02/23/2007 2:30 PM ET
Notes: Reds tinker with 11-man staff
Narron may use fewer than 12 pitchers this season
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
SARASOTA, Fla. -- The question was about depth and versatility on his bench. The answer offered up a bit of intrigue regarding the pitching staff.
Reds manager Jerry Narron was asked if having several players able to play multiple positions was helpful. This was the answer:
"It helps a great deal and it may even help at some point that we can go with 11 pitchers instead of 12," Narron said. "I know that everybody thinks we're going to carry 12, and it probably looks that way. But if we can keep as many versatile guys as we can, maybe we can possibly go to 11."
There are 29 pitchers in Reds camp, and precious few open jobs on the staff. Narron realized he might have spoiled breakfast for some of them.
"If you write that, there could be some very nervous pitchers," Narron said.
It'd seem more plausible that carrying versatile bench players would allow a manager to carry an extra pitcher. But during a season, it's no secret that Narron likes to twist and manipulate his 25-man roster more than a bendy-straw in a cup of chocolate milk.
Reserve players know they'll have to keep more than one type of glove in their locker and multiple positions on his resume.
"We want to keep as many guys as versatile as possible," Narron said.
Ryan Freel, Juan Castro and Mark Bellhorn can play at least four positions. In the outfield, Freel, Chris Denorfia, Bubba Crosby, Norris Hopper and Josh Hamilton can play all three spots. Jeff Conine can play both corner spots.
How many pitchers are carried will depend a lot on whether the Reds keep Hamilton, a Rule 5 Draft pick and long shot in camp. Hamilton, who is trying to come back from an almost four-year layoff, must stay on the 25-man roster all season.
Another factor is if the Reds opt to carry three catchers and take veteran Chad Moeller north.