CINCINNATI — While Kristopher Negron wanted to get from Louisville to Cincinnati at warp speed, from the minor leagues to the big leagues, at the speed of sound, he did not put the pedal to the metal on his car trip to Great American Ball Park Wednesday.
He remembers Aroldis Chapman, the champion of speeding tickets, and he kept his foot away from the floorboards.
“I made sure I drove the speed limit, made sure I drove safely on the way up here — probably the most cautious driving I’ve ever done,” said Negron. “I just wanted to make sure I got here safely.”
He boarded a flight in Syracuse, where the Louisville Bats were playing, at 6 a.m., flew to Detroit, changed planes, flew to Louisville, quickly gathered his gear in the Bats clubhouse and jumped into his car for the safe trip to Cincinnati.
NEGRON, 26, WAS recalled from Class AAA Louisville and Mike Costanzo was optioned back to Louisville after his brief and futile stay resulted in 1 for 18 (.056) and 10 strikeouts.
And Negron was recalled — and to show how bare the cupboard is in Louisville, Negron was hitting .212 for the Bats in 58 games and 212 at-bats. He does have 15 stolen bases in 18 attempts, five homers, 10 doubles, 16 RBI, 21 walks and 60 strikeouts.
But he is versatile, able to play second base, shortstop and all three outfield spots.
He was playing a lot of center field in Louisville, which could be a fortunate thing because Drew Stubbs is hurt, out of the lineup Wednesday with a sore side and back.
“We’ve added some versatility and speed with Negron,” said manager Dusty Baker. “He was the best center fielder they had down there and with Stubbs on the shelf for a few days we need him.”
And how long is Stubbs’ shelf life?
“We hope we don’t have to put Stubbs on the disabled list, but we’ll find out in the next couple of days,” said Baker. Stubbs injured himself swinging Tuesday night and when he winced trainer Paul Lessard saw it.
“We don’t know how long but we do know you have to be careful with these thing,” said Baker. “It is not the oblique, but it is in the oblique area. If he’d end up tearing that thing he’d be out for a long, long time. We can’t afford to lose Drew. We need his defense and his speed.
“Actually, other than Brandon Phillips (hamstring), we’ve been very fortunate with our position players,” said Baker, forgetting the loss of Scott Rolen.
CHRIS HEISEY WAS in center field Wednesday and Wilson Valdez took Stubbs’ place Tuesday when he came out of the game.
“We have those three guys to cover for Stubbs right now, so we’ll mix and match as best we can,” said Baker.
Of the demise of Costanzo, Baker said, “I liked his bat when he got here, but he just couldn’t do the job we asked him to do. Negron is a guy who can play a lot of positions and we knew he’s a guy who has struggled with the bat himself down there. You’d like a big bat, but those are hard to come by right now so you go with versatility and speed.”
BAKER BROUGHT up the name Willie Harris, who started the year with the Reds, but was nearly as bad as Costanzo and was demoted. Said Baker, “Harris has been coming on strong lately and had he been able to play center field it might have been him called up. I urged him to stay there, get his stuff together, and he’ll be back because he is an experienced player. We’ll need a lefthanded bat at some point, but right now the organization decided to go in this direction.”
NEGRON, a seventh-round draft pick of the Boston Red Sox in 2006, came to the Reds on August 14, 2009 in a trade that sent Alex Gonzalez to Boston.
Negron, sporting an Oscar Gamble mophead hair-style, hit .216 in 123 games at Louisville last season.
And he can’t wait to step into a major league batter’s box for the first time, especially after his mother, father and grandmother flew in today from Napa, Calif.
“I’ve been waiting for this day my whole life,” he said. “I just have to relax and not put too much pressure on myself. Go out, have fun, play the game. It is absolutely easy to say that, but I’m excited and prepared. I’ve worked really hard to get here and this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I’m ready to take advantage of it.”Tweet