Reds extend contracts for GM, field manager

Updated: June 28, 2006, 7:33 PM ET
Associated Press

CINCINNATI -- The eight-game winning streak that vaulted the Cincinnati Reds into first place in the NL Central earlier this month convinced their new owner that things were headed in the right direction.

The ensuing slump didn't change Bob Castellini's mind.

Castellini extended the contracts of general manager Wayne Krivsky and manager Jerry Narron on Wednesday, keeping both of them through at least 2008. The move showed Castellini's pleasure with the way the Reds have improved in a short time.

"We're a game and a half out," Castellini said. "That's pretty good for a team that was picked to finish last by everybody. That's darn good."

Castellini's first major decision when he acquired the team in January was to fire general manager Dan O'Brien. The Reds were coming off their fifth consecutive losing season, their longest slump in 50 years, and Castellini wanted immediate change.

He hired Krivsky from a group of eight candidates, giving him a two-year contract with two option years. The Reds exercised the option for 2008 on Wednesday, leaving the option for 2009 intact.

"Just to be here for four months and have the option picked up is very humbling," Krivsky said.

Krivsky got the job right before the start of spring training, leaving him with little time to overhaul a flawed roster. He acquired catcher David Ross, first baseman Scott Hatteberg and second baseman Brandon Phillips, all of whom are regulars making important contributions.

His biggest deal was sending outfielder Wily Mo Pena to Boston for Bronson Arroyo, who is the team's top starter and one of the NL's top pitchers. With Arroyo leading the way, the Reds' rotation has improved from one of the NL's worst to one of its best.

"We're happy with the direction we're going," Castellini said.

Narron was the bigger question in the team's long-range plans. He took over last season after Dave Miley was fired, receiving a contract for 2006 with an option for one more year. He knew that new owners tend to bring in their own people for important positions.

Adroitly juggling a roster that has three catches and, at one point, featured four second basemen, Narron has kept the Reds in contention while keeping his players content.

"I've got about 13 guys who would like to play every night, and only eight of them can go out," Narron said, referring to his lineup for a game Wednesday night against Kansas City. "It's not the easiest thing in the world sometimes."

Before he took over the team in January, Castellini talked to former Reds and Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella about the job. Castellini said Piniella was required to sit out this season as part of his agreement to leave Tampa Bay.

That left Narron with what amounted to a one-season audition. After watching him for nearly half a season, Castellini decided to extend his contract by two years through 2008, with an option for one more year.

"The sky's the limit for us," Castellini said. "He's got the confidence of the players. He's got the confidence of the general manager."

Narron got Krivsky's backing during the two-week search for a general manager. Krivsky called Narron to get his views on the team before he interviewed for the job, and was struck by their similar opinions on the team.

"When I placed the first call, I hung up and said, 'Shoot, I think this is a guy I can work with," Krivsky said. "It was uncanny how much we were on the same page. I was surprised we didn't disagree more.

"That told me we were either both right, or we were both wrong and we were going to go down together."

Instead, they're staying together.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index

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