Miley inserts Van Poppel in rotation

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 8, 2004

CINCINNATI - Todd Van Poppel keeps himself ready to start a game, just in case he's needed.

Boy, do the Cincinnati Reds need him.

Van Poppel has been moved into the No. 5 starting spot, swapping roles with struggling Jimmy Haynes. Van Poppel will make his first start of the season on Sunday against San Francisco.

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Manager Dave Miley started Van Poppel during spring training, getting him ready for a long relief role. Miley also held open the possibility that he could start in an emergency.

Van Poppel, 32, started four games for Texas and one for the Reds last season, and tries to keep himself prepared to start if necessary.

''They told me in spring training that I was the swing guy,'' he said Friday. ''I always prepare myself to throw (a lot of innings) in the bullpen.''

Miley will have to ease Van Poppel into the role, limiting his pitches in his first few starts and watching closely for signs that he's starting to fade. He hasn't gone more than 3 1-3 innings this season.

The right-hander has no idea how long he can last.

''We'll see where I'm at,'' he said. ''I feel good. I feel like I can go a while.''

IF IT WORKS ONCE: Miley kept Ken Griffey Jr. in the fifth spot in the order Friday for the second day in a row.

Griffey batted fifth on Thursday night for the first time since June 22, 1990. He went 3-for-5 with a homer and five RBIs, prompting Miley to keep the top of his order the same.

CRUNCH THOSE NUMBERS : Alou isn't one of the modern, by-the-numbers managers. Rather, he makes decisions more like Jack McKeon - part intuition, part observation, and only a small part relying on statistics.

Giants manger Felipe Alou said Friday he doesn't pay much attention to how a batter has done against a pitcher in the past. The only time he looks carefully at those numbers is when he has to start one of his backups.

''I don't know who provides those matchups,'' Alou said, referring to the batter-vs.-pitcher statistics. ''If everybody had an everyday lineup, those people wouldn't be making any money.''