|04-09-2006, 04:12 AM||#1|
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Casey gets lost in Cincy return
CINCINNATI (AP) - Wearing an old pair of jeans and brown boots that he's had since college, Sean Casey walked through the double doors to the visitors' clubhouse and turned right.
The first baseman was headed for the manager's office at Great American Ball Park instead of the locker area on Thursday. He had to stop the clubhouse manager for directions.
"I've never been down there before," Casey said. "I had to walk in and ask which direction to go. That was weird."
During his three years of coming to the ballpark with the Cincinnati Reds, Casey always parked and headed to the home clubhouse, where he had a locker at the far end of the oblong room. He'd never had a reason to go anywhere else until he arrived with his new team, the Pittsburgh Pirates.
In a few ways, it felt odd - navigating the clubhouse, for instance. In other ways, he felt right at home.
"It's great to be back, it really is," Casey said. "For the last eight years, this has been pretty much my home. We still have our house (in the suburbs)."
The fans still consider him part of the community, which he is. Casey still works with several local charities. He still sees the youth he befriended through the local Big Brothers program in 1999 - a boy named Ben who was devastated when Casey was traded to his hometown team in December for left-hander Dave Williams.
"I don't think he took it too well at first," Casey said. "But hey, he's a typical 15-, 16-year-old. I think he's fine with it."
Casey's best baseball memories came in Cincinnati, where he came within one victory of making the playoffs in '99, developed into an All-Star and became one of the game's most popular players. He was nicknamed "The Mayor" because he treated everyone like he knew them.
Ken Griffey Jr. is the team's face, but Casey was its personality.
Several fans had signs welcoming him back on Thursday. Before he arrived at the ballpark, he thought about what it would be like to come to bat for the first time.
"It will be a different experience," he said. "Just coming out of that dugout will be a different experience. I think of the fans that have been here for all the years. I really am looking forward to hopefully getting a chance to say hello to everybody."
Only a few thousand were in the stands for the start of the game on a rainy, 51-degree evening. They gave Casey an ovation before his first at-bat, prompting him to wave his batting helmet in appreciation.
Then, he fouled out to catcher Javier Valentin.
The Reds and Pirates played during spring training, so Casey had already renewed his friendships with the players.
It was clear Thursday that Casey hasn't moved on completely. He talked about how he'll always consider himself a Red. He said he hasn't been with the Pirates long enough to be considered The Mayor of Pittsburgh.
And his new teammates have gotten to the point that they don't want to hear about Cincinnati anymore.
"Every time I mention the Reds over there, the guys tell me to turn the page," he said.
This is the Cal Ripkin Jr. of typos.
If you ask me to join your fantasy baseball league and I select Legolas in the first round, don't be angry at me. It's not my fault I've read up on the players and you haven't.