Re: Reds sign minor leaguers
Santos, Kershner in rotation mix
By Marc Lancaster
Post staff reporter
The Reds have known since the end of last season that four spots in their 2007 starting rotation already were set.
Unless the Reds add an established starter before pitchers and catchers report in five weeks, the competition for the spot behind Aaron Harang, Bronson Arroyo, Eric Milton and Kyle Lohse figures to be wide open.
The team Monday announced its first batch of non-roster invitees to major league spring training, and at least one player on the list will be in the mix for a starting spot.
Right-hander Victor Santos, who spent much of last season in the Pirates rotation and the previous two years with the Brewers, will definitely get a look.
"He's a versatile guy that can start and relieve," said Reds general manager Wayne Krivsky. "He's going to come to camp and, at least at the outset, compete for a starting spot. That's what he was signed to do. We'll see how it goes, but a guy like him could make the team either as a starter or in the bullpen - it just depends on how things shake out."
Santos, 30, went 5-9 with a 5.70 ERA in 25 appearances for Pittsburgh last season, 19 of them starts. He doesn't miss many bats, allowing 150 hits in 115 1/3 innings last year and more than a hit per inning over the course of his career. Santos has also pitched in the majors for the Rangers, Rockies and Tigers.
He'll fight it out with the likes of Matt Belisle, Elizardo Ramirez, Bobby Livingston and Phil Dumatrait for the final starting job. You can put Homer Bailey's name on that list if you like, but he probably will begin the season in Louisville.
Bailey was also among the big-league camp invitees, along with fellow right-hander Tom Shearn, left-handers Michael Gosling and Jason Kershner, catchers Miguel Perez, Ryan Hanigan, Ryan Jorgensen and Dan Conway, infielders Paul Janish and Anderson Machado and outfielder Dewayne Wise.
All but Santos, Kershner and Conway were in the Reds' organization last year.
Kershner has a chance to see the majors at some point this season, with 89 big-league games on his resume. He has been strictly a reliever the past two seasons for three different Class AAA clubs, but has found success as a starter in winter ball.
Pitching in Puerto Rico for Arecibo, Kershner has a 2.30 ERA in 10 starts, walking just seven batters in 58 2/3 innings. Krivsky said the Reds have heard good things about Kershner from Arecibo's manager, former big-leaguer Pat Kelly, and the left-hander may end up in the rotation competition.
These additions bring to 52 the number of players expected in major league camp next month. That's 10 fewer than the Reds took to camp last year, so expect some more signings in the coming weeks.
"I'm trying to add some more depth if I can," said Krivsky.