Reds have 'A' game in recent tragedy


In a week that revealed baseball's ugliest warts, here's a story to restore faith in today's ballplayers.

During Wednesday's win over the Atlanta Braves in Cincinnati, several Reds helped ease the pain of a boy whose grandfather had suffered a fatal heart attack in the Great American Ball Park stands.

While emergency workers attempted to revive the man, security personnel led his 6-year-old grandson, Antonio Perez, to the Reds' bullpen area, where coach Tom Hume agreed to let the boy watch the final two innings of the game from the bullpen bench.

Afterward, Reds center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. took Perez onto the field to exchange high-fives with the victorious Reds and then ushered him into the clubhouse. Knowing the boy's parents were on their way to the ballpark, the Reds players kept Perez busy with conversation.

"They were unfortunate circumstances," Griffey said. "You try to make the best of it. He kept asking, 'Where's my grandfather?' And we tried to change the subject. Have him shake hands with the guys, see the locker room."

Several Reds gave Perez gifts to take home such as bats, balls and wristbands. Shortstop Felipe Lopez offered the batting helmet he used in July's All-Star Game.

Griffey said the players wanted Perez to have "a memory of something positive that happened out of something negative. Anything we could have done, we would have done."

Change at the top

Joe Garagiola Jr., the only general manager in the history of the Arizona Diamondbacks, announced he is leaving the franchise to become senior vice president of operations for Major League Baseball.

Garagiola is best known for making two key trades that helped propel the Diamondbacks to the 2001 World Series title. He dealt Karim Garcia to the Detroit Tigers before the 1999 season for eventual World Series hero Luis Gonzalez and picked up ace Curt Schilling from the Philadelphia Phillies for Omar Daal, Vicente Padilla, Travis Lee and another pitcher in July 2000.

"It's s great opportunity for him," said Arizona's managing partner Ken Kendrick. "It's tough for the Diamondbacks, though, because he will be missed. I've been in business for over 40 years now, and he is as classy a man as I've dealt with."

No permanent replacement has been named, but a possibility is Bob Gebhard, a special assistant to Garagiola and a former Colorado Rockies general manager.

Quick hits

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Wilson Alvarez, 35, is wrestling with continual shoulder soreness and is seriously considering retirement. ... New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza keeps getting dropped in the order. He batted seventh this week, the first time since his rookie year. ... A Padres fan was ejected from $55 seats at San Diego's Petco Park last week after starting a "Towers [stinks]" chant directed at general manager Kevin Towers. ... Rick Ankiel, the former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher, was promoted to Double-A Springfield this week as he tries to make it back as an outfielder.

League notebooks are compiled from interviews, wire services and reports from other newspapers.

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