Krivsky will watch closely
By Marc Lancaster / Post staff reporter
SARASOTA, Fla. - One of Wayne Krivsky's strong- est selling points when he interviewed for the Reds' general manager job was his existing knowledge of the team.
Now that he has the job and spring training games are beginning, it's time to start over. In the scouting world, it happens every spring.
"Guys change," Krivsky said Wednesday. "I mean, I've got a basis to work from, but everybody's got a clean slate when it comes to what's happened in the past."
The meat of the evaluation process for Krivsky and his baseball operations staff - several of whom also are new to the organization - begins today. The Reds will travel to Lakeland, Fla., to face the Detroit Tigers, diving into a Grapefruit League schedule that runs through April 1.
Krivsky hasn't spent much time wandering the back fields of the Reds' complex since workouts began nearly two weeks ago. Much of his time has been spent putting himself and everyone else through crash-course introductions after he was hired barely a week before pitchers and catchers reported to camp.
That's OK, Krivsky said. As far as he's concerned, there's only so much you can learn about a player by watching him go through drills.
"I'm not really that interested in how someone's throwing on the side," he said. "I want to see it in the games. That's where you do your evaluating."
Krivsky and his staff actually got to work on that Tuesday, with the Reds' exhibition game against a Korean professional team, and had another quick look Wednesday during an intrasquad game. But the level of competition is rising now, even as players from other teams pitch a handful of innings or leave the game after a couple of at-bats.
"Every time they go between the lines, it counts," Krivsky said. "So we're into that schedule where it's time to start the competition."
Because Krivsky didn't have time to remake the roster in the offseason, no one can be sure of exactly what he's looking for as he assembles his first Reds team. Both he and manager Jerry Narron are devotees of pitching and defense as keys to winning, and those aspects of the game probably will get plenty of attention.
Asked Wednesday what he would be looking for when games began, the first item Narron mentioned off the top of his head was Adam Dunn's transition from left field to first base.
There is no clear starter at second base, either
, and the front end of the bullpen appears wide open, with numerous pitchers jostling for a spot on the Opening Day roster.
Though Narron said earlier this week that the Reds' starting rotation is essentially set, "barring trade or injury," he insisted Wednesday that he'd keep an open mind as he tries to sort through the 29 pitchers currently in camp and healthy.
"Everybody here could pitch their way onto the team," Narron said. "Every one of them."
Players' past performance will be taken into consideration when it comes to determining the 25-man roster, but those interested in making the cut would do well to impress their manager and general manager on the field over the next month.
As Narron said Wednesday, these games matter.
"It matters when you have guys that have been inconsistent - especially if a pitcher's inconsistent throwing strikes and being able to command the baseball," he said. "It's huge for them to come out and show they can throw strikes and pitch ahead and be able to throw any type of pitches any time they need to. It's probably bigger for them than it is for the position guys."
Even so, in the scrums for the second base job and the final spot on the bench, performance in spring training will count. Especially considering the number of veteran position players the Reds have in camp competing for jobs, the way they play in games will be a key way for the decision-makers to differentiate between contenders.
"Spring training is spring training, but you have to make evaluations," said Krivsky. "You have to pick 25 players, and right now we have 62, so we have a ways to go."
Krivsky said he will watch the Reds play every day during their Grapefruit League schedule, usually with others from the front office on hand. Scouts also will fan out to cover other games around Florida, particularly on the Gulf Coast side so they can check in regularly at the offices in Sarasota.
Reports will be filed, meetings will be held, and by April 2 the Reds will have themselves a team. There's plenty of baseball to be watched before that point, however, and Krivsky is ready to go.
"Let 'em play," he said. "It'll take care of itself."