The lineup the Reds used in Friday’s Cactus League opener against the Cleveland Indians could be one they use during the season.
It featured Billy Hamilton leading off and playing center field. Eugenio Suarez played third base and batted second followed by Joey Votto at first, Scooter Gennett at second, Adam Duvall in left field, Scott Schebler in right, Jose Peraza at shortstop and Tucker Barnhart catching. Dilson Herrera served as the designated hitter.
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“There is going to be a lot of moving pieces with this group,” manager Bryan Price said. “I like having Suarez in the two hole as a high on-base percentage guy with some thump. He is a guy to set the table with Billy or whoever I have in the leadoff spot, for Joey, the three, four and five slots. Suarez is also a run-producer and he can provide some good protection for Joey.”
And where does Jesse Winker fit in the picture? Price sees him as a semi-regular, planning to use him at the corner outfield spots, including when Hamilton takes a day off and Schebler shifts to center.
It sounds like Winker’s immediate future might hinge at least a bit on whether Hamilton can improve his on-base percentage.
“We’re still looking to see the evolution of Billy as the leadoff man,” Price said. “I’d love him to hold down that spot. I’d hate to think these guys stopped improving. I expect to see growth as a player. Guys that have had some time at the big-league level should be hunting to get better. Getting on base is a key component of hitting at the top of the lineup.”
Winker reached base at a .375 clip in his 47 games last season with the Reds and had a .395 on-base percentage in 85 games at Triple-A Louisville.
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“Winker will get some opportunities to hit at the top of the order,” Price said. “We have four healthy outfielders who I’d like to see play. There would be five-plus starts a week if they share playing time. I really see four outfielders for three spots, all getting regular time.”
Even National League teams use the DH during the spring, and that opens up more at-bats. Herrera, who handled the task Friday, is out of options. He is competing at second base but has taken ground balls at third.
“He will go every other day early on, like DH, then second base,” Price said. “Tomorrow I have him penciled in at second unless there is a reason to make that change. We are still in protocols where he has heavy days of throwing and some days off. He has made the long throw from third base. He will get some time there in the spring that will add to his value.”
Herrera was mostly inactive last spring with a sore right shoulder and had surgery in early August. He missed the last two months of the season.
Rotation set: Sal Romano took the ball Friday against the Indians. Michael Lorenzen starts Saturday against Colorado with Luis Castillo scheduled to face the White Sox on the road.
Homer Bailey will work the home game against Cleveland on Sunday, Robert Stephenson is slated for Arizona on Monday, and Anthony DeSclafani is penciled in for Tuesday at Milwaukee.
“Rob (Stephenson) had a bit of a neck issue,” Price said. “He is more of a TBA on Monday.”
Brandon Finnegan was not named on the list of pitchers through Monday but may follow DeSclafani on Tuesday.
Not so fast: Price and Indians manager Terry Francona heard the same thing from Joe Torre about the mandatory 10th inning in spring training games, but now there appears to be confusion as to whether the rule is in effect or just being considered.
The plan, if implemented, was to have a 10th inning if a game is tied after nine. Also being considered is starting the 10th with a man on second base.
Paying tribute: All major-league teams wore Marjory Stoneman Douglas High Scholl hats during Friday’s games.
“I don’t think wearing a hat will change anything,” Francona said. “I think showing support is always a good thing. In my opinion it’s a very small thing but if it helps even one single person, good.”