"You can't wipe it away that quickly. It takes a winter... I was constantly reminded, every day. People asked me if I went to (the clinching) Game 4 of the World Series. I tried to be polite, but I felt like saying, ‘Hell naw.' "-- Dusty Baker
"When (the Reds) won, we loved it because we ran into the locker room and touched all the bats and gloves and got some bubble gum and red pop. When they lost, we were upset because we didn't get the bubble gum and red pop." -- Ken Griffey, Jr.
"Close don't count in baseball. Close only counts in horseshoes and grenades." -- Frank Robinson
Winter breeds a certain desperation. By February in the Midwest, when the sun seems like a myth, we'll greet a radio-only exhibition game played 1,900 miles away as the spring rites of rebirth.
Last season, the Reds opened the Cactus League at home against the Indians. This season, in an affront to tradition, they're on the road. This is, of course, a hilarious joke on the fact that the Reds and Indians share the same Spring Training complex. And there isn't really much to take seriously in a February spring training game headlined by two pitchers who aren't going to be making their respective big league rosters.
But I like my spring trainings non-serious - that is, healthy and relatively drama-free. Fewer position battles, for one thing, probably means your team is competing this year (and/or really stubborn).
You could almost do a copy'n'paste job on last year's spring opener lineups to form the Reds' starting nine. The big offseason, three-team deal struck by the Reds and Indians, et al, gets an early "Trade Off" today. Choo and Stubbs have swapped teams and positions, with Texarkana Slim occupying Choo's old spot in right field.
The Reds' and Indians' outfields are a study in contrasts. Cleveland has three CF-capable glove guys who hit for no power, while the Reds should average ~25 HR power across the outfield, but are playing a CF out of position (possibly way out of position).
This is our first chance to see Choo play centerfield. OK, very few will actually see him. And the regulars will probably be gone by about the fourth inning. So we're really not going to learn anything. But maybe if I see a tweet about him grinning confidently out there, it'll set my mind at ease.
Putting aside the DH spot, what we're looking at is almost certainly the Opening Day starting eight - which is a firmer footing than there's been in recent memory. Even last season, there was some question about the playing time between Luwick and Heisey and Rolen's off days. Now, you've essentially got eight every day players.
Ryan Hanigan stands to be the least every day player. And who's backing him up might be the biggest roster question of the spring, after Chapman-vs.-Leake. If you want to read into the fact that Miguel Olivo gets the start at DH today, you probably shouldn't. There's still a week left in February. That, and Dioner Navarro started at DH in last year's spring Opener.
Let's have some injury-free fun out there.
Also scheduled to pitch for the Reds: TBD
Also scheduled to pitch for the Tribe: Pestano, Martinez, Hill, Langwell, Nieve & Herrmann.
|Michael Bourn CF
|Brandon Phillips 2B||Asdrubal Cabrera SS|
|Joey Votto 1B|
Nick Swisher 1B
|Michael Brantley LF|
|Zack Cozart SS||Mark Reynolds DH|
Lonnie Chisenhall 3B
|Drew Stubbs RF|