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09/25/08 2:20 AM ET

Hanigan in line to start for Reds in 2009

Cincinnati (74-84) at Houston (83-74), Thursday, 8:05 p.m. ET

HOUSTON -- There's a good chance the Reds won't feel overly compelled to dip their toes into the free agent or trade market this winter to land a starting catcher for next season.

They may already have one in rookie Ryan Hanigan, who has been in the Major Leagues since Aug. 10.

"Ryan Hanigan proved very capable of catching in the Major Leagues on an everyday basis," Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. "If he was our starting catcher next season, I don't think we'd hesitate nor have a problem with that. If there is a frontline catcher out there and available, we'd take a look."

Hanigan is batting .266 (29-for-79) with two home runs and nine RBIs in 29 games, but his real value has been demonstrated in how well he's worked with pitchers. Entering Wednesday, Reds pitchers were 14-8 with a 3.68 ERA when he's catching.

There have been only two complete games from the rotation this year, and Hanigan has caught both of them -- Bronson Arroyo on Aug. 26 at Houston and Aaron Harang last Wednesday vs. the Cardinals.

"At Spring Training, I liked the fact he did most things right," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "He was the guy that knew all the signs as quickly as anybody. When we did our verbal tests on signs, he was like that anxious kid at school that knew the answer but it wasn't his turn to be called upon.

"He blocks well. He throws better than I thought -- a lot better than I thought. He's accurate and quick. The pitchers feel confident throwing breaking balls in the dirt -- especially with a runner on first that can take us out of a double-play situation or a runner on third not being afraid of a wild pitch or passed ball. Those things are huge."

Pitching matchup
CIN: RHP Johnny Cueto (9-13, 4.62 ERA)
Cueto pitched six strong innings for a 4-3 win over the Brewers on Saturday. He held Milwaukee to a pair of runs on six hits and no walks. He is 0-2 with a 6.50 ERA in three previous starts against the Astros this season.

HOU: RHP Roy Oswalt (16-10, 3.60 ERA)
Oswalt held the Pirates to one run over six innings in a 79-pitch outing in his last start, exiting the game early with a slightly sore neck. He'll pitch on short rest against the Reds, a team he has dominated throughout his career. Oswalt is 3-0 with a 2.84 ERA over three starts versus the Reds this season. He is 22-1 with a 2.51 ERA over 27 games (25 starts) against Cincinnati in his career.

Short hops
Jay Bruce led off on Wednesday, in part because Jerry Hairston was sick with the flu. Bruce snapped a 0-for-7 skid with a double in the seventh inning and a single in the ninth. ... Infielder Andy Phillips left the team on Wednesday to be with his pregnant wife, Bethany, after she went into labor. ... Jocketty was in Kansas City with a Reds contingent Wednesday finalizing plans with architects from HOK for the Reds' Spring Training complex in Arizona. The team plans to break ground on their portion of the facility they'll share with the Indians in November. "Ideally, it's expected to be ready a year from now. It should be on time for next year's instructional league," Jocketty said. The Reds plan to hold their annual organizational meetings this weekend in St. Louis, instead of the usual tradition of meeting later in the fall in Sarasota, Fla.

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Up next
• Friday: Reds (Bronson Arroyo, 15-11, 4.66) at Cardinals (Braden Looper, 12-14, 4.13), 8:15 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Reds (Aaron Harang, 6-16, 4.72) at Cardinals (Todd Wellemeyer, 12-9, 3.69), 7:15 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Reds (Adam Pettyjohn, 0-0, 4.50) at Cardinals (Kyle Lohse, 15-6, 3.78), 2:15 p.m. ET

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.