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08/08/07 7:30 PM ET
Notes: Freel out for the year
Super utility man done after arthroscopic surgery on his knee
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- The Reds got the news they expected about Ryan Freel on Wednesday: The super utility player's season is over. Freel had arthroscopic surgery performed on his right knee Wednesday morning. During the one-hour procedure, team medical director Dr. Tim Kremchek repaired torn cartilage and worked to remove a lesion on a bone in the knee of the 31-year-old player. Forecasting the more invasive procedure a day earlier, Freel said he expected to be on crutches at least 4-6 weeks. "He'll be out for the year, but he should be as good as new by next spring," Reds general manager Wayne Krivsky said. Krivsky didn't waste time trying to fill the void. Outfielder Jason Ellison was claimed off of waivers from the Mariners on Wednesday afternoon. Ellison, who the Reds had scouted for a while, spent the day flying in from Seattle and was expected to join the team in time for Thursday afternoon's game. "We didn't know if we would get him or not," Krivsky said. "We put in a claim and learned at 1:30 p.m. [Wednesday] that we got him. Having an idea that Freel might be down and Josh [Hamilton] not being ready, that's why we put in the claim. We got good reports on him. He's always been an extra outfielder. Guys like him get more playing time in the National League." Ellison, a career .258 hitter with a .304 on-base percentage, played for the Giants from 2003-06 and was dealt to Seattle on April 1. He batted .283 without a home run or RBI in 63 games this season. He played a career-high 131 games with San Francisco in 2005, often as Barry Bonds' main backup in left field, but he can play all three outfield spots. "He's a high-energy player," interim manager Pete Mackanin said. "He's got experience. He's kind of similar to Ryan Freel. He can do a little bit of everything. It helps us right now with Freel's situation. There's nobody really ready at Triple-A to fill that bill." With the Reds carrying 13 pitchers, a pitcher was likely to go to make room for Ellison. After the game, the club optioned reliever Todd Coffey to Triple-A Louisville. Coffey had allowed 11 earned runs over 9 1/3 innings (10.61 ERA) since the All-Star break. The Reds will get more outfield depth when Hamilton returns from a sprained right wrist. Krivsky did not offer a timetable of when that might be. Hamilton went 2-for-3 Tuesday while playing six innings during his first rehabilitation assignment game with Triple-A Louisville. He hasn't played for the Reds since July 7 and is on the 15-day disabled list. "We'll just play it day by day," Krivsky said. "With the amount of time he missed, we're not in a rush to bring him back. We'll give him a chance to get his feet on the ground." Hamilton went 1-for-3 for Louisville on Wednesday vs. Indianapolis, but did not play all nine innings as originally expected. He was lifted in a double-switch during the sixth inning. He's No. 2: Seeking to capitalize on Norris Hopper's penchant for bunt singles, Mackanin moved his center fielder down from leadoff to the lineup's second spot on Wednesday. Scott Hatteberg was the leadoff man vs. the Dodgers. Hopper notched his 11th bunt single of the season in the first inning Tuesday and started a three-run rally. "It's a great situation for him," Mackanin said. "That No. 2 hitter, that's the kind of thing you'd like him to be able to do -- move runners, hit and run." Feeling hot, hot, hot: Because of oppressively hot temperatures, the Reds took batting practice indoors Wednesday afternoon. Before a brief rain shower, the club took infield practice outside. The first-pitch temperature for the game was 97 degrees, tying the Great American Ball Park record set Tuesday. The heat index was 105 degrees. The weather had Mackanin reminiscing about his days as a winter ball manager for the Venezuelan club, Maracaibo. "We used to play 11:15 Sunday morning games because of the heat," he said. "By the fifth inning, everybody was inebriated and they wouldn't hold back their emotions. You had to be careful of flying objects after the fifth inning." Short hops: Reds players and front office staff members posed for the club's annual team picture Wednesday afternoon. Former Reds shortstop great Barry Larkin will be the lead infield instructor on the coaching staff of the third annual Major League Baseball International European Baseball Academy. The camp will be held Aug. 9-30 in Italy and instruct players from 17 countries in Europe and Africa. Coming up: Rookie Phil Dumatrait (0-1, 16.20 ERA) will start Thursday's 12:35 p.m. ET series finale vs. the Dodgers and Brett Tomko (2-9, 5.56 ERA).
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.