Reds Notes: Frustrated Griffey sits again
ST. LOUIS — Ken Griffey Jr. walked to his locker at 9:30 Sunday morning, fresh from the training room, and plopped into his chair.
“Why me?” he said, shaking his head. “Why is it always me?”
It isn’t always Griffey getting hurt, but to him it has to seem that way as he missed his fourth straight start Sunday in St. Louis with tightness behind his right knee.
“They rub it out, it comes back. They rub it out, it comes back,” he said. “We didn’t rub it out today to see how that works. It is like a knot in there, like a charley horse, and it feels like it goes right over a tendon.”
Griffey said he has full flexibility in the knee and full strength and he has been able to run a little more each day.
“It’s just frustrating,” he said. “I have to spend so much time in my least favorite place — the training room.”
There have been rumblings that Griffey’s injury is more serious than the team is willing to admit, the way last year’s injury was downplayed right up until the day it was announced he was having surgery.
Manager Jerry Narron says it isn’t so.
“If it was worse than we’re letting on he wouldn’t be here,” he said. “It is really day-to-day and we’ll see what Dr. (Tim) Kremchek says when we get home and he looks at him (today) to see why he has that tightness. If I had gone through what he has with those surgeries and I felt tight I wouldn’t want to be taking any chances.”
The glove collector
When Ryan Freel starts, whether he has played second base for center field, the Reds are 6-1. And they are 6-1 when he bats leadoff, but 1-3 when Tony Womack bats leadoff.
As a Man for All Positions, Freel has six gloves — three gamers and three backups. His outfield glove, the biggest glove, belonged to Adam Dunn. His third base glove, a medium-sized glove, belonged to former Reds third baseman Brandon Larson. The smallest glove, the second base glove is his own.
Why is he using gloves formerly owned by Dunn and Larson?
“I’ve played this game for nearly 25 years and never learned how to break in a glove,” he said. “That’s why I use other people’s. I stole Dunn’s glove out of his locker and I took Larson’s when he was on the DL and I said, ‘I’ll take this, you aren’t going to use it.’”
About using his own glove for second base, he said, “I broke it in myself and I hate it. It stinks.”
Timing is everything
Shortstop Felipe Lopez has two stolen bases, three behind league-leading teammate Ryan Freel. While Freel can free-wheel, Lopez is on a leash.
“I want Lopez to run when he can make it, not run just to run,” said Narron. “With Griffey and Dunn hitting behind him, he can score from first just as easily as second, maybe easier. I’d like to see him steal 15 bases and get thrown out once rather than steal 20 and get throw out 12 times.
“What he has to learn is when he doesn’t get a good jump, doesn’t get that first quick step, just shut it down. He doesn’t have great speed, so he has to read the pitcher right and get a great jump. Billy Hatcher (first base coach) will be of great help to him.”
Facing the Minnows
The Reds return home tonight for a brief three-game series against the Florida Minnows, who may have four players fans might recognize. They have 15 players making the $330,000 major-league minimum on their 25-man roster. The entire roster is paid only $14.5 million.
Florida’s rotation for the series is Brian Moehler (0-2, 13.50), Jason Vargas (12-1, 5.73) and lefthanded All-Star Dontrelle Willis (1-0, 1.93).
Brandon Claussen pitches for the Reds and he shut out the Marlins last April on one hit over 5 2/3 innings in Dolphins Stadium, but a year later the only Florida hitter Claussen ever has faced is first baseman Wes Helms, who is 6-for-10 with a home run.