Here I am all optimistic about the 2007 season, and then Narron tosses out the idea of Dunn batting 6th. Horrible idea. I'm afraid Narron is going to hold this team back from maxing out it's potential.

Narron intends to break up left-handed bats
Reds notebook

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Ken Griffey Jr.'s absence has kept Reds manager Jerry Narron from trotting out his projected Opening Day lineup this spring.

That hasn't kept him from penciling out lineups.

"I've been messing with what it would be like with Josh Hamilton in Griffey's spot," he said.

That spot might not be the No. 3 spot, where Griffey hit 99 times in 104 starts last year.

Narron wants to split up the left-handers - Griffey or Hamilton, Adam Dunn and Scott Hatteberg. Narron prefers doing it with them in the second, fourth and sixth spots.

"Then it comes down to Hatteberg or Dunn in the two-hole, Griffey fourth or Dunn fourth, and Hatteberg, Griff or Dunn sixth," he said. "That's the only way you can do it."

Ryan Freel, a right-handed hitter, will lead off. Brandon Phillips probably will hit in the third spot and Edwin Encarnacion in the fifth spot.

"With Brandon, you know he's going to give you good at-bats," Narron said. "I like the idea of his speed up top. Eddie has a chance to be a very good RBI guy in the fifth or even third hole."

David Ross and Alex Gonzalez will bat seventh and eighth. Narron isn't sure who will be in which spot.

Another objective of Narron's is to keep things more stable than last year, when the Reds had a National League-high 140 different lineups.

"I've love to have a set lineup every day," he said, "where Doug Flynn plays once every two weeks for Joe Morgan or Davey Concepcion."

BRAY MATTER: Left-hander Bill Bray, who was coming off shoulder stiffness, took a ball off the tip of his finger in fielding drills. He won't throw again until at least Monday.

The Reds are preparing for the possibility of Bray starting the year on the disabled list. He'll be held out of "A" games, so he can be put on the list retroactively.

"First thing you do in a case like that is pitch him in a minor-league game and see how he's doing," general manager Wayne Krivsky said. "That's the first step."

By starting Bray on the DL, it would open a spot - at least temporarily - for Rule 5 pick Jared Burton.

But don't jump to that conclusion.

"We're not saying Bray won't be with us Opening Day," Narron said. "He's definitely not out. But we're getting close to making a decision."

The Reds are saying they like Burton, a 25-year-old right-hander with a 90 mph slider.

"He's shown a great arm," Narron said. "He's shown the ability to throw strikes. He's shown movement with his pitches. He's created a couple of jams, but he's been able to get out of them."

GRIFFEY UPDATE: Griffey took batting practice Friday. There's a possibility that he'll play today, but don't read too much into that.

"There's a possibility every day for everybody," Narron said. "We'll see how he feels when he comes in."

PITCHING SCHEDULE: Eric Milton will start in a minor-league game Monday. Left-hander Bobby Livingston will start Monday's game against Boston.

Livingston is competing for the fifth spot in the rotation.

INJURY REPORT: The Reds brought seven non-roster players to St. Pete to fill in for injured players. One of the non-roster guys, Enrique Cruz, started at third base.

Here's the injury update:

Jerry Gil (elbow) had an MRI done.

Javier Valentin's hamstring is tight. He'll be available maybe today, probably Sunday.

Bubba Crosby (calf) was available to play.

Hatteberg (tight groin) could be available today.

Gary Majewski (shoulder) will take two days off, then throw Sunday.

Juan Castro (elbow) was used as the designated hitter Friday night.

Bill Bray took a ball off a finger on his pitching hand in fielding drills. Adam Dunn (flu) was at the complex but did not play Friday.

CONINE TO RETURN: Jeff Conine, who left camp to attend the funeral of his father-in-law, will return to camp tonight. He probably will play Monday.

SEEN AND HEARD: Non-roster players Mike Flannery, Wes Wilkerson, Drew Anderson, Paul Janish, Dan Conway, Tyrell Godwin, Enrique Cruz and Cody Strait made the trip to help the depleted Reds. "Good for them," GM Wayne Krivsky said. "It's another day of big-league meal money." In most cases, that's an extra $35.