03/01/2006 5:46 PM ET
Notes: Claussen lays foundation
Injured Milton replaced by Kozlowski in Grapefruit opener
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Unlike Tuesday's three-hour-plus first exhibition game against a Korean professional club, Reds manager Jerry Narron was able to better control the setting during Wednesday's intrasquad scrimmage.
Narron watched at Ed Smith Stadium as the "home" club was helmed by bench coach Bucky Dent. The "away" team, run by instructor Ed Napoleon, won the 4 1/2-inning game by a 3-1 score.

"We had pitchers on their pitch counts, and we could get them in and get them out," Narron said. "Maybe yesterday was too early to be playing somebody else."

While on a pitch count between 45-50 pitches, Brandon Claussen still worked three innings in his first outing. Facing 11 batters, the left-hander allowed one run and three hits -- which included an Adam Dunn home run -- with a walk and a strikeout.

Claussen felt like he commanded most of his fastballs and sliders. He was still trying to get the feel of his changeup.

"I felt good," said Claussen, who was 10-11 with a 4.21 ERA in 29 starts last season. "This was the first time I went three innings right out of the chute. It's definitely something to build on."

Leading off the top of the second, Dunn launched Claussen's 3-1 pitch over the fence in right-center field.

"I'm glad he's on our side. I love Dunner," Claussen said. "He did what he's supposed to do with that pitch."

All of the club's regular players were used during the scrimmage. Right-hander Luke Hudson pitched for the home team and worked one scoreless inning.

Injury report: Expected to start Thursday's Grapefruit League opener against the Tigers, Eric Milton was scratched with a right calf strain. The injury isn't expected to be serious. Non-roster left-hander Ben Kozlowski is scheduled to take Milton's place.

Right fielder Austin Kearns suffered a bruised left forearm when he was hit by a Hudson pitch in the top of the first inning. Kearns left the game early but is expected to be OK.

Left-handed pitcher Phil Dumatrait took a Felipe Lopez line drive off his shin but is also believed to be fine.

Patient Pena? One of the more encouraging parts of the scrimmage for the Reds was seeing the plate discipline shown by Wily Mo Pena. The usually strikeout-prone left fielder drew two walks. His first free pass came after working a full count against David Weathers in the second inning.

"I think all of our players were excited to see that," Narron said. "If Wily Mo takes that same approach all year, he can be very successful."

Pena, who has struck out 224 times compared to 42 walks the past two seasons, has been working with hitting coach Chris Chambliss to improve his decision-making in the batter's box.

Goodbye for now: Center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. was 2-for-3 in the scrimmage with a double to the warning track in right-center field. Afterwards, he left the club to fly to Arizona and join Team USA for the World Baseball Classic.

Performance counts: Even if Spring Training is a time for players to get their work in, the games aren't completely meaningless. Instead of going entirely from past performances last season, Narron could base some players' chances of making the club on their performances in exhibition games.

"It matters when you have guys that have been inconsistent," Narron said. "Especially with the pitchers ... They need to come out and show they can throw strikes and be able to throw pitches over when they need to. It's probably bigger for them than the position guys."

On camera: A Japanese TV crew appeared to document outfielder Tuffy Rhodes' every move during batting practice Wednesday. Rhodes spent the past 10 years playing in Japan and earned star status for hitting 360 home runs and learning to speak fluent Japanese.

Rhodes was asked if his following was on par with Yankees slugger and Japanese superstar Hideki Matsui. The Cincinnati native quickly disagreed.

"Nah, I'm Tuffy," he said. "Matsui would have 25 people following him."

Odds and ends: The Reds agreed to one-year contracts on Wednesday with catcher Miguel Perez and reliever Ryan Wagner. Pitcher Matt Belisle is the only unsigned player remaining on the 40-man roster. ... Former Reds general manager Dan O'Brien was hired by the Brewers as a consultant and special advisor to GM Doug Melvin.

Coming up: The Reds meet the Tigers at 1:05 p.m. ET on Thursday at Lakeland, Fla. Left-hander Nate Robertson is scheduled to start for Detroit. Other Cincinnati pitchers available for the game include Wagner, Chris Hammond, Brian Shackelford, Elizardo Ramirez and Mike Burns.

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