Thursday, May 10, 2001

Trade winds swirl around Reds

Outfield glut, pitching dearth spur rumors

By Chris Haft
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        PHOENIX — The behind-the-scenes buzz concerning a possible Reds trade, always at a steady hum, has increased in volume.

        “Something big might happen soon,” said a baseball source familiar with the Reds' maneuverings.

        Such talk often proves empty. But Reds general manager Jim Bowden has loudly voiced his desire for pitching help. It's just as obvious that he must deal an outfielder, because the team will have a surplus at that position once center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. returns from his left hamstring injury.

        The Reds have inquired about Montreal right-hander Tony Armas Jr. and Oakland's stable of young pitchers, without success. Baltimore, Kansas City, Minnesota, Seattle and Tampa Bay are among the other teams they've scouted.

        Michael Tucker and Alex Ochoa often have been mentioned as outfielders Cincinnati might trade. But Tucker's contract might diminish his market value, indicating that left fielder Dmitri Young, a former subject of trade rumors, could be back on the block.

        The two-year contract ex tension Tucker signed in January pays him $2.25 million next season and $2.75 million in 2003. He's a bargain by today's standards, especially since he's earning $1.8 million this season.

        But if Tucker is traded before Nov.1 of this year, he has the option to void the extension. His new team would risk losing him as a free agent. If he's traded between this Nov.1 and Nov.1, 2002, he can void the 2003 terms.

        Or, if Tucker's traded and doesn't void the contract, he would qualify for various bonuses that he would not have received with Cincinnati — making him more expensive.

        With a $3.5 million salary this year and arbitration-eligible status, Young comes with a higher price tag. But he has established himself as a hitter while proving that he also can play first base, enhancing his value. He could be targeted by any of the teams (Minnesota, Oakland, Philadelphia, the New York Mets) seeking offensive help.

        ELIAS STRIKES OUT WITH REDS: The Diamondbacks' Randy Johnson's 20-strikeout performance Tuesday night will be listed by the Elias Sports Bureau, baseball's official record keeper, as second-most strikeouts in an extra-inning game, instead of being tied with Roger Clemens and Kerry Wood for most strikeouts in a nine-inning game.

        Many in baseball, including several Reds, took exception to this.

        “(Johnson) got the record in our book,” said Reds manager Bob Boone. “That's what I'll always remember.”

        “It completely threw me off,” said the Reds' Pete Harnisch. “I don't know who makes a decision like that, but it's absolutely brutal. It's the worst thing I ever heard. Obviously, if he ties the record in the 10th inning, it's a totally different story. But what's the difference? Not that anybody cares what I think. But it's a travesty.”

        ETC.: Still bothered by his sore lower back, Young missed his third consecutive start.

        • Former ace right-hander Jose Rijo, who has been trying to launch a comeback, will throw for Reds officials before Friday's game.

        • Right-hander Scott Winchester began his injury rehabilitation stint successfully, pitching a scoreless inning Tuesday. Boone said the report he received on Winchester said the reliever “had good stuff with sinking action.” Winchester is expected to throw another inning tonight against Rochester.


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