Monday, March 6, 2006
Burns makes statement; Waiver claim throws strikes
BY JOHN FAY | ENQUIRER STAFF WRITER
SARASOTA, Fla. - Reds manager Jerry Narron wants to dispel the notion the roster is set, particularly when it comes to pitching.
"We're begging for someone to step up and dominate," he said.
That is to say any of the young pitchers the Reds run out in the spring training games could end up on the roster come April 3.
Mike Burns, 27, a right-hander signed off waivers from Houston, has stepped to the head of the class.
"The thing that stands out about him is he's going out and throwing strikes," Narron said. "We're looking for guys to command the baseball, not miss by three feet, miss by three inches."
Burns was 0-0 with a 4.94 ERA last year. He allowed only 29 hits and eight walks in 31 innings.
He was dominant - 2-1, 2.10 ERA, 13 saves, 34 strikeouts in 30 innings - at Triple-A before the promotion.
Burns says what the Reds have seen so far is what they'll get.
"That's pretty much the way I pitch," he said. "I've never gotten by on stuff. I rely on command and throwing strikes."
Burns was scheduled to throw an inning against the New York Yankees on Saturday, but he was so efficient in the inning that coaches allowed him to throw another inning.
"My arm strength is pretty good," he said. "I don't feel 100 percent, but I'm (getting) there."
Narron pointed to Michael Gosling as another pitcher who has looked good early. Gosling threw three shutout innings and did not walk a batter in his first outing.
"When he missed, it was with a purpose," Narron said. "Some guys look like they've got no clue where it's going."
DUNN IN LEFT: Adam Dunn made his first start of the spring in left field in Sunday's 7-5 loss to Tampa Bay.
Could we see some of that in the regular season?
"I've got to do whatever I can to keep Scott Hatteberg sharp," Narron said.
That would mean Dunn playing left; Hatteberg only plays first.
Hatteberg also gives the Reds a different look offensively.
"He's an on-base guy who gives you good at-bats," Narron said.
Left fielder Wily Mo Peņa isn't an on-base guy, and he doesn't always give you good at-bats. But he does have awesome power.
Narron says Dunn is OK with playing first and the outfield.
BUCK ON GRIFFEY: Here's what Buck Martinez, coach of the USA Team for the World Baseball Classic, had to say about Ken Griffey Jr.:
"Junior is having a blast here. His personality is infectious. Many of these younger players have never seen the Junior we know, the player of the decade in the 1990s. They were standing around watching some of the balls he was hitting yesterday, and you could see the wide-eyed look like, 'This guy's pretty good.' They haven't seen Junior play at the level we've seen him play. It's good to see him bouncing around like a kid again."
IN PRAISE OF EDWIN: Narron first saw Edwin Encarnacion in 2001 when Encarnacion was 18 and in camp with the Texas Rangers. Narron knew then that the kid had it.
"He hasn't changed one bit," Narron said. "When he stepped on the field, you saw he was sure of himself even then."
Encarnacion drove in the Reds' first run Sunday with a single.
He's hitting .600 (6-for-10) with three home runs and seven RBI this spring.
"I was a little disappointed he took a third strike (Saturday) with the bases loaded," Narron said. "He's got to put the ball in play there. That's nitpicking with someone who hit three home runs in two days."
NO TIMETABLE: Paul Wilson, coming back from shoulder surgery, threw to hitters for the first time Sunday.
"It went well," trainer Mark Mann said, "Really well."
Said Narron: "I've never put a timetable on it. I hope he's ready April 1, if not April 1, April 2 ..."