Reds manager on start of camp: ‘A day we’ve been looking forward to the last several months’

The Cincinnati Reds began spring training Wednesday with pitchers and catchers taking part in their first workout.

Pitchers threw bullpen sessions under the leadership of new pitching coach Derek Johnson.

»RELATED: New faces, greater expectations as Reds open camp

Position players don’t have to report until Sunday, but a handful — Scooter Gennett, Matt Kemp, Jesse Winker and Nick Senzel — are in camp early. The first full-squad workout will take place on Monday.

Here are four things to know about the opening of Reds’ camp:

Have we met?

New Reds manager David Bell was scheduled to hold his first meeting with the players. Third base coach J.R. House, who is in charge of scheduling the workouts, allowed two hours for the first one.

»RELATED: 5 storylines to watch this spring

“This is a day we’ve been looking forward to the last several months,” Bell said. “It is a big day to get people around each other. I don’t think everybody has met each other yet. It is good to get together with at least half the team.”

The 40-man roster features eight players who are new to the organization.

Bell said he put a lot thought into the first meeting.

“The challenge today isn’t with the whole group but any time you get to communicate with the teams will help,” Bell said. “I tried to put myself in the position of the players. What would I want to know?”

“Number one I want people comfortable with being the best that they can be,” Bell said. “It goes without saying, the effort. The amount of work and effort it takes to be great. We want to compete but do it as a team. We want them to give everything they have but do it as a team. We ant to enjoy the process as a team and create a healthy balance.”

»MCCOY: Reds all in this season, but is it just a one-year push?

Bell plans to hit ground balls and pitch batting practice if his sore shoulder permits.

“It is another way to connect with the players,” Bell said.

Three catchers?

Connor Joe was claimed in the Rule V draft by the Reds. They have to carry him on the roster the the entire season or offer him back to Dodgers where Joe played in the minor leagues last year.

Joe played several infield positions in the Dodgers farm system but was a catcher in college at the University of San Diego. He will be wearing catching gear in camp. Another catcher from the Dodgers, Kyle Farmer, has experience in the infield too.

“We know Joe can do a lot of things on the field but for now he is going to be a catcher. That’s why he’s here,” Bell said.

It is a luxury for a manager to have three catchers on a team. It’s especially valuable in the National League.

“We have to see how the roster shakes out but if we carry a third catcher it would have to be a player like Joe or Farmer who can play other positions,” Bell said.


Kemp, an outfielder, is the Reds’ player with the time on a Major League roster with 12 years. First baseman Joey Votto is second with 11 seasons experience.

Newcomers with five or more years of big league experience are Alex Wood, Yasiel Puig, Sonny Gray and Tanner Roark. Holdovers David Hernandez, Jared Hughes and Gennett have five or more years of big-league experience.

Kemp, Wood, Puig, Gray and Roark were acquired in offseason trades.

Remembering Robinson

David Bell only met the late Frank Robinson a couple of times. Robinson played for the Reds from 1956-1965. Bell’s grandfather, Gus, was a teammate of the Hall of Famer on the Reds National League pennant winner in 1961.

Robinson, who died last week, was the game’s first African American manager. Robinson was also a player-manager, and was teammates with both Gus and Buddy Bell.

“I only met him twice but heard stories from my grandfather and father (Buddy). I feel like I know him,” David Bell said.

Buddy Bell had a much closer relationship with Robinson. He was Robinson’s teammate in Cleveland. Robinson was Bell’s manager with Cleveland.

“My dad and Frank were fairly tight. It wasn’t easy for Frank and my dad was part of him being somewhat comfortable,” Buddy Bell said. “There was still a lot of stuff happening in the world. I was at an age where I was impressionable. I thought (Robinson) was one of the greatest players in the world. I loved the way he played the game. He played the game hard. I didn’t realize how smart and how bright a baseball man he was until I played for him.”

About the Author