By Hal McCoy
Dayton Daily News
SARASOTA,. FLA . | For most of last spring, 280-pound Rob Stratton was a cult figure in the Cincinnati Reds camp, grabbing attention by hitting .314 with four homers and 10 RBIs in 35 at-bats.
He was in camp as a non-roster invitee and he was sent to Class AAA Louisville. Just a week into the season, he tore his Achilles tendon. Told to stay off it, he walked down some steps during the healing process and tore it again.
Well, he's back. Mostly, he works by himself, part of a small group invited to a minor-league mini-camp, which means he'll probably play in some of the Reds exhibition games.
"The Achilles is good," he said. "I worked hard on it all off-season and I've lost 20 pounds. "This is the way I've had to battle all my career, fight through injuries. I'm just grateful to the Reds that they are giving me another chance and if I can stay healthy maybe I can get back where I left off last spring."
With second base jammed up — Rich Aurilia? Tony Womack? Ryan Freel? Frank Menechino? — when Aurilia talked with manager Jerry Narron, he asked if he should pick up a first baseman's mitt from the Rawlings folks.
"I told him to get a first baseman's glove, a second baseman's glove, a shortstop's glove, a third baseman's glove, an outfielder's glove — that the only gloves he wouldn't need were pitcher's and catcher's," said Narron.
Who's No. 5?
The question isn't one Narron wants to think about, but it is something that needs to be addressed until rehabbing pitcher Paul Wilson proves he is ready to be part of the rotation.
What if he can't?
"We have Mike Gosling (signed recently off waivers from Arizona), Justin Germano (acquired last year in a trade with San Diego for Joe Randa and E-Z (Elizardo) Ramirez," said Narron. "Those would be the guys we're counting on."
Wilson took a giant step forward Wednesday, throwing 60 pitches off the mound. Trainer Mark Mann said he threw the first 50 pitches at 75 percent, "Then cranked it up to about 90 percent the last 10 pitches and felt great, really great."
Wilson takes today off and climbs back up the mound Friday.
General manager Wayne Krivsky continues to search for another starter, "To give Jerry more options."
There are talks concerning free agent right-hander Pedro Astacio, 4-2 with a 3.17 ERA in 10 starts at San Diego last season.
Share and share alike
The Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates, who train a few miles north of Sarasota in Bradenton, are in preliminary discussions about sharing a spring training facility near the Sarasota County Fairgrounds, about a mile from the Reds' current site.
Both the Reds and Pirates are interested in a new complex and the thinking is that the Florida legislature might be more receptive to granting money for the project if two teams share the facility.
Scout Snipp hired
Krivsky made another of many front-office hires when he named Mark Snipp a special assignment scout. He will assist director of scouting Chris Buckley in the June free agent draft and also serve as a major league scout.
Snipp has worked for the Angels, White Sox and Blue Jays, assisting in the signing of Robin Ventura, Lee Stearns, Vernon Wells and Casey Blake.