View Full Version : Narron keeping Opening Day lineup secret (plus possible trade could effect roster)

03-29-2006, 07:40 AM
I thought the part I bolded was interesting.

Narron keeping Opening Day lineup secret
Three-way battle at second base

SARASOTA, Fla. - Reds manager Jerry Narron allowed that he does have an Opening Day lineup.

"I've got one," he said. "But I'm not going to give it to you."

The spot in question is second base. Narron on Tuesday gave essentially the same answer to a question about who would start at second that he gave six weeks ago when spring training opened.

"We're going to try to keep all three guys sharp," he said. "We're going to go with matchups and try to get the best nine guys out there."

The choices to play second are Tony Womack, Rich Aurilia and Ryan Freel.

"Rich is going to play a lot of second, first and some shortstop," Narron said. "Freel will play a lot of outfield and some second. Womack will play primarily second, but we'll use him as a pinch hitter, as a pinch runner."

Those three players give Narron flexibility, but three starting outfielders - Adam Dunn, Ken Griffey Jr. and Austin Kearns - figure to be out there nearly every day. The same is true of shortstop Felipe Lopez and third baseman Edwin Encarnacion.

NO CUTS: The roster remained at 36 Tuesday - 11 over the Opening Day limit.

Paul Wilson and Grant Balfour will start the season on the disabled list, so the Reds still have to cut nine players.

"We could get rid of guys," Narron said. "But we've got some games we're trying to play."

Narron said the Reds could wait until Sunday to make the final calls.

"I know that's not the greatest thing for the guys on the bubble," he said. "But it's part of the game. I went through that my whole career. I have a lot of empathy for those guys."

This is the time of year roster-tinkering deals get done.

Narron said the possibility of one trade is a reason the Reds might not have the roster set when they break camp.

"We might take an extra guy or two north, if there's a chance of a deal," he said.

But for the most part, the decisions have been made.

LaRUE UPDATE: Catcher Jason LaRue was getting around remarkably well Tuesday for someone less than 24 hours removed from knee surgery.

"It's going great," he said. "I've been doing range-of-motion stuff and icing. We'll try to do more tomorrow."

LaRue is still hopeful about being back in a week. He said his range of motion was better than it was before surgery.

"I don't have any pain," he said.

WILY MO SAYS HELLO: Wily Mo Peña was in the lineup for the Boston Red Sox Tuesday night against his old team.

"It's been good so far," he said. "I'm doing the best I can. They're going to give me an opportunity to play against lefties."

Peña came into Tuesday hitting .385 (5-for-13) with a homer and two RBI since the trade.

He started in right field Tuesday, but he has been told he'll play all three outfield positions.

EDWIN EMERGING: Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci tabbed Encarnacion as the National League "Breakout Player of Year" on SI.com.

Encarnacion certainly is having a breakout spring.

Going into Tuesday's game, Encarnacion had reached base in 19 of 20 games.

He was hitting .414 with six home runs, nine doubles and a major league-leading 20 RBI.

E-mail jfay@enquirer.com


03-29-2006, 07:58 AM
Notes: Second base platoon for Reds?
Narron will try to keep Womack, Freel and Aurilia sharp
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com

SARASOTA, Fla. -- And the winner of the Reds' starting second base job this spring appears to be...


Veterans Tony Womack, Ryan Freel and Rich Aurilia were all seeking to earn a regular spot in the lineup at second. Womack had the strongest offensive numbers in camp, while Freel and Aurilia struggled to find a groove at the plate.

Throughout Spring Training, Reds manager Jerry Narron has maintained the same position. It didn't change Tuesday in the camp's final week.

"We've got three guys. I'm going to do everything I can to keep them sharp," Narron said. "We'll get the best matchups we can and get the best nine guys on the field that night. I really think the guys not playing that night will be on the bench helping us out."

Narron wouldn't tip his hand about Cincinnati's Opening Day lineup. Whoever is manning second base April 3 won't necessarily be the everyday guy.

"That's probably a good way to put it," he said.

Womack, who entered Spring Training saying he was determined to win the job, is batting a productive .362 (17-for-47) through 16 games. The 36-year-old, acquired in a December trade with the Yankees, didn't express disappointment that a definitive starter wasn't named.

"I don't stress over that. I just play," Womack said. "I don't get caught up in that stuff. I can't worry about something I can't control."

One encouraging stat has been Womack's .412 on-base percentage. His career OBP is .316. Posting good spring numbers was not a surprise, he felt.

"I don't let people dictate whether or not I'm past my prime. I can still play," Womack said. "I only have to prove that to myself. I don't worry about what people say or think."

Freel, who's batting .155 (9-for-58) in 21 games, admitted he has been trying to do much at the plate this spring -- especially early on.

"I think it's a situation where I'm trying to hard to go to the next level, and that's to get a starting position," Freel said. "I think for the most part, I've been pressing too much. Nobody here is labeled as a second baseman right now. That being said, I know that I had a real legitimate chance of making it."

