Spring Training Spotlight - Josh Hancock

St. Louis Nutri System may have found a new spokesperson and the St. Louis Cardinals may have found a new pitcher.

Signed to a minor league contract on 2/21/06 after being released by the Cincinnati Reds just three days earlier, reportedly for being 17 pounds over weight, Hancock is in camp trying to make the club.

I've watched him work out a couple of times and talked with pitching coach Dave Duncan.

RM: "Dave, Hancock still looks a little over weight. I've watched him work out and throw some in the bullpen, but couldn't get a handle on his pitches. How does he look?"

DD: "Well, I don't care how much he weighs, I'm only concerned about can he pitch. Remember we had Ray King last year."

RM: "How does he look?"

DD: "He's doing what he is suppose to do, it is early. He appears to have a good arm and two quality pitches and a third pitch that is useful. It is not a dominate pitch but it is useful. We will know more after we see him a few more times in game situations."

Hancock had an injury-plagued 2005 season but finished strong appearing in 11 games for the Reds and allowing four runs (three earned) in 11 relief outings. His record 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA (14.0 IP).

It is hard for me to see how the Reds cut him loose so fast. It's not like they have an abundance of pitching.  Hancock is still 10-12 pounds overweight as far as I can tell, but he is working out hard in camp and doing everything asked of him.

Josh owns a 6-3 record and a 4.40 ERA in 32 career big-leauge games (12 starts) for Boston, Philadelphia and Cincinnati.

Hancock made his first appearance in a game, Tuesday's game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Coming into the game in the eight inning, he gave up two hits before retiring the sides not allowing any runs. He struck out one batter and didn't walk anyone and looked like he was pitching well.

There isn't much chance he'll find his way onto the 25 man roster regardless of how well he pitches, but he should stick around AAA Memphis with a chance of being called up some time this season.

The Cardinals made a series of roster moves today and reassigned four pitchers and Hancock wasn't among them. So far so good.


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