Reds Legends clinic off and running

The 21st edition of Mike Wagner’s annual Reds Legends Youth Baseball Clinic kicked off Monday at VFW Field as the campers enjoyed a beautiful morning of baseball.

Six former Reds players were in attendance to lead instruction in different phases of the game, sign autographs and pose for pictures.

Former Cincinnati pitchers Clay Carroll and Keith Brown worked on pitching mechanics with the campers down the right field foul line.

Leo Cardenas, a former Reds infielder and Reds Legends camp veteran, worked in the infield on fielding technique as volunteers batted ground balls at the campers.

Herm Winningham was a spark-plug off the bench for the 1990 World Series champion Reds, and that energy was evident at Monday’s camp. Known for having a hoarse voice by the end of previous camps, Winningham helped players with bunting fundamentals. Winningham set up cones on their sides, leaving the bottom part facing the players. Anytime a player bunted a ball into the cone, they won a prize, emphasizing accuracy and directional bunting.

Winningham’s former teammate, Ron Oester, also returned to this year’s camp to help out in various areas.

Unlike Oester, ex-Red Stephen Larkin made his first appearance at the Reds Legends camp.

Larkin is the brother of hall of famer and 19-year Reds shortstop Barry Larkin. Stephen Larkin’s claim to fame came in 1998 when he and Barry joined Aaron and Brett Boone as the only sets of siblings to start for the same team in a Major League Baseball game. Stephen played first base and went 1-for-3 in what would be his only MLB appearance, as he spent the majority of his career in the minors. Coming from a talented baseball family, Larkin said he still has a lot to give to the game of baseball.

“Any chance I get to contribute, get to get out on the ball field and have kids listen to you and just kind of help out and have fun with it is great,” Larkin said.

Larkin’s group focused on base-running. There were drills that emphasized smart base-running as well as pure speed.

“I had some pretty good coaches growing up,” Larkin said. “The same things they said to me when I was that age are the same things that I’m gonna say to these guys. When they get higher in their careers, they’re gonna hear the same things in high school, or college, or if they get higher in professional baseball. That’s just the nature of the sport. It’s the same game if you’re seven or 57.

The first two hours of Monday’s camp went as planned before heavy rain around noon made things a bit more difficult. The good news is the forecast looks promising for today and Wednesday when the camp resumes.