Closer Coffey made the right choice
By Hal McCoy
NEW YORK — Todd Coffey signed a contract with the Cincinnati Reds, a 41st-round draft pick, when he was 17. Usually, such low picks have as much chance of making the major leagues as they do of discovering oil in their backyard. Finding oil might be easier.
They sign for a new pair of shoes, maybe a new glove, and hope they survive in the minors for a couple of years.
Coffey had a choice.
He weighed college offers from Clemson, North Carolina State and the University of North Carolina-Pembroke, where he could prove he was better than the 40 guys the Reds chose in front of him.
After due thought, he decided to sign with the Reds.
"I decided I'd rather have four years of professional coaching than four years of amateur coaching in college," he said. "When most guys are just getting out of college, I had four years of pro ball and four years of professional instruction."
And there was the aluminum bats of college against the wood bats of pro ball.
"You don't pitch inside in college because they can still hit it on the handle for hits," he said. "You can't jam them and break bats. If you pitch in college, you pitch away, away, away. Then you sign a pro contract, and if you don't quit pitching away and come inside you get killed."
Any blue-light specials?
Minority owner Bill Reik Jr., a New York businessman, was in Monday's pregame clubhouse, and like all Reds fans, he was lamenting the plight of the team's bullpen.
"All my friends and acquaintances always ask me, 'When are you going to go out and get some pitching?' " said Reik. "And I say, 'Where? Wal-Mart? Sam's Club? Best Buy? Kmart? Good pitching just isn't available now, and when it is available in July the price is way too high.'
"And I laugh when I hear the talk-show guys saying we should trade Adam Dunn and Felipe Lopez and Austin Kearns for pitching," Reik added. "We trade those guys for pitching and we wreck our team."
Call him Babe Lopez
When it comes to hot dogs and indigestion, Babe Ruth had nothing on Reds shortstop Felipe Lopez, spotted before Sunday's day game eating four hot dogs.
Is that common pregame cuisine for Lopez?
"Not usually, not four hot dogs," he said. "I do eat a lot before games. I have to keep my weight up. I sweat a lot and lose a lot of weight."
Edwin not ready
Edwin Encarnacion is eligible to come off the DL on Thursday, but he isn't with the team and it isn't likely to happen.
Encarnacion worked out briefly before Sunday's game in Cincinnati, and when asked how the third baseman looked, manager Jerry Narron said, "Like his ankle is not 100 percent. He might not have had pain, but he didn't look 100 percent."
He was to take ground balls and batting practice this week in Cincinnati in front of assistant trainer Tim Elser. "Then we'll find out where he is," Narron said. "We'd love to have him meet (Class AAA) Louisville Thursday and work out, then play in a game for the Bats Friday."
Belisle & Bailey
Disabled pitcher Matt Belisle is scheduled to pitch this week at Class AA Chattanooga and Narron couldn't resist linking Belisle and Homer Bailey, who makes his Class AA debut at Chattanooga when he starts Thursday's game.
"I look for Belisle to get the save in Homer Bailey's game," said Narron.
Relief pitcher Jason Standridge reported Monday, replacing Rick White in the bullpen, but don't look for Narron to change his late-game procession of Chris Hammond, David Weathers and Todd Coffey.
Asked how Standridge will be used, Narron said: "As needed. But as long as we're leading or tied, I'll still go with Hammond, Weathers and Coffey. Standridge pitched middle relief in Louisville, and he did fine in that role here last year."
Standridge was 2-2 with two saves and a 2.62 ERA in 29 games for Louisville after he was designated for assignment out of spring training.
"It doesn't matter how long I was there," he said. "I'm here now and I'm wearing a major-league uniform. I had to learn how to use my fastball better — move it up in the zone, down in the zone, in-and-out and being aggressive."