George W. Bush's father will throw first pitch in Cincinnati

Posted: Sunday, March 30, 2003

CINCINNATI -- Former President Bush will fill in for his son and throw a ceremonial first pitch Monday before the Cincinnati Reds' season opener.

The Reds invited the current president to officially open Great American Ball Park by throwing a pitch before the opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Chief operating officer John Allen said Saturday that the White House gave no reason for the switch.

Bush was invited before the invasion of Iraq, and the White House had delayed making a commitment to the game.

The elder Bush also declined a chance to throw a first pitch in Cincinnati just before the first Gulf War. He was invited for Game 2 of the World Series against Oakland in 1990, but Barbara Bush took his place and made a toss to catcher Joe Oliver.

The White House's explanation for the 1990 switch was that the president wanted to stay in Washington to monitor negotiations over the federal budget deficit. There was tight security for Barbara Bush's visit, which coincided with the troop buildup in the Persian Gulf.

Both teams wore American flags on their uniforms during the 1990 Series, which the Reds won in four games. Before Game 2, former Reds owner Marge Schott went onto the field and asked for a moment of silent ''for our troops in the Far East.''

Braves place Hampton on 15-day DL

ATLANTA -- Mike Hampton joined Paul Byrd on the disabled list Saturday, another blow to the Atlanta Braves' starting rotation heading into the start of the season.

Hampton strained his right calf during a workout on a treadmill Friday night and Byrd has a sore elbow. That leaves the Braves to open with a rotation of Greg Maddux, Russ Ortiz, rookie Horacio Ramirez and Jason Marquis.

''I feel terrible because I want to get in here right away and get off to a good start and help this team,'' Hampton said. ''That's kind of a wash now.''

Hampton, who expects to be sidelined until mid-April, said he was 17 minutes into a 20-minute routine on the treadmill when he felt pain in his right calf.

''I knew exactly what it was when I did it,'' he said, saying he had the same injury two years ago, before his first season with the Colorado Rockies.

In 2001, Hampton didn't get any treatment for a week but said he was throwing in the bullpen four or five days later

''I'm happy with the way I feel today compared with yesterday,'' said Hampton, who is getting treated daily for the injury. ''I'm not going to rush anything. I don't want to have to deal with this again. Obviously, this is something I want to get behind me and just worry about pitching.''

Hampton allowed 33 hits in 24 innings this spring, compiling a 4.13 ERA, but was coming off his two best outings.

Ramirez, who stood a slim chance of earning a spot in the starting rotation at the beginning of spring training, now becomes the No. 3 starter and will replace Hampton in the rotation.

He originally was to start Saturday's exhibition game at Turner Field against Boston but was replaced by Marquis, whose first regular season start will be Friday against Florida. Ortiz will pitch Thursday against the Expos.

Braves manager Bobby Cox will use a four-man rotation for the first week or so, hoping Byrd will be available by April 10. Byrd is eligible to come off the DL on April 5, Hampton on April 12.

''We've got it covered. We'll be all right,'' Cox said.

Hampton was traded to Atlanta during the winter as part of a three-team deal involving Colorado and Florida. He pitched poorly in the thin air of Denver with the Colorado Rockies during the last two seasons, going 7-15 with a 6.15 ERA last year.

Overall, Hampton has a 106-81 record and 3.98 ERA with Houston, the New York Mets and Rockies. His best season was in 1999, when he was 22-4 with a 2.90 ERA with the Astros.

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