02/23/2006 5:27 PM ET
Notes: Long shot McCracken unfazed
Veteran outfielder in familiar spot; Soto impressed with camp
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Veteran outfielder Quinton McCracken knows a thing or two about trying to make a big-league team at Spring Training as a non-roster player.
He also knows what it takes to stay.
Last season in Diamondbacks camp, McCracken was the only non-roster player who wasn't cut in spring. He went on to collect 19 pinch-hits, tying the franchise record.
The 35-year-old McCracken spent the last four seasons as a role player with Arizona, with a brief 2004 stop in Seattle mixed in. But, he found himself unemployed for almost the entire offseason this year.
With new general manager Wayne Krivsky trying to increase the team's depth in camp, the Reds signed McCracken to a Minor League deal Feb. 14, two days before pitchers and catchers were due to report to Spring Training.
"It was great timing, definitely. It was a tough winter," said McCracken, who will earn $600,000 if he makes Cincinnati's 25-man roster. "The options were pretty much very limited but the Reds and one other club came calling at the end. I thought the Reds provided the best opportunity so here we are."
McCracken batted .237 with one homer and 13 RBIs in 134 games last season. After breaking in with the Rockies from 1995-97, he had stints with the Devil Rays (1998-2000) and Twins (2001) before moving on to the Diamondbacks.
On the first day of Spring Training, Reds manager Jerry Narron made one preference rather clear. He likes having veteran role players on his bench.
"I like guys who know how to play the game the right way," Narron said. "The big thing is to have guys that know their roles, know how to stay ready and prepared."
That could certainly bode well for McCracken, especially if he has a good spring. Much will depend on if the Reds decide to keep an extra outfielder on the roster. If it works out, McCracken believes his ability to pinch-hit and be a role player would help the club.
"Jobs are there to be taken. It's a matter of who goes in and plays the best and earns that job," McCracken said. "I think I'm more of a National League-type of guy with my versatility. I'm a guy that comes in does the little things to help a team win."
Soto in camp: Reds chief executive officer Bob Castellini, Krivsky and player development director Johnny Almaraz flew to the Dominican Republic on Thursday on a one-day trip to tour the organization's Latin American academy.
Also on the trip was former Reds pitcher Mario Soto. The Dominican native has been working in the big-league camp as a guest instructor and has liked what he's seen so far.
"I've seen a couple of guys -- [Todd] Coffey and [Matt] Belisle," said Soto, a longtime staff ace, who posted a 100-92 record for Reds from 1977-88. "They have pretty good stuff. They're working, they're working hard. I'm just helping them a little bit."
Injury report: Infielder William Bergolla was diagnosed with a hernia Thursday and could begin the season on the disabled list. Bergolla was scheduled to undergo an MRI exam.
The 23-year-old Bergolla, who was a long shot to make the team out of camp, batted .132 in 17 games over two stints with Cincinnati last season. He batted .293 in 98 games with Triple-A Louisville.
Seen and heard: The Reds agreed to terms on one-year contracts with RHPs Coffey and Elizardo Ramirez. ... Reds players will have photo day Friday, having their pictures taken while in uniform for baseball card companies, team yearbooks and for use on scoreboards around the league.