Notes: Closer options abundant
Santos finalizes roster; Milton to face hitters Wednesday
CINCINNATI -- The Reds' closer situation has gone back to the committee.With the unexpected cut of expected Opening Day closer Dustin Hermanson on Sunday, the Reds are back to mixing and matching for relievers. Like the start of last season, several different relievers could get the call, but right-hander David Weathers would be a primary option. "Done it, been there," Reds manager Jerry Narron said. Narron also indicated that Todd Coffey, Kirk Saarloos, or a left-hander like Mike Stanton could get called upon to start the ninth -- depending on the situations. "I think we have alternatives here," Reds general manager Wayne Krivsky said. "It'll be up to Jerry. In a given situation, it could be a different guy." "We just have to go out there when our number is called and get it done," Weathers said. "The tough thing about a closer by committee is if a guy is going good, the only way he can lose his job is by doing bad. When you're doing bad at that job, it costs you wins. It's hard to jump guys because somebody has to be doing bad to get him out of that role." For now, Major League newcomers Jared Burton and Jon Coutlangus are not preferred options in pressure-cooker ninth-inning moments. "We'll try to ease them in the best we can," Narron said. Weathers has led the Reds in saves and games finished in each of the last two seasons. The 37-year-old lost the closer's role when he struggled in May and June. But he finished strong, mainly in setup situations, with a 1.47 ERA in 32 games after July 5. "There is a luxury to knowing that you're the closer," Weathers said. "But guys have to earn that. I don't think anyone in this room has earned the right to say that they're this team's closer, myself included. I have not gone out and put up 40 saves. Nobody has. Stanton did the most with 27. But you couldn't even get seatbelts in your car when he had 27 saves." Weathers worked a scoreless ninth inning in a non-save situation during the Reds' 5-1 win over the Cubs on Monday. He allowed only a two-out single. Until Eddie Guardado is able to come back from elbow surgery, likely sometime in June, Krivsky isn't expecting to acquire anyone who could exclusively take on the ninth inning. "I'm comfortable with what we have here for now," Krivsky said. "Your frontline closers don't just fall out of trees. Any manager will tell you he'd rather have a go-to guy that can save 40 games. We'll see. I hope we're in a position to get a lot of saves." Finally at 25: Pitcher Victor Santos didn't know when he left Sunday's workout whether or not he'd be on the Reds' Opening Day roster. But he didn't have a sleepless night thinking about his uncertainty. "Nah. I watched 'The Apprentice' and then I went to bed," Santos said.
On Monday morning, Santos learned that he was hired. The Reds set their 25-man roster hours before playing the Cubs when they added the right-hander to the big-league roster.Santos, the only non-roster player in Cincinnati's Spring Training to make the Opening Day roster, threw 15 2/3 scoreless innings and saved two games in nine relief appearances last month. "It could have happened another way, but I'm glad it happened this way," Santos said. Krivsky had irons in the fire for a potential move, but nothing ultimately materialized. "If it was going to be an in-house guy, it was going to be Santos," Krivsky said. "I was having some conversations that didn't pan out. We held off as long as we could be at 24. I didn't get an answer on the other thing until after 3 p.m., so we just did it today. There were a couple of other alternatives out there." Cincinnati had a spot open up in its bullpen when Hermanson was released. To make room on the 40-man roster for Santos, the Reds transferred Guardado from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL. Santos, originally signed in January to be a fifth starter candidate, will be used primarily as a long reliever out of the bullpen. "He gives us one guy that gives us some length," Narron said. "Whether he would spot start for us, I don't know. That's a possibility." Milton update: Starting pitcher Eric Milton, who went on the 15-day disabled list Sunday with a stiff lower back, is expected to face hitters in a simulated game on Wednesday. Milton's DL stint is retroactive to March 23, and he is eligible to be activated on Saturday. The rotation's open fifth spot will be needed on Sunday vs. Pittsburgh. The spot would go to the lefty. "If he's healthy," Narron said. "If not, we'll adjust." Milton, who has had a poor two seasons for the Reds, received a noticeable amount of boos from fans during Opening Day introductions. Coming up: Tuesday is an off-day. On Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. ET, right-hander Bronson Arroyo (14-11, 3.29 ERA in 2006) will make his 2007 debut for Cincinnati against the Cubs and lefty Ted Lilly.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.