Boone still trying to settle on a leadoff hitter for Cincinnati

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Before the season began, the options were slim to fill the Cincinnati Reds leadoff spot.

Barry Larkin was the only real possibility, although manager Bob Boone tinkered with the idea of putting outfielder Adam Dunn in the spot since he drew so many walks.

Well, Larkin began the season hitting first but his second trip to the disabled list has kept Boone looking for a replacement.

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Even when healthy, Larkin hasn't been much of an answer. He's hitting only .259 without a stolen base.

The always thinking Boone, not to be confused with any Manager of the Year candidates, has put the 6-foot-6 Dunn at the top of his lineup. Dunn is hitting a sizzling .207 and has four stolen bases in six attempts.

Bob's son Aaron would make more sense. The batting average is .264, but at least Aaron has nine stolen bases in 10 attempts.

So who would be the right guy? Bob Boone met with general manager Jim Bowden to discuss the possibilities. Since I found out about the meeting in advance, I managed to plant a hidden microphone in Bowden's office.

Bowden: Bob, we've got to settle on a leadoff hitter.

Boone: Don't you like Dunn?

Bowden: He's got great power and he can drive in runs, but he's not the kind of guy who gets on base a lot. We need someone with a better batting average.

Boone: Freel is hitting .268, but I think I've got a guy better than him in mind.

Bowden: Guillen? Castro? Freel?

Boone: No, no and no. Jimmy Haynes. He's batting .286.

Bowden: But he's a pitcher.

Boone: Exactly. He only pitches one game, then sits for four more. It'll give him something to do.

Bowden: You have to get a position player.

Boone: Okay, okay. Let's go with Sean Casey.

Bowden: Casey? He's too slow.

Boone: Right. He won't try to steal a base so we never have to worry about him getting thrown out and killing a rally.

Bowden: I can never figure out your logic no matter what kind of move you make.

Boone: That's what I'm shooting for.

Bowden: What do you mean?

Boone: I keep the other guy guessing. And I've got a way to get Guillen and Griffey in the lineup at the same time.

Bowden: How?

Boone: Griffey has a bad right shoulder, but he throws with his left. We put Guillen in right field and let Griffey pitch. What do you think?

Bowden: I wonder if it's too late to get Ron Oester?!!!

Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.