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Friday, June 14
Updated: June 15, 5:15 PM ET
Expos trade lefty Chen to Reds for Brower

Associated Press

CINCINNATI -- Left-hander Bruce Chen was traded Friday from the Montreal Expos to the Cincinnati Reds, going from a team with an uncertain future to one looking to add starting pitching for a playoff run.

Bruce Chen

The Reds gave up right-hander Jim Brower, who went 2-0 with a 3.89 earned-run average in 22 relief appearances this season. The Reds tried Brower as a starter last season, but he struggled and was moved back to the long-relief role.

Chen, 25, will join baseball's most surprising team. The Reds have led the NL Central for 49 consecutive days and think they can stay in contention -- if they can get more starting pitching.

"We're thinking of Chen as a starter,'' manager Bob Boone said. "Most of the success he's had has been as a starter. We've been looking for a fifth starter.''

Chen began the season with the New York Mets and made one relief appearance before he was traded to the Expos on April 5 as part of a seven-player deal.

The Expos were in Cincinnati for a series when they got Chen, who was projected as one of their starters. It didn't work out that way -- he made five starts and 10 relief appearances for Montreal, going 2-3 with a 6.99 ERA.

"I'm sorry things didn't work out for me here in Montreal,'' Chen said. "I didn't pitch the way I was capable of pitching.''

The tight-budget Reds have been looking to upgrade their rotation since spring training, when nonroster right-handers Jimmy Haynes and Joey Hamilton pitched their way onto the staff.

"We have a lot of young guys in the minors who aren't ready to pitch yet,'' Reds manager Jim Bowden said. "This was an opportunity to get a good left-hander who's young and has a lot of upside.''

Hamilton has been hit hard since he returned from a torn hamstring, and 37-year-old Jose Rijo went on the disabled list a week ago with a tired shoulder. The situation was so desperate that the Reds let reliever Carlos Almanzar make his first major league start Monday in Texas.

Almanzar tried to catch a grounder with his bare hand in the first inning of the game and broke his finger, putting him on the disabled list.

Financially, the trade won't have an impact. Chen makes $300,000 this season, while Brower gets $250,000.

Brower, 29, jumped back and forth between Cleveland and their farm system in 1999-2000. The Reds got him as part of a three-player deal that sent catcher Eddie Taubensee to Indians in November 2000.

Brower went 7-10 with a 3.97 ERA in 10 starts and 36 relief appearances for the Reds last season.

"It was a blessing to come over here,'' Brower said. "When I was with Cleveland, I was up and down. Here, they gave me a career. Without the Reds, I might be back (home) in Minnesota.''

While the Reds are trying to extend their final season at Cinergy Field, the Expos aren't sure whether they'll be eliminated or moved after the season.

"Everything with me is season-oriented,'' Brower said. "I'm not a veteran, I don't have a long-term contract, so I'm just looking to finish the season. Hopefully I'll prove myself and they'll want me back -- if they're around.''

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