Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Closing would be bonus for Coffey
Team would be happy just to have him earn a roster spot

SARASOTA, Fla. - A lot of people are ready to anoint Todd Coffey as Cincinnati's closer.

Reds manager Jerry Narron could see that happening. But he would settle for something less this year.

"Todd Coffey's an outstanding person," Narron said. "He's been a closer in the minor leagues. There's a big difference between the minor leagues and the majors.

"We're not putting any pressure on him. We're hoping he pitches well enough to make the club."

Coffey, a 25-year-old right-hander, went 4-1 with a 4.50 ERA last year. But he allowed 84 hits in 58 innings and, after striking out an average of more than one batter per inning in the minors in '04, struck out only 26.

Coffey went to the Instructional League in an effort to regain his split-finger fastball. If he does, he could be in the mix to be the Reds' closer.

"I'm hoping, at worst, he'll as good as he was last year," Narron said. "If he can do that, we've got a guy we can trust to come in with guys on base."

ALL-STAR '09? Chief executive officer Bob Castellini says the Reds have not decided whether to place a bid with Major League Baseball on hosting the 2009 All-Star Game.

"We haven't even thought about it," he said. "We have to prove to Baseball that we're a sound franchise operationally."

The '09 game is the next one available to a National League franchise.

Castellini is busy shoring up things in the Reds' Florida operation. He said the club is in the final stages of purchasing a Florida State League franchise from the Boston Red Sox.

The Reds had a team in the FSL last year, playing out of the Sarasota.

"We operate it," Castellini said. "We don't own it. That's a big difference."

ALL BUT ONE: Only one of the Reds' 26 position players had failed to report by early Tuesday afternoon. The missing party was outfielder Tuffy Rhodes.

"All but a few guys were here early and working out," Narron said. "That's awesome."

The Reds' first full-squad workout of the year is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. today.

BENCH TO SPEAK: Hall of Famer Johnny Bench was scheduled to be the speaker Tuesday night at the Reds' team dinner.

JR. TO SKIP: Ken Griffey Jr. was not going to attend the dinner, but he had a good excuse.

Griffey was Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's guest for the Legends Day gala in Tallahassee.

Griffey was going to present an award to Hall of Famer Willie Mays as part of Bush's "Remembering the Past, Celebrating the Future" program for Black History Month.

"I played golf with (Bush) last year and again in the offseason," said Griffey, who was planning to take his family to the event, which would include a tour of the governor's mansion.

"My daughter (Taryn) is into that," Griffey said. "We toured the White House last year. Plus, it's Willie Mays."

ROSEWOOD ROLLS: Despite the absence of coach Narron, the Rosewood High School girls' basketball team beat Lejeune 48-34 in the first round of the North Carolina state tournament.

Rosewood improved to 20-4 but is 4-4 without Narron.

"A parent of one of the girls offered to fly down and pick me up and take me back for every game," said Narron, who instead settled for phone updates.

Some mentioned that Narron's postgame quotes for the Lady Eagles sound a lot like his postgame quotes for the Reds.

"I don't care what sport it is," he said. "To be successful, you've got to do the little things."