Injury creates opening for Janish
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By Hal McCoy
Saturday, March 01, 2008
SARASOTA, Fla. — Paul Janish is one of those young players who sits in a corner of the clubhouse — see no evil, speak no evil — and hopes when he gets noticed it is all positive.
So far, so good for the 25-year-old former shortstop for the Dayton Dragons. With Alex Gonzalez bogged under a fractured left knee for at least three weeks, Janish is getting early playing time, and his flashy glove is blinding the eyes of manager Dusty Baker right through his sunglasses.
"I guess that's a plus that good thoughts are in his mind when my name is brought up," Janish said when told of Baker's attention.
Janish's fielding always has been big-league caliber, but many wonder if he'll hit major-league pitching. Baker, though, noted that Janish has worked hard to sharpen his bat work.
"It was a slow year for me last year (.244 at Class AA Chattanooga and .221 at Class AAA Louisville), so I had to change something," he said.
Living in Texas near Adam Dunn and Jay Bruce helps.
"I worked out all winter with them," he said. "We had a pretty strong Reds contingent, and there were about 20 major-leaguers working out at the same place. It is easier to push yourself when you got guys around you.
"Early this spring, (Baker) is letting a lot of younger guys play, so hopefully, I leave a good impression," Janish said. "When it comes time to make decisions during the year, if a couple of guys get banged up, they'll think of me. Realistically, breaking camp with the team is a long shot, but things happen (such as Gonzalez getting hurt)."
Janish doubled Friday, Feb. 29, in the third inning and alertly tagged up and moved to third base on a fly ball to center field, then scored on a sacrifice fly, a heads-up play that caused Baker to make a special effort to congratulate him.
"That's what we teach, taking the extra base when we can," said Baker.
Gonzalez was diagnosed with a compression fracture of the left knee, is on crutches and will do no baseball activity for three weeks. He will walk with crutches for at least the next week to take pressure off the knee. And he won't play for at least three weeks, then he'll be re-evaluated. Even if he is healed, that's only 10 days from Opening Day, making him a long shot to be in the lineup.
Gonzalez thought it was nothing more than a deep bone bruise, but team physician Dr. Tim Kremchek diagnosed the fracture Friday morning after looking at a bone scan taken Thursday, Feb. 28.
"Just rest," said Gonzalez. "I'll be on crutches for a week to take the pressure off the knee. No surgery. I don't need that. Just rest."
Meanwhile, Baker will look at Jeff Keppinger, Janish, Juan Castro and Adam Rosales during Gonzalez's absence.
Bill Bray threw off a mound for the first time this spring Thursday, and Baker sees a change in the left-handed relief pitcher's face.
"They say he is progressing, but I'm hoping he doesn't get too far behind," said Baker. "Other guys are getting a jump on him. He looks better in the face, when he seemed worried. Now he seems happier, which means his arm must feel better and he must be feeling better."
Catcher David Ross missed Friday's game with a tight back, but said he is getting better and expects to play Saturday.
Infielder/outfielder Jerry Gil, who had two hits in the first exhibition and a three-run homer in the second, is out indefinitely with a strained left quadriceps.
Quote of the day
Ken Griffey Jr., noting that Brandon Phillips wasn't in Friday's lineup said kiddingly: "He signed a four-year contract for $27 million and can't play a home game? He ain't old enough to change his own diaper."
Former Reds catcher Eddie Taubensee was in camp Friday and said facetiously: "This is the first year I'm eligible for the Hall of Fame, and I'm laying the groundwork. A friend mentioned it to me, and I said, 'Usually you have to make a few All-Star teams to make the Hall. At least the Reds retired my number (10), even if Sparky Anderson wore it before me."