06/14/2004 12:25 AM ET
Pokey wows with the glove
Terrific catch helps key Boston win over Los Angeles
By Alan Ginsberg / Special to MLB.com
|Pokey Reese (left) is congratulated by teammates after his gravity-defying catch. (Winslow Townson/AP)
Reese robs Roberts: 56K | 350K
BOSTON -- With all the buzz circulating about the outstanding job Pokey Reese did playing shortstop during Nomar Garciaparra's absence, it's easy to forget he was a two-time Gold Glove second baseman with Cincinnati.
At least, it might have been until Sunday night.
That's when, with two on and two out in the top of the seventh, Dodgers leadoff hitter Dave Roberts hit a soft liner that looked destined to sail over Reese's head and drop into right-center field. Instead, Reese sprung off the ground jack-in-the-box-style, skying to snare the ball, ending the inning and ultimately helping preserve Boston's 4-1 victory.
The catch had the unfortunate side effect of making a few members of the Red Sox's organization look rather silly.
"I mean, [right fielder] Gabe [Kapler] and I started diving for that ball," center fielder Johnny Damon said.
"I was already trying to figure out what bases the runners were going to end up on and what situation that would leave us in," Boston general manager Theo Epstein said.
"You know what, I didn't see it, because when it was about halfway there I'm looking down at my card for the next hitter," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "I just glanced down because I knew it was in the gap. ... It was just a hit. Then it wasn't a hit."
Spectacular plays like that have quickly endeared Reese -- who, at 5'11", can dunk a basketball -- to the Fenway Faithful, who began chanting his name as soon as the singing of "God Bless America" during the seventh-inning stretch finished.
His teammates haven't minded having him on their side, either.
"That ball is a for sure hit, I mean, probably a double, and he just kept elevating, elevating, elevating," Kevin Millar said.
"He's something special," Jason Varitek said. "All you have to do is stand behind him in batting practice and try and shadow him and you learn how slow you are."
Of course, with all of Reese's flashy glove work and athleticism in the field, his production at the plate can sometimes be overlooked.
That was the case Sunday, when Reese's two-run double high off the wall in left with runners on second and third in the fourth inning provided a pair of insurance runs for the Red Sox.
With the double, Reese avenged a strikeout in his first at-bat.
"I was looking for a ball up to drive in the outfield and actually he threw me a splitter my first strikeout. Then I swung through a fastball and maybe he was thinking I was thinking for the splitter, but I was just looking fastball, stayed on the fastball and he left it out over the plate," Reese said.
"It's Pokey's game today. It's his game and his win. If you ask me who was the winner today, I would say Pokey. He deserves all the credit," winning pitcher Pedro Martinez said. "Tonight was his night."
Alan Ginsberg is a contributing writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.