A Cincinnati Reds season that began under sunny skies and with temperatures in the high 60s at Great American Ball Park also included a disappointing note.
Second baseman Scooter Gennett, who turned himself into one of the team’s best and most popular players in the last two seasons began the season on the disabled list and won’t play for two or three months after injuring his groin last week.
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“Obviously, losing Scooter in our lineup really hurts,” said Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart in a pregame press conference Thursday before the season opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates. “He’s a threat to do damage just about anytime he’s at the plate. He’s coming off an all-star season. He’s in our clubhouse today. He’s in constant contact with all the guys. As far as a chemistry standpoint, I don’t think it’s going to hurt as much as it will hurt our lineup.”
First lineup: Jose Iglesias, who the Reds signed as a free agent in the offseason, benefited from Gennett’s injury by earning a start in the opener. He played shortstop, and Jose Peraza moved to second base.
“It wasn’t something I was happy about obviously,” Iglesias said. “Scooter’s a big part of our team. But I’m excited to get an opportunity to play, and I’m looking forward to playing in front of these great fans.”
Back again: Joey Votto made his 11th Opening Day start in a row. He was a rookie in 2008 and started in 2014 but missed the pregame introductions. He admitted Thursday he was asleep in the clubhouse but promised to be on the first-base line for the national anthem on this Opening Day.
Votto repeated what he said in spring training about his hopes for this team.
“We’re motivated, and we have have very high expectations,” Votto said. “I think we have a legitimate chance to meet those expectations.”
First impression: David Bell made his Reds managing debut Thursday, but the players have been working with him since spring training began in February, so they have a good idea what he will be like all season.
“He’s a pretty cool, calm and collected guy,” center fielder Scott Schebler said. “He really lets us play and lets us have freedom on the field, which is really cool. He almost embraces the mistakes. He uses those as teaching moments, which is great, instead of getting on you. I would just say he gives us the freedom to be ourselves, which is really cool.”
Looking ahead: Sonny Gray (11-9, 4.90 ERA last season) will make his Reds debut in the second game of the season, earning the start for a 2:10 p.m. Saturday game against the Pirates, who will start Trevor Williams (14-10, 3.11).
Tanner Roark (9-15, 4.34), another new Reds starter, will pitch the final game of the series at 1:10 p.m. Sunday. Joe Musgrove (6-9, 4.06) will start for the Pirates.
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