All Things Bubba

Because how can you not love a baseball player named "Bubba"?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Center field

Trent reports:

In early outfield drills, Ryan Freel was in center, Dunn and Griffey were in left and Crosby and Hamilton were in right. Not that I think it means a whole lot, but it did happen.

He also says he'll try to keep us updated on the 5-inning intrasquad game tomorrow. Homer Bailey is supposed to pitch, as well as Arroyo, so everyone's all excited.

Looks like MLB.TV isn't covering it. (Boo!) Maybe will come through, at least with audio. Sigh. If not, we'll have to depend on the newspaper bloggers.

From Lonnie Wheeler's blog:

What we do know, pretty much, is that Ken Griffey Jr. will not be the Reds' starting center fielder. In March.

He has the wrist thing from wrestling with his kids, and it has left Jerry Narron, the Reds manager, wrestling with his kids. Guys like Ryan Freel, Josh Hamilton, Bubba Crosby, Norris Hopper and Chris Denorfia will be rolling around in the grass of Ed Smith Stadium this spring.

Interesting. I had thought it looked like Griffey was staying in center. But Mr. Wheeler sees signs of a big change in the offing:

Unlike last year, the manager did not say that center field is a done deal because the Reds already have the greatest center fielder of the generation playing it. He did not even say that those other guys will be playing center field in spring training just in case Griffey is not ready by Opening Day.

Griffey himself has gradually become less resistant to the suggestion of moving over where his legs can perhaps better stand the strain. Not that he's surrendering center field. Not that he's dancing to the trendy music when it comes on. But he's no longer covering his ears, at least, or snarling at the speakers.

But he doesn't think Freel will start in CF. At least, not every day:

Even Freel, who put the wreck in reckless, understands that a position of his very own is probably not the best idea.

"I like to think of myself as a utility guy," said the man who never put on a uniform he couldn't soil by the second inning. "I just like being able to be that versatile. It's fun doing stuff that not everybody can do.

"I want to play 162 games, but it would be really tough for me. Just the way I play. I'm going to get some bruises here and there."

The pattern has been proven out in recent years, quieting the clamor for Freel to be at the top of every Cincinnati lineup card. His bruises and bumps lead to little batting slumps, "which then turn to mental," he acknowledged, and lead to bigger batting slumps. The upshot is that center field remains unresolved in Redsland.

Hmmm. This may be the reason for the "six outfielders" talk. If Freel can't play CF every day, they're going to need someone besides Conine, and, barring a miracle, someone besides Hamilton.

posted by BubbaFan, 6:35 PM


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