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Brian Hunter Joins Reds

August 8, 2000

CINCINNATI (AP) _ Three weeks ago, Reds reliever Scott Sullivan and Rockies outfielder Brian Hunter were wrestling and trading swings in front of the pitcher’s mound in Colorado.

On Monday, they were teammates _ an odd coupling indeed.

``I’m happy to be his teammate,″ Sullivan said with a mischievous smile. ``He has ability as a player and he’d definitely got some spunk to him and that’s what we need. I like a person that will defend himself. I’m aggressive by nature and he is, too.″

The Reds found out exactly how aggressive on July 15, when Sullivan threw a pitch up and in _ he claimed it slipped _ and Hunter charged the mound after being hit.

They met about halfway between home and the mound, and Sullivan got in a few swings before they were engulfed by teammates. Both of them got three-game suspensions _ Sullivan has served his, Hunter has appealed his.

The Reds traded for Hunter on Sunday, sending minor league pitcher Robert Averette to the Rockies. Hunter arrived about a half-hour before the start of Monday’s game and was in the starting lineup, batting leadoff and playing left field.

``Why not?″ manager Jack McKeon said. ``I’ll play him today to see if we can’t get a little something going.″

The Reds had lost five in a row heading into Monday’s game against Atlanta, leaving them with a losing record and a six-game deficit in the NL Central.

The Sullivan-Hunter history was a subject for clubhouse humor before the newcomer arrived. Catcher Eddie Taubensee pointed toward Sullivan’s cubicle and then to the other end of the clubhouse and said, ``Sullivan here, Hunter there.″

That’s about how it worked out _ Sullivan dresses at one end of the clubhouse with the relievers, Hunter’s new cubicle was at the other end with position players.

Hunter wasn’t available before the game. After the fight last month, he told reporters he went to the mound intending to hurt Sullivan.

``It really crossed my mind to go with my helmet and try to hit him and maybe knock an eyeball out or something,″ Hunter said at the time.

Sullivan remembered the line and had one of his own.

``I got some goggles,″ Sullivan said. ``He said he was going to poke my eye out.″

Sullivan was willing to reserve judgment on Hunter until he got to know him.

``I’ve had situations where I couldn’t stand playing against someone and when I met the guy I was like, ’Hey, this is a nice guy. I had the wrong impression of him,‴ Sullivan said.