Reds sign Balfour, still recovering from elbow surgery

Updated: January 12, 2006, 11:48 PM ET
Associated Press

CINCINNATI -- Right-hander Grant Balfour agreed to a one-year, $340,000 contract Thursday with the Cincinnati Reds, who decided to take a calculated risk on a pitcher still recovering from reconstructive elbow surgery.

To open a spot on their 40-man roster, the Reds designed right-hander Josh Hancock for assignment to the minors. They have 10 days to trade Hancock, release him or place him on waivers.

The 28-year-old Balfour pitched parts of three seasons for Minnesota. In his only full season in the majors, he went 4-1 with a 4.35 ERA in 2004, making 36 relief appearances for the Twins.

He went on the disabled list twice that season with shoulder tendinitis, and developed pain in his elbow. Dr. Timothy Kremchek, who works with the Reds, performed ligament replacement surgery on Balfour's elbow last April.

Minnesota decided not to offer him a contract last month, making him a free agent.

"He was originally operated on by Dr. Kremchek, so we have a pretty good idea here of what's involved," Reds general manager Dan O'Brien said. "He's currently in rehab. He will be reporting to major league camp, but will not be physically able to compete for a job in spring training. If everything goes as planned, he could likely return about midseason."

Cincinnati has spent the offseason trying to upgrade a pitching staff that finished last in the National League.

Hancock was trying for a spot in the bullpen last spring training when he suffered a groin injury that lingered. He went 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA in 14 appearances at the end of the season.

Also Thursday, the Reds signed infielder Frank Menechino and catchers Ryan Hanigan and Steve Torrealba to minor league contracts and invited them to spring training.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press