Notes: Reds opt to close by committee

Notes: Reds opt to close by committee

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Don't look for the Reds to have anybody break out and save 40 or more games this season.

At least that's not what manager Jerry Narron is expecting. Narron would welcome having a lights-out closer at the back end of the Reds bullpen, but he doesn't see among the collection of strong arms in Spring Training anybody who might be capable of such yeoman's duty.

"We've got guys who can get eight saves, 10 saves," Narron said before practice on Saturday morning. "David Weathers ran off a stretch last year -- what did he do, nine straight or something for us? He's capable of that.

"But when you start asking a guy to save 45 or 50 games or whatever, that stuff just isn't there."

What is there, as Narron put it, are guys like Weathers, Mike Stanton, Eddie Guardado and Kerry Ligtenberg, veteran arms with a long resume but without the superior weapons they possessed in their earlier days.

That's left Narron to play the closer-by-committee game, which has had mixed success in the recent history of baseball. The committee approach seems to leave the relief corps in a constant state of uncertainty.

"The biggest thing is trying to get guys in the roles that they should be in, and put their minds at ease at roles they're in," Narron said. "One night you might be closing; one night you might be pitching in the seventh or eighth inning.

"That's not easy. I understand that."

And if Narron had to pick a closer for, say, a game today or Sunday, whom might he pick? It would depend on the situation, he said. Guardado, a non-roster invitee, should be a candidate, but "Easy Eddie" is sidelined trying to recover from arm trouble.

So with Guardado unavailable, Narron pointed to Weathers and Stanton as his choice, though that's no endorsement of either man at this stage of Spring Training.

Reds news: Right-hander Gary Majewski remains four or five days away from being able to throw, Narron said. ... Narron offered no news on center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. and his fitness for full duty. Griffey's still recovering from a broken left hand. ... Narron held an abbreviated workout for players here Saturday. The team played host to its annual "Reds Rally" at noon in downtown Sarasota.

Looking good: Josh Hamilton, former No. 1 overall pick in the 1999 draft, continues to show promise. Hamilton's bat has looked electric, but Narron cautioned he's only hitting in a cage, which can't tell everything about a player.

The 25-year-old Hamilton has plenty of rust to shake off his game after being away from baseball for almost three years.

As Narron put it, "It's not gonna be easy."

Narron also liked what he's seen of pitchers Bobby Livingston, Paul Wilson and Matt Belisle, but the Reds manager is quick not to rate their performances too highly just yet.

Spring Training
News and features:
• Reds outfield report:  350K
• Reds bullpen report:  350K
• A look at the Reds starting pitchers:  350K
• Joe Nuxhall on the Pete Rose exhibit:  350K
• Marty Brennaman on Rose exhibit:  350K
Spring Training info: coverage  |  Schedule  |  Ballpark  |  Tickets

"It's a batting cage around 'em," he said of the structured throwing sessions. "They are gonna get a chance to pitch, and we'll find out."

And the question is ... The Reds have retired eight numbers, including the numbers of Johnny Bench (No. 5) and Joe Morgan (No. 8). Who was the first Reds player to have his number retired?

Did you know: Bronson Arroyo and Aaron Harang became the first pair of Reds right-handers since 1965 to pitch more than 230 innings. Arroyo threw 240 2/3 innings and Harang 234 1/3.

The answer is ... In 1965, the Reds retired Fred Hutchinson's No. 1. Hutchinson, a popular and successful manager, retired a year earlier for health reasons and died of cancer later that year. To honor his courage and his character, Major League Baseball honors a player each year who embodies Hutchinson's spirit with the "The Hutch Award."

TV star: Arroyo drove to Orlando on Friday to film a 30-second TV spot for ESPN along with Gary Sheffield and Carlos Lee. Much of their time on the film set was spent sitting around and waiting. It led to a long, long day.

"You get a taste of what it's like to be a real TV star," said Arroyo, who also made an appearance while there on Rome Is Burning. "It took 7 1/2 hours to shoot a 30-second commercial."

Hit parade: Tickets are on sale for the preview of the Pete Rose exhibit in the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum. The event will be held at 6 p.m. ET on March 13 in the museum, and Rose, baseball's all-time hits leader, will be at the Riverfront Club to meet and greet fans.

For more information about the event and to buy tickets, call (513) 765-7926.

Play ball! The Reds will open their Grapefruit League schedule Thursday with a 1:05 p.m. ET game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton, Fla.

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