Notes: Reds renew Phillips' contract
Club also signs four pitchers to one-year deals
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Reds finalized their five remaining contracts for 2007 on Thursday, with one transaction standing out.
While pitchers Todd Coffey, Matt Belisle, Gary Majewski and Bobby Livingston agreed to one-year contracts with the club, second baseman Brandon Phillips was renewed to a one-year deal. Phillips will make $407,500 this season.
"There are no hard feelings on either side," Reds general manager Wayne Krivsky said. "It was an honest difference of opinion. He respects our position. We respect his."
Players with less than three years of service time have little leverage in negotiations and must accept a club's offer if they are not able to agree on terms for a contract. The situation can often create acrimony between the two sides, but there appeared to be none in this case.
"I'm good," Phillips said. "I've got a job. I'm happy with everything that's going on."
Reds assistant GM Bob Miller and scouting coordinator Nick Krall handled the negotiations for the players with less than three years of service time. The club tries to line up the salaries so the players with the best year get rewarded the most.
"We spend a lot of time on the zero to threes," Krivsky said. "It's important that the guys know they're being treated fairly, at least within our structure on our team."
After his top prospect status with the Indians faded, Phillips was designated for assignment at the end of Spring Training last year. The Reds acquired him on April 7, which allowed Phillips to resurrect his career. In a breakout season, the 25-year-old batted .276 with 17 home runs, 75 RBIs and 25 stolen bases in 149 games.
Phillips, who has logged two years of big league service, will be eligible for salary arbitration next season -- and a likely much bigger payday in his next contract.
"I'm not upset at all. I still want to finish my career here," Phillips said. "I want to be a Red. I want to get a long-term contract and just stay here for the rest of my career. I love Wayne. I love Jerry [Narron]. I don't want to go anywhere else."
Through six games this spring, Phillips is batting .353 (6-for-17) with three home runs and six RBIs. He was 0-for-2 with two strikeouts against the Tigers on Thursday.
Harang starts: Reds starter Aaron Harang had another lackluster outing in his second start of the spring. Harang gave up four earned runs and seven hits, including a pair of home runs, in three innings of work. The right-hander did not walk a batter and struck out one.
"I felt good. I still felt like I was trying to overthrow," Harang said. "I tried to do too much I think instead of throwing them down and executing my pitches. The ball gets flat and doesn't have the movement I want.
"I guess it's better to give up all of the homers down here and then go north and not give up any."
In his previous start on Saturday against the Twins, Harang gave up one earned run and five hits in two innings.
Opening Day plans: Pregame festivities for Opening Day on April 2 against the Cubs were released on Thursday. Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory will throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Recording artist Gia Farrell will sing the national anthem, with a flyover from four F-16 jets from the 178th Fighter Wing of the Ohio Air National Guard based in Springfield, Ohio.
Former Reds star outfielder Eric Davis will be the grand marshal of the 88th Findlay Market Parade. The team's newest mascot, Mr. Redlegs, will also be introduced to the public.
No smoking: The Reds announced Thursday that Great American Ball Park has been designated a non-smoking facility. On Nov. 7, 2006, Ohio voters passed legislation that bans smoking in public facilities and places of employment. Fans will not be permitted to smoke inside Great American Ball Park, and will not be permitted to exit and re-enter to smoke.
Cash cow? Phillips' 2007 salary didn't come close to Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard, who also had his contract renewed this spring. Howard, the reigning National League MVP, will earn $900,000 this season.
"If we have somebody that has the kind of year [Howard] had, I'll tell you what, I'll sell my kids to make sure he gets it," Narron joked.
Coming up: Bronson Arroyo will make his first Grapefruit League start when the Reds host the Indians on Friday at 1:05 p.m. ET at Ed Smith Stadium. Top prospect Homer Bailey is also scheduled to see action. Adam Miller is slated to start for Cleveland.