Two fellows on the field level were eating their peanuts whole, shell and all. One of them, an electrical contractor from Sidney, Ohio, contended that he wouldn't miss Foster, saying, "He never put out on defense. He walked as soon as he got to the warning track. Must have been in his contract. I like Householder. Runs his butt off. He'll come through when it's on the line."
All traces of Foster seem to have disappeared from Cincinnati. At the Reds' gift shop downtown, the salesgirl, when asked what happened to all the Foster buttons and posters, gleefully replied, "They were destroyed."
Hurdle, the new leftfielder, is certainly not going to replace Foster, but he did do something on Opening Day that Foster rarely did: He threw out two runners at the plate in the 3-2 loss to the Cubs. "It's been a long time since I've seen that," said Bench.
Householder needs only two more home runs to match Collins' total of last year. He hit one out Wednesday night in the Reds' 6-2 victory over Chicago and also tripled, which gave him four hits in his first eight at bats. The son of a North Haven, Conn. chemist, Householder could provide the Reds with the catalyst they need. He's a switch hitter with speed and intermittent power.
Cede�o, who had been accused occasionally of malingering in Houston, had no fewer than four complaints during spring training: hand, shoulder, hamstring and the flu. But he also batted .375 and proved that he could still play center-field. "I'm thankful the Reds put me in center," says Cede�o, who had been shifted to first base by the Astros. "I also don't think they'll regret it."
Trevi�o has no power, but he can steal a base. That's an odd thing for a catcher, but he did it against the Cubs in the season's second game. Bench likes what he sees of Trevi�o. "He has a good, quick release and a very good arm," Bench says. "He's not afraid to tell pitchers what to throw, and he's got an idea of what he wants to do. The toughest thing for him will be learning a new staff."
Bench, the third-string catcher and first-string third baseman, lost weight, to 205 pounds, in his effort to become an in-fielder, but he's still having trouble sighting the ball coming off the bat. On Opening Day he was booed after a ball got by him that few third basemen could have fielded. He was also booed in the second game, more justifiably, after an error. When he caught a routine pop foul in the next inning, the fans gave him a mock cheer. They'll have to be more patient. "I'm still learning," he says. "But I'll be all right."
Wagner announced Bench's signing at the Welcome the Reds luncheon on the day after the opener, and in the press conference that followed, Bench said that one of the major factors in his decision to stay with the Reds was the way the team played in spring training. "I got a kick out of watching kids like Householder," he said. "I was enjoying the game again, giving them tips and watching them learn. I want to play in another World Series, and we'll be there soon. Maybe even this year."
Maybe not. But Cincinnati will be right there at the end, as it almost always is. In a sense, the Reds are the Smith Barney of baseball. Bench likes that analogy. "We win the old-fashioned way," he says. "We earrrnn it."