SARASOTA, Fla. -- If Ken Griffey Jr. is ready to play on
Opening Day, he will be in right field.
Cincinnati Reds manager Jerry Narron said Monday he expects to
start Ryan Freel in center because Griffey is still working his way
back from a broken left hand. The longtime center fielder was
injured in the offseason while wrestling with his kids.
"Right now, that's what our plan is. We would have loved for
him to be available Opening Day to play center field -- it just
didn't work out," Narron said.
Griffey, a 10-time Gold Glove winner in center, has taken fly
balls and made throws from right field in practice. Narron said he
was very cautious about deciding to move the 37-year-old slugger
from his customary spot.
"We had to make a decision. This late in the spring we need to
get our club out on the field," he said. "I've got to do
everything I can do to put our best club out there. My feeling is
that with Ryan Freel out there, it gives us strong defense up the
Griffey's agent, Brian Goldberg, said his client had known the
"Junior understands the team tells us where he should play, and
that's the way it should be," Goldberg said.
In other news, the Reds optioned relievers Brad Salmon and
Brian Shackelford to Triple-A Louisville. Shackelford has bounced between
Cincinnati and the minor leagues the past two seasons.
"All of us have seen what Shackelford can do against
left-handers," Narron said. "He needs to do something about
right-handers. He needs regular work."
Matt Belisle, who has emerged as the favorite to earn the job as
the fifth starter for the Reds, was to pitch in a minor league game
on the off day Tuesday to keep on schedule. Bobby Livingston,
another starting candidate, also was to pitch in the minor league