02/20/2006 4:19 PM ET
Castellini hands-on in Sarasota
New owner wants to learn more about ballclub
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
SARASOTA, Fla. -- In his days as a minority owner with the St. Louis Cardinals, Bob Castellini said he only visited that team's camp once a year for a couple of days.
As new majority owner and chief executive officer of the Reds, Castellini expects to spend at least half of Spring Training in town with the club.
"This is a different situation," Castellini said after he arrived to the club's spring complex for the first time Monday morning.
In charge of the Reds for one month since his purchase from former owner Carl Lindner was approved, Castellini's straight-shooting approach has quickly won over fans, staff, players and management.
"Seeing how the new ownership came and made the moves they wanted to make, everything was handled so professionally," first baseman Adam Dunn said. "They kind of asserted themselves and said this is how it's going to be. That's definitely what we needed. We've got the right two guys in ownership and the general manager [Wayne Krivsky]. I'm assuming everything will turn around in a hurry."
Castellini's first hours in camp were low key. Several members of the front office, including Krivsky and assistant GM Dean Taylor, escorted their boss to a staple of Spring Training dining -- Gus's. It's a mom-and-pop diner across the street from Ed Smith Stadium.
"It's a 10," said Castellini, who ordered a late breakfast.
Castellini doesn't just plan to eat and sightsee in Florida like a spring breaker. There is work to be done and he's got a new office set up at the complex to get started.
What is the first order of business? Getting to know his team. Still, Castellini doesn't plan on hovering over the shoulders of his people.
"I'll be just walking about," Castellini said. "I want to get acclimated and get some exposure [to the team] for myself."
Also on the Castellini agenda is talking with local officials about upgrading the team's Spring Training complex. The Reds began training in Sarasota in 1998 and their lease expires Oct. 1, 2008.
"We certainly want to approach the state legislature about a new facility," Castellini said. "We understand that the people in the state of Florida are favorably inclined."
Castellini would like to keep the team training in Sarasota.
"Absolutely, we certainly do," he said. "I'm not going to play games and say we don't want it to be in Sarasota. It's got to happen. We need cooperation of the state, county and city officials, which I understand we have.
"We want an identification with Sarasota. We want to be the team that's in Sarasota. We want to be their favorite sons."