Reds backup outfielder found slain in Phoenix

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 6, 2003

CHANDLER, Ariz. - Cincinnati Reds outfielder Dernell Stenson was found dead early Wednesday on a residential street after he was shot and apparently run over in a Phoenix suburb, police said.

Police said the death was being treated as a homicide.

A man was being held by police for questioning. No charges had been filed.

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Stenson, 25, made his major league debut this season and played 37 games for the Reds. He hit .247 with three home runs and 13 RBIs.

''We extend our prayers and deepest sympathies to Dernell's family and his friends, teammates and coaches,'' Reds spokesman Rob Butcher said.

Stenson was playing this month for the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League. He was hitting .394, third-best in the league, in 18 games.

Stenson's body was found after police received a call around 1:45 a.m. that shots had been fired. Witnesses told police a black sport utility vehicle was seen leaving the area.

About 3:45 a.m., Mesa police found a vehicle matching the description, and it was registered to Stenson.

The man found driving the vehicle was being held by Chandler police.

Stenson was a third-round draft pick of the Boston Red Sox in 1996. He stayed in their system until this year, when the Reds claimed him off waivers during spring training.

Stenson moved up through the minors this year and reached the majors. He hit .306 with 14 homers and 76 RBIs in 101 games at Double-A Chattanooga and batted .237 with five homers and 14 RBIs in 17 games at Triple-A Louisville.

On Aug. 13, Stenson was called up by the Reds. Three days later, he doubled twice and singled against Houston in his first big league start.

On the next-to-last day of the season, Stenson made three outstanding catches in left field to preserve a win over Montreal. On the final day, he homered in a 2-1 loss to the Expos.

''This is really awful,'' said Davona Vojovich, a friend of Stenson's who was outside Scottsdale Stadium, told the East Valley Tribune. ''I can't believe this happened.''

The Arizona Fall League is designed to help develop some of baseball's top prospects. League officials canceled games Wednesday and Thursday.