Cook: Nady back on highlight shows; not happy about it
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CINCINNATI -- It would be inaccurate to describe Xavier Nady's huge gaffe in the Pirates' 7-5 loss to the Cincinnati Reds yesterday as a bone-headed play.
A bone-headed play is the one Reds third baseman Edwin Encarnacion made in the first inning when he fielded a foul ball and tossed it into the stands to a man in a Hines Ward jersey.
You should have heard the boos at Great American Ball Park from the loyal Cincinnati fans who came out on another brutally cold day for baseball.
Think Adam LaRoche lobbing a ball to someone wearing a Ray Lewis jersey at the Pirates' opener tomorrow at PNC Park.
You'll surely agree that's bone-headed.
But it's Nady, the Pirates' right fielder, who was on SportsCenter last night. This appearance wasn't flattering like his one Monday night when he was all over the highlights shows after he hit the two-out, ninth-inning home run off Houston closer Brad Lidge to force extra innings in the opener. This was flat-out embarrassing.
"It's just a shame," Nady said, "I didn't do my job in the first inning."
Nady was far from the only Pirates player who came up short in this ugly defeat. On a day when the Pirates weren't charged with an error, they played horrendous defense. Shortstop Jack Wilson lost a pop fly in the swirling wind that led to two Reds' runs in the fourth inning. Left fielder Jason Bay could have bailed Wilson out by forcing Adam Dunn at second base on the play, but his lame throw from shallow left bounced to the bag. Later, Bay dropped a ball against the left-field fence that graciously was scored a double by Alex Gonzalez.
Then, there were the Reds' five stolen bases, none of which drew a throw from catcher Humberto Cota. Three of the bases were stolen on pitcher Tony Armas, the fourth happened when Cota dropped the ball as he came up throwing and the fifth occurred when the pitch skipped in the dirt.
Shabby? Shoddy? Sloppy?
Take your pick, each works.
But it was Nady who had 'em laughing last night in living rooms and bars across America.
They're probably still giggling at Dunn's home.
The Reds announced Dunn's first-inning home run as going 369 feet. There's nothing unusual about that except the ball went over the 370-foot sign in right-center field. Nady, after running a long way and fighting the difficult wind, provided the final foot when the ball bounced off the middle of his glove.
"I thought we had an out and the ball ended up in the seats," said Pirates manager Jim Tracy, who didn't seem thrilled.
"I've got to make that catch. I had it right in my mitt, and it popped out," said Nady, who definitely wasn't thrilled.
Nady, who has been the Pirates' best hitter out of the gate, has had a tough two days against the outfield wall here. In the first inning Friday night, he banged his right knee leaping against it in a failed attempt to catch a home run by Brandon Phillips. There was some doubt he would be able to play yesterday, but he gutted it out.
Dunn's cheap home run didn't seem like a fair reward for Nady's effort.
"I still can't believe it hit right in the middle of my glove and shot right out," Nady said.
It's easy to blame the terrible weather conditions for the Pirates' defensive problems the past two games, both losses. The temperature at game time yesterday was 30 degrees, and the wind was treacherous. But guess what? The Reds didn't have trouble catching popups and fly balls. They made all the routine plays.
The Pirates played superb defense in their first two games at Houston, but this made three bad performances in a row. They were able to complete their unlikely sweep at Houston Wednesday night only because starter Tom Gorzelanny covered up their mistakes. This is not a good trend. The Pirates will lose a lot more games than they win if they don't start making the plays in the field.
"We sure can't be giving anybody extra outs," Wilson said.
"No team is good enough to do that," a disgusted Tracy said.
Doesn't sound like it was going to be much of a fun free night for the Pirates last night, does it?
They had unexpected time on their hands because the game yesterday, originally scheduled for 7:10 p.m., was moved to 1:05 because of the frigid weather.
It's hard to say what Nady did.
It's easier to say what he didn't do.
First Published April 8, 2007 12:00 am