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Reds Trade Opening-Day Starter

From Associated Press

The Cincinnati Reds slashed their payroll again Monday by sending Dave Burba--their opening-day starter--to the Cleveland Indians for a minor leaguer.

Burba, 31, was considered the top starter in the rotation, left with unproven veterans and second-year pitcher Brett Tomko.

Cleveland gave up first baseman Sean Casey, one of its top hitting prospects, to fill the biggest hole in its lineup.

Red General Manager Jim Bowden made the trade to reduce the club’s payroll, now down to $22.1 million. Burba has a base salary of $2.8 million this season and $3.2 million next year.

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“This is the first time in my career as a major league manager that I’ve lost my opening-day pitcher,” said Jack McKeon, in his fourth managing job.

Burba changed his delivery over the winter and was the best pitcher in the Reds’ training camp, finishing with a staff-low 2.13 earned-run average.

The is the second consecutive year that the Reds have sent their top starter to the pitching-poor Indians. They traded John Smiley to Cleveland last July, but the left-hander broke his arm while warming up and isn’t ready to pitch.

With Burba gone, Mike Remlinger--a reliever moved into the starting rotation last season--becomes the Reds’ opening-day starter.

Burba will start Cleveland’s third game of the season at Anaheim, following Charles Nagy and Jaret Wright in the rotation.

The Indians needed another starter badly because of injuries. Ben McDonald was traded back to Milwaukee following season-ending shoulder surgery and Chad Ogea is recovering from knee surgery. The staff was further depleted when Dwight Gooden went on the disabled list Monday because of tightness in his shoulder.

McDonald was released by the Brewers on Monday.

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Atlanta pitcher John Smoltz, recovering from elbow surgery, will open the season with the double-A Greenville Braves.

Smoltz, the 1996 Cy Young Award winner, underwent surgery in December and had three starts during spring training.

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The Boston Red Sox extended a triple-A contract to former Dodger outfielder Billy Ashley and acquired right-handed pitcher Jin Ho Cho, 22, from Korea.

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Both are expected to report to the Red Sox’s training camp in Ft. Myers, Fla.

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Kevin Mitchell, the 1989 National League most valuable player, made the Oakland Athletics’ 25-man roster.


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