Gonzalez relieved as Reds beat Netherlands

Published 1:59 am Thursday, March 5, 2009

SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) — Alex Gonzalez was relieved to be back on the field.

Gonzalez singled in two at-bats as the designated hitter after missing all of last season with a knee injury, and the Cincinnati Reds beat the Netherlands 4-3 in 10 innings on Wednesday night.

He felt some tightness in the left knee, which was packed in ice after he was removed.

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‘‘Finally, almost a year since I played. My first at-bat I felt good,’’ Gonzalez said. ‘‘I’m looking forward to playing shortstop and being 100 percent to help my team. If I keep doing what I’ve been doing. I’ll be ready for the start of the season.’’

Luis Bolivar scored in the 10th inning on a wild pitch by Berry Van Driel. A pair of errors by Netherlands third baseman Yurendell DeCastier, a Tigers farmhand, helped the Reds score two runs in the fourth.

Jay Bruce hit a home run for the second straight day off Cincinnati minor leaguer Alexander Smit. Randall Simon drove in a run and DeCastier hit a two-run homer for The Netherlands.

Bronson Arroyo gave up two hits in the first inning but felt good about the three hitless innings that followed.

‘‘Today was much better,’’ said Arroyo, who struck out two. ‘‘The fastball was coming out of my hand. It was like a real game. My command was a lot better.’’

Arroyo played against The Netherlands’ Eugene Kingsdale in the minor leagues and Simon in the major leagues, but the rest of the team was unknown to him.

‘‘When you don’t know guys, you assume they are pretty good,’’ Arroyo said.

The game was Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker’s first look at Gonzalez. He was pleased with his batting, but said he ran tentatively.

‘‘It feels good to have him in there,’’ Baker said. ‘‘If he feels good, he’ll be back at DH tomorrow, then we’ll get him in the field next week. I want to just see natural movement. The hardest thing about recovering from an injury is realizing that you’re over it.’’