Sunday, March 16, 2003

Reality bites players bound for minors

Hudson, Guillen surprised by decisions

By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer

SARASOTA, Fla. - Both Luke Hudson and Jose Guillen were surprised when the news came that they weren't in the Reds' immediate major league plans.

But their reactions were different.

Hudson headed to Triple-A Louisville confident he will find the consistency needed to get called up.

Guillen isn't sure he'll even go to Louisville. He's hoping for a way out and a chance with another club.

Hudson, the 25-year-old right-hander, is not the type to complain.

But he thought he'd get more of a chance to make the Reds than he did. Hudson was limited to two outings - he pitched a scoreless inning in each - before being optioned to Louisville in the first round of cuts.

"I was surprised because it happened so quickly," Hudson said. "I only had the two innings. I don't feel like I got a justifiable look."

Hudson's chances effectively ended when he was sidelined with a bout of elbow tendinitis. That kept him off the mound for a week.

"That hurt without a doubt," he said. "But I got over the hump and was feeling good. I wasn't extremely confident I'd make the team, but I thought I'd get a better look."

The message to Hudson was a familiar one: Master the command of your pitch, and you'll be in the majors for good.

"It's nothing I haven't heard the last few years," he said.

But Hudson feels he can get there now. "I knew coming into camp I had to prove consistency in my command," he said. "That's no secret to anybody. But I felt more comfortable and confident than I ever have. I felt that way since the (Arizona) Fall League."

Hudson will be used as a starter in Louisville. He'll be one of the Reds' first options if someone is hurt or ineffective.

"I've got to go down and establish consistency," he said.

Outfielder Guillen, 26, is at a crossroads in his career. He thinks his record speaks for itself.

But, if that were the case, a team probably would have claimed him off waivers last week when the Reds outrighted him to Louisville.

But none did. Guillen refused the assignment, elected free agency and was re-signed by the Reds to a minor league contract.

That was all done to open up Guillen's spot on the 40-man roster. Guillen remained in camp and could conceivably make the Reds, but he is a very long shot at this point.

He's hitting .279 overall and he has hit in seven of his last eight games. But it's more likely that he will be sent to Louisville as an insurance policy.

Guillen said he doesn't know if he'll go to Louisville. "I'm hoping something happens. I don't know what I'm going to do."

Guillen would have a better shot if Wily Mo Pena and Ruben Mateo had options.

"I've been busting my (butt) here," he said. "I didn't think I had anything to prove."

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