The Reds don't mind at all. Since his return, Seaver has thrown "better than I had any right to expect to," winning four games, including a 10-strikeout performance in a 5-3 win over the Cubs last Friday.
The rest of the Reds' staff hasn't been as fortunate. No. 2 starter Bill Bonham has pitched only 19 innings all season, and Frank Pastore, who has a 10-6 record but hasn't won since July 2, has worked only three times in the last seven weeks. As a result, Cincinnati has used 15 different pitchers this year. "We've opened up a shuttle between Cincinnati and Indianapolis," says Bench.
One of the latest arrivals is Joe Price, 23, a soft-spoken lefty who is 6-2 since being called up from the Reds' Triple A affiliate on June 14. Price is handling his first major league pennant race with aplomb, despite some occasional jitters. "When I came up I just wanted to do well enough to move into next year's picture, and now there's all this," he says. "I'm trying to keep my head and just throw because if I sat down and thought about where I was and who I was with...."
Oester, 24, on the other hand, feels a little more at home being in Cincinnati during a stretch drive; after all, he's playing in his native city. "I spent a lot of time in old Crosley Field, watching and dreaming that I'd get to play for the Reds," he says. "I liked Frank Robinson but I was a shortstop so Leo Cardenas was my idol."
Oester started the season on the bench behind Second Baseman Junior Kennedy but eventually took over full time because of his slick fielding and .288 batting average. There is still enough of the hometown fan in him, though, that for much of the season Oester has referred to the Reds as "them"—as in "they're playing good ball," as opposed to "we're playing good ball."
Rest assured, though, Oester is now a part of the Reds. He knows because Foster told him so.