The Captain and The Mayor
Popped over to the Goodyear complex for a little while before the Reds go to Mesa for the Cubs.
One of the first people I saw Saturday morning was Barry Larkin laughing at his locker in the coaches room. Larkin is in camp as a guest instructor for about 10 days and wearing a Reds uniform for the first time since he departed after the 2004 season.
Although 45, Larkin looked like he could still play.
“Looks can be deceiving,” he replied.
One thing Larkin didn’t overlook was the meaning of wearing that No. 11 uniform again.
“It feels good. It feels natural,” Larkin said. “I was telling Joey Votto the other day about my opportunity to play with the Nationals. When I saw the Nationals uniform with 11 and ‘Larkin’ on the back, I told them I couldn’t put the uniform on. I couldn’t do it. I sat in my locker and just looked at it like ‘something is not right about this.’”
Larkin spent a few years in the Nats front office but now works for MLB Network. As does Sean Casey, who is also back in uniform for the first time on Saturday.
One of my few regrets on this job is that I never got to cover the Reds when Casey was here. I started in December, 2005 during the Winter Meetings and the first news I got to write about was Casey being traded to the Pirates for LHP Dave Williams. We know how that deal turned out for Cincinnati.
Casey, aka “The Mayor”, is about as nice as they come and I’ve gotten to talk with him a few times since he left the Reds. But for the reporters he knew when he played here, there is fond feelings.
Casey saw Hal McCoy in the hallway and engulfed him a gigantic hug with big slaps on the back. I think Hal is headed to the chiropractor in a few minutes.
In that hallway, Dr. Tim Kremchek was giving Casey some grief. Casey called Doc last night while Kremchek was at the Suns-Lakers game.
“Where’s Doc? My elbow is killing me,” Casey said. “I think I need a cortisone shot.”
“You’re retired for God’s sake,” Kremchek said.
“It’s all the pullups I’ve been doing,” Casey joked.
*The Reds had a lineup change. Scott Rolen was scratched and Juan Francisco was the replacement in the fourth spot and at third base. The Reds said nothing was wrong with Rolen.
*After two relief appearances, lefty Aroldis Chapman will make his first start on Wednesday in the split-squad afternoon game vs. the Brewers.
*Jay Bruce is off to a nice start batting .429 (6-for-14) with a homer in six games. Considering the bad year he had last season, it’s encouraging. It’s also a sign that some of the improvement he made after coming off of the DL late in the year is sticking.
“So far, what I’ve been proud of is that I’m not going up there feeling like I’m having to hit or having to swing at pitches,” Bruce said. “I’m making a decision on the pitch I’m going to swing at. It’s not so much of collision hitting this year. It’s more of having more time to make a decision. I’ve chased very few pitches. Everyone is going to chase some pitches or swing at bad pitches or strikeout. I’m trying to cut down on that as much as I can. That’s my goal.”
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