Fans brave elements to welcome team
VIENNA -Though the weather outside was frightful, local Cincinnati Reds fans were so delightful on Saturday morning, when they gave the members of the Reds Caravan a warm welcome to the Grand Central Mall.
Given the condition of the roads, it would have been understandable had the Reds canceled or the fans stayed home. Neither of those occurred. Instead, a contingent of Reds led by first-year manager Bryan Price took the center stage much to the delight of several hundred fans who braved the elements to share some time with members of their favorite team.
Price, who has served as the Reds pitching coach since 2010, was accompanied, among others, by one of the team’s top pitchers, Homer Bailey, who has thrown a no-hitter each of the past two seasons; Minor League Player of the Year Seth Mejias-Brean; Jeff Graupe, the team’s director of player development; and announcer Chris Welsh, a former Reds pitcher who entered the arena pulling a sled whose occupant was Mr. Red, the team’s mascot, who was a magnet for cameras and children.
“This is a great opportunity,” said Price, who has inherited a team that has been in the National League playoffs three of the past four seasons.
Price noted that the Reds would have been even stronger last season if not for injuries to Johnny Cueto, Jonathan Broxton and Ryan Ludwick.
Price will go into the season with a potential rotation of Mat Latos, Cueto, Bailey, Mike Leake and Tony Cingrani. Closer Aroldis Chapman heads a bullpen that also includes Broxton, Sean Marshall and Sam McClure.
The infield is set with Joey Votto at first base, Brandon Phillips at second, Todd Frazier at third and Zack Cozart at shortstop. Jay Bruce heads an outfield that also includes Ludwick and, at least for now, Chris Heisey.
Catchers are Devin Mesoraco and Brayan Pena.
Price said he intends to use spring training to evaluate the younger talent on the roster. That, in particular, includes center fielder Billy Hamilton, whose speed already has earned him legendary status.
Taking questions from the audience, Price was asked about the possibility of making Chapman a starter. Price said Chapman had the temperament and personality of a closer and that will continue to be his role.
One of the most interesting questions posed to Price involved what former Red he would invite back to help inspire the team. His answer was even more interesting, “Pete Rose would be the guy.”
Bailey was asked which of his two no-hitters was his favorite -the one in 2012 that was the first ever thrown at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park or last year’s 3-0 win over the San Francisco Giants in Cincinnati. While he said he obviously enjoyed them both, he chose the one against San Francisco.
The Reds will open the regular season at 4:10 p.m. on March 31, when the St. Louis Cardinals visit the Great American Ballpark.