GOODYEAR, Ariz. — The Reds play their exhibition opener Tuesday against the Cleveland Indians in a “road” game at Goodyear Ballpark. First pitch is 4:05 p.m. Jon Moscot faces Josh Tomlin. The game is on WLW (700-AM).
The first game is always a break from the monotony of drills and batting practice. Reds manager Bryan Price is looking forward to it.
“Especially with so many new faces,” Price said. “There’s great competition right now for spots on the club. The work the guys have done here so far suggests they understand the opportunity and the importance in their performance this spring. It’s been a good camp so far. I’m looking forward to getting on the field and letting them go.”
The lineup for the spring opener will be without Devin Mesoraco, Zack Cozart and Billy Hamilton. All three are coming off surgery.
“Most of the regulars will play every other day or two out of three,” Price said. “The guys that get the most consistent work are typically that second tier of guys. As big as the roster is, you can’t always be playing 18 position players a day without eventually having certain guys having to go out there and go three or four days in a row. There’s going to be opportunity.”
Hamilton will probably start Game 2. Cozart and Mesoraco will be held out longer.
“I can’t give you exact dates, but neither one of those guys will be in these early games against Cleveland, and maybe through the weekend,” Price said. “That really isn’t unexpected. It does give a kid like (Ramon) Cabrera, who I like a lot, a chance to get front-and-center time. He’s typically a guy that came in second last year. But he’s a guy now that until Devin comes back, will get a chance to start every other day.”
Ivan DeJesus Jr. and Jose Peraza will play shortstop until Cozart is ready.
“I’ll flip guys around,” Price said. “DeJesus right now is going to play some short early. Peraza is going to come in and play some second. He’ll go back and forth with Brandon (Phillips) at second, and then he’ll get over to short and get some outfield time as well.”
Hamilton has progressed well from shoulder surgery.
“We ask him to do a lot in the outfield and he’s still not to the point where he’s like 100 percent, feels great every day,” Price said. “We’ve worked him hard. When he has a little bit of fatigue from throwing, maybe we’ll give him a day off. (Tuesday) will be a good work day for him, we’ll give him a day off from playing in the game and he will be ready to go on the second.”
SPRING STATS: Spring stats can be deceptive. Players who need to make the team tend to come in ready to go from Day 1. Veterans who have the team made build slowly, pointing to Opening Day.
The Reds will look at that when deciding who makes it.
“For the young guys, we also have to come to terms what we think they can do mentally, if they can handle some struggles if they came to the big leagues and got off to a slow start,” Price said. “It's hard to look at a guy who has had bad numbers chronically and think that 11 innings of spring training pitching or 40 at-bats is going to change everyone's mind that the guy is going to be able to go out there and do the same thing during the regular season.”
Price isn’t interested in having a lot of stop-gap players on the roster.
“The guys who make the team, I'd really like to see them as guys who could be long-tenured players,” Price said.