Sunday, March 12, 2006
Freel, Womack vie for leadoff
BY KEVIN KELLY | ENQUIRER STAFF WRITER
SARASOTA, Fla. - As the competition for the starting job at second base continues, Reds manager Jerry Narron has the two leading candidates in mind for the leadoff spot.
Ryan Freel and Tony Womack are the only players to bat leadoff in the Reds' eight full-squad games this spring.
Freel batted first and played left field against the Blue Jays on Saturday at Ed Smith Stadium. Womack batted second and started at second base.
"Chances are if both are in the lineup when the season begins, one will probably be in the one hole and the other will be in the eight hole," Narron said. "That's how it would probably work out."
Pitching matchups are helping determine which player bats leadoff.
The right-handed-hitting Freel is a career .275 hitter against left-handed pitchers. The left-handed-hitting Womack is a career .277 hitter against right-handed pitchers.
Four of Freel's eight total leadoff appearances this spring have come against left-handed starters. Womack's two leadoff appearances have come against right-handed starters.
"I really don't foresee during the season, when (Ken Griffey Jr.) is back in the lineup, them hitting one and two," Narron said. "That might be how it works out, but I just don't see it. I like (Felipe) Lopez or (Rich) Aurilia coming up early."
AROUND THE WORLD: With Italy eliminated from the World Baseball Classic, infielder Frank Menechino returned to camp Saturday. Menechino started Italy's three games against Australia, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. Italy beat Australia 10-0 but was outscored 14-3 in its next two games.
"It was cool," said Menechino, who batted .167 with two doubles and three RBI. "We had a lot of young guys, but the Italian guys that they brought over weren't bad.
"The Dominican and Venezuelan pitching was too strong. They're loaded. They've got All-Star teams out there."
REHAB WATCH: Starting pitcher Paul Wilson, who is recovering from right shoulder surgery, reported no problems after throwing 75 pitches Friday.
Narron was among a group that watched the right-hander throw 45 pitches off a bullpen mound and 30 more to hitters.
"It gave me a lot of hope that we would see him before too deep into the season," Narron said.
TWO MORE: Starting pitcher Eric Milton will throw a simulated game today. The left-hander re-aggravated a right calf strain during his spring debut Tuesday.
Aaron Harang, who was scratched from his start Thursday with inflammation in his right shoulder, could make his next start Tuesday. The Reds play the Red Sox at 1:05 p.m. in Fort Myers.
STOP ON BY: The list of Reds legends in camp grew Saturday when George Foster showed up and quickly pulled on a uniform. A member of the Reds Hall of Fame, Foster was invited to spring training by new CEO Bob Castellini. He will serve as a guest instructor for a week to 10 days.
"Being in a Reds uniform," Foster said, "it's like old times."