Lou Piniella’s ceremonial first pitch to Billy Hatcher did not go wire to wire. It bounced once before Hatcher caught it at home plate.
The two members of the Cincinnati Reds’ 1990 World Series championship team, which won the National League West Division with a wire-to-wire performance, combined for the first pitch of the season at Great American Ball Park. Piniella served as grand marshal of the Findlay Market Parade and then joined the Reds, who beat the Philadelphia Phillies 6-2 on Opening Day, for the pregame festivities.
Piniella, now a senior adviser for the Reds, called it a humbling experience.
“I’m so appreciative of the response from the city of Cincinnati,” he said, “and I’m very, very appreciative to have been given the opportunity.”
Mack is back: Pete Mackanin returned to Great American Ball Park on Monday without the interim tag in front of his title: manager of the Phillies.
In 2007, Mackanin took the reins in Cincinnati when Jerry Narron was fired in July. He guided the team to a 41-39 record the rest of the way as interim manager but wasn’t hired after the season. The Reds hired Dusty Baker instead.
“It was disappointing,” he said. “I had gone through that before with Pittsburgh. In both places, the organizations wanted a bigger name. I get it. I didn’t happen to agree with it. After not getting the job that year, I kind of gave up the idea of even doing it anymore because it didn’t seem to be in the cards. All of a sudden, when you least expect it, it happens. I couldn’t be more grateful to not only the Reds and the Pirates, who at least gave me a look as a manager, but to the Phillies, who stuck with me and extended me.”
Thursday’s starter: The Reds’ top prospect, right-handed pitcher Robert Stephenson, will make his big-league debut Thursday in a 12:35 p.m. game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Great American Ball Park.
The Reds called up Stephenson, a first-round pick in 2011, from Triple-A Louisville on Monday morning. They placed Homer Bailey on the 15-day disabled list to make room on the roster.
“This is probably a one-start situation for Robert,” manager Bryan Price said. “He knows that. It’s a great opportunity for him to get his feet wet in this environment.”
Stephenson said he found out Sunday morning and drove from Louisville to Cincinnati on Monday morning.
“They told me to be prepared in case anything crazy happened,” Stephenson said Monday in the Reds’ clubhouse, “but I was definitely surprised and I’m excited to be here.”
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