he departed for the Venezuelan team in the World Baseball Classic.
"It isn't a player, it's one of our coaches," he said. "It's Davey Concepcion. He was my favorite player growing up when he played for the Reds. He's a shortstop, he's from the same city (Maracay) and, wow, 19 years in the big leagues."
An old friend
John Franco, the left-handed closer who saved 148 for the Reds, then saved 276 more before retiring, is pitching coach for Italy, which is training in Lakeland for the World Baseball Classic.
He is slim and trim with distinguished gray hair at the temples and looked ready to save more games.
"I can still pitch, I really can," he said. "But I don't want to do it."
A report in the Arizona Republic said three Florida-based teams are either being lured or are investigating the possibility of moving to Arizona for spring training for 2008 and the Cincinnati Reds were included.
The Reds, Baltimore Orioles and Cleveland Indians were mentioned and the three Arizona cities were Casa Grande, Goodyear and Glendale.
New Reds CEO/owner Bob Castellini said last week the Reds are interested in staying in Sarasota for a long time, but a new facility is necessary.
Those three Arizona cities are interested in building facilities and the Reds were mentioned, as prospective occupants, because their agreement with Sarasota expires after 2007.
Belisle is last
Pitcher Matt Belisle agreed to terms to a one-year contract, completing the 40-man roster and making it unnecessary for new general manager Wayne Krivsky to renew any contracts.
"It's nice to have that behind us so that we can concentrate on baseball," said Krivsky.