Larkin embraces helping Reds Minor Leaguers

Hall of Famer arrives for stint as spring guest instructor

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- If you weren't looking for a Hall of Famer roaming the Minor League fields at the Reds' Spring Training complex, you might not have noticed him at all behind sunglasses and with a pullover and a few days' growth of beard. He still looks like a player, after all.

But then you see the knowing fans flocking to him for photos. Then you see the slight swagger with which he walks.

Reds legend Barry Larkin was in camp Monday morning as a guest instructor on the Minor League side and will come back later this spring. He does it every few years, and he keeps his presence pretty low-key.

"It's about developing players' talents and a relationship with the organization," said Larkin, the former shortstop who was drafted by the Reds in 1985 as the fourth overall pick, played from 1986-2004, won a World Series ring in 1990 and a National League MVP Award in 1995, and entered the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2012.

"When I come here, I spend most of my time down here in the Minor Leagues, and it's about helping these guys, trying to give them something to help them get to the big leagues."

Larkin said he remembers being in Spring Training as a 22-year-old who was born and raised in Cincinnati and being around franchise icons from the Big Red Machine championship teams of 1975 and 1976. He said it's only natural for him to be here now.

"I think it's important to have that relationship with the guys that went before you to really keep that lineage and that history of the organization," Larkin said. "Some of these players, they didn't even see me play. I was working with two kids yesterday, they're 20 years old. And I'm talking about things in 1990, and they weren't even born yet! So it's interesting.

"But the thing about it is that baseball hasn't changed and it won't change and there's still some things that have to happen in order to be successful. We can definitely relate on that level."

Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.