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Retread Reds – Tony Fernandez 1994

June 20, 2010
Tony Fernandez Cincinnati Reds 1994 Topps Stadium Club No.

Tony Fernandez Cincinnati Reds 1994 Topps Stadium Club No. 221

When Chris Sabo left Cincinnati following the 1993 season in search of a big contract, the Reds were suddenly in the market for a third baseman.

Young Willie Greene was not quite ready for the starting line-up so the Reds instead opted to sign a veteran shortstop to play the hot corner.

Tony Fernandez, who 1993 split between the New York Mets and the Toronto Blue Jays, signed a minor-league deal with the Reds after the start of spring training.

The one-year deal was with the Reds’ Triple-A farm team, the Indianapolis Indians, but allowed Fernandez to attend Reds the training camp as a non-roster invitee. This type of deal was one of the hallmarks of Jim Bowden’s Retread Reds.

Tony Fernandez Cincinnati Reds 1994 Topps Stadium Club No. XXX back

Tony Fernandez Cincinnati Reds 1994 Topps Stadium Club No. 221 back

With Barry Larkin entrenched as the Reds’ shortstop, Fernandez, a .285 hitter through 11 major-league seasons, was displaced to third base. However  the four-time all-star and four-time gold glover was not happy hugging the foul line. He was also thought to be a candidate to be Cincinnati’s lead-off hitter.

To complicate matters, speculation was rampant that Cincinnati signed Fernandez to use as trade bait.

Jose Rijo, who provided Fernandez a character reference to Bowden, told the media. ”He’s here today but I think within a month he’ll be traded to Toronto or someone else who needs a shortstop. ‘ think we’ll trade him. Someone will get hurt.”

Even though Fernandez played the entire season in Cincinnati, it did not mean as was well. Fernandez made contoroversial statements in mid-May when he said that Latino players’ actions werre judged by more stringent standards than American players.

“I think because we come from so-called Third World countries, some people label us as having bad attitudes,” he said. “What is a bad attitude? It’s telling the truth. . . . We as Latin ballplayers were taught as children to be honest.”

Unhappy about playing third base, Fernandez did not stick around for a second season in the Queen City. After totaling a .279 batting average, 50 RBI and 12 steals he signed with the New York Yankees.

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