Hancock's misfortune not a concern

Hancock's misfortune not a concern for Cards

JUPITER, Fla. -- If the Reds were trying to make a point by releasing him, color Josh Hancock unimpressed. Hancock has most assuredly landed on his feet after he was cut for reporting to Spring Training overweight.

A day after agreeing to a Minor League deal with St. Louis, Hancock explained his side of the saga that saw him cut by the team that had the poorest pitching in the National League in 2005. He said, in a nutshell, that his release had very little to do with his weight, and a great deal to do with making an example of one player so as to keep the rest in line.

"I think that's what I was," he said. "There's a lot of bitterness. It still kind of stings. But I definitely think I was made an example of. It was just a shot across the bow, to the other players, to let them know that they've got to come in and be in shape and be ready."

Per Hancock's explanation, he showed up a month early at camp, at a weight similar to what he'd carried in previous springs. But on the day of the Redlegs' first workout, Hancock was called into manager Jerry Narron's office. By the end of the meeting, he was an ex-Red.

"I was down there for a month; over a month," he said. "Somebody should have let me know. If there was a problem, somebody should have let me know. Jerry called me in, and I just left after that. For a couple days I sat in Sarasota, and I got a phone call yesterday.

"I'm not carrying any more weight than I did in previous years. I think the one thing that [did me in] was, in my bio I'm 207, and I haven't been 207 since high school. You add 17 pounds to that, and here I am."

In the Cardinals' eyes, there's very little risk. Compared to some prior "second-chance" moves, such as the acquisition of Luis Martinez from Milwaukee two years ago, Hancock was a slam-dunk. Martinez had been accused in a shooting in his native Dominican Republic, and character questions naturally followed.

That's not the case with Hancock. Club officials expressed little concern over work habits or character on the part of the right-hander, who had a 1.93 ERA in 14 Major League innings last season.

"I read about what happened in Cincinnati," said manager Tony La Russa. "Against us, he was impressive. We'll bring him into camp and see how he fits in."

Said assistant general manager John Mozeliak: "I think Walt [Jocketty, general manager] and Bruce [Manno, farm director] both looked into it, and at the end of the day, they felt very confident."

Hancock said he's not worried about where he slots in with the Cardinals. He may be considered for a bullpen job with the Major League club, or he might work as a starter for Triple-A Memphis.

As for his condition, it's safe to say there are other pitchers in camp who are no slimmer than Hancock.

"I don't think they have any second thoughts that I'm going to work hard," he said. "I don't see this as a second opportunity. I see this as another opportunity to come to a different team and start things over and be successful."

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