Count Castellini among fans of Hamilton
BY JOHN FAY | JFAY@ENQUIRER.COM
SARASOTA, Fla. - Reds CEO Bob Castellini made his first visit to camp Friday.
Castellini had made a side trip to the complex in January when he was in Sarasota for Vern Ruhle's funeral service.
During the January visit, Castellini got an idea why the Reds' front office was so happy to be able to select Josh Hamilton in the Rule 5 Draft and why he was worth the $50,000 investment.
"He was hitting the ball in the lake," Castellini said. "It was 60 mph off Johnny Narron, but ..."
The lake in question is behind the Reds' batting cage, which is behind the fence in right field on Field 4. It's a 500-foot poke - at least.
"Then he was throwing the ball from the 401-foot mark to home plate. The guy has unbelievable talent," Castellini said.
The question is how Hamilton will do against major-league pitching for really the first time and after basically a three-year layoff from baseball because of drug suspensions and injuries.
It should be noted that Hamilton hit one out to left-center off Brian Shackelford during live batting practice.
But, back to Castellini. He was upbeat as usual.
"You feel the confidence," he said. "The team chemistry is good. They discovered last year that they could contend. The team exudes the feeling that they can do it."
11 PITCHERS: Reds manager Jerry Narron talked about the possibility of keeping only 11 pitchers.
He was talking up the club's plethora of versatile players.
"It helps a great deal, and to maybe even at some point help where we can go with 11 pitchers instead of 12," he said. "I know everybody thinks we're going to carry 12. It probably looks that way. If we can keep as many versatile guys as we can, we can carry 11 guys.
"You all write that, and there's going to be some nervous pitchers."
Having more versatile guys would seem to allow a team to carry more pitchers. But what Narron is saying is if you have versatile guys, you have more opportunities to use them.
The whole conversation started when Narron was talking about Jeff Conine's role.
"He'll play a lot of first base, the outfield, coming off the bench," Narron said. "He's a guy that you know you can bring in to pinch hit off a left-handed pitcher, and they bring in a right-hander, he's still going to give you a good at-bat. The numbers are going to show he's as good at hitting right-handers as left-handers."
Conine and Adam Dunn are the only outfielders that Narron said are limited as far as position - Conine can play right or left; Dunn will play exclusively in left.
Conine is Narron's type of player.
"He's a guy that I always admired and respected when I was on the other club with the way he went about his business," Narron said. "I don't know if he remembers, but I told him a few years ago that, as a baseball person, I appreciated the way he went about his business."
HOPPER OUT: Outfielder Norris Hopper will miss the next four days of workouts. He's going to New Jersey to attend the funeral of his maternal grandmother.
ON THREE CATCHERS: The Reds carried three catchers all of last season. Narron didn't sound committed to that when asked about Chad Moeller.
"He's got a chance to make the club," Narron said. "He gives us great depth. Every pitcher who's ever thrown to him likes throwing to him."