02/10/2006 9:00 AM ET
Reds Spring Training quick hits
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
The Reds hope for a breakout second season from third baseman Edwin Encarnacion.
73-89, fifth place in NL Central
Projected batting order
1. 2B Tony Womack
.249 BA, 0 HR, 15 RBI in 2005
2. SS Felipe Lopez
.291 BA, 23 HR, 85 RBI in 2005
3. CF Ken Griffey Jr.
.301 BA, 35 HR, 92 RBI in 2005
4. RF Austin Kearns
.240 BA, 18 HR, 67 RBI in 2005
5. 1B Adam Dunn
.247 BA, 40 HR, 101 RBI in 2005
6. RF Wily Mo Pena
.254 BA, 19 HR, 51 RBI in 2005
7. C Jason LaRue
.260 BA, 14 HR, 60 RBI in 2005
8. 3B Edwin Encarnacion
.232 BA, 9 HR, 31 RBI in 2005
1. RHP Aaron Harang, 11-13, 3.83 ERA in 2005
2. LHP Dave Williams, 10-11, 4.41 in 2005
3. LHP Eric Milton, 8-15, 6.47 in 2005
4. LHP Brandon Claussen, 10-11, 4.21 in 2005
5. RHP Paul Wilson, 1-5, 7.77 in 2005
Closer: RHP David Weathers, 15 saves, 3.94 ERA in 2005
RH setup man: Todd Coffey, 4.50 ERA in 2005
LH setup man: Kent Mercker, 4.13 ERA in 2005
The new guys
Tony Womack: Acquired from the Yankees for two Minor Leaguers in December, the 36-year-old Womack was brought in for his speed. He will likely play a lot at second base, but manager Jerry Narron also plans to shift him around to shortstop and the outfield.
Dave Williams: Acquired from the Pirates in exchange for Sean Casey in December, Williams is the only new addition to the rotation. The lefty has a good reputation for his work ethic and his ability to keep the ball down should serve him well in Great American Ball Park
Chris Hammond: The lefty reliever is back where he began his big league career in 1990. Although he's with his fifth club in five seasons, the 40-year-old free agent signing gets lefties out and will be counted on in all mid-to-late inning situations by the Reds. He's also expected to complement Weathers and Mercker with more veteran bullpen leadership.
Rick White: A free agent signed Jan. 31, White will be fourth over-35 pitcher in the Cincinnati bullpen. He will likely get plenty of late-inning chances.
Prospects to watch
OF Chris Denorfia: The organization's Minor League Player of the Year will be making a push to stay on the roster as a fourth outfielder.
RHP Homer Bailey: The top pitching prospect in the Reds organization and a first-round pick in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, Bailey will be in his first big-league camp as a non-roster player.
Returning from injury
Paul Wilson: The veteran starter had season-ending right shoulder surgery in June to repair a torn rotator cuff and frayed labrum. Wilson began a throwing program in mid-January and, if all goes well, could be ready to go by April.
On the rebound
LHP Eric Milton: It couldn't have gotten much worse last season for Milton, who set club records in home runs allowed (40) and ERA (6.47) while posting an 8-15 record in the first season of a three-year $25.5 million deal. Expect his competitive fire to burn for immediate improvement.
RF Austin Kearns: Kearns spent over a month at Triple-A Louisville in a demotion last summer but returned a better player, despite a .240 overall average. He comes in knowing he'll get to play every day, and is expected to be an asset both at the plate and in the field.
1B Sean Casey: In a trade that irked many Reds fans, Casey went home to Pittsburgh in the Williams trade. Cincinnati will miss his clubhouse leadership and will have to hope Casey doesn't have his best games against his old team.
RHP Ramon Ortiz: More was hoped for when the Reds got Ortiz from the Angels last winter. But the right-hander struggled with a 5.36 ERA and surrendered 34 homers.
2005 hitting leaders (min. 200 at-bats)
Avg.: Sean Casey, .312
OBP: Adam Dunn, .387
SLG: Ken Griffey Jr., .576
Runs: Dunn, 107
RBIs: Dunn, 101
Hits: Felipe Lopez, 169
2B: Dunn, 35
3B: Lopez, 5
HR: Dunn, 40
SB: Ryan Freel, 36
2005 pitching leaders (min. 30 IP)
IP: Aaron Harang, 211 2/3
W: Harang, 11
L: Eric Milton, 15
Win %: Todd Coffey, 4-1, .800
S: David Weathers, 15
ERA: Kent Mercker, 3.65
K: Harang, 163
K/9: Ryan Wagner, 7.69
WHIP: Harang, 1.27
Triple play: Three questions that need answers
1. After a rough 2005, how will a similarly assembled Reds rotation fare this season?
Cincinnati will need another solid season from Harang, a big turnaround from Milton and hope that Wilson can return 100 percent from shoulder surgery to have any chance at being competitive in 2006. They must hope Williams can step up as a reliable starter in his first season with the Reds.
2. Who will play second base?
Womack, Freel and Rich Aurilia will all likely rotate at the position, according to Narron. It's possible that no definitive starter will emerge from the group.
3. Who will be the Reds closer?
The club is going into camp admittedly in a less than ideal situation. They don't have an established closer to fill that role. Experienced setup men Weathers and Mercker will likely split duties but Coffey, Wagner and others could emerge to compete for the job.
The bottom line
Barring any last-minute deals, the Reds will need to assemble their pitching staff from what they have within and identify an ace of the rotation. Despite being loaded with power hitters in its lineup, Cincinnati could lose a lot of 10-9 games if its staff doesn't step up and protect leads.
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