Newest Reds pitcher hurt already?
By Hal McCoy
ST. LOUIS | It was after Wednesday night's game and the newest occupant of the Cincinnati Reds' bullpen, Scott Schoeneweis, walked to his locker wearing an ice bag on his left knee big enough to sink the Bismarck to the bottom of the sea.
And he didn't even pitch.
Some eyebrows raised around the clubhouse after all the problems with injuries to bullpen guys brought in from other teams — Gary Majewski (shoulder), Eddie Guardado (forearm), Rheal Cormier (gluteus maximus).
Schoeneweis says it is nothing.
"A freakish thing," he said. "Did it about 10 days ago running in the outfield in Toronto. I lost my footing and slipped. I blew some stuff out in the back of my knee, but it is a non-issue as to whether I can pitch."
Meanwhile, manager Jerry Narron has to check daily on the availability of his closer (Guardado) and his left-handed set-up guy (Cormier).
"Guardado went six straight days without pitching, then pitched a game and wasn't available the next day," said Narron. "I was hoping if we could get him a lot of work it might help, but we haven't been able do that. We've gone both ways with it and neither has worked. Is it a concern? Yes. Yes, it is a concern."
The Cincinnati Twins?
Juan Castro, obtained in a trade with the Minnesota Twins, remains close friends with Johann Santana, Minnesota's nearly unhittable pitcher.
"I talked to him Friday and he said, 'Now what team do you play for, the Cincinnati Twins?' I told him, 'Hey, if you want to pitch here, come on down.'"
In addition to Castro, Reds general manager Wayne Krivsky, former assistant GM with the Twins, has brought in former Twins Eddie Guardado, Kyle Lohse and Joe Mays. In addition, Javier Valentin and Eric Milton are ex-Twins.
Pitcher Kent Mercker underwent surgery for 2 1/2 hours Thursday morning in Cincinnati from Dr. Tim Kremchek to re-attach the flexor tendon in his elbow and to completely reconstruct his ulnar collateral ligament. A tendon from his hamstring was used to rebuild the ligament.
Amazingly, after Mercker completely tore the ligament throwing a wild pitch to Ryan Howard, he stayed in the game and walked Howard, then threw a 90 mph fastball to get an inning-ending double play from Danny Sandovar.
Answer the phone(s)
A cell phone rang in Ken Griffey Jr.'s travel bag Thursday morning and he fished around a bit, eventually pulling out three cell phones and a Blackberry.
When he figured out which phone it was, "They all have different rings," he answered to find out that his mother, Bertie, was being prepped for what was going to be two hours of surgery to treat colon cancer.
"I'm the guinea pig for Cincinnati Bell," said Griffey. "When they come out with something new, I try it out for a while, then I sit down with them and tell them what I like and what I don't like."
The sole survivors
Todd Coffey sat near his locker before Thursday's game and at one point only he and David Weathers were in the clubhouse proper.
"The survivors," said Coffey. "Stormy (Weathers) and I are the only survivors from Opening Day, the only two guys left in the bullpen who were there on Opening Day."
You know things are strange when three pitchers on the staff wear numbers in the 60's and two are starters — Bronson Arroyo (61) and Chris Michalak (63). In addition, bullpenners Scott Schoeneweis (60) and Eddie Guardado (81) wear football numbers.
Pitt not the pits
For those who believe the Reds have it easy the next three days, playing the last-place Pittsburgh Pirates, well don't mention the Mellon Center or pirogues around St. Louis manager Tony La Russa. His team lost three straight to the Pirates last weekend in Pittsburgh and were outscored 17-3.
"Not even close," said Reds manager Jerry Narron when asked about the possibility of his team taking the Pirates lightly. "Everybody knows they are much better than their record. They've played a lot of close games, a lot of one-run games."
The Pirates lead the majors with 42 one-run games and are 15-27. The Reds are 22-13.
The three-game series is expected to draw 100,000, with more than 30,000 already sold for tonight and Saturday.
"The crowds have been great and when the Cardinals were there, it was awesome," said Narron.