Monday, July 19, 2004

Romano gets second chance

Will provide depth in outfield; takes Sanchez's spot

By Kevin Kelly
Enquirer staff writer

The locker was not bare for long.

Moments after pitcher Jesus Sanchez's nameplate was removed, Jason Romano walked into the Reds clubhouse Sunday and dropped his bags beside the vacated locker.

The Reds recalled the outfielder from Triple-A Louisville before Sunday's game against the Cardinals and designated Sanchez for assignment.

photo gallery
Photos of Sunday's game
"I'm just excited to come up here again and get the chance to help the team out any way I can," Romano said, "whether it's playing or off the bench."

With outfielders Ken Griffey Jr. and Austin Kearns on the disabled list, and third baseman Brandon Larson nursing a strained hamstring, the Reds needed the additional depth that Romano provides.

"He gives us, if need be, a defensive replacement late in the game," Reds manager Dave Miley said.

This is Romano's second stint with the Reds this season.

He played in 15 games and batted .063 with seven strikeouts before being outrighted to Louisville on May 19. Romano responded well to the move, hitting .315 with two homers, eight RBI and 12 runs in June, and .337 in 40 games overall this season.

"I went down, had a plan and stuck to it," he said. "I was just trying to do the things that I worked on when I was up here - hitting line drives - and it worked out."

Romano entered Sunday's game as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning and struck out with two on against Cardinals reliever Steve Kline. He flew out to right in the ninth inning.

SANCHEZ'S SITUATION: Sanchez, the veteran left-hander, was 0-2 with a 7.53 ERA in three starts since being called up July 2.

"I know I can do better," he said. "I believe it."

The Reds now have 10 days to trade Sanchez, release him or outright him to the minor leagues. Sanchez may refuse a minor-league assignment and become a free agent.

"I have to talk to my agent and see what decision we have to make," he said. "I don't have a decision right now."

Left-hander Brandon Claussen will be recalled from Louisville before Tuesday's game against the Brewers and take Sanchez's spot in the rotation.

DAY-TO-DAY: Larson's strained left hamstring was examined by Reds medical director Dr. Timothy Kremcheck on Sunday.

He is listed as day-to-day.

"It's just really sore," Larson said. "It feels like a charley horse stuck in my leg. I guess they're going to treat it for a couple more days, see how it goes and make a decision after that."

If the injury requires additional time to heal, it is possible Larson will be placed on the 15-day disabled list. The Reds will need to make a move so Claussen can be added to the 25-man roster in time for Tuesday's game.

LET'S GET PHYSICAL: First-round draft pick Homer Bailey is scheduled to undergo a physical today in Cincinnati, and if everything checks out, sign a contract both sides have agreed upon in principal.

"I'm going to reserve, at the moment, judgment on it because you never assume until everything is signed, sealed and delivered," Reds general manager Dan O'Brien said.

"But I think, hopefully, things will work out (today)."

O'Brien did say the Reds plan on sending Bailey, a right-handed pitcher from LaGrange, Texas and USA Today's High School Player of the Year, to the Gulf Coast League once he has signed.

ODDS AND ENDS: Cardinals pitcher Jeff Suppan improved to 6-0 with a 2.39 ERA on the road this season. . . . With two hits Sunday, Reds second baseman D'Angelo Jimenez extended his hitting streak to eight games. . . . Louisville pitcher Matt Belisle extended his team's streak of quality starts to five games Saturday. The right-hander allowed two runs on five hits over seven innings.

REDS FACT: Adam Dunn needs two home runs to become the 23rd player to hit 100 homers as a Red. Ken Griffey Jr. and Sean Casey each reached 100 this season.

Reds statistics

(Through Sunday's game)

Vander Wal .500.600412101210000
Casey .341.3893055710427115552322104
Larkin .296.34427447811225342231202
Pena .289.33517319504112341053302
Freel .279.376283357910511635451757
Castro .277.3141481841141110826005
Jimenez .269.37731245841626295448964
Dunn .264.4073115982170265672112403
Griffey .251.350295487417020604465101
Cruz .247.31897152450219828000
Hummel .239.283929224017515103
LaRue .229.31622728521209301659027
Larson .212.3041181325603141435105
Kearns .195.327871017213131630111
Valentin .182.236121112250311918004
Team Totals .253.336311542978715913109404357717401453
Graves 143.125103452.053231810530
Wilson 923.5918180115.11214946133575
White 013.75130012.0955419
Jones 823.88470153.142242342336
Riedling 424.20440049.149272342330
Harang 524.251414078.193383782765
Lidle 674.7920200127.21327068143481
Norton 125.35380037.038252232023
Van Poppel 335.622010073.2854646111448
Acevedo 485.77191901061196968212984
Wagner 216.41210019.231161431311
Sanchez 027.5333014.1181212498
Matthews 218.84220018.12319186108
Team Totals 48444.9892923581789348145119286554

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