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Reds send pair of minor-leaguers to Philly for Conine

CINCINNATI -- The Reds acquired Jeff Conine from the
Philadelphia Phillies for a pair of minor leaguers Thursday, giving
them a right-handed hitter who can share a spot at first base and
play the outfield.

Jeff Conine Conine

The 40-year-old Conine played the outfield and first base with
Baltimore and Philadelphia last season, hitting .268 with 10 homers
and 66 RBI. The Phillies acquired him in an August trade.

In exchange for Conine, the Phillies got infielder Brad Key and
outfielder Javon Moran, both of whom played in the low minor
leagues. To make room for Conine on their 40-man roster, the Reds
designated infielder Brendan Harris for assignment to the minors.

One of the Reds' offseason priorities was acquiring a
right-handed hitter for a lineup that revolves around left-handed
hitters Adam Dunn, Ken Griffey Jr. and Scott Hatteberg. Conine
initially might platoon with Hatteberg at first base.

"We talked about someone to go along with Scott Hatteberg,"
manager Jerry Narron said. "He hits right-handers well, too, so he
might see a lot of time against right-handed pitching. We'll start
out and see where it leads. I expect he'll give us great at-bats
either off the bench or in a platoon situation."

Conine has played for Kansas City, Florida, Baltimore and
Philadelphia during his 16-year career. He played in 151 games for
the Marlins in 1997, when they beat Cleveland in seven games to win
the World Series, and rejoined Florida for its title under manager
Jack McKeon in 2003.

He opened last season with Baltimore, splitting his time between
first base and the outfield. He played exclusively in the outfield
for the Phillies, who obtained him in an August trade.

"It's a little bit of a surprise, coming a couple of days
before Christmas," Conine said. "Obviously, I didn't have a long
tenure there in Philly. I know the Reds were a very competitive
ballclub last year. I look forward to the challenge of making them
a little better and competing for a spot."

Conine became expendable after the Phillies signed former
Dodgers outfielder Jayson Werth.

"We weren't going to be able to give Jeff the playing time that
we thought we were a month ago, six weeks ago," Phillies general
manager Pat Gillick said. "When Werth was completed, we thought
that probably the best plan for us was to move Jeff on. I know he
wants to play."

Gillick said he was convinced that Werth is recovered from wrist
surgery that cost him all of last season.

"We think Werth is a better option for us at this point,"
Gillick said.

Conine will make $2 million in 2007, the final year on his
contract.

"We were continuing to look for a quality right-handed hitter,
whether through the trade route or free agency," general manager
Wayne Krivsky said. "We felt this was the best alternative. We had
him on a list of players that might be acquired by trade to fill
that role. The cost was right in terms of his contract."

The Reds were looking for someone to fill the role vacated by
free agent Rich Aurilia, who played various infield positions last
season and led the club with a .300 average. He split time at first
base with Hatteberg, starting 37 games there.

Conine also could spend some time in the outfield. The Reds
opened camp with a four-man rotation last year, then traded Wily Mo
Pena to Boston for right-hander Bronson Arroyo during spring
training.

They also shipped starting right fielder Austin Kearns to
Washington in an eight-player deal during the season. Ryan Freel
played most of the games in right field after the trade.

Ken Griffey Jr. returns as the center fielder, and Adam Dunn is
back in left.