With less than a week until pitchers and catchers report to the Cincinnati Reds spring training facility in Goodyear, Arizona, I am once again debating the merits of whether or not to capitalize Spring Training or not. It happens around this time every year, as the concept of it morphs into something of a formal event the same way that Opening Day does, too - singular in expectation with such an anticipation that it feels like a holiday, something you treat as such.
I’m sure once we reach the 16th Cactus League game when half of every roster is tied up in the World Baseall Classic it will return to simply being spring training, but for now, I’m excited about the looming return of Spring Training.
With that return comes prognostications for the upcoming regular season, and that’s no different this year. The starters for such predictions come in the form of Opening Day roster guesses, and those have begun to roll out from the Reds beat already. C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic rolled out his initial edition earlier this week, while MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon tossed his out just yesterday.
The groups chosen by both are quite similar, with injury questions just about the only real cause of discrepancy. The news that Tejay Antone had a setback and will now miss a big chunk of 2023 as he continues his recovery from Tommy John surgery threw a wrench in these mid-week, and the statuses of Joey Votto and Nick Senzel further cast doubt on a couple would-be regulars. That could cause Wil Myers to play some more 1B than anticipated and open more holes in the OF, and the recent acquisition of Will Benson could shake up the OF mix even more.
To add to the mix, here’s my v.1 Opening Day roster prediction:
Catcher (3): Luke Maile, Curt Casali, Tyler Stephenson
Infield (5): Wil Myers, Jonathan India, Jose Barrero, Spencer Steer, Kevin Newman
Outfield (5): Jake Fraley, TJ Friedl, Will Benson, Stuart Fairchild, Chad Pinder
Rotation (5): Nick Lodolo (Opening Day starter), Hunter Greene, Graham Ashcraft, Connor Overton, Luke Weaver
Bullpen (8): Alexis Diaz, Lucas Sims, Fernando Cruz, Tony Santillan, Luis Cessa, Buck Farmer, Reiver Sanmartin, Alex Young
No, that roster does not have either Joey Votto or Nick Senzel. Yes, I’m expecting them both to open the season on the Injured List, which is very wet-blankety of me. It’s also a roster that features Luis Cessa moving back into a bullpen role, something I think will happen due to Antone’s absence and and the need for stability there with Sims coming back off injury. It’s also a roster that includes a pair of non-roster guys in Pinder and Young, so adding them will feature some administrative roster moves to free up space.
I firmly expect this to change drastically as the spring evolves, as it always does.
In other news, we’re going to reboot the podcasting around these parts, albeit with a little bit of tinkering. I cut it out completely for the 2022 season thanks largely to the lockout and the Reds going as austere as one could possibly imagine, and talking about them over and over again on top of writing about them daily seemed like more of a burden than I was willing to take on. This season, though, we’re going to approach it a little differently, get plenty of the ol’ RR crew back together to do them weekly, and will be partnering with a network of pods created by our sister SBN sites to push them out for consumption.
SBN opted to end supporting their pod network in their recent round of ‘reorganizing,’ so this is new network of pods is inspired by many of them searching for a place to host as ‘home.’ I’d already intended to get back to podding in some form or fashion, and this opportunity to connect with them just felt right. If my calculations are correct, those who liked and subscribed to the old Red Reporter Podcast will see new episodes from this one show up in the same RSS feed, though a new name for it is in the works, too.