He’s got a new uniform and a new league, but the directions to spring training remain the same for new Reds infielder Jack Hannahan.
After two seasons with the Indians, Hannahan signed a two-year deal with Cincinnati in the off-season, meaning most of his February and March will be held about a half-mile down South Wood Boulevard from the previous couple of springs. The two clubs have adjoining practice fields.
“I won’t get lost. I’m pretty familiar with the facility,” he joked Friday.
But while they share a spring training stadium, Hannahan makes no bones about the difference in mentality between Ohio’s two clubs. During his two years with Cleveland, the team finished 15 and 20 games out of first place in the American League Central. The Reds, meanwhile, are picked to contend for a third division crown in four years with an eye on even bigger goals.
“I’m excited to be on a team that’s expected to win, it’s something I’ve never been a part of. It’s something that really drew me to Cincinnati,” said Hannahan, who has also played on Oakland and Seattle teams that finished well out of the race.
“This team was built to win. It’s a big part of why I signed here. You look at the pitching staff, you look at the lineup, and it’s all set up to make for a fun year.”
Hannahan’s offensive numbers aren’t gaudy — he hit .244 and .250, respectively, in his seasons with the Tribe — but his new club expects he’ll bring quality defense and depth to a stacked roster. And although he’s primarily played at the hot corner in the past, the veteran says he’ll be happy to fit in where needed.
“All that stuff will just kind of play out as the season goes on. My biggest concern is just winning, playing good fundamental baseball, making the plays on defense and getting hitters over,” he said. “Wherever that is, if I’m moving all over the place or if I’m just playing third base, as long as we’re winning, I’ll be happy.”
Manager Dusty Baker admitted he doesn’t have much history with Hannahan, but he wants the utility man to get settled.
“I don’t know him yet. I’ve heard he’s a heck of a guy. But before you give guys assignments, you want them to feel a comfort level and fit in,” Baker said. “If you remember the new guy in school, it takes a little while.”
Although he’s no longer an Indian, having his former teammates right down the road makes catching up a little easier. Hannahan met up with a few Indians on Thursday, and he’s living with Cleveland catcher Lou Marson during his time in Arizona.
Drawing a crowd: The biggest crowd at Friday afternoon’s opening workout for positional players gathered around field No. 4, where Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Ryan Ludwick took big swings.
All eyes were on Votto, who insists his left knee is back to full strength after suffering a torn meniscus last summer. Votto didn’t disappoint. After a few easy cycles of swings, he hit a bomb over the right-field wall that seemed to reach for the nearby Estrella Mountains.
Meanwhile, pitcher Bronson Arroyo looked worse for wear for the second straight day, and although he’s battling the flu, he still took part in the early portion of the session.
“He’s not looking very good. He wants to get his arm in shape. That’s how Bronson is,” Baker said. “Most guys would just go home. But he wants to throw first and then go home.”
One writer suggested coating the balls Arroyo used in Purell as the team tries to keep the bug from traveling throughout the clubhouse.
Baker had a better idea.
“Throw the balls out,” he joked.
Korean influx: With full lineups reporting Friday, the clubhouse had a more vibrant feel, as did the media room at the Reds Player Development Complex.
More than two dozen members of the Korean media descended, all looking to follow new center fielder and leadoff hitter Shin-Soo Choo. A total of 12 companies and 25 media members picked up credentials, according to the Reds, and they’re expected to follow the team through the weekend.