Reds pitching coach optimistic about arms in camp with Cactus League starting Sunday

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Derek Johnson interview: Feb. 26, 2021

Reds play Indians at 3:05 p.m. in first of 28 spring training games

Spring training is a time of optimism for the Cincinnati Reds every year.

Joey Votto has already talked this month about being desperate to win a championship. Eugenio Suarez said he wants to hit 50 home runs. Reds legend Barry Larkin said the Reds absolutely can contend in 2021.

On Friday, pitching coach Derek Johnson did his part to raise the hopes of Reds fans by talking about the general quality of the pitching talent on the roster.

“I think there’s some really interesting guys in this camp,” Johnson said. “One of the things that we’ve talked about internally a whole lot in the last few days is just probably the arm talent that is is in this camp compared to other years. Since I’ve been here at least, I haven’t seen that. Now that’s not to say that every single one of them are going to be big leaguers or even successful for that matter, but what I do know is that looking at the athlete, looking at the arm talent, what the possibilities are, it’s really, really exciting this year, maybe more so than than any other year. You’re looking at that guy going, ‘That’s a pretty cool toy. Now maybe we can make this thing work and maybe it’s gonna happen.’ Again, I don’t know. But that’s 100 percent the way that we’re thinking at this point.”

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Johnson will start to find out more about his pitching staff when the Reds open Cactus League play at 3:05 p.m. Sunday against the Cleveland Indians in Goodyear, Ariz. It will be the first of 28 games in spring training before Opening Day on April 1 against the St. Louis Cardinals at Great American Ball Park.

Here are four other things to know about the Reds in the Cactus League:

Rule changes: Spring training games through March 13 will last seven innings but may be shortened to five innings if both managers agree to do so. Games after March 13 will last nine innings but can be shortened to seven. Teams must agree to the changes by 5 p.m. on the day before the games.

Fundraisers: Proceeds from the opener for the Reds and Indians on Sunday will benefit the H.O.P.E. Team. The non-profit organization supports patients and families at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Goodyear, and the New Life Center.

Attendance restriction: While Goodyear Ball Park can seat as many as 10,311 fans, the local health department will limit capacity to 21 percent or about 2,165 fans.

History lesson: The Reds moved from the Grapefruit League in Florida to the Cactus League in 2010. This will be their 12th season in Cactus League.

The Reds finished with a winning record twice in the first 11 years (17-14-1 in 2011 and 15-14-3 in 2015). The Reds didn’t finish above .500 in the regular season in either of those years.

Overall, the Reds are 143-179-23 in the Cactus League. They were 7-8-4 last season when spring training was shut down March 12 because of the pandemic.

SUNDAY’S GAME

Reds at Indians, 3:05 p.m., 700