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Sunday, April 1, 2007
Spring training woes force Reds to release Hermanson

Associated Press

CINCINNATI -- Right-hander Dustin Hermanson was released Sunday by the Cincinnati Reds, who brought him to training camp hoping he could become their closer.
Dustin Hermanson

The Reds also put Eric Milton on the 15-day disabled list because of back spasms, the latest setback for the left-hander who had been projected as the team's No. 3 starter. Milton was one of eight players who went on the disabled list Sunday.

"It's a bloated DL, to say the least," general manager Wayne Krivsky said. "Nobody would like to start the season like that."

The moves left the Reds with 24 players on the active roster, one less than the limit. They plan to add a player before Monday's season opener against the Cubs.

The biggest surprise was Hermanson's release.

The 34-year-old reliever agreed to a minor league deal with the Reds on March 1, with an invitation to camp so he could compete for the closer's job. He started well, but struggled in his last few appearances.

Hermanson ended spring training with a 7.36 earned run average. The Reds wanted him to open the season with Triple-A Louisville, but Hermanson wanted to be released instead.

"We hoped that if he didn't make our club he'd go to Louisville and pitch for us, but he just had no interest in it," manager Jerry Narron said. "We were all hoping that he had the same form he had a couple of years ago, but as spring training wound down to the end we just didn't see it."

Hermanson was the Chicago White Sox closer in 2005, when they won the World Series. He developed back problems that wiped out almost all of his 2006 season and made teams wary of signing him.

Hermanson invited teams to watch him throw at his home in Arizona during the offseason. None was interested in offering a major league deal, but the Reds were willing to give him a chance and invited him to camp.

They told him of their decision early Sunday morning.

"It was tough to tell Dustin Hermanson he was not going to make the team," general manager Wayne Krivsky said. "We wanted him to step up. Unfortunately the last two or three times [he pitched], we had concerns.

"That was a very difficult thing to do. We were all pulling for him. It would have been another nice story."

The Reds needed a closer because left-hander Eddie Guardado is recovering from reconstructive elbow surgery and won't be ready to pitch for at least a couple of months. Left-hander Mike Stanton and right-hander David Weathers also can close games.

Milton had to be scratched from his scheduled appearance in an exhibition on Saturday because of back spasms. He was examined on Sunday and placed on the disabled list retroactive to March 23, meaning he would be eligible to return in a week.

"We want to see how he comes out of this week," Narron said. "If he does [well], he'll be in the fifth spot for us."

Kyle Lohse will move into the third spot in the rotation, with Matt Belisle taking the fourth spot. Milton has been a huge disappointment in his first two seasons in Cincinnati, winning no more than eight games in either season.

Milton declined to talk to reporters after he was placed on the disabled list Sunday.

Also placed on the 15-day disabled list were Guardado, reliever Bill Bray (finger), outfielder Chris Denorfia (torn elbow ligament), infielder Jerry Gil (elbow), outfielder Norris Hopper (heel), infielder Jeff Keppinger (finger) and right-hander Elizardo Ramirez (shoulder).