Images of the Cincinnati Reds playing baseball — as opposed to headlines about them maybe playing baseball — will soon be available. The first summer training or summer camp, as teams are calling it, starts this week at Great American Ball Park and at Prasco Park in Mason.
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The 2020 season, assuming there are no setbacks because of the coronavirus pandemic, will start in three weeks.
“I love baseball,” Reds General Manager Nick Krall said on Sunday. “I am excited to get back to baseball. I think it’s great to be moving in the direction of playing games. I’ll knock on wood for right now, but I’m excited to be back up and running with baseball on the horizon and thinking of baseball transactions and the actual game on the field as opposed to all of the logistics around it.”
Krall spoke to members of the Cincinnati media via a Zoom call. That’s how all group interviews with Reds players or officials have been done since spring training was suspended March 12, and that’s how the media will talk to players and coaches throughout the 60-game season. The media will be able to watch games in person at Great American Ball Park but will conduct interviews through the video app.
The Major League Baseball schedule won’t be released until next week, according to a report Monday by Bob Nightengale, of USA Today, but the Reds know they will play their first game July 23 or July 24. They also know most of the players who will participate in summer training camp.
The Reds announced 57 of the players on Sunday and can add three more if they choose. Here are four things to know about the current player pool.
1. The players training in Mason will have a chance to make the 30-man Opening Day roster: Of the 22 players who will work out in Mason, none made a bigger impact on the Reds in 2019 than outfielder Aristides Aquino.
Krall said the decision to place Aquino and other players with big-league experience, like outfielder Scott Schebler, will have no effect on their chances to make the roster. The groups were broken up in part because of social distancing requirements but also to make for better working groups.
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“They’re still competing for spots,” Krall said. “We’re going to try to play some games either up there or at Great American Ball Park.”
2. There will be two players without big-league experience training with the group in Cincinnati: Most of the 35 players training at Great American Ball Park are familiar names, including stars such as Joey Votto and Eugenio Suarez, newcomers like Mike Moustakas and Nick Castellanos and the entire starting rotation.
Two players in that group have never played in the big leagues. One is Shogo Akiyama, the Japanese outfielder the Reds signed in January. The other is outfielder Mark Payton, who the Reds acquired in the Rule 5 draft in December. He hit 30 home runs in Triple-A in the Oakland Athletics organization last season.
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In February, Reds manager David Bell said Payton, 28, would get a a chance to make the team.
“We selected him for a reason,” Bell said. “He is a guy who had a bit of a breakthrough last year. You see that more and more. A player will make an adjustment and really take off.”
3. There will be four non-roster invitees training in Cincinnati: Nate Jones and Tyler Thornburg, two veteran relievers the Reds invited to spring training, will also train in Cincinnati, as will Matt Davidson, an infielder who last played in the big leagues in 2018 with the Chicago White Sox.
4. Some of the organizations top prospects will train in Mason: The group at Prasco Park includes: left-handed pitcher Nick Lodolo, the No. 1 prospect, according to MLB.com; catcher Tyler Stephenson (No. 3); third baseman Jonathan India (No. 4); shortstop Jose Garcia (No. 5); right-handed pitcher Tony Santillan (No. 9); outfielder Stuart Fairchild (No. 10); shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez (No. 17); right-handed pitchers Tejay Antone (No. 20), Ryan Hendrix (No. 21) and Joe Kuhnel (No. 22).
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