Cincinnati Reds manager on Opening Day roster: ‘I love this group’

Reds manager Bryan Price watches the team warm up at Fifth Third Field on Saturday, April 1, 2017, in Dayton. David Jablonski/Staff
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Reds manager Bryan Price watches the team warm up at Fifth Third Field on Saturday, April 1, 2017, in Dayton. David Jablonski/Staff

Nothing matters on Opening Day in Cincinnati except the excitement and the hope.

The Cincinnati Reds have suffered three straight losing seasons. They haven’t won 70 games since 2014. Sports Illustrated and ESPN ranked them 29th out of 30 teams, ahead of only the San Diego Padres, in their preseason power rankings. The Reds begin the season with two rookies in the starting rotation: Rookie Davis and Amir Garrett.

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There are plenty of reasons to be pessimistic about the team’s chances in 2017 — this is still a team building for 2018 and beyond — but one reason to be optimistic: It’s Opening Day.

“This is my third Opening Day in the big leagues,” Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton said Saturday before the Futures Game at Fifth Third Field in Dayton, “and I get that same jittery feeling I did when I was a little kid. It’s awesome for me to be a part of Opening Day, especially in Cincinnati. It’s something you want to be a part of every year.”

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The Reds open the season at 4:10 p.m. Monday against the Philadelphia Phillies at Great American Ball Park. They swept the Phillies in the first series of the last season last year.

The Reds started the season 5-1 a year ago but finished 68-94. They were 36-37 in the second half of the season. They hope to build on that momentum early this season.

“I love this group,” manager Bryan Price said. “You’ve got guys who love being in the Reds organization, guys who are totally committed to seeing this thing change, to seeing the tide change for our ballclub. To see the collaboration of the few veteran players we have with the influx of young players is exciting. This is kind of the group we’ve been talking about, in particular with the young pitching.”

Price named Garrett, Davis, Cody Reed and Robert Stephenson, a few of the young pitchers the Reds will rely on throughout the season. More young names remain in the minor leagues.

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“This is kind of what we’ve been waiting for,” Price said. “I’m going to be excited every time the game starts and I see who’s out on the mound and who’s out there as our eight starting position players and on our athletic bench. I think it’s a nice club.”

A veteran will start for the Reds in the opener. Scott Feldman is 34. He pitched with the Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays last season.

Feldman doesn’t represent the future for the Reds, but for the most part, the roster is all about youth. Hamilton, second baseman Jose Peraza, catcher Tucker Barnhart, third baseman Eugenio Suarez, left fielder Adam Duvall and right fielder Scott Schebler are all under 30. Shortstop Zack Cozart is 31. First baseman Joey Votto is 33.

General manager Dick Williams feels the Reds are coming out of rebuilding mode and moving into the next phase.

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“Now it’s a chance for our fans to see the young players,” Williams said. “There will be growing pains. We’re all going into this with eyes wide open, but we feel these players have positioned themselves well to take the next step and learn their next lessons at the big-league level. I think they’re going to surprise some people.”

MONDAY’S GAME

Phillies at Reds, 4:10 p.m., FS Ohio, 700, 1410