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04/26/05 8:31 PM ET

Notes: Griffey patient with slow start

Ortiz throws 58 pitches Tuesday, will throw again Thursday

CHICAGO -- To hear the word "incomparable" thrown around Ken Griffey Jr.'s name in the past would likely involve the description of his supreme athletic talents.

But now, here stands Griffey at 35 years old, attempting to be an everyday center fielder despite having three screws holding his right hamstring together, and the word "incomparable" takes on new meaning.

"There's no one you can compare me to," Griffey said. "I'm coming back from a hamstring surgery, so every day I'm working with the trainers and trying to make the best of everything. For the most part, I'm feeling better and better each day. And it's just a matter of being patient."

But patience doesn't come easy for a player of Griffey's stature. When he's struggling at the plate, as he has been from the outset of this season, every whiff, groundout or flyout takes on "How the mighty have fallen" stature in the press and in the mouths of fans.

It's April, though. And Griffey is no stranger to slow starts. Just last season, he notched only three home runs and 13 RBIs in April, only to explode with 10 homers and 29 RBIs in May.

Still, Griffey's struggles out of the gate this year are hard to ignore. He came into Tuesday's game with his longest season-opening stretch of at-bats without a home run (64) of his career, and he had knocked in just three runs while hitting .234.

"I think it's just a matter of a few adjustments," hitting coach Chris Chambliss said. "He'll be fine. Everybody has a rough April. But the good news about Griff is he's out there every day, and he's healthy and running around in the outfield and he's getting regular at-bats. With the caliber of player he is and the kind of hitter he is, sooner or later we're going to start seeing some results."

Some results came Monday night against the Cubs, when Griffey went 3-for-5, ending a stretch in which he had just one hit in his previous 21 at-bats. He also knocked in three runs on a double in Tuesday's contest at Wrigley.

Griffey just tries to make the best of each day.

"I'm just trying to be patient," he said. "I have good days and bad days. I'm just trying to do the little things."

The hope is that the big things -- home runs -- will also come with time.

"The man's been hitting home runs all his life, and I don't see how that would change," Chambliss said. "The main thing to me is he's hitting the ball hard consistently. The power will take care of itself eventually."

   Ramon Ortiz  /   P
Born: 05/23/73
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 175 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R

Ortiz update: Ramon Ortiz, on the disabled list with a strained right groin, threw 58 pitches in a rehab appearance in Sarasota, Fla., on Tuesday night.

Ortiz pitched three innings against Tampa, giving up four runs (three earned) on seven hits with no walks, three strikeouts and a home run.

Ortiz is scheduled to throw a side session on Thursday in Milwaukee during the Reds' off-day. The team has not made any announcement as to when he will return from the DL.

His kind of town: Austin Kearns has taken a liking to Wrigley Field. In his last five games here, he's gone 7-for-22 (.316) with two doubles, a triple, three home runs and six RBIs. That includes Monday night's game, when he hit a solo homer off Mark Prior in the fourth inning.

Reds report: Wily Mo Pena remained out of the starting lineup because of stiffness in his left quadriceps, though he was once again available for pinch-hit duties. ... D'Angelo Jimenez made just his second start of the road trip at second base Tuesday, as Ryan Freel returned to his utility role. ... Legendary broadcaster Joe Nuxhall will be filling in for Marty Brennaman in the 700 WLW Radio booth during all three games of this weekend's series in Milwaukee. Brennaman will be in Salisbury, N.C., being inducted into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association's Hall of Fame.

Down on the farm: Triple-A Louisville right-hander Allan Simpson, acquired in the trade that sent Jose Acevedo to the Rockies organization, continued to struggle in his new surroundings Monday. Simpson gave up five runs (four earned) on one hit with three walks, two strikeouts, one hit batsman and one wild pitch in one inning of a 7-1 loss to Columbus. Left-hander Brian Shackelford (0-1) took the loss. ... Double-A Chattanooga won, 10-2, over Mobile, with right-hander Richie Gardner (2-0) getting the victory. Outfielder Norris Hopper went 4-for-4 with three runs, a home run and five RBIs. ... Single-A Sarasota fell, 7-0, to Tampa, with Bobby Basham (1-2) taking the loss. ... Single-A Dayton won, 12-2, Monday night, but dropped a 6-5 decision to Quad Cities on Tuesday afternoon. Right-hander Rafael Gonzalez (2-3) earned the win, and right-hander Dirt Ursin (0-2) took the loss in the two games.

On deck: The Reds and Cubs wrap up their three-game set at Wrigley Field with a 2:20 p.m. ET game Wednesday. Right-hander Aaron Harang (1-1, 3.70 ERA) gets the start for the Reds, with right-hander Ryan Dempster (1-3, 4.57) going for the Cubs.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.