Reds appear to set 25-man roster

Reds make final 25-man roster decisions

BRADENTON, FLA. -- The Cincinnati Reds roster has been finalized, in the minds of manager Jerry Narron and general manager Wayne Krivsky. The players involved have been informed, and all that's left is circumstance to complete the picture.

The club announced Saturday that Jason LaRue was placed on the 15-day disabled list for just the third time in his career. LaRue, the longest tenured Reds player, had athroscopic surgery to repair his right knee on Monday, and the move is retroactive to March 26.

LaRue hoped to be ready by Opening Day, but swelling still lingers.

"Everything is as expected," said LaRue, who took batting practice on Friday and Saturday. "There's no pain, but we still have to get the swelling out so I can squat."

Narron would like for LaRue to be ready for the team's first road trip to Chicago.

Javier Valentin and Dan Ross will cover for LaRue in the meantime.

A minor injury to switch-hitting outfielder, Quinton McCracken, and a more serious injury to Dewayne Wise left the Reds in need of a fourth outfielder.

The spare outfield spot will be filled by Chris Denorfia. He had been optioned to Louisville on March 24. Although Jacob Cruz led the Major Leagues in pinch hits last season with 20, and Brian Buchanan proved himself worthy with a sensational spring at the plate, Denorfia's versatility is prized.

"We sent Chris out to play every day," Narron said. "Early in the season, it wouldn't set him back much if he doesn't play for a few days."

"We're a better team with Chris right now," Krivsky said. "We like Chris Denorfia an awful lot. He gives Jerry more options as far as baserunning, a right-handed bat off the bench and he can play all the outfield positions."

Buchanan lit up spring pitching for a .511 average with a home run and 13 RBIs. He hit an amazing 10 doubles in 45 at-bats.

"It's tough for guys like Jacob Cruz and Brian Buchanan," Krivsky said. "Quinton McCracken has missed a lot of time and needs some at-bats, so Chris may be with us for a few days or a whole season. For Cruz and Buchanan, it's not where you start but where you finish. What more can a guy do than Brian did? It wouldn't surprise me if Brian Buchanan would put in Major League time with Cincinnati."

In the end, Denorfia's all-around skills won out.

"Some decisions take care of themselves. Chris just gives Jerry different options off the bench."

"It's great," Denorfia said. "I had no idea why they called me in [Friday]. It was like they dropped a bombshell. I took the scenic route, but I'm really excited."

The bullpen picture became clearer, as well.

Some Reds officials expressed the opinion that Ryan Wagner could benefit from time in the Minor Leagues. Much like Wily Mo Pena, his ascent to the Major Leagues stunted his development.

Wagner's numbers were fine. He had a 2-1 record, saved two games and allowed just four earned runs in 13 innings. The Reds' first-round pick in 2002 had an excellent spring last year, but his Major League appearances weren't nearly as successful, and he missed the last half of the season with an injury.

The bullpen will include right-handers Mike Burns, David Weathers, Todd Coffey, Matt Belisle and Rick White. Left-handers Kent Mercker and Chris Hammond complete the bullpen.

The Reds informed Dane Sardinha that he will be designated for assignment.

"I saw it coming," Sardinha said. "It was a numbers game, I guess."

Last year's Opening Day pitcher, Paul Wilson, is recovering from shoulder surgery last June 7. Wilson has been placed on the 15-day disabled list. He threw 72 pitches without ill effects in a simulated game on Friday.

McCracken, who has missed the latter half of the exhibition schedule with a foot injury, was reassigned to Minor League camp with Cruz, Buchanan and Frank Menechino.

Gary Schatz is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.