A sellout crowd of 44,049 watched the Cincinnati Reds open the 2019 season at Great American Ball Park. The attendance Friday when they open the pandemic-shortened 2020 season against the Detroit Tigers will be zero. Not even the family members of players and coaches will be able to attend.
However, the Reds remain hopeful fans will be able to attend games at some point in August or September or the postseason, should they reach it. Reds President and COO Phil Castellini told reporters in Cincinnati on Thursday the franchise plans to submit a plan that would allow the stadium to be 20 percent full. That would mean about 8,800 fans.
The plan would have to be approved by the Cincinnati Health Department, Major League Baseball and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine. General Manager Nick Krall said the fan issue will be talked about around the league.
“I think everybody’s hope is that we go back to full capacity and the virus is under control,” Krall said, “but I think it’s all going to be dependent on that. It’s definitely weird not having fans. I think everyone would love to have fans. A crowded ballpark is a fun place to be. That’s the end goal, but I don’t know what’s going to happen this year and we’ll have to see. It’s all going to be virus dependent and then what makes the most sense for the health of the entire community and country as opposed to just one baseball game.”
Prospect update: The Reds added pitching prospect Hunter Greene, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 draft, to their 60-man player pool Wednesday, two days before the first game of the 2020 season.
Greene hasn’t pitched in professional baseball since July 26, 2018, when he was with the Single-A Dayton Dragons. A sprained elbow ligament sidelined him for the rest of that season, and the following April, he underwent Tommy John surgery. Despite the injury, he ranked as the Reds’ No. 2 prospect, according to MLB.com, before this season.
Krall said the Reds had Greene in mind throughout Summer Camp but wanted to make sure they had depth before adding him the pool. He wouldn’t rule out him pitching this season. but Greene will start the season with the group of players training at Prasco Park.
“This is the first time he’s going to be pitching in 18 months,” Krall said. “He’s going to face hitters that that are a lot more experienced than he is, that have just been around longer. So go get experience, continue to develop and then we’ll see what happens.”
Injury news: The Reds placed Anthony DeSclafani on the 10-day injured list Thursday with a mild right teres major (upper arm muscle) strain. He was scheduled to start Tuesday in the fifth game of the season against the Chicago Cubs. The Reds expect him to miss one start. Tyler Mahle likely will replace him in the rotation.
“I felt it warming up in the fifth inning in my last outing,” DeSclafani said, “but I didn’t notice too much the rest of the inning. That was a good sign. It just kind of got tight that night. It seemed like a small issue. I’m feeling good now. There’s not too much concern.”
More moves: The Reds also announced they have selected the contract of relief pitcher Nate Jones. That followed an announcement last weekend they were committed to having him on the 30-man Opening Day roster.
Catcher Mark Kolosvary, the Reds’ 17th-round pick in 2017, was also added to the 60-man roster, while infielder Alex Blandino was optioned.
Exhibition game: Travis Jankowski singled to drive in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning as the Reds won 2-1 and completed a two-game sweep in exhibition play against the Tigers on Wednesday.
Seven Reds pitchers combined to allow four hits and one earned run Wednesday. Jose De Leon and Brooks Raley each threw two scoreless innings to start the game.
R.J. Alaniz, Matt Bowman and Sal Romano followed with scoreless innings. Joel Kuhnel gave up the tying run in the eighth. Robert Stephenson pitched a perfect ninth.
The Reds took a 1-0 lead on a home run by Matt Davidson in the fourth.
Opening Day plans: Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine will throw a “virtual first pitch” before the season opener Friday.
With no fans in the stands, the Reds encourage fans at home to share photos and videos on social media, using the hashtag #RedsOpeningDay.
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