Ask Hal: Pe√Īa should be in camp, learning how to catch
QUESTION: I saw where you predicted a healthy Ken Griffey Jr. would hit 40 or more home runs this year. Last year you predicted he would hit 30 if he stayed healthy. He hit 30, so you were wrong. ó Dave, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek
ANSWER: Every week I get e-mails pleading with me to exclude your participation, Dave. They call your comments inane and asinine and some use potty language. I always defend you, saying you live to see your comments included and who am I to ruin a poor manís life? But this time you took one step over the line, pal. I hereby sentence you to one week of silence or two e-mails praising Griffey and Barry Larkin.
Q: Can you see GM Wayne Krivsky making a trade for another starting pitcher, possibly using Austin Kearns as trade bait? ó Ray, San Bernardino, Calif.
A: As Krivsky said the other day, ďI better do something about some pitching or you writers will be all over me.Ē He is trying, for sure. But trading for good pitching during spring training is like trying to find a Van Gogh or a Monet on eBay. If a trade is made, Iíd look for Wily Mo Pe√Īa to go before Kearns. But please, Wily Mo, donít punch me.
Q: Does Jimmy Journell fit anywhere in the Redsí plan? He had three good outings and was reassigned to the minor leagues. What does that indicate? ó Mark, Springfield
A: Jimmy Journell from Springfield? Mark from Springfield? I get the connection. Journell gave up no runs and three hits in three innings. Pretty strong. But he was a non-roster invitee with a lot of bodies (some of them barely breathing and barely warm) to climb over. Heíll get a chance in the minors and, with the way the Reds are turning over rocks, stones and sticks to find pitching, if he continues pitching well in the minors, youíll be able to make that drive from Springfield to Cincinnati to see him.
Q: I havenít read much encouraging about the starting pitching and Iím worried the Reds could finish last in the National League Central. ó Erick, Columbus
A: Climb aboard. Iím thinking that way, too. From what Iíve seen, Pittsburgh and Milwaukee are better this year and St. Louis, Houston and Chicago already were better. Letís see, where does that put the Reds? Iíll probably pick them to finish last, stick out my chin, and say, ďProve me wrong, but please, Wily Mo, donít punch me.Ē
Q: Quinton McCracken has looked good in spring training ó hits, bunting for hits, moving runners up, defense, plus he gave me an autograph and he graduated from Duke University, as I did. I hope he makes the team. ó Tom, Floyd, Va.
A: Ah, blind prejudice. An autograph, a schoolmate. GM Wayne Krivsky went to Duke, too, but I guarantee you McCracken only will make the team if he earns it. Krivsky isnít into autograph-collecting.
Q: How is Wily Mo Pe√Īa enjoying his vacation? ó Parsin, Dayton
A: He hasnít sent me any Wish-You-Were-Here post cards, but I assume he is having a fine time with the best seat in the house ó a dugout cushion ó watching his Dominican Republic teammates play in the World Baseball Classic. Personally, I believe Pe√Īa should be in camp learning to catch fly balls in left field, but Iím not brave enough to tell him that face-to-face. Please, Wily Mo, donít punch me.
Q: How did Barry Bonds and Ken Griffey Jr. become such good friends when they never played against each other early in their careers? Griffey went to college and Bonds didnít; Griffey is a nice guy and Bonds is a pain. ó Brian, Oakwood
A: It certainly isnít a case of birds of a feather flocking together. Their fathers, Bobby Bonds and Ken Griffey Sr., played against each other a lot and it probably stemmed from that. And a person with tons of money always can sniff their way towards another person with tons of money. Too bad Juniorís personality never rubbed off on Barry and itís fortunate Barryís personality didnít rub off on Junior.
Q: I expect the truth will come out on Barry Bonds, and as a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan I have learned to expect some not-so-good outcomes. ó Bill, Chicago
A: They say truth is stranger than fiction, but I donít think the truth about Bonds is going to come across as strange, just disgusting. Shouldnít you be worrying about Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, Steve Bartman and that crazy goat from the Billy Goat Tavern?
Q: You have seen owners come and go. What does your gut tell you about new ownership? ó Frank, Miamisburg
A: My gut tells me to lay off the tacos carbone at Mi Puebla. As for new ownership, led by Bob Castellini, I love what Iím hearing and I love his passion for winning and for the game. But he needs time to help right this wreck and I forgive his exuberance in constantly saying, ďThis team is going to be better than most people think.Ē No, it wonít. But I applaud his enthusiasm