Sunday, August 15, 2004

Pitching staff undergoes a reshuffling

Hudson to start today, Valentine called up after Wilson goes on DL

By Kevin Kelly
Enquirer staff writer

The last thing Paul Wilson wanted Saturday was to come off sounding like he was making an excuse.

But by putting their most consistent pitcher on the 15-day disabled list Saturday because of lower back soreness, the Reds made it known Wilson was pitching in pain Friday.

photo gallery
Photos of Saturday's game
"He went out and tried to battle through it," Reds manager Dave Miley said. "He just couldn't get the pitches down, and obviously it had something to do with the back. Hopefully he'll only miss a couple starts."

Wilson allowed seven runs on eight hits in a 1 1/3-inning start against the Padres on Friday at Great American Ball Park.

"All I can do is let it get healed, get treatment and get right so I can finish the season strong," said Wilson, who has started 23 games and is 9-4. "It's not what I wanted to have happen, for sure. I want to be out there helping this team win ballgames."

The decision to DL Wilson, who had an MRI performed Saturday and has been experiencing back pain since late July, caused a mini shakeup within the Reds pitching staff.

Relief pitcher Joe Valentine was recalled from Triple-A Louisville to fill Wilson's roster spot, and help an overused bullpen.

The Reds also will recall pitcher Luke Hudson from Triple-A Louisville today.

In making his first major-league start, and fourth appearance overall, Hudson will become the 12th starting pitcher used by the Reds this season.

Hudson's arrival pushes Aaron Harang's next start to Monday in St. Louis. Brandon Claussen (Tuesday) and Josh Hancock (Wednesday) will follow Harang.

Hudson missed all of last season after undergoing shoulder surgery in April and last pitched in the majors in 2002. But the right-hander with the big curveball has put up some impressive minor-league numbers this season.

"I think the biggest area of improvement for him, as opposed to his past history, is his command," Reds general manager Dan O'Brien said. "He's consistently thrown strikes to both sides of the plate, controlling his walk rate, and it's made all the difference in the world for him."

After being promoted to Louisville from Double-A Chattanooga, Hudson went 2-1 with a 2.84 ERA in three starts. He struck out 17 and walked five in 19 innings and held opponents to a .188 batting average.

Hudson is 8-2 with a 1.68 ERA over his past 10 minor-league starts.

A corresponding roster move will be made today.

One option may be to place shortstop Barry Larkin on the DL retroactive to Thursday. Larkin has started two games and appeared in six since straining a left oblique muscle July 24.

"Right now we're nicked up on several fronts," O'Brien said. "As far as (today) . . . we're just going to have to see the condition of certain people and make a decision at that time."

The addition of Valentine helps a weary Reds bullpen.

Entering Saturday's game, Cincinnati relievers had worked 18 2/3 innings over the past three games.

This is Valentine's second stint with the Reds this season. The right-hander went 0-1 with a 14.54 ERA in two games before being optioned back to Louisville on June 14.

"I've been working out of the bullpen lately," said Valentine, who was 5-5 with a 5.01 ERA in 30 games at Louisville. "Back to familiarity. I started throwing like I was capable of."

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