SARASOTA, FL -- The Reds announced Jung Keun Bong as the projected opening day starter today after 29 of the 30 pitchers currently at spring training were injured during bunting practice.
In a desperate attempt to improve the bunting ability of the Reds pitching staff, manager Jerry Narron threw his pitchers right into bunting against live pitching today.
“Looking back on it, we probably should have let them warm up against something a little softer,” said Narron. Instead, he had the notoriously wild flamethrower Allan Simpson throw bunting practice.
“They just went down one after another,” said Narron. “[Aaron] Harang took a fastball in the eye, and [Dave] Williams got hit in the shoulder.”
“I just kept thinking 'there's no way he's going to keep hitting them.' I was wrong.”
Simpson himself tripped walking off the mound and sprained his wrist. Only Bong, who is in Japan training with the Korean team for the World Baseball Classic was spared and is likely to be the only pitcher healthy enough to work on opening day.
“At least it won't be [recently released pitcher Josh] Hancock,” said Narron.
Narron Looks Ahead, Hires Hatcher
The Reds announced that former Reds outfielder Billy Hatcher will replace John Moses as first base coach. Moses retired suddenly last Thursday. Narron chose Hatcher because of his experience working with Lou Piniella.
Hatcher most recently coached first for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays where he worked with Piniella. Reds CEO Bob Castellini has made no secret of wanting to bring Piniella in to manage the Reds when he's available.
“Might as well bring in someone who has a shot at keeping the job next year,” Narron explained.
Lopez Backs Out of WBC
All-star shortstop Felipe Lopez backed out of playing for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic so that he can bond with new infield coordinator, Bucky Dent.
Lopez says he'd like to have as big an impact as Dent. “Anybody who can piss off Boston fans so much is someone I'd like to get to know,” said Lopez. “Maybe someday, if I'm good enough, they'll call me 'Felipe Fucking Lopez' or something.”
He's also looking forward to getting to know the new first base coach.
“I've been playing his video game all day, and I'm really looking forward to talking giant eggs with him,” said Lopez.