Wasn’t looking forward to visiting the ol’ ball yard today, what with what is going on in the won-loss column — except I ALWAYS look forward to going to the park for baseball of any kind — good, bad or downright ugly.
And there is a bonus today. Rita Butcher, mother of Reds media relations director Rob Butcher, every once in awhile brings pies to the press box for the ink-stained wretches. At least once a year she brings the best homemade strawberry pie on both sides of the Mississippi.
And tonight’s the night. When she isn’t looking, I’ll snatch a second piece.
AS I ARRIVED at the park today, a cab pulled away and St. Louis manager Tony La Russa was standing at the curb. He took two bags out of the back seat, but forget another bag in the trunk. The security staff was busy flagging down another cab to radio ahead to La Russa’s cab to make a U-turn.
Maybe he had all his stats and strategies in that bag and he’ll have to wing it tonight. But would it matter?
JAY BRUCE was not in Thursday’s lineup, the first time since his major-league debut May 27. As manager Dusty Baker said, “It’s time.”
Bruce was 3 for his last 17, all singles, and Baker said he can tell Bruce isn’t trusting his quickness by the ground balls to second base.
Corey Patterson was in center field, batting leadoff. Insert derogatory remarks here: ( ).
THE BOSTON Red Sox arrive Friday, their first visit since the 1975 World Series. Baker said he and his wife were planning to go to Boston for the ‘75 Series, “Because I’d never been to Boston. But my agent advised me against it because there was some racial tension there at the time, so I watched ‘em all on TV and rooted for the Reds because I’m a National League guy.”
Baker said when the New York Yankees came to Wrigley Field in 2006 for an interleague series, “I kept and laminated the scorecards because it was the first time the Yankees had been in Wrigley since Babe Ruth.”
That was the 1933 World Series when Ruth either did or did not (depending upon whom you believe) pointed to the bleachers then hit a Charlie Root pitch for a home run, the famous “Called Shot.”
The Red Sox are bringing Sean Casey, and Baker said that beside his name on the scouting report is marked, “Hot.” He is 6 for 12 and hitting .376, but he has been DHing because David “Big Papi” Ortiz is hurt. There won’t be a DH in this series.
Baker said, “I love The Mayor. I’m sure he’ll get a great welcome here, won’t he?” He should. Baker said the first time he heard about Casey was when he played in a summer college league, “And his manager was Sarge (former major league outfielder Gary Matthews). Sarge told me, ‘This kid can hit. He’s going to be a good big-league hitter.’”
A couple of person Casey stories:
In the off-season of 1999, I was getting married. On the morning of my wedding, the phone in my house rang. When I answered a voice said, “Hal, this is Case. Just calling to congratulate you and wish you luck.”
No. 1, it was November and I didn’t know he even knew I was getting married. No. 2, I don’t know how he got my phone number. No. 3, only one other player in 36 years has called my home. Barry Larkin.
And Casey was one of three players to call me and congratulate me in December of 2002 when I was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame — Ken Griffey Jr., Aaron Boone and Casey.
When he was with the Reds, on the first day of spring training, before he even walked into the clubhouse to say hello to his teammates, Casey made a right turn into the press room to say hello to the writers, complete with a bear hug.
Only one other player did that. Jose Rijo.Tweet