Cincinnati Reds: Hunter Greene more worried about lessons than velocity

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Hunter Greene returns to mount for Cincinnati Reds after elbow surgery

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Many folks focused on how hard Cincinnati Reds prospect Hunter Greene threw the baseball in his first game in more than two years.

He was not one of them.

“For me, I’m focusing on so much more than that,” said the 21-year-old right-hander who last appeared in a baseball game as a member of the Dayton Dragons on July 26, 2018. “There’s a lot to work on other than velocity. It’s great and a lot of guys are like, ‘I wish I threw that hard,’ but I’m trying to work on some other things.”

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That would include secondary pitches to complement the triple-digit fastball along with developing a pitch philosophy and simply understanding who he is as a pitcher.

His first four pitches Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Angels all registered over 100 mph, but all Greene got out of that was a single off the bat of lead-off hitter David Fletcher.

He then hit Jon Jay with a pitch before former Red Jose Iglesias tattooed a breaking ball over the wall in left-center for a three-run homer.

Greene ultimately retired only two of the seven batters he faced before the inning was called per new rules in place for spring training to limit pitchers’ workload. He walked one, struck out another and also allowed a baserunner on his own error when he failed to catch a toss from Joey Votto at first base.

“I know it was 3-0 coming out, but at the end of the day I’m really happy with how I felt and just my body,” said Greene, who started 18 games for the Dragons in 2018 and recorded an ERA of 4.48.

“I felt comfortable out there. I think that’s great after not being in a game for two and a half years and then to be playing with these guys, I felt like I was ready and prepared. Just being out there is great. I have always felt like I have rose to the occasion if I’m playing up (against older players), and after today will be a good test to come back and bounce back even better for the next game.”

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Manager David Bell, who had not previously watched Greene pitch live, liked what he saw despite the results.

“He definitely looked like he belonged out there,” Bell said. “I think no matter the result, it was going to be a good experience for Hunter Greene to pitch in that game. Knowing Hunter and how he approaches everything, he’ll learn from it. Not the worst thing in the world that the results probably weren’t how he wanted them to go. I know he’ll learn from it the next time out.

The Reds knew Greene was talented when they used the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft on him.

Although they managed his workload carefully, his first full pro season was cut short by elbow troubles, and he underwent reconstructive surgery in the spring of 2019.

Two years later, he is hoping to get back on the fast-track to The Show.

With the COVID-19 pandemic wiping out the 2020 minor-league season, he worked with other members of the organization at the alternate big-league site last summer, an experience that along with outings like Tuesday could help him skip ahead.

“Obviously expectations are always high but it’s my first game out,” he said. “Obviously having a short-term memory is huge in this game and just being able to build off today is my biggest takeaway.”

Lodolo looks good

While Greene is the team’s No. 2 prospect according to MLB.com, Cincinnati’s No. 1 prospect also pitched Tuesday night.

Nick Lodolo, the Reds’ first-round pick in 2019, walked one and struck out one while not allowing a hit in the second inning.

“He’s getting more and more comfortable,” Bell said of the southpaw starter. “Another guy we’re really lucky to have and could be super close to the big leagues and helping us out, but we’ll have to see where he is.”

ExploreWhat to know about the Dragons' plans to return to the field this spring

The Reds announced Wednesday afternoon a limited number of single-game tickets for the 2021 season (excluding Opening Day) at Great American Ball Park will go on sale at 9 a.m. March 17 at 9 a.m. via the team website.

A day later, the team plans to open the ticket windows at the park.

Prior to those opportunities, the team will offer those with paid vouchers or account credit from the 2020 season to buy single-game tickets online on March 16.

Even earlier than that, members of the team’s season-ticket group will be able to purchase single-game tickets online March 15.

Tickets purchased for the 2021 season will be issued digitally via the MLB Ballpark app to allow contactless entry, including those purchased at the ticket windows.

Concessions and merchandise stands will also have contactless purchase with cashless forms of payment while fans will sit socially distanced in groups of up to six and be required to wear masks when no eating or drinking in their seat.

The club is also prohibiting backpacks this season.

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