CINCINNATI -- The Animal is gone. True Creature has arrived.
The Cincinnati Reds lost a great nickname when wildman pitcher Brad 'The Animal' Lesley departed a couple of seasons ago, but have no fear, nickname-lovers, 'True Creature' is ready and willing to assume his duties.
'True Creature' is 23-year-old pitcher Ron Robinson, brought up by the Reds from the minor leagues a couple of months ago. But hardly anyone calls him 'Robinson.'
Virtually all his teammates call him True Creature. Those close to him just use 'True.' And the inner circle gets away with 'T.C.'
Robinson, who has curly, flaming -- but also receding -- red hair, readily accepts the nickname. After all, his boss -- manager Pete Rose - gave it to him.
'I think Pete did it to get back at me for some ribbing I gave him at the end of spring training,' said True Creature. 'When he didn't put me on the major league roster, I told him, 'I hope you don't get your hits (to break Ty Cobb's hit record).'
'When I was called up in May, the Reds were playing in Montreal and I joined the team there. Pete asked me if I knew any Montreal players and I said I knew Jim Wohlford and mentioned that some of his friends called him 'Creature.'
'Pete looked at me and said, 'No, you're the True Creature.' And it's been True Creature ever since. Pete even gave me a T-shirt that says 'True Creature.''
Asked why he thinks the nickname quickly became universal with teammates, True Creature shrugged and said, 'Well, some of them kid me about being ugly.'
But what does True Creature see when he looks in the mirror?
'I think I'm good looking,' he smiled. 'Anyway, my wife and son still love me.
'I like the nickname, though. Hey, the No. 1 player in baseball gave it to me. As long as they keep talking about me, that's good. When they stop, I'm in trouble.'
So far, there's plenty of good talk about True Creature. He has a 4-0 record and tries for win No. 5 tonight against the Montreal Expos, who may have a 'Creature,' but not the 'True Creature'.