If you watched any of the Cincinnati Reds Summer Camp, you saw plenty of doubles smoked into the RF corner off the bat of Shogo Akiyama. That sure matched the reputation he created through years of success in Japan, and certainly seemed to endorse manager David Bell’s earlier statements about him likely being his leadoff guy when in the lineup.
Well, tonight’s exhibition game (6:40 PM ET on Reds.com) sure seems to give an indication that Bell has settled on that concept for good, as Shogo tops what looks like a balanced, potent new Reds lineup. The Enquirer’s Bobby Nightengale relayed the news.
#Reds lineup for tonight's exhibition game:— Bobby Nightengale (@nightengalejr) July 21, 2020
You don’t have to squint too hard to think that’s pretty much how Bell will hope to fill out the regular lineup card against RHP. Jesse Winker in the DH role was largely predictable, and it affords the chance to boost the OF defense by slotting Shogo in LF alongside the speedy Nick Senzel, who has looked the part of a real CF in this, his second year on the job.
You can expect to see Curt Casali in for Tucker Barnhart when there is a LHP slated to start, and the same can be said for Phil Ervin and Jesse Winker. You might well see Mike Moustakas and Nick Castellanos flip-flopped in that scenario, too, one that the Reds will face on their actual Opening Day when the Detroit Tigers are expected to send lefty Matt Boyd to the mound. So, while the above lineup isn’t technically what the ‘Opening Day Lineup’ will be, it’s the one I’ll expect to see regularly against RHP, which are obviously the bulk of the Reds likely opponents.
The usual caveat will wrap this post, which is that this exploding pandemic is going to make focusing on anything at all trivial for the next few months much more difficult than usual. Baseball, of course, is far down the pecking order of importance, but if Major League Baseball is going to try to power through this full speed ahead, we’re certainly going to watch it, and do our best to cover it. With that preface in mind, this Reds lineup sure looks as if it’s got the chance to do some very, very special things, and this is our first real glimpse into how it will take form.