Barry Larkin on Pokey Reese

By Jason Wojciechowski on March 18, 2004 at 2:34 AM

Al at Al's Ramblings wants to know why Pokey Reese, if he's as good a defensive shortstop as Barry Larkin and Sean Casey claim he is, he keeps ending up playing second base.

Here's the relevant quote from Peter Gammons' most recent filing of news and tidbits:

Pokey Reese's former Reds teammates gave him ringing endorsements when they visited Fort Myers. "In my opinion, Pokey may be the best (defensive) shortstop in the game -- as well as the best second baseman," says Barry Larkin, who knows a thing or 20 about playing shortstop. "What are great plays for other infielders are routine for Pokey," says Sean Casey. "What are great plays for Pokey, no one else gets to."

Pokey played 33 games at second base last year for the Pirates, totaling 259 innings, and none at shortstop. In 2002, also with Pittsburgh, Reese played 991.3 innings in 117 games at second, and again made no shortstop appearances. Figuring out why is pretty simple: Jack Wilson. Wilson was the incumbent shortstop when Reese was signed, and he's a highly regarded defensive player as well. The Pirates were not about to move him off the position to accomodate Pokey. That Reese was actually a better offensive player than Wilson didn't really figure into the equation.

Reese's lack of shortstop time in Cincinnati is also easy to explain: a legend by the name of Barry Larkin happened to play that position. Reese's only significant shortstop time came during Larkin's (frequent) absences due to injury.