Spring Training is right around the corner and the Cincinnati Reds will have a few changes heading into the 2014 season.
Number one will be a new manager as pitching coach Bryan Price takes over for Dusty Baker. Price also brought in some new coaches and the lineup will have a few changes.
Price was in the region with the 2014 Reds Winter Caravan last week. He answered a few questions and the lineup and some of his philosophies.
If opening day were tomorrow, speedster Billy Hamilton is projected to leadoff and play in center field, replacing Shin-Soo Choo who signed a multi-million dollar deal with the Texas Rangers as a free agent. He debuted with the Reds last year and hit .368 with 13 stolen bases in 13 games.
Zack Cozart, who has been a solid defensive player, is expected to hit second and play shortstop.
Once again Joey Votto, the former MVP, is projected to hit third and play first base.
Jay Bruce, who had the best season of his career in 2013, is then set to hit fourth and play in right field. (Price, unlike Baker, does not have a problem batting two left-handed hitters back to back. In the past few years, he split Votto and Bruce, with Bruce hitting fifth most of the time.)
Second baseman Brandon Phillips is likely going to be moved down to fifth, or he could bat second, and Cozart could be moved to the middle of the lineup. It will depend on how things work out in spring training and the first few games of the season.
Ryan Ludwick is the projected man to bat fifth or sixth and starts in left field. Chris Heisey will once again back him up and get some playing time in center or right to give other players a rest.
Popular third baseman Todd Frazier and catcher Devin Mesoraco are expected to fill out the order. Ryan Hannigan was dealt to Tampa Bay in the off season, thus giving Mesoraco his chance to be the everyday catcher.
The Reds have a new backup catcher with Brayan Pena, who comes from the Detroit Tigers.
Cincy’s expected starting rotation are right-handers Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Bailey, Mike Leake and lefty Tony Cingrani.
Chapman is also slated to be the Reds’ closer once again.
Other pitchers coming out of the bullpen include Sam LeCure, Jonathan Broxton, Sean Marshall, J. J. Hoover, Logan Ondrusek and Manny Parra. Alfredo Simon is also on the list and will try to win a spot on the opening day roster.
Jack Hanahan and Donald Lutz will provide backup utility play off the bench. There could be a couple of players to make the 25-man roster out of spring training.
Seth Mejias-Brean, the Reds Minor League Player of the Year, was also a part of the local Reds Winter Caravan that came through the region last Friday.
He is a third baseman and hopes to get attention in spring training.
The 22 year old infielder, the Reds’ eighth-round draft choice from the University of Arizona in 2012, hit 10 home runs and drove in 79 runs while batting .305 with an on base percentage .381 and slugging percentage of .453 at Class A Dayton. Mejias-Brean earned a brief promotion to High Class A Bakersfield last season and figures to begin the 2014 season there or in Class AA Pensacola. He hopes to make an impression in spring training and quickly make the move up to Cincinnati.
“I’m just here to play. I really don’t know the timeline,” he said. “I’m just getting ready for spring training. Hopefully, I can be utilized more at third base which is my main position. I’m going to work hard and see where it goes.”
The Reds’ pitchers and catchers are to report to spring training Feb. 14 at their winter camp in Goodyear, Ariz. The full squad is to report on Feb. 19.
Cincy’s first Cactus League game is Feb. 26 against the in-state Cleveland Indians. It’s the first of a three-game set.
The regular season opener is March 31 at home against the NL champion St. Louis Cardinals, who lost to the Boston Red Sox in the World Series last year. It’s the first of a three-game set with the Cardinals. Game 2 is April 2nd with the final game of the series set for April 3.
(Kyle Lovern is the Sports Editor for the Williamson Daily News. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 304-235-4242, ext. 33 or Twitter @KyleLovern)