GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- In a spring full of ifs for the Reds, one of the big ifs is this: If Adam Duvall and Scott Schebler can do what they did in 2016, the 2017 offense will be in good shape.
“It’s important,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “We have to spread the wealth from the offensive production load 1 to 8. However, corner outfielders are run-producing positions. As much I’ve spoken about the defense and how impressed I was with Adam in left field and Scott in right field, there is also the expectation of offensive performance and production. I’d be thrilled to see them continue on with what they did last year.”
Duvall and Schebler were unknown quantities, at least at the big league level, at this point last year. They were battling for the left field job in the spring.
It ended in somewhat of draw. But Duvall wound up as the guy with an All-Star first half. Schebler ended up in the minors after struggling early. He returned after the Jay Bruce trade and put up excellent numbers.
Duvall hit .241 with 33 home runs and 103 RBI. He was also a finalist for Gold Glove in left field. Schebler hit .290 with eight home runs and 33 RBI after the Bruce trade.
Both say they aren’t treating this spring much differently.
“Honestly, I kind of turned the page on last year,” Duvall said. “I’m not trying to do the same thing. I think basically going into the season you get your work in. You grind. You put in work in the offseason. You’ve done everything you can to put yourself in the best position.”
Said Schebler: “Last year was kind of a confidence boost. I feel like I have the same mindset as I did last year. Having that in the past, you definitely come in and you have a little more confidence behind you.”
Duvall, 28, and Schebler, 26, have similar backgrounds. They came to the Reds in trades -- Duvall in the Mike Leake deal with San Francisco and Schebler from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Todd Frazier three-way deal. Both had put up impressive power numbers in the minors, but neither had consistent success in the big leagues.
Now that they’ve done well for a sustained stretch in the majors, it could be easier to do it again.
“Not that I didn’t think I could do that,” Duvall said. “The thing is knowing everybody here, knowing the coaching staff, knowing about how they do things here. I think that’s the biggest thing from last year versus this year. You get comfortable. You make friends. That means a lot.”
Schebler’s year did not go as smoothly as Duvall’s at the start. He made the Opening Day roster but was optioned to Triple-A Louisville May 5 after hitting .175 to start the season.
He was disappointed to get sent out.
“A little bit,” Schebler said. “Obviously, you think you’re going to get there and do well. Some things don’t always go your way in this game. They didn’t necessarily go my way early in the season. I kind of take that as a positive from last year -- battling my way back. Some seasons, you’re going to have to do that. You dig yourself a hole, but you can’t give up. You’ve got to dig yourself out slowly."
Schebler hit .311 with 17 homers and 43 RBI in 75 games with the Bats. He hit a three-run walk-off home run against St. Louis in his first game back in the big leagues.
“It’s was crazy,” he said. “To do it in my first game back, you always want to contribute to the team, then to do it in that way, I kind of rode that the rest of year.”
Duvall and Schebler aren’t finished products -- at least that’s what the Reds are hoping. Duvall hit .241 with a .297 on-base percentage; Schebler hit .265 with a .330 on-base.
“Certainly (we hope they) evolve as hitters further just from their experience -- strike zone command and being able to play the game situationally better with the experience,” Price said.
That would be ideal, but if they can just repeat 2016, it will go along way for the Reds offense.