The Myth That Would Not Die is back. For a long time, Jason LaRue has been complaining about catching Jared Fernandez’ knuckleball. Lots and lots of gripes. A couple years ago (March 5, 2003), Hal McCoy wrote an article about LaRue, and it alluded to the long-mentioned (even then) belief that Fernandez had caused most of LaRue’s trouble in in 2002.
I did some research, and found that Jared Fernandez pitched in a grand total of 10 games for the 2002 Reds. He pitched 50.2 innings.
LaRue had 4 passed balls, total, against Fernandez. Two of them came during a Tom Lampkin strikeout Aug. 9 vs. the Padres, the other two came on Sept. 7 against Milwaukee.
The problem was that LaRue had 20 passed balls that season. TWENTY. Second worst was Paul LoDuca with 12. Michael Barrett was next with 9. The year before, LaRue had 15 passed balls (second worst was 10), and Fernandez only pitched 12 innings the whole year.
Fernandez (who I thought, and think could help the club) has long been jerked around by the Reds. My fear was always that it was due to LaRue’s insecurity and excuse-making. Two years ago, McCoy told me that it wasn’t because of LaRue, but that Bob Boone just didn’t like Fernandez, for some reason.
In any event, LaRue obviously still believes that Fernandez was a big problem for him. The same myth was came up today:
LaRue remembers the last time Fernandez pitched for the Reds … and the steady trickle of passed balls. “I told him, ‘Just try to get one by me,’ ” said LaRue. “I’m a changed man. I’ve had enough of being on highlight films chasing those knucklers.”
“Steady trickle”?? McCoy obviously doesn’t remember our email exchange(, the ridiculously self-important blogger wrote).
What I figure, the Lampkin at bat showed up on SportsCenter — the batter flailing helplessly, while the catcher chases every pitch back to the backstop — and LaRue caught grief from some Reds immortal like Reggie Taylor or Jimmy (Fifteen Game Winner!!!!) Haynes. From then on, it’s been seared into his brain as the reason for all his passed balls.