Cincinnati Reds entering important stretch of MLB’s Summer Camp

Cincinnati Reds center fielder Shogo Akiyama (4) speaks with a member of the staff during team baseball practice at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, Friday, July 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)
Caption
Cincinnati Reds center fielder Shogo Akiyama (4) speaks with a member of the staff during team baseball practice at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, Friday, July 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)

On the 11th day of major-league baseball workouts in Cincinnati, Reds manager David Bell said things have begun to feel more normal.

“In some ways I think it’ll always be a little bit foreign throughout the whole year just because it’s something we’ve never done,” Bell told reporters on a video conference call from Great American Ball Park on Monday. “But to the best of our ability — and the players deserve a lot of credit for this — we’ve made it normal, it made it enjoyable.”

That “something we’ve never done” is a 60-game sprint to the postseason scheduled to begin June 24.

» SUMMER CAMP: Four things to know about Reds roster

The games are set to go on without fans in the stands, and various protocols are in place to promote social distancing and (hopefully) prevent the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus that stopped spring training and pretty much all other sports cold in the middle of March.

While high-fives and spitting might be out, a desire to end the franchise’s two-and-a-half-decade span without a postseason series victory is still in.

“The focus and intensity when we’re on the field is there — I do think the shorter timeframe to get ready for the season has helped with that — has been great, so that that makes it really normal, so I think we’re doing the best we can with it,” Bell said.

With the first of two exhibition games with the Detroit Tigers eight days away, Bell called this an important week of what has been dubbed “Summer Camp” across MLB.

“We’re really trying to accomplish a lot from a fundamental standpoint,” he said. “A little bit longer days, or just more going on on the field between now and the end of the week with more focus on longer games, more innings this weekend trying to get everything out of the way that we really have to too ramp up the intensity.”

So far, he feels as if the team is on pace as far as building up stamina to play a full game, trying to make up for time lost over the past four months.

“The first week it was more about the movement, repetitions and more the physical part, I think we’re right where we want to be. Just continuing to get more innings and more game action will be the key to making up for lost time. Especially towards the end of the week playing closer to nine innings each day this weekend.”

» MINOR LEAGUES: Dragons president turns focus to 2021

Getting back to baseball is only one of the challenges Bell, his staff and players face this July.

They are also aware of the necessity of changing some habits — including health checks and heightened hygiene practices — to keep the coronavirus from infiltrating the clubhouse.

While former Reds closer Arolids Chapman is among several MLB players currently sidelined by positive test for COVID-19, the Reds have remained relatively healthy.

“I know that there’s a lot of still a lot of uncertainty,” Bell said. “There’s a lot going on with the virus around the country and it continues to spike in some places from what I can tell, but I am gaining more and more confidence in what we’re doing and our ability to stay healthy.

“I know we’re only 10 days into it, but for the most part, everything is pointing towards the health and safety protocols that we have in place are working. Otherwise I think we’d have a lot a lot more cases even up to this point, given what’s going on compared to the rest of the country, so it does give you more confidence. I know there’s still a lot of anxiety and uncertainty, but as we get into it if we continue to follow and trust our protocols, we’re feeling better and better about it.”

About the Author

ajc.com