Gonzalez will sit out
Shortstop to miss first week of exhibition games as team takes cautious approach.
By Hal McCoy
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
SARASOTA, Fla. — The first seepage in what has been Camp Serenity for the Cincinnati Reds is leaking.
All is not well with shortstop Alex Gonzalez and his troublesome left knee.
Manager Dusty Baker said Gonzalez won't play in this afternoon's intrasquad game and he'll miss at least the first week of exhibition games.
Jeff Keppinger, the man who stepped in most of the time last season when Gonzalez missed the entire year after a compression fracture of the knee last spring, will start at shortstop for one team and Paul Janish will start for the other team.
Baker is trying to soft-shoe it, but the loss of Gonzalez could be like a steel-plated work boot falling on his head.
"Gonzo is not going to start tomorrow (in the intrasquad game)," Baker said Monday, Feb. 23. "And he won't play for a few days. At least a week. It is because of what I see and what the trainers see and where we are in the schedule for him to get ready for Opening Day.
"We're trying to keep him healthy to be ready," Baker added. "He still has a lot of tests he has to pass. Sliding. Cutting. Getting out of the way on double plays. Avoiding a collision. There are certain things we can simulate, but how can you simulate a collision?"
Gonzalez, who underwent surgery July 7, came to camp with a 100 percent stamp of approval from team physician Dr. Tim Kremchek.
Perhaps, as a natural reaction, that gave Gonzalez the confidence to try to do everything the rest of the players were doing in drills. He wanted to prove he is back and he is healthy. He had good days and he had days he limped.
And the Reds are going to find out if keeping him away from game action for a week will be enough to put him back on a direct path to playing on Opening Day.
General manager Walt Jocketty is not concerned. Not yet.
"Not concerned at all, no," he said. "We knew he was going to have to ease into this. He's on track.
"If it's a month from now and he is where he is, then I'd be concerned. Right now, I'm not concerned. Everything is fine," Jocketty added. "He is pain-free and we are just making sure he doesn't overdo it."