Rebuild. That word has followed the Reds around like an annoying little brother since they started trading star players like Todd Frazier and Johnny Cueto.
The word came up at Saturday’s stop of the Reds Caravan at the Air Force Museum. But the tone was different.
“Every time we show up to spring training we don’t really like to hear those words as players,” Reds all-star second baseman Scooter Gennett said. “Now it’s nice that they’re expecting us to win now. That’s always something to be excited about.”
The Reds have been busy this offseason trying to find the finishing pieces, and they’ve vowed that aren’t finished. They hired David Bell as manager, hired new coaches and created new support positions. But nothing created more buzz than the trade with the Dodgers that brought in outfielders Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp and starting pitcher Alex Wood.
“I know the players are excited about it, the staff is and I hope the fans are too, because it’s been a few years now that we’ve been in the rebuild phase,” Gennett said.
Gennett, pitchers Sal Romano and Cody Reed, senior adviser Buddy Bell and owner Bob Castellini were among the Reds’ representatives to attend the annual 11 a.m. event, answer submitted questions from fans and sign autographs. They made another stop later Saturday in Hamilton at Parrish Auditorium on the Miami-Hamilton campus.
Here are three other key things the players are excited about:
1. Happy and healthy Scooter: Gennett smiles about having a healthy shoulder. It limited him on defense last year even though he was able to play in 154 games.
“It’s 100 percent,” he said. “I actually finished the season better than I started it. It’s usually the opposite. As long as I stay up on the strengthening it’ll be fine.”
There was talk that Gennett might sign a long-term contract with the Reds, but he signed a one-year contract recently and can be a free agent next year. Last year he made the All-Star team, batted .310, hit 23 home runs and batted in 92.
“I want to win ballgames,” he said. “The All-Star Game is great, the accolades are great but ultimately what’s going to make me feel like I’ve done my job to the best of my ability is if we get to the playoffs and win a world series.”
2. Pitchers happy about new pitching coach: When the Reds hired Derek Johnson away from the Milwaukee Brewers it was seen as a coup. Johnson was given much credit for the success of the Brewers’ staff last year that was without a true No. 1 starter. Right now the Reds don’t have one either.
Romano and Reed will go to spring training hoping to make the starting rotation, but the bullpen is where both could start the season.
Johnson has written a book titled “The Complete Guide to Pitching” that drew good reviews from five-time all-star and Cy Young Award winner David Price.
“He had nothing but awesome things to say about him,” Reed said. “So if David Price says that, you know he’s got to be something for sure.”
3. More energy in the dugout: Puig is known for the enthusiasm he plays with, the fun he has in the dugout and home run bat flips. Romano has often been seen giving Billy Hamilton big hugs in the dugout. Eugenio Suarez has popularized the salsa dance after home runs.
“I think the most important thing about Puig that he brings is character,” Romano said. “He has fun playing this game as we’re all taught since we were little kids to have fun. I think it’s going to bring a good vibe into the dugout for sure. We love to see our teammates succeed.”