Sunday, May 28, 2006
Fielders try not to get burned by new start times
BY KEVIN KELLY | ENQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Ken Griffey Jr. reached into his locker Saturday afternoon and grabbed three pairs of sunglasses.
A separate foam-lined Nike case housed eight more interchangeable lenses in tints ranging from bright orange to charcoal.
"Today is going to be a pretty good gauge of what glasses I've got to try and wear out there to try and see," Griffey said.
The Reds this offseason responded to fans' wishes for earlier start times on Saturdays by scheduling 10 of those home games at 6:10 p.m.
Saturday's game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Great American Ball Park was the second played at the new time, but the first played under clear skies and sunshine.
The conditions had Griffey, left fielder Adam Dunn and others on both teams reaching for their sunglasses.
"It's going to be interesting," Reds manager Jerry Narron said before the game. "You might need to get a welder's mask (to see).
"They've just got to stay after it. If the ball does get in the sun, they've got to stay with it."
Shadows covered a small portion of the field when Reds pitcher Aaron Harang started the game with a strike at 6:11 p.m.
The sun typically presents a problem for 30 to 40 minutes for a 7:10 p.m. start.
"The old ballpark (Cinergy Field) was much taller than this one, so it didn't affect you for 7 p.m. games," Griffey said. "Here, everything is more compact and shorter."
Adding to the glare in the late afternoon and early evening is the reflection off the glass of the Scripps Howard building on Walnut Street.
"Even if the sun goes down, you can still see it off that mirrored building," Griffey said. "Some days it's bright orange. That's like playing in the Metrodome. There are some obstacles we have to deal with."
Dunn and Griffey were tested by the sun early in the game Saturday.
The game's first batter, Arizona shortstop Craig Counsell, hit a fly ball that Dunn caught. Diamondbacks center fielder Eric Byrnes then followed with a fly ball Griffey caught for the second out.
Only a sliver of sunlight was visible on the field in the fifth inning when Dunn fumbled a line drive by Arizona second baseman Orlando Hudson. Dunn did not flip down his sunglasses on the play.
"If you look at how outfielders play, look at their feet," Griffey said. "That will tell you if they see it or not - not their reaction and the jump."