Notes: Overweight Hancock released

Notes: Hancock's release sends shockwaves

SARASOTA, Fla. -- In a matter of minutes on Saturday, Josh Hancock went from being a Reds pitcher to a cautionary tale.

Manager Jerry Narron's message to his players has been to be ready to work. He drove that point home by making an example out of Hancock. The right-hander was released by the club just before pitchers and catchers set foot on the field for their first Spring Training workout.

Narron said that Hancock, a non-roster player, reported to camp 17 pounds overweight. After the move was announced, Narron recalled a speech he made to his players on the last day of the 2005 season in St. Louis.

"I told these guys to give themselves a chance to be successful," Narron said. "The only way you can do that is by being committed, working out this winter and coming to Spring Training in shape. Take serious what you're doing, even if you're in the winter. I have no clue what Josh Hancock did."

Hancock was 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA in 11 relief appearances last season, but he spent most of the year on the disabled list with a strained right groin. The 27-year-old did not pitch in his first game until September. Last month when the Reds signed pitcher Grant Balfour, Hancock was taken off the 40-man roster to clear space, and he was signed to a Minor League deal with an invite to camp.

That invitation was quickly rescinded.

"Can he be a successful Major League pitcher at 17 pounds more than he was asked to be? Maybe," Narron said. "But we looked at last year. He was on the disabled list for 133 games. We did not see the commitment that we wanted to see this winter."

In an indication of his preference for veterans, Narron also made it known that all players are not created equal in his clubhouse.

"I'm not going to say I'm going to treat everybody the same," Narron said. "I believe you earn the right to do things in this game. A player may come in here tomorrow that's 50 pounds overweight, but if he does, he better have had a real good year last year."

It's rare that a player is sent out on the very first day. The move reverberated around the Reds clubhouse.

"It makes a statement," utility player Ryan Freel said. "It doesn't look like we're messing around. [Narron] is showing that the first day. You could hear a pin drop in here when they announced that. It keeps people in check, and you realize they mean business right now. We're trying to do something positive here and win something."

"It's a surprise for everyone," pitcher Eric Milton said. "That's not a bad thing, because it shows everyone in here you have to be on top of your game. If you're not here and ready to play, then you shouldn't be here. I think it sent a message to everyone."

Under the sun: The remaining 31 pitchers and catchers have hit the field for their first official workout of camp. Typical of the first day, there were assorted drills performed, including pitchers fielding grounders and covering first base and bunting.

Still recovering from a torn tendon in his right index finger, reliever David Weathers was limited to long-tossing and light throwing in a side session.

Balfour, who is rehabilitating from ligament replacement surgery on his right elbow and shoulder surgery, began throwing again for the first time last week. He was throwing from 60 feet, but not off a mound. Head trainer Mark Mann said that Balfour was expected to start throwing off a mound by the end of Spring Training.

Coaching search: The process of hiring a new first-base coach is ongoing. Narron, who interviewed Ken Griffey Sr. on Friday, said that he's spoken informally about the position with internal candidates Ed Napoleon and Pete Mackanin and called Lynn Jones, who is not expected to be in camp until next week.

Seen and heard: Right fielder Austin Kearns was the latest prominent early arrival at the Reds' complex on Saturday. Position players aren't required to report until Tuesday.

Tickets for Opening Day quickly sold out after going on sale on Saturday morning, the club said. Cincinnati opens the 2006 season on April 3 against the Cubs.

Reds general manager Wayne Krivsky hired Ken "Squeaky" Parker as a professional scout. Parker, 69, most recently scouted for the Pirates and is considered to be a legend in the industry. Over the years, he's been responsible for signing big-league players Will Clark, Matt Williams and Jeff Brantley.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.