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01/14/09 1:44 PM EST
Reds fishing plentiful pool for late pop
Pinch-hitter with power sought to provide extra push, clubhouse presence
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- It could very well be the final opening that gets filled during the offseason, yet a veteran pinch-hitter with some pop becomes an extremely vital addition when the Reds find themselves down one run in the bottom of the ninth this season.
For once during the Hot Stove season, the supply is more than enough to meet Cincinnati's demand when it comes to finding someone to be a role player. The free-agent market is teeming with options.
The Reds haven't made tremendous progress in their pursuit of a pinch-hitter, but there seems to be time. Last year, many signings happened just before camps opened or during Spring Training, as many veterans were still scrambling to find jobs.
"A lot of guys are still out there," Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. "We have guys like Jeff Keppinger and extra outfielders that are good athletes, but we're looking for a good pinch-hitter that brings power off the bench."
Jocketty wouldn't name players he might target, but fans can expect any deal for a pinch-hitting role player to be a Minor League contract with an invite to big league camp.
Among those available that could fit the Reds' needs are Kevin Millar, Richie Sexson, Daryle Ward, Nomar Garciaparra, Mike Sweeney and former Reds infielder Rich Aurilia. The man who filled this role the past few years was Javier Valentin, but Cincinnati has shown no interest in bringing back the free agent.
"It doesn't matter if he's young or old, just who'd be the most useful," Jocketty said. "We want a guy with playoff experience, if possible. He would know his role and understand it and be a good guy in the clubhouse."