Remaining Reds lament losing clubhouse leader
The Reds have made six trades since they fired general manager Jim Bowden and manager Bob Boone on July 28, writing off the rest of their inaugural season at Great American Ball Park. The latest trade was one of the most painful for the players.
Sullivan was a second-round draft pick in 1993. He developed into one of the most dependable relievers in the majors and one of the leaders in the clubhouse.
During a 9-3 loss in Arizona on Thursday night, the Reds shipped Sullivan to the Chicago White Sox, along with some cash, for a player to be named. Starter Danny Graves heard about it on the bench when he came out for a pinch-hitter in the sixth and got sick to his stomach.
"I heard Barry (Larkin) ask somebody who he got traded for, and I about threw up," said Graves, who sobbed in the clubhouse afterward. "Sully has been my best friend in Cincinnati since we have been here. I don't know how to think of it."
Sullivan, 32, was a leader of the team's chapel services on Sunday mornings and one of the Reds' most respected veterans. Several players approached reporters after the game to make sure their feelings were known.
"It's a joke," pitcher Chris Reitsma said. "Sully is the kind of guy you keep around. It makes me sick. It really does.
"He gets the chance to win now, but for me, he has been a teacher. He's a model citizen, and he knows how to treat people. For a lot of the guys in this room, it's a bad day, a really bad day. He is truly a class act."
First baseman Sean Casey wondered why the Reds would trade players who were so important to the team's success and its chemistry the last few years. The Reds have floundered because of weak starting pitching, the result of budget decisions in the front office.
"I personally don't think you get rid of a guy like Scott Sullivan," Casey said. "This is a guy you build around. This is a guy the young guys can learn from.
"They say no player is irreplaceable, but a guy like Scott Sullivan is irreplaceable."
The day after the Reds fired Bowden, his assistants followed ownership's orders and started trading players for prospects and money. They've dealt All-Star third baseman Aaron Boone, outfielder Jose Guillen, closer Scott Williamson and relievers Gabe White, Kent Mercker and Sullivan.
The rotation could get a boost from the trades, but the bullpen and the everyday lineup have been substantially weakened.
Sullivan led the majors in relief innings over the last six seasons. Shoulder tendinitis diminished his effectiveness this season and eventually landed him on the disabled list until early August. Overall, he was 6-0 with a 3.62 ERA in 50 appearances.
"I have mixed emotions," Sullivan said. "Cincinnati is the only place I know. It's a great organization, and I have a lot of friends on this team. But I'm also excited that I'm going to be in a pennant race."
The Reds are in a rebuilding mode in their first season in a new ballpark, a stunning about-face for an organization that was convinced it would contend in 2003.
"I think it's terrible," catcher Jason LaRue said of the latest trade. "The guy is more than money. He's a valuable leader. He's a valuable guy to have on a team."
Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press