The Cincinnati Reds spent the last 11 days of the 2015 season in last place in the National League Central Division, but they won’t start the 2016 season in the basement.
The Pittsburgh Pirates beat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-1 Sunday in Pittsburgh in the first game of the new season. For what it’s worth, the Reds will be behind the Pirates and ahead of the Cardinals in the standings when they play the Philadelphia Phillies on Opening Day at 4:10 p.m. Monday at Great American Ball Park.
The Chicago Cubs, Cardinals and Pirates all rank in the top 11 of ESPN’s preseason power rankings.
“I love the fact that the National League Central has become one of the strongest divisions in baseball,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “It’s better than being in a soft division and then going and getting roughed up by teams outside your division in the postseason.”
First opener: Eugenio Suarez, 24, will make his first Opening Day start. The shortstop turned third baseman hit .280 in 97 games last season, taking over when Zack Cozart suffered a season-ending knee injury.
“I feel comfortable,” Suarez said. “I’ve got more experience. My mind is great. My body feels good. I’m working hard on my body. That will help me hit the ball ball hard.”
Final moves: The Reds made a number of moves Sunday to trim their Opening Day roster to 25.
• They optioned catcher Ramon Cabrera and infielder/outfielder Jose Peraza to Triple-A Louisville and reassigned pitchers Dayan Diaz and Tim Melville to Louisville.
• They recalled outfielder Tyler Holt from Louisville and selected the contract of catcher/infielder Jordan Pacheco from Louisville.
• They designated outfielder Jake Cave for assignment.
• They placed pitchers Anthony DeSclafani, John Lamb, Michael Lorenzen and Jon Moscot on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 25. They placed outfielder Yorman Rodriguez on the 15-day DL retroactive to March 27 and catcher Kyle Shipworth on the 15-day DL retroactive to March 31.
Here is the 25-man roster for the start of the 2016 season. Homer Bailey is expected to go on the 15-day DL on Monday and be replaced by a pitcher who will start the third game of the season Thursday. That could be rookie Robert Stephenson.
Pitchers (12): Bailey; Caleb Cotham; Jumbo Diaz; J.J. Hoover; Raisel Iglesias; Ross Ohlendorf; Keyvius Sampson; Alfredo Simon; Dan Straily; Blake Wood; Tony Cingrani; Brandon Finnegan.
Catchers (3): Tucker Barnhart; Devin Mesoraco; and Pacheco.
Infielders (5): Zack Cozart; Ivan DeJesus Jr.; Brandon Phillips; Eugenio Suarez; Joey Votto.
Outfielders (5): Jay Bruce; Adam Duvall; Billy Hamilton; Holt; and Scott Schebler.