Friday, March 28, 2003

Reds Notebook

Bullpen order not set in stone

By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer

SARASOTA, Fla. - Scott Williamson is the closer. After him, the pecking order of the Reds' bullpen is yet to be determined.

"Everybody will be available," pitching coach Don Gullett said. "We'll see how that scenario plays out. I don't think we're ready to define roles."

Besides Williamson, the Reds have three other right-handers (Scott Sullivan, John Riedling and Josias Manzanillo) and three left-handers (Gabe White, Kent Mercker and Felix Heredia) in the bullpen.

All six are capable of being setup men. Riedling was in the primary setup role last year. Sullivan held that position before injuries rendered him ineffective last year.

Though Williamson is the closer in name, Reds manager Bob Boone would not rule out others finishing games.

"I don't think in the conventional terms of long man, short man, closer," Boone said. "We've got a lot of ways to go. I look at it more like: Who can get the next hitter out? Who's rested? Who's throwing good?"

The Reds have many relievers throwing well going into the season. The relievers on the Opening Day roster have allowed only two runs in their last 181/3 innings pitched.

Boone will make decisions based on the left-right matchup, as well as what pitchers have done against particular hitters in the past.

"It's going to take the effort of the whole bullpen for us to win games," Gullett said.

GABE & SULLY: White and Sullivan, the subjects of many trade rumors, broke camp with the Reds Thursday.

"They're a big part of what we're doing," Boone said. "I haven't been doing the speculating. Trades are part of the game, but I don't see them as marked men."

GRAVES OK: The blood blisters on Danny Graves' pitching hand won't keep him from preparing for his April 5 start against the Chicago Cubs.

"If I had to pitch in a major-league game today, I could," he said Thursday morning.

Graves developed the blisters while pitching in a minor-league game Wednesday. He was able to get in four innings and 81 pitches.

He blamed the blisters on the minor-league baseballs.

"The seams are higher," he said. "With me throwing all two-seam fastballs, I really got (blisters) quick."

Graves said he'll throw a bullpen session today as planned and will start a minor-league game Sunday.

"I need to pitch," he said. "I don't think it will be a problem."

The Reds will use major-league balls in the minor-league outing.

Graves did return with the team to Cincinnati. He'll come back Saturday, pitch Sunday and be back in Cincinnati in time for Opening Day on Monday.

"Oh my God, I wouldn't miss that," he said. "I've been looking forward to it for four or five years."

WILTON, NO JOSE: Wilton Guerrero has joined the minor-league camp since being re-assigned there Monday.

Jose Guillen, who was re-assigned the same day, hasn't reported yet.

REITSMA'S DAY: Chris Reitsma, also re-assigned Monday, started for the Reds in the 6-2 loss to Pittsburgh Thursday in Bradenton, Fla.

The only two hits Reitsma allowed were home runs to Aramis Ramirez - a solo shot in the fourth - and a three-run shot in the sixth.

"He pitched terrific," Boone said. "He was a little over his limit in the sixth. I wanted to get him up to 90 pitches. He was a little tired."

LARSON OK: Brandon Larson left the game Thursday after being hit by a Salomon Torres pitch. He is OK.

HARNISCH THROWS: Pete Harnisch started another minor-league game Thursday. Harnisch, coming back from ligament-replacement surgery in his elbow, threw 61 pitches in the outing.

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