Reds manager David Bell had trouble finding a parking space Thursday, the day pitchers and catchers reported to the team’s complex for spring training.
Several position players are in camp already as the Reds begin six weeks of preparation leading up to Opening Day on Thursday, March 26.
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“Players showing up early can be eyewash a lot of times — guys getting out of the weather at home or wanting to get on the field for the first time,” Bell said. “But having said that there are a lot of guys here early, I can feel the excitement. You can say that every spring but you know when it feels different. You look at the clubhouse and see it is full. It looks like a regular workout day.“”
The Reds were busy during the offseason, adding mostly to the offense. They signed infielder Mike Moustakas and outfielders Travis Jankowski, Nick Castellanos and Shogo Akiyama, starting pitcher Wade Miley and relievers Tyler Thornburn and Pedro Strop.
Moustakas hit 35 home runs and had 87 RBIs last season, Castellanos hit .289 with 27 HRs and 73 RBIs. Akiyama hit .321 the last five seasons for the Seibu Lions in the Nippon Baseball League in Japan. Miley was 14-6 with a 3.98 ERA in 33 starts last season.
“Miley and Moustakas were players on winning players on good teams,” Bell said. “They are good teammates. I spent time with Miley and his family but most of what I know about him as a pitcher comes from D.J. (pitching coach Derek Johnson). I spent time with Castellanos. He is a leader. I can’t wait to see Shogo. He is a quality person. There is something behind all that success. It is exciting to have him.”
All of the new faces are in camp.
With the new additions and veterans that return, the Reds have raised eyebrows and expectations. Bell said can feel that.
“The expectations are higher,” he said. “Te. We felt the momentum at the end of last season. What we’re feeling in the clubhouse is the excitement with the moves that we made in the offseason.”
Bell said third baseman Eugenio Suarez, who had right shoulder surgery Jan. 28 after a swimming pool accident, and Nick Senzel, who had a torn labrum in his right shoulder repaired Sept. 24, could both be ready for Opening Day. Suarez hit 49 home runs and had 103 RBIs last season.
“The last report I had on Suarez was very encouraging,” Bell said. “He’s responding really well to treatment. We don’t know when he will be ready but it is looking more and more like he realistically will be ready for opening day. If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. He is very positive that it will happen. Nick Senzel is on a throwing program. He is hitting and running the bases. He is on target for opening day.”
The Reds are starting camp a little later than most teams. The pitchers will get the same amount of time but the position players report just four days before Cactus League games begin.
“I encourage early arrival but there is a tendency to pace yourself,” Bell said. “We will be here 40 days. It is all designed around getting pitchers ready. The challenge to the players is to come in ready.”
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