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Reese wins first Gold Glove

The Associated Press

For starters, he’d never played the position before.

Thursday, November 11, 1999

For starters, he’d never played the position before. To make it worse, he was taking over for Bret Boone, who had won a Gold Glove there the previous year.

”I had confidence in myself but not too many other people did,” Reese said.

It didn’t take Reese long to win everyone over. On Wednesday, he won his first Gold Glove, a defensive award that recognized he had done just as well as the fielder who preceded him.

”I knew Bret won it the year before and I knew a lot of people didn’t have confidence or think I could do the job,” Reese said. ”I went out and worked hard every day and in the long run it helped me out. Bret is still at the top of my list of second basemen. I learned a lot from watching him play every day.”

Reese was the only Reds player to win a Gold Glove. It was remarkable for him to win it in his first season at a position – players usually need a few years to build a reputation.

”Yes, I’m kind of surprised. At the same time, I’m not,” Reese said. ”At the beginning of spring training I said, ‘If I can go out and perform the way I know I can, I have a chance to do a lot of good things.’ It means a whole bunch to me. I strive for my defense.”

Reese, 26, came up through the Reds’ farm system as a slick-fielding shortstop. With Barry Larkin established there, Reese was moved to third base in 1998 and got the first crack at playing second when Boone was traded to Atlanta after the season.

Reese found he was quick enough to play deep – he was essentially a short right fielder on turf – and had an arm strong enough to throw runners out whenever he got to the ball.

”I think Pokey deserved this more than anyone else. It’s just the range he has over any second baseman in the National League,” said coach Ron Oester, a former second baseman. ”He gets to a lot more balls than anyone else gets to and he catches them.

”Pokey’s special. Talents like him don’t come along too often. It’s not only the way he played second base this year – I’ve seen him play shortstop like that.”

Reese is only the fourth Reds second baseman to win the Gold Glove. Tommy Helms won it in 197-71, Hall of Famer Joe Morgan won it from 1973-77 and Boone won it last year.

Oester was surprised at how quickly Reese settled in and felt comfortable at a new position. Reese found that in some ways, it was easier than playing shortstop.

”The transition wasn’t very hard for me,” he said. ”I’d played third and I’m normally a shortstop. That made playing second easier. I’d love to continue there. I hope we keep Barry for 10 years and I continue to play second and win Gold Gloves.

”Hopefully next year I’ll continue to better myself and become an All-Star caliber player. The next step is being an All-Star. That’s the only goal I haven’t achieved yet in my three years in the big leagues.”

Reese ranked third among National League second basemen with a .991 fielding percentage. Mets shortstop Rey Ordonez won the Gold Glove at his position Wednesday and was disappointed that Reese beat out Mets second baseman Edgardo Alfonzo, calling it ”an injustice.”

”Edgardo is one of the best,” Reese said. ”When we’re playing against them, I sit and watch how he plays. He and Ordonez are two of the best up the middle. Edgardo is deserving of the award. He has a chance to win the MVP.”

Asked what he would say to Alfonzo, Reese replied, ”Edgardo, I won it. No hard feelings, buddy, but the coaches picked me.”