CINCINNATI -- It's that age-old baseball question: Does good chemistry lead to winning or does winning lead to good chemistry?
Are the Reds 7-2 because of good chemistry this year, or is the chemistry good because the Reds are 7-2?
It's impossible to know for sure, but Reds manager Bryan Price will say he noticed a different attitude with his club this year.
"I've had people that have come to games, people that have watched games on TV, who have said that," he said. "For us, we're trying to manage and coach the game. There's no doubt that winning breeds a more positive attitude, but it's been a good attitude ever since we got together in the spring out in Goodyear.
"It's a good bunch. It's not a high-maintenance bunch. They've really focused on the great baseball. That's the focus, not worry about the peripheral stuff that's not really significant unless you make it significant. It lends to a much better environment. I think we have that low-profile, low-maintenance ball club."
Of course, the Reds showed up at Goodyear right after the Brandon Phillips trade. I noticed a difference in his absence, which allowed some of the young personalities to emerge -- particularly that of Billy Hamilton.
It also allows Price to set the lineup anyway he likes. Without upsetting a veteran. That wasn't the case at the start of last year when Phillips and Jay Bruce were still here.
That is not to say the Reds are 7-2 because Phillips was traded, but it would not have been a low-maintenance group with him on the team and fighting for playing time with Jose Peraza.
Logic says the 7-2 record is more a product of pitching -- a National League-best 2.45 ERA -- than anything that goes on in the clubhouse.
Price spent a lot of Thursday's media session swinging at softball questions. That's the case when you return from a 5-1 road trip.
"Most people who have been doing this for at least a little bit understand the cycles of the season," Price said. "I was listening the other day and they were talking the Cardinals, the Blue Jays or Texas -- three good teams -- have gotten off to slow starts. They're not bad teams because of the first seven to 10 games."
The converse of that, of course, is the Reds aren't suddenly considered a good team based on nine games.
"I don't think anyone is defining the team by nine games," he said.
But it certainly beats being 2-7, especially with a young team -- the youngest in baseball on Opening Day.
"Everyone is enjoying it," he said. "It's early in the season. The challenge will get bigger as things go on. It's nice to go 5-1 on a road trip against intra-division. It's a good start to the year, winning the first three series of the year. If we do that with a enough consistency, it'll end up being a great year.
"It's a small sample size. It's fun. We'll continue to be challenged. We'll see how we handle those challenges. It's a good team."
That remains to be determined over the long haul. If it happens, we can continue the debate whether good chemistry led to the winning or the winning led to the good chemistry.