Reininger's timing at third has been good, bad
By Marc Katz

Staff Writer

Dayton Dragons third baseman J.D. Reininger has been in the right place at the right time and the wrong place at the wrong time.

Out of high school, Reininger signed with the University of Texas as a pitcher, ended up filling in at third base and was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds as a third baseman.

He began this season his third in pro ball with the Dragons as the regular at third. Then a death in the family called him home for a few days. When he returned, Eric Eymann was playing so well, he was the regular, and Reininger has played a substitute role.

"It's tough," Reininger said. "I'm one of those guys who has to be out there (playing)."

There was no way Reininger was going to play third base for Texas when he arrived and Omar Quintanilla and Brandon Fahey were already on the team. But Quintanilla had to sit out a few games for playing summer ball in Mexico, and Fahey broke his thumb on the first day of the season.

"I became the starter," Reininger said. He responded, hitting .320 with 13 home runs and 51 RBIs as a freshman on the Longhorns' 2002 national championship team.

When Quintanilla and Fahey returned, Reininger became the team's designated hitter, with Quintanilla moving to third and Fahey to short. All three are with pro teams Fahey with the Orioles and Quintanilla in Class AAA with the Rockies.

Dragon tales

Johnny Cueto can heat it up to about 95 mph, and it isn't just the speed of his fastball that makes batters flinch, according to Dayton Dragons manager Billy Gardner Jr.

"He has life on his fastball at the end," said Gardner, who brings his team home today for the second and final four-game series of the month.

That means Cueto's fastball isn't slowing down when it crosses the plate, and it isn't moving in a straight line, either.

Gardner also likes the fact Cueto gets the ball over the plate (45 strikeouts, six walks in 33 innings), and "he works the strike zone, up and down."

That's probably why Cueto threw a five-inning no-hitter at Wisconsin on Saturday night in the rain, improving his record to 3-1 with a 3.55 ERA.

The Dragons play host to Fort Wayne for a four-game series beginning today. Today's game is one of only eight home games scheduled for the month of May. In June, however, the Dragons have 19 home dates, the most of any month this season.

The Midwest League's first half ends June 18. The MWL all-star game is June 20 in Davenport, Iowa.