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Spring training woes force Reds to release Hermanson

CINCINNATI -- Right-hander Dustin Hermanson was released
Sunday by the Cincinnati Reds, who brought him to training camp
hoping he could become their closer.

Dustin Hermanson Hermanson

The Reds also put Eric Milton on the 15-day disabled list
because of back spasms, the latest setback for the left-hander who
had been projected as the team's No. 3 starter. Milton was one of
eight players who went on the disabled list Sunday.

"It's a bloated DL, to say the least," general manager Wayne
Krivsky said. "Nobody would like to start the season like that."

The moves left the Reds with 24 players on the active roster,
one less than the limit. They plan to add a player before Monday's
season opener against the Cubs.

The biggest surprise was Hermanson's release.

The 34-year-old reliever agreed to a minor league deal with the Reds on March 1, with an invitation to camp so he could compete for the closer's
job. He started well, but struggled in his last few appearances.

Hermanson ended spring training with a 7.36 earned
run average. The Reds wanted him to open the season with Triple-A
Louisville, but Hermanson wanted to be released instead.

"We hoped that if he didn't make our club he'd go to Louisville
and pitch for us, but he just had no interest in it," manager
Jerry Narron said. "We were all hoping that he had the same form
he had a couple of years ago, but as spring training wound down to
the end we just didn't see it."

Hermanson was the Chicago White Sox closer in 2005, when they
won the World Series. He developed back problems that wiped out
almost all of his 2006 season and made teams wary of signing him.

Hermanson invited teams to watch him throw at his home in
Arizona during the offseason. None was interested in offering a
major league deal, but the Reds were willing to give him a chance
and invited him to camp.

They told him of their decision early Sunday morning.

"It was tough to tell Dustin Hermanson he was not going to make
the team," general manager Wayne Krivsky said. "We wanted him to
step up. Unfortunately the last two or three times [he pitched], we
had concerns.

"That was a very difficult thing to do. We were all pulling for
him. It would have been another nice story."

The Reds needed a closer because left-hander Eddie Guardado is
recovering from reconstructive elbow surgery and won't be ready to
pitch for at least a couple of months. Left-hander Mike Stanton and
right-hander David Weathers also can close games.

Milton had to be scratched from his scheduled appearance in an
exhibition on Saturday because of back spasms. He was examined on
Sunday and placed on the disabled list retroactive to March 23,
meaning he would be eligible to return in a week.

"We want to see how he comes out of this week," Narron said.
"If he does [well], he'll be in the fifth spot for us."

Kyle Lohse will move into the third spot in the rotation, with
Matt Belisle taking the fourth spot. Milton has been a huge
disappointment in his first two seasons in Cincinnati, winning no
more than eight games in either season.

Milton declined to talk to reporters after he was placed on the
disabled list Sunday.

Also placed on the 15-day disabled list were Guardado, reliever
Bill Bray (finger), outfielder Chris Denorfia (torn elbow
ligament), infielder Jerry Gil (elbow), outfielder Norris Hopper
(heel), infielder Jeff Keppinger (finger) and right-hander Elizardo
Ramirez (shoulder).