Five players will make first Opening Day starts for Reds

First lineup includes two rookies who made debuts last season

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

CINCINNATI — Perfect weather greeted the Cincinnati Reds on Opening Day.

The temperature will be close to 55 degrees at 4:10 p.m. Thursday when Frankie Montas throws the first pitch of the 2024 season against the Washington Nationals at Great American Ball Park.

Montas will be one of five Reds making their first Opening Day starts. He’s joined by first baseman Christian Encarnacion-Strand, shortstop Elly De La Cruz, designated hitter Nick Martini and third baseman Jeimer Candelario.

This will be the sixth Opening Day as manager for David Bell, who knows what to tell the first-time Opening Day starters about the experience.

“In some respects, it is just another game,” Bell said Thursday before the game. “We’re going to have another Saturday. We have a lot ahead of us. But it is OK to feel special and to celebrate that. I do think our team, of course, is going to take a moment to enjoy that, embrace that, be appreciative, be grateful for what we have. We love our fans. Our players talk about our fans all the time. It’s important to us to play a way that can make our fans proud and even inspired by the way we play. It’s going to be a big day as far as that goes, but we’re mostly just excited for the season.”

Here’s a look at the first starting lineup Bell put together:

1. Second baseman Jonathan India: This will be his fourth straight Opening Day start at second base.

2. Center fielder Will Benson: This will be his second straight start for the Reds in the opener. He started in left field and hit sixth in the first game last season.

3. First baseman Encarnacion-Strand: He debuted in July last season and hit .270 with 13 home runs and 37 RBIs in 63 games.

4. Third baseman Candelario: This is his third straight Opening Day start for a different team. He hit third and played third for the Nationals on Opening Day last season and hit fourth and played third for the Detroit Tigers in the 2022 opener.

5. Right fielder Jake Fraley: He hit ninth and started at designated hitter on Opening Day in 2023.

6. Shortstop De La Cruz: He debuted in June last season and hit .235 with 13 home runs and 44 RBIs in 98 games.

7. Left fielder Spencer Steer: He hit fourth and played third base in his first Opening Day start last season.

8. Designated hitter Martini: He signed with the Reds in February 2023 and was called up in August last season.

9. Catcher Tyler Stephenson: This will be his third straight Opening Day start.

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