Reds open camp with new manager, rotation and hope
GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) — A new manager and coaching staff. Three new starting pitchers. The Reds begin their season with a whole new look and hopes that their run of last-place finishes could be coming to an end.
There's a very different vibe as Cincinnati opens camp with its first workout by pitchers and catchers on Wednesday. Offseason trades remade the rotation and the everyday lineup, sparking hope after four straight 90-loss seasons.
"There is a lot more expecting to win and a lot less hoping to win," pitcher Michael Lorenzen said Tuesday.
The change started at the top. The Reds fired manager Bryan Price after a 3-15 start last season and decided not to keep interim Jim Riggleman. David Bell was hired as manager, a move that resonated with Reds fans. His grandfather, Gus, and father, Buddy, played for the Reds.
The 46-year-old Bell inherited a roster that lacked proven starters, the main thread in the losing seasons. Three trades brought starters Sonny Gray, Tanner Roark and Alex Wood, who will join Anthony DeSclafani and Luis Castillo in the rotation. Gray agreed to a $38 million, four-year contract as part of the trade from the Yankees. Roark and Wood can become free agents after this season.
Bell hasn't yet decided how he'll slot the starters as spring training opens.
"The very first step is building relationships," Bell said. "We haven't set a schedule yet, but we will set up a rotation very soon."
Cincinnati's attendance slipped to 1.6 million last season, the Reds' smallest since 1984 at Riverfront Stadium. They hired Bell and made the trades hoping to show fans that they were working to become competitive again in the NL Central.
"There is new energy in the organization and in the city," Bell said Tuesday. "We can't underestimate the importance of that. We want people excited about our team.
"There is a difference, I think, about being excited and feeling that there is something special. I think we are in the early stages of that. Things are moving in the right direction."
Bell's main challenges will be figuring out the rotation and deciding how to fill the hole in center field, where Billy Hamilton used to play. Lorenzen is in a group of pitchers being considered for various roles, including long relief. Bell also plans to try him in the outfield during spring training.
Lorenzen he was 4-2 with a 3.11 ERA and one save in 42 relief appearances and three starts last season. He batted .290 and led major league pitchers with four homers — including one grand slam — and 10 RBIs in 31 at-bats.
As a pinch-hitter, he went 3 for 13 with two homers. From June 24-30, he homered in three straight at-bats, including the grand slam. He became the first major league pitcher to homer in three straight at-bats since Colorado's Mike Hampton in 2001.
"You could see him in the outfield the second half of camp," Bell said. "He's preparing to help our team any way he can."
Lorenzen worked out in the outfield in the offseason. He pitched and played outfield at Cal State-Fullerton, batting .335 his final season there.
"I love that they understand that I've played both my whole life," Lorenzen said. "They don't have to put me in bubble wrap. Playing center field is the best thing I do on the field. Defense has been my strength since I was 9 or 10."
Notes: San Francisco claimed RHP Jose Lopez off waivers. The Reds waived him a day earlier to open a spot for left-hander Zach Duke, who agreed to a $2 million, one-year deal. Lopez went 5-13 for Triple-A Louisville last season.