The Cincinnati Reds raided the Milwaukee Brewers coaching staff in the offseason, hiring pitching coach Derek Johnson, who spent the three previous season in the same position in Milwaukee, and bullpen coach Lee Tunnell, who worked the last 10 seasons with the Brewers.
Starting Monday, the Reds will find out if Johnson and Tunnell’s expertise about the Brewers, the defending champions in the National League Central Division, will pay dividends. The Reds and Brewers will play three games this week and then 16 more times this season.
“We communicate before every series, every game, not only about the Brewers, but of course they know them better,” said Reds manager David Bell of his coaches. “Their goal is to know every team just as well through their preparation and advance scouting. It’s really important to not only do my own preparation but to talk to each of our coaches and make sure we’re sharing that information. This is pretty unique because they know them extremely well.”
Bell has enjoyed the return to daily preparation after a year away from the dugout. He worked as vice president of player development for the San Francisco Giants last season.
“Just being able to go out and compete, it’s pretty special to be able to do that at this level,” Bell said. “It takes really everything you have. It’s a lot of fun. When you don’t prepare, it gets exposed. When you do, you give yourself the best shot.”
Lineup look: Joey Votto hit second for the third straight game Monday. He started in that spot eight times last season but spent the majority of the season (131 starts) in the third position in the order.
Votto went 3-for-8 with two doubles in the first two games against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“He’s clearly been a great hitter over a long time now throughout his career,” Bell said. “Not only what he does when the ball comes off his bat, but just his ability to get on base, and I do like that at the top of the order. I like that in the second spot of the order. We’re certainly comfortable having him in that position in the order for now.”
Rotation change: Tyler Mahle and Luis Castillo switched spots in the Reds rotation this week.
Instead of starting Thursday against the Pirates, Castillo (0-0, 1.59 ERA) will pitch Wednesday in the final game of the series against the Milwaukee Brewers. Mahle’s season debut will move back a day to Thursday in Pittsburgh.
One reason for the change, Bell said, was they didn’t want Castillo to pitch against the Pirates twice in the first eight days of the season. Castillo held the Pirates to one run in 5 2/3 innings Thursday on Opening Day in a 5-3 victory.
“It was important enough to us to make that adjustment,” Bell said.
Next game: Anthony DeSclafani will make his season debut Tuesday in a 6:40 p.m. game against the Brewers. He was 1-2 with a 6.00 ERA in three starts against Milwaukee last season.
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