03/11/2006 8:58 PM ET
Notes: Foster happy to be asked back
Former NL MVP one of several vets invited by ownership
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Former outfielder George Foster had pretty simple reasoning for his decision to come to Reds Spring Training.
He was asked.

"I was asked to come down here and be part of the new idea," said Foster on Saturday, his first day in camp. "The owners wanted to bring back the history of the Reds and bring back guys who had a winning attitude with the Big Red Machine and the 1990s."

Foster starred for the Reds from 1971-81 as part of an 18-year career in which he hit 348 home runs. The five-time All-Star's club-record 52 homers in 1977 helped him earn the National League's Most Valuable Player Award.

New chief executive officer Bob Castellini invited several former players to his introductory press conference Jan. 20, including Foster. Deeply appreciative of the club's past stars, Castellini wasted no time extending a few more invitations to Foster and others to camp.

Besides Foster, Johnny Bench, Mario Soto and Tom Browning have been working in uniform. Eric Davis and Dave Concepcion are expected later in camp.

Now 57 and residing in the New York area, Foster plans to work with Major and Minor League hitters and outfielders during the 10 days he's in Florida.

"I'll just talk to guys about their approach to the game," Foster said. "I'm hoping to get an opportunity to be more a part of the program and show kids what it's meant by Reds-type of ball."

Foster would like to parlay his guest instructor's role into something more permanent with the organization. He wouldn't mind being a hitting instructor or working in the player personnel department.

"Some capacity that will have an impact and some type of leverage that's going to help a guy get to that next level," Foster said. "I'd like to be in that position to help a guy get there."

Claussen's day: Left-hander Brandon Claussen allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits over four innings in Saturday's 7-6, 10-inning win over Toronto. It was the most innings any Reds pitcher threw this spring.

Claussen, who walked two and struck out one in his second spring start, began his day with three scoreless innings before Eric Hinske led off the fourth with a homer to left field on a 2-0 pitch. Second baseman Tony Womack's error on a routine pop-up followed before a pair of two-out Toronto hits scored two more runs.

"He may have gotten a little bit tired," Reds manager Jerry Narron said. "He was up on the ball to left field. Claussen threw real well. For the most part, we're very pleased with how he's thrown."

No worries: Utility man Ryan Freel's tough spring at the plate continued Saturday when he was 0-for-2 and hit by a pitch. Through nine games, Freel is 1-for-24 (.042 average). Narron wasn't worried about the 30-year-old's spring numbers.

"Not with guys that have proven they're bona fide Major League players, you don't [worry]," Narron said.

Sweet swing: Narron wasn't able to watch Friday when Reds center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. went 4-for-4 with two homers and seven RBIs in Team USA's 17-0 rout of South Africa in the World Baseball Classic. But the manager did like what he saw when Griffey attacked a pitch down and away against Canada earlier in the tournament.

"He had a great swing. It didn't look like a March 8 or 9 swing," Narron said.

Coming up: Fifth-starter candidate Justin Germano will make his second start when the Reds play the Phillies at 1:05 p.m. ET on Sunday at Clearwater. Felipe Lopez, Edwin Encarnacion, Todd Coffey and Ryan Wagner are among those also scheduled to be on the trip.