Fans fire questions at Redsfest
Jocketty, players answer queries from attendees
CINCINNATI -- Given access to Major League clubhouses, dugouts and playing fields, reporters get the chance to ask players questions every day.On Saturday at Kahn's Redsfest XI, four Reds players faced a much more grueling interrogation at a kids-only press conference on the main stage at the Duke Energy Convention Center. Youngsters fired away at Bronson Arroyo, Jeff Keppinger, Chris Dickerson and Brandon Phillips while broadcasters Marty Brennaman and Jeff Brantley emceed. Here's a sampling of the action: "What instrument do you play besides guitar?" Marshall from Bloomington, Ind., asked Arroyo. "That's it," Arroyo responded. "I can barely play that thing. I picked up the guitar when I was 23 and I'd love to be able to play the piano. But I haven't even begun to scratch the surface on the guitar. I have to get that down before going to something else." From Nick: "What's your favorite restaurant to go to in Cincinnati?" "I'm a big fan of The Precinct, Jeff Ruby's place," Dickerson said. "I'm a fan of filet mignon. Aren't we all? I'm sure Brandon likes it, too. Don't they have a steak named after him?" "I eat my own steak," Phillips said. "I like Montgomery Inn. It's good. I love ribs. I love it all. I like it messy. I'll even wear the bib every time I go there, too." "What player did you grow up idolizing?" asked Linden. "Barry Larkin was my main man," Phillips said. "Ken Griffey Jr.," said Dickerson. "I was a Pete Rose guy," Keppinger said, receiving a crowd applause. "Ozzie Smith. I wanted to be a big league shortstop. I didn't want to pitch," Arroyo said. "I didn't want to sit on a bench for four days watching and twiddling my thumbs. But when you're 6-4, 150 lbs. in high school, I don't think they believe you can swing the stick." From Matthew: "I was wondering what position you guys wanted to play when you were younger."
"I was a left-handed catcher and second baseman," Dickerson said."Was your dad the coach?" Brantley chimed in, getting laughs. "Do you guys have a ritual or tradition to do before a game?" asked Drew. "I think everybody in baseball, because it's such a long season, we all have tons of things that we do," Arroyo said. "A lot of times I don't think we even know that we're doing them. All of us do certain things. I try to take a nap and eat some pasta the day before a game." "I think we all have our superstitions," Dickerson said. "If I have a good day and, say, went to Chipotle and had a burrito and had three hits, I'll probably have Chipotle the next day until I go 0-fer. Then maybe I'd change my spikes. We're kooky like that." "I'm not really superstitious, but I eat Lucky Charms before the game," Phillips said. "I like to stay light before a game and don't like to eat hamburgers. Chris Dickerson -- that man can eat. He eats double-chicken sandwiches and all sorts of heavy stuff. I'm eating a bowl of Lucky Charms." Earlier in the day, the front office fielded questions from adults and kids during the FSN Ohio "Hot Stove Report." "You never know what people are going to throw at you, it's dangerous," joked general manager Walt Jocketty after facing the fans. One fan got on Jocketty for trading popular outfielder Ryan Freel to the Orioles this week for catcher Ramon Hernandez. "No. 1, we needed a catcher," Jocketty replied. "Ryan has pretty much been hurt the last two years. I know it was not a popular trade but I think people will be happy with Ramon Hernandez." Thousands of fans who filled the convention center Saturday afternoon had no shortage of activities. On the main stage, there was a Hooters wings-eating contest, emceed by Brantley and TV analyst Chris Welsh. Later, Tom Browning, Joey Votto and Brennaman judged the "Reds Idol" karaoke contest. The Reds presented their 2008 team and Minor League awards to their players. Among the moments, Miracle League player Nicholas Chamberlain of Milford, Ohio, accepted the Joe Nuxhall Good Guy Award on Aaron Harang's behalf. Harang could not attend Redsfest this year. Out on the floor, current and past Reds posed for pictures and signed autographs. The Reds Hall of Fame section displayed World Series trophies and key artifacts from the team's history. It also hosted a trivia contest. In the Reading Room, players and coaches read books to kids. Jay Bruce helped enlist kids into the "Reds Heads" fan club for children 14 and younger. Redsfest was scheduled to wrap Saturday night with the third annual Reds Community Fund Celebrity Poker Tournament.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.