Freel makes Twins squeal

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 31, 2004

SARASOTA, Fla. - Infielder Ryan Freel had three hits, making the most of a new opportunity, and the Cincinnati Reds beat the Minnesota Twins 8-2 on Tuesday without Ken Griffey Jr.

Griffey sat out the game with a strained right calf, injured the previous night. He was doing much better on Tuesday, but the Reds will rest him for a few days until the leg is healed.

During the game, the Reds put third baseman Brandon Larson on the 15-day disabled list. Larson hasn't played since March 10 because of a sprained big toe on his right foot.

Email newsletter signup

Larson worked out on Tuesday, but the lack of at-bats prompted a move to the disabled list that could mean more playing time for Freel and infielder Juan Castro. Larson will be eligible to return on April 10.

''We've got some options - Freel and Castro and those guys,'' manager Dave Miley said. ''It's the best thing for Brandon and the club.''

Freel had three of the Reds' 14 hits and made a diving catch of a shallow fly in the outfield in the ninth inning.

''He's a throwback guy,'' Miley said.

Right-hander Aaron Harang, who appears to have won a job in the Reds' rotation, gave up only three hits and a walk in 5 2-3 innings, striking out six. Harang lowered his earned run average to 1.82.

The Reds blew open a tight game by batting around for four runs in the seventh off Juan Rincon.

Notes: Before the game, the Twins optioned OF Lew Ford to Triple-A Rochester and assigned C Chris Heintz and INF Alex Prieto to their minor league camp. The Twins have 31 players left in camp, including 17 pitchers. … RH Todd Jones, who is trying to win a setup job in the Reds' bullpen, will miss a few days because of a bruised pitching arm. He took a line drive off the back of the arm, just above the elbow, on Monday night. He has a bruise and some swelling. … OF Austin Kearns hit his second homer, his only hit in five at-bats. Kearns, who had shoulder surgery last August, is hitting .164.