The temperature Wednesday in Cincinnati exceeded the high in Goodyear, Ariz., by about seven degrees as Cincinnati Reds pitchers and catchers held their first spring training workout. That won’t be the case for long, of course. The Reds will have a 25-degree advantage in the desert on Saturday.
While the Reds can look forward to good weather for the next six weeks in the Cactus League, the forecast for the six-month season that follows is mostly gloomy outside the clubhouse. That doesn’t dim the optimism for manager David Bell, who talked to reporters Wednesday about his outlook entering his fifth season.
Bell has always expressed faith in his players, even throughout a 100-loss season in 2022. That belief is still there in 2023.
“They’re all here for a reason,” Bell said. “When you haven’t done it yet, a big part of it is having the success and having that confidence grow, and then the momentum kind of just carries. That’s when you see really special things happen and magical seasons. That’s why it comes back to today and going out on the field and finding ways to get better in every little area of the game. competing to win each moment. That’s when that confidence takes off, and the momentum can start. We have great people in our clubhouse, an incredible staff. But we have to demonstrate all of that. I’m very confident that by the end of the spring training, going into the season and ultimately by the end of the year, we’ll be able to do that.”
Bell has a record of 251-295 in four seasons. His predecessor, Bryan Price, lost his job 18 games into his fifth season after a 3-15 start. The only Reds manager in the last 40 years to spend more than five seasons on the job was Dusty Baker, who had a record of 509-463 in six seasons.
Bell won’t have his whole team together until next week. Position players report for physicals Sunday. The first full-squad workout will take place Monday.
“It’s really about this team coming together and doing the work,” Bell said. “That’s what this group of players loves to do. There’s a very sincere interest in our clubhouse with all the players that I know from the past and the conversations I’ve had with some of the new guys that will end up being on our team in becoming a team and doing the work. That’s a beautiful thing to be a part of. That’s why we do this. For young players to really value that and see the importance in it and be willing to do the work, that’s going to be a focus for us this spring.”
The Reds will use spring training to adjust to the new rules coming to Major League Baseball.
• Teams can no longer use the shift on defense. All the infielders have to be on the infield dirt or in the infield grass. When the ball is thrown, there have to be two players on one side of second base and two on the other.
• There will be a pitch clock. Pitchers get 15 seconds to throw a pitch if the bases are empty and 20 seconds with a runner on base. Hitters have to enter the batter’s box with eight seconds left on the clock.
• There are also bigger bases, rules about pickoff attempts and limits on position players taking the mound.
“That will be part of our process, educating our players and ultimately turning it into an advantage,” Bell said. “How are we going to use those rules to our advantage? I think, for the game in general, I’m excited to see what it does. I think it’s going to change it for the better. I think it’s going to show up maybe more than we even expect. I think it’s really going to have a positive impact on our game. As a team, we just have to really understand them. We’re going to incorporate it into our workouts, but we have six weeks to do that. We don’t have to accomplish all that today.”
SPRING TRAINING OPENER
Saturday, Feb. 25
Reds vs. Guardians, 3 p.m., Bally Sports Ohio, 700, 1410