Aurilia, who's batting .191 (9-for-47) in 16 games, will likely play all four infield positions at various times. Freel is also valuable to Narron because he can play second base, third base and all three outfield spots. This spring, Womack hasn't played anywhere but second base, but the switch-hitter could be used off the bench to pinch-hit or pinch-run.

In a 1-for-4, two-RBI night Tuesday, Womack played second base and batted leadoff in a 10-5 win over Boston. Starting in left field, Freel batted eighth and went 1-for-4 with two walks and two eighth-inning stolen bases.

Womack and Freel will alternate at the leadoff spot, depending on the matchup.

Freel also accepted his situation, but not unconditionally.

"I'm good with it if we win," Freel said. "If we don't win, then I'm not good with it. My goal is for us to have a winning season. If [Womack] goes out there and we start winning, good. I'll be the first guy to tell you I'm glad we're winning. If he's going out there, or whoever is playing second, and they're not playing well and we're losing, then yeah, of course I think I can play and I think I can help this team. There's no doubt about it. I've done it before and I'll do it again."

Roster watch: Narron said Tuesday he was close to having a final 25-man roster set but felt it was possible the team could break camp Saturday without a final decision being made. The manager also indicated the club might not be done making trades.

"We might take a couple of extra to Cincinnati not knowing if there will be a deal or something, I don't know," Narron said. "It's probably not the greatest thing for the guys on the bubble. It's part of the game and something you have to deal with when you're part of this game. It's one of the bad parts of it."

Ol' Left-hander returning: The Reds announced Tuesday that Joe Nuxhall would return to the broadcast booth to work 17 games this season for WLW. Nuxhall, who had retired in 2004 following 60 years in the organization -- including 38 broadcasting -- was scheduled work the final four innings at Monday's opener.

Part of the 77-year-old's schedule is to work some road games at Philadelphia and St. Louis Aug. 11-18. The Cardinals' new Busch Stadium would be the 59th big-league ballpark Nuxhall has played in or broadcast from.

Seen and heard: There's a chance expected fifth starter Dave Williams will remain in camp to pitch Sunday in a Minor League game so he can get some work in before his first regular-season start April 9. Williams pitched five innings in his final Spring Training game Tuesday.

Infielder William Bergolla played in his first game and drew a pinch-hit walk in the eighth. Bergolla, who missed most of spring with a high groin sprain, remained in the game and played second base.

Coming up: Projected Opening Day starter Aaron Harang will make his final spring start Wednesday when the Reds host the Devil Rays at 1:05 p.m. ET. Seth McClung is scheduled to start for Tampa Bay.

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


Chip R
03-29-2006, 09:23 AM
Man, that Jerry Narron is a wily guy. As in Wily E. Coyote.

03-29-2006, 09:34 AM
You know, if Tony Womack is suddenly able to consistently get on base, finds his speed again, and improves his defense, I have no problems with him playing second.

Seeing as how getting only one of those three out of him would be an improvement, I really can't understand why the stats of 20 spring training games are trumping the stats from an entire big league career.

03-29-2006, 10:17 AM
In reading between the lines I would not be surprised to see a new OF and 1B before they make the final cuts. That is only reason I can see for not moving towards finalizing their roster(most other teams have). I can't imagine they want McCracken as the 4th OF and Hatteberg as the everyday 1B. I guess we will find out in the next 3-4 days.

03-29-2006, 02:34 PM
Jerry is just trying to keep RZ from going into attack mode early :devil:

This will be the lineup.

2B Womack
SS Lopez
LF Dunn
RF Kearns
1B Hatteberg
C Valentine
P Harang

03-29-2006, 02:54 PM
Part of me still doesn't think hatteberg will be the opening day starter. Dunno why, it just seems too preposterous.

03-29-2006, 02:55 PM
Part of me still doesn't think hatteberg will be the opening day starter. Dunno why, it just seems too preposterous.could be the mad scientist part hasn't taken hold yet

03-29-2006, 03:42 PM
From Narron's comments it sounds to me like Freel's the 4th outfielder not McKracken. He seemed to imply Freel would play more OF than 2b.

03-29-2006, 05:19 PM
Isn't McCracken hurt? (ankle)

03-29-2006, 05:23 PM
That's Dewayne Wise with the twisted ankle.

max venable
03-29-2006, 05:28 PM
Man, that Jerry Narron is a wily guy. As in Wily E. Coyote.
We're just biding time (one season) till Lou is managing this team again. :thumbup:

03-30-2006, 05:33 AM
Jerry is just trying to keep RZ from going into attack mode early :devil:

This will be the lineup.

2B Womack
SS Lopez
LF Dunn
RF Kearns
1B Hatteberg
C Valentine
P Harang

I'm going out on a limb, here, and going to say that either Womack and/or Hatteberg will NOT be in the OD lineup. And saying neither of them is not out of the realm of possiblities...if we get/pickup a 1B (read: Carlos Pena), then I think he would start and I still think that Aurillia is our OD 2B...or is that hoping?

Man, from whipping boy to choice at 2B. Oh what a difference a year makes. (Assuming they are keeping Freel out of the IF)