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Krivsky hopes moves will move Reds up in division

CHESAPEAKE — If Wayne Krivsky were a contestant on “Deal or No Deal,” it wouldn’t be hard to figure out which way he would decided.

The Cincinnati Reds second-year general manager has acquired 47 players during his short stint with the organization and he admits there are already a few other deals in the works.

“Our 40-man roster is set. We’re still looking at a couple of pitchers. But we’ll listen to anyone who wants to propose a trade if we think it will improve our ball club,” Krivsky said.

Krivsky was part of the Reds annual winter media caravan that made its first stop weekend stop in the Tri-State at Big Sandy Furniture Saturday afternoon.

The Reds will remain in the area Sunday by appearing at the Ashland (Ky.) Town Center Mall from noon to 2 p.m.

Krivsky is hoping his current — and possible future — moves will help the Reds leapfrog St. Louis and win the National League Central Division championship after finishing second last year.

One deal that drew a negative comment was the signing of free agent outfielder Josh Hamilton who had been suspended in 2002 for failure to complete a drug and alcohol recovery program. The Reds picked Hamilton in the Rule 5 draft after he was left unprotected by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Even though his suspension was not lifted until Jun1 last year, Krivsky defended the decision.

“By signing him it tells the fans we’re trying to put together the best team we can,” Krivsky said. “He’s got his life in order. He’s learned a lot. We’ve taken a leap of faith.”

Krivsky said there has been discussion regarding the move of oft-injured Ken Griffey Jr. from centerfield to right.

“Both sides have an open mind about. Nothing is set in stone. (Griffey) has an open mind,” Krivsky said. “The main thing is we want to keep him healthy and keep him playing.”

In other off-season deals, the Reds have acquired Oakland pitcher Kirk Saarloos and outfielder/first baseman Jeff Conine. He said there are on-going talks with reliever Kent Merker who wants to return for at least one more season.

“We were real pleased to get (Saarloos) this late before spring training. He was a starter at the beginning of last season for the A’s and was in the rotation in 2005. He is a sinkerball pitcher and has a 2-1 groundball ratio,” Krivsky said.

“Conine will help pick up the slack for the loss of (Rich) Aurilia. He may play some first base.”

Reds also signed free agent shortstop Alex Gonzalez to a three-year, $14 million deal in November. Second baseman Brandon Phillips, who made the caravan tour, said he is looking forward to playing with Gonzalez.

“I’m happy to have him over here. We’ll have a lot of fun up the middle. We’re going to have a lot of web gems,” said Phillips.

Pitching — mainly the bullpen — remains an area of concern due to injuries. Eddie Guardado will not be available at least until June and Gary Majewski is another reliever the Reds hope to have back soon.

“When Guardado went down, everyone was in a different position,” Krivksy said.

Bill Bray is expected to be the main closer, but Krivsky said manager Jerry Narron will probably use a bullpen by committee.

“I think Jerry will use guys who do well against certain hitters,” Krivsky said.

Majewski came over in a trade late last season with Washington to help the bullpen. Majewski has now been considered “damaged goods” and the issue has been taken to the Major League Baseball office which could mean a possible fine for the Nationals and general manager Jim Bowden who was fired by the Reds.

Reds Hall of Fame radio announcer Marty Brennaman joked “we like to the the remedy be a public stoning of you-know-who.”

In other news, the Reds are continuing talks with starting pitcher Aaron Harang in an attempt to avoid arbitration.Krivsky said starting pitcher Eric Milton is expected to be fully recovered form minor elbow surgery when spring training gets underway.

Krivsky said versatile Ryan Freel will probably be the leadoff hitter when he plays, but he was uncertain who would fill the role when Freel does not play.

“Finding a true leadoff hitter is hard to do,” Krivsky said.

One player on the tour who could figure into the Reds starting pitching plans is Homer Bailey, the tall, lanky right-hander who throws in the upper 90s. Bailey was recently named the Reds Minor League Player of the Year.

“I want to come to spring training prepare as possible and try to improve myself,” Bailey said. “I want to make the decision tough for Jerry (Narron).”