CINCINNATI — It was, indeed, a special day when new Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price awoke Monday morning. Why? The sun was shining and the sun hasn’t made its presence felt much in Cincinnati this winter.
Price, though, doesn’t live in Cincinnati. He lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., and for the past six weeks he has enjoyed a daily sun beatdown as the Reds prepared six weeks for the 2014 season.
And what did Price awaken to, other than sunshine? He awoke to the fact that it was a special day in Cincinnati, a local holiday, the day of days in the Queen City.
Opening Day. A parade. A full ballpark. A press box stuffed with media.
And if that weren’t enough, the new manager has the unwanted and unneeded privilege of beginning his first season with eight of his players on the disabled list.
Want more? Opening Day was against the archenemy, the team that the Reds have to push aside to win the National League Central, the St. Louis Cardinals. And with eight guys on the disabled list the Reds are forced to play the full-strenth Cardinals in six of their first nine games.
Price was too pumped over managing his first game to have nightmares before his debut. But he didn’t exactly have sweet dreams, either.
"This is a situation that can be overwhelming if you allow it to be," said Price, referring to Opening Day and not mixing in the disabled list and the Cardinals. "I’m the 61st manager to have the opportunity to experience an Opening Day in Cincinnati with the Reds. "The most important thing is for me to embrace this wonderful moment, not just in my life and my family, but for this particular group (of players), this ownership and the fans. We’d love for this to be a memorable Opening Day for all the right reasons."
And more than the pomp and circumstance and extraneous folderol involving Opening Day in Cincinnati, Price wants to set a tone for the Cardinals to feel.
With that in mind, Price awoke at 5:30 Monday morning and began aligning his ducks.
"I slept well because I’m a guy who can sleep, typically no problem," he said. "But once I get up it is hard to go back. When I awoke I didn’t really thinkg about the disabled list or how to use the bullpen. More than anything I wanted to make sure our communications are in place — me to the coaches and the coaches to the players."
Even though an exhibition game was rained out Friday and the team was not permitted to hold a mandatory workout on Sunday because thehy played an exhibition game Saturday, Price said he believes preparations are firmly in place."
And he knew, sooner than later, he had to address the St. Louis Syndrome.
"We’re going to play them 18 times, no matter when it is scheduled," he said. "We know that we’ve been head-to-head with them in my five years here (as pitching coach). It has been Cardinals-Reds and now Pittsburgh has gotten into it. We know it has been a battle with a lot of back-and-forth stuff.
"We haven’t played well in St. Louis — played a lot better against them here at home — but his a new year and we hope this is a series where we can set a tone of expecting to win, expecting to play hard and with energy," he said. "Realistically? At this time, right now, it doesn’t have that much relevance (that it is the Cardinals). It is Game One of the season and we just want to get off to a good start and get on a roll."
Price seems comfortable and well-suited for his new role after preparing in Seattle, Arizona and Cincinnati as a pitching coach, never once managing a game until spring training this year.
"Not many people felt like I had a real desire to manage and that it wasn’t a front and center motivational piece in my life until recent years," said Price. "I just wanted to be a real good pitching coach (his position with the Reds until this year) until recent years. I wanted to be somebody who didn’t have a good resume as a player (never made the majors) who wanted to be a real good coach, considered reliable, trustworthy and good at what I did.
"That transitioned into this opportunity and I’m happy that it did because we all need to challenge ourselves to be as complete as we can be," Price added. "This is definitely a job that will challenge me."
The challenge, though, was enough without the addition of eight guys on the disabled list and the visage of the St. Louis Cardinals in the other dugout.