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Thursday, March 27
Updated: March 28, 4:50 PM ET
Reynolds was 0-1 with a 5.87 ERA this spring

Associated Press

HOUSTON -- After focusing the entire spring on finding a fifth starter, the Houston Astros surprisingly placed veteran Shane Reynolds on waivers Thursday to make room for young pitchers Tim Redding and Jeriome Robertson in their starting rotation.

Shane Reynolds

"When you've got someone who's done what Shane has for this franchise, and the role he's played in our past success, it made the decision very difficult," general manager Gerry Hunsicker said.

"But the final analysis, based on what we've seen this spring, we felt like we had better options. As painful as it was, it resulted in us giving him his release."

Reynolds, who said he had fully recovered from a season-ending back operation last summer, had been effective at times during spring training despite an 0-1 record and 5.87 ERA. In 23 innings, he allowed nine home runs, 15 earned runs and 30 hits.

Throughout the exhibition season, the Astros had listed Reynolds as the team's No. 3 starter with Brian Moehler at No. 4 and Redding and Robertson battling for the final spot.

Hunsicker said the move had been considered strongly in recent days.

"We've been concerned with his performance this spring," Hunsicker said. "Normally you don't get too concerned with veteran performances in spring training, but with the injury in the background, you just started to worry a little bit more where he was and where he was headed."

In a telephone interview with Houston television station KRIV, Reynolds said he would have approached the exhibition season differently if he thought he was pitching for a job.

"My thoughts, my workout program, my mental preparation would have been totally different as far as getting outs instead of working on stuff I needed to work on," said Reynolds.

Hunsicker and manager Jimy Williams gave Reynolds the news prior to the team's final spring game in Florida.

Asked for Reynolds' reaction, Hunsicker said: "He had no reaction, didn't say a word."

The right-handed Redding and left-handed Robertson ostensibly were competing for the final open spot in the Astros' rotation behind Roy Oswalt, Wade Miller and Brian Moehler. Both Redding and Robertson have pitched well this spring.

"It was kind of a somber moment," Redding said. "I know Jeriome's thrilled and I'm happy too. But at no time do you think you could see a guy like Shane Reynolds released.

"I kind of have mixed emotions, though. I'm thrilled to have a spot on the team and a spot in the rotation."

Robertson had a similar reflection.

"That's a tough loss for us,'' he said. ``That guy has a lot of knowledge about the game, and a young staff like ours needs that. I feel he's a good pitcher, too."

Redding has worked on consistency with his fastball, one of the best in the organization. He's 1-1 this spring with a 3.31 ERA, seven strikeouts and six earned runs. Robertson is 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA, 12 strikeouts and five earned runs.

On Wednesday, Redding allowed one hit and one unearned run in six innings against Double-A Round Rock. Robertson allowed one hit and two runs in six innings against the light-hitting Detroit Tigers.

"You had the trade off -- two talented young kids who are unproven at this level versus a veteran that has performed well at this level, but has recently struggled and has now had back surgery in the background," Hunsicker said.

Reynolds' unconditional release reduced the Astros' roster to 26. Hunsicker said the Astros will decide in the next two days whether to take right-handed reliever Brandon Puffer or third-string catcher Raul Chavez to Houston when the team breaks camp.

The Astros must pay Reynolds the $1 million on the one-year contract he signed last December that was loaded with incentives he won't be around to reach, worth another $5.7 million if he made 32 starts over 220 innings. The first $300,000 would have kicked in 30 days into the season had Reynolds remained on the active roster.

Reynolds had emergency surgery June 13 to repair a pinched nerve in his back. He went 3-6 with a 4.86 ERA in 13 starts before then.

Since his major league debut in 1992, Reynolds has pitched in 274 games, including 248 starts, with 103-86 record and 3.95 ERA. He ranks seventh in franchise history with his 103 wins and is fifth with 1,309 strikeouts.

The Bastrop, La., native and University of Texas product had spent his entire nine-year major league career in Houston.

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