Sunday, January 11, 2004

Reds' spring camp won't be quite so crowded

By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Moves made this week show that spring training will be a less crowded place for the Reds than has been the case in the past.

Under new general manager Dan O'Brien, the Reds have moved away from the mining-for-quality-by-bringing-in-quantity mode as far as pitching.

The Reds have signed 13 players (six pitchers) to minor-league contracts and invited them to spring training.

Last year, they invited 24 players (14 pitchers) to camp. In 2002, it was 30 players (19 pitchers).

Eleven of the 12 signed Friday have some major-league experience. (The Reds previously had signed Todd Van Poppel to a minor-league deal Dec. 8).

Among the invitees are right-hander Seth Etherton, who made seven starts for the Reds last year, and former No. 2 draft pick Dane Sardinha.

The others: left-hander Rigo Beltran; right-handers Brian Mallette, Aaron Myette and Corey Thurman; catchers Mike Stefanski and Javier Valentin; infielders Jacob Cruz and Aaron Holbert; and outfielders McKay Christensen and Jermaine Clark.

Valentin spent last year with Tampa Bay. He played in 43 games, hitting .222 with three home runs and 15 RBI.

The Reds also have signed Luke Prokopec to a minor-league contract. Prokopec, a Rule 5 pick last year, is rehabbing his shoulder after a second surgery. He is not expected to pitch until at least August.

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