The 40-year-old shortstop may be spending his final few days with the Reds as they continue a regular season-ending three-game series with the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates.
Frustrated that the Reds have brushed him aside, Larkin took his anger out in a final at-bat Friday night.
He hit a solo homer—perhaps his last in a Reds uniform—and got a curtain call that capped a 5-1 victory over the Pirates.
“That was straight anger, frustration and anger,” said Larkin, relegated to the bench for most of the last month. “It all exploded. It’s been a tough thing to go through.”
Larkin is concluding his 19th season with his hometown team, which has declined to discuss a contract extension until after the season. That lent poignancy to his final weekend.
He hadn’t started in two weeks, relegated to the bench as the Reds took a look at their younger infielders. As a courtesy, manager Dave Miley decided to let him start the first and last games of the final series.
More than 8,000 fans bought tickets at the gates, a walk-up that swelled the crowd to 26,841 for an otherwise unremarkable game between two losing teams.
Larkin insisted before the game that he hasn’t lost his touch at shortstop. He then showed he hasn’t lost his ability to give a crowd goose bumps.
“I pinch myself every time we play against the Reds and he’s the shortstop,” Pirates shortstop Jack Wilson said. “I’m honored to play the same position and be on the field with him. The people of Cincinnati have been absolutely blessed to watch that guy play baseball. It’s unreal.”
Wilson got his 200th hit Friday, a third-inning single to the opposite field. He became the first Pittsburgh player with 200 hits since Dave Parker had 215 in 1977.
Right-hander Josh Fogg will start for the Pirates on Saturday, looking to end his season on a positive note.
At 10-10, Fogg is the only pitcher on the Pittsburgh staff to reach double digits in wins in each of the past three seasons.
“You don’t want to set your goal at 10 when you start the year,” he said. “You want to do better than that. But once you start off poorly, you want to battle back, get to .500 and get above it. That’s what I’ve been trying to do.”