Monday, January 30, 2006
Wilson progressing 'very well'
By Marc Lancaster
Post staff reporter
Zoom JIM OSBORN/Post file photo
Reds pitcher Paul Wilson is already in Sarasota
• Dunn's hand not a worry
The list of factors that will have to fall exactly into place for the Reds to contend this year is longer than the team would like, but there are encouraging signs on one key front.
Right-hander Paul Wilson, just over seven months removed from arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff and frayed labrum in his pitching shoulder, is progressing "very well" in workouts at the Reds' complex in Sarasota.
That's the report from team trainer Mark Mann, who has been in Florida working with Wilson for the past week and a half. Mann said Sunday that Wilson had thrown off the mound about five times and is "pain-free" to this point.
"Right now he's throwing at about 75 percent, and we're just trying to build his pitch volume more than anything," said Mann. "As his volume grows, we'll pick up the intensity. By the time the rest of the pitchers report, he'll be throwing live BP sessions - as of now, that's what he's scheduled to do."
Assuming all goes well, said Mann, Wilson should be in line to pitch in Grapefruit League games sometime in March.
The Reds have said all along that they don't plan to rush Wilson back. If necessary, manager Jerry Narron would begin the season with another pitcher holding down Wilson's spot in the starting rotation. Right-hander Matt Belisle would seem a logical option after spending last year in a number of bullpen roles.
Before too long, though, the Reds will need to get something out of Wilson. The veteran, who will turn 33 in March, signed a two-year, $8.2 million contract prior to last season but didn't provide much return in 2005.
Wilson got the ball on Opening Day and produced the first of four quality starts in April, but his first outing the following month was the beginning of the end. In a start against the Dodgers on May 6 at Great American Ball Park, the first eight batters he faced reached base and eventually scored.
Though he insisted nothing was physically wrong with him, Wilson was shelled in two more starts before the Reds pulled the plug and put him on the disabled list May 25. Three weeks later, he had season-ending surgery.
STILL SHOPPING - The Reds have softened their position on the trade availability of their young outfielders, most notably Austin Kearns and Wily Mo Pena, but a transaction or two isn't out of the question before spring training begins.
Interim general manager Brad Kullman said Sunday that he wouldn't mind adding a veteran arm to the bullpen, and there are some low-cost options available. Kullman didn't mention any names, but a couple of right-handers who spent last year with the Pirates and remain on the market, Brian Meadows and Rick White, could be possibilities.
A published report Friday said the Reds were one of three teams Meadows was considering, and though Kullman said that day that no talks had taken place on his watch, he acknowledged Sunday that "things change from day to day."
Earlier this offseason, Danny Horwits - agent for both Meadows and White - said there had been some preliminary conversations with the Reds about White, a native of Springfield, Ohio. White did not return a call seeking comment Sunday, but a person familiar with the situation said there has been some recent contact with the Reds.
HEALING UP - Speaking of bullpen veterans, David Weathers is still recovering from a torn extensor tendon in his right index finger suffered while playing catch two weeks ago.
Mann said Weathers is still in a splint and will be evaluated next Tuesday by the doctor in Tennessee that has been treating him.
"At that point, depending upon how his exam looks and how his finger looks," said Mann, "that will determine whether he begins throwing at that point in time or he's splinted for one additional week."
Whichever way it goes, the Reds don't expect Weathers to be limited once he gets to spring training.
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