Reds cap busy day with former closer
By Hal McCoy
ATLANTA | For Cincinnati Reds General Manager Wayne Krivsky, hunkered down in a Sarasota bunker this week, five defeats in a row was all he could take and he wasn't going to take it any more.
So, he didn't just shuffle the roster deck, he dealt manager Jerry Narron a few hands.
At the top of the list was the acquisition of an experienced closer, 35-year-old Eddie Guardado, obtained along with some spending money from the Seattle Mariners for minor-league pitcher Travis Chick, another of the players brought in by former GM Dan O'Brien, players Krivsky is systematically weeding out.
Krivsky also called up from Class AAA Louisville outfielder Dewayne Wise and left-handed pitcher Mike Gosling, a one-day plug-in until Guardado arrives today.
Edwin Encarnacion was activated off the disabled list and was in Thursday's lineup, while outfielder Quinton McCracken was designated for assignment.
"I hope this helps turn us around," said Krivsky. "These games we're losing are all so critical because now everybody is bunched up in the standings."
Guardado is the major move as Krivsky tries to patch a bullpen that has more leaks than a little red rented row boat, blowing 11 of its last 19 save opportunities.
"Every Day Eddie — that's his nickname," said Krivsky. "When he pitched for Tom Kelly in Minnesota, Kelly used him almost every day. I'm willing to give him an opportunity. He isn't afraid of ninth inning situations, he knows how to pitch ninth innings."
In 2002, Guardado led the majors with 45 saves for the Twins and had 41 in 2003. He made the All-Star team both seasons. Last year he was 2-3 with a 2.72 ERA with 36 saves in 54 appearances in Seattle.
He hasn't been successful this year — 1-3 with a 5.48 ERA in 28 appearances, losing the closing role to J.J. Putz.
"What I like is that he became Putz's mentor because Eddie is such a team player and a great guy to have in the clubhouse," Krivsky added. "We're going to take a shot with him."
That means Todd Coffey goes back to pitching in the seventh and eighth, instead of closing, with Kent Mercker and David Weathers pitching earlier in front of Coffey.
"We can line up our bullpen the way we had it earlier in the year with Coffey in the middle and late innings," said Narron.
Coffey was seven for nine in save situations, but has been wobbly of late and welcomes Guardado's arrival.
"Since Day One I've pitched whenever he wants me to pitch," said Coffey. "it doesn't matter to me. It is a great pick-up for our bullpen. Plain and simple, it helps us out. And it doesn't change anything for me. Whenever Jerry calls on me I have to be ready to pitch. I just wish I had done better."
Wise, 28, nearly made the team in spring training when he hit .298 with four doubles and four home runs in 17 games. Then he severely sprained an ankle and lost out to McCracken, who hit .208 in 53 at-bats.
"Dewayne would have made our team out of spring training if he hadn't got hurt," said Narron. "It has taken him awhile to come back, but he played well at (Class AA) Chattanooga and played well at (Class AAA) Louisville.
"Dewayne is an outstanding outfielder, gives us a left-handed hitter off the bench and if we need a baserunner he has some speed," said Narron.
Said Wise about his long delay in arriving, "Things happen for a reason (his ankle injury), but I stayed positive, kept my head up and made sure I was healthy before I stepped back on the field."
Encarnacion pedaled an exercise bike in the pre-game clubhouse, "Something I'll do for the next four weeks before games, along with icing my ankle after every game, just to keep it strong," he said. "I was out a month — didn't think it would take that long — but it feels real strong and I played seven games in a row (on rehab) for Louisville with no problems."
There was panic is some corners about the option of Ramirez to Class A Dayton, but it was no demotion. The club needed a roster spot for Encarnacion and Ramirez isn't scheduled to pitch until after the All-Star game, 10 days away.
"It just worked out that we could have Ramirez pitch in Dayton Monday, on his regular turn, then he'll be really to pitch for us on Sunday after the break," said Narron.
For the second time this season, Gosling was a one-day emergency fill-in, but Narron said, "You never know what might happen and he might be here the rest of his life and end up in Cooperstown."
Gosling didn't unpack his suitcase.