Reds reserves making most of time at Prasco Park

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Joel Kuhnel interview (Aug. 8)

Big-league team off Monday and plays Tuesday at GABP

While the 28 players on the Cincinnati Reds roster try to make the best of a season without fans in the stands, they at least know thousands of people are watching every play on Fox Sports Ohio.

That’s not the case 23 miles north of Great American Ball Park at Prasco Park in Mason. Thirty players are training there. Some know they may get a chance this season. Some already have. Many will not get a call to the big leagues this season but can use the time for development.

In the first week of training, there wasn’t much atmosphere at the site, reliever Joel Kuhnel said, because they had not started playing crowd noise over the loudspeakers. It was hard for players to create their own energy. Then up to the plate — or up to the mic — stepped reliever Matt Bowman.

“He got on the PA system,” Kuhnel said, “so we have walkout songs now. He introduces the batteries coming up. He’s playing all the music. He’s playing boos. He’s cheering. He gets pretty excited. We’re trying to bring that fun energy back into Prasco.”

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The group at Prasco includes 15 position players. That’s not quite enough for them to play complete 9-on-9 games, but several strength coaches have played positions in the infield or outfield to allow them to do so.

“We’re trying to make as much as possible from this,” Kuhnel said. “It’s difficult, but it’s the same thing as anywhere else. You still have to go out there and get your work in and try to develop your stuff. We’re still going against live hitters, against our own hitters. It’s not against you know another Triple-A team but it’s the best we have right now in this weird time and situation, so you just have to make the best of it. Just keep working and working.”

The players arrive at Prasco Park at 1 p.m. each day. They have meetings at 2 and stretch at 3:15. Players then take batting practice, and they get ready for the games. They don’t play nine innings. The games last from two to six innings, Kuhnel said, depending on who’s pitching.

“The other day we had Tony (Santillan) and Nick Lodolo going at it,” Kuhnel said. “One had five innings. The other had five innings. We just watched that and cheered them on.”

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Kuhnel joined the 28-man big-league roster Saturday and allowed two earned runs in one inning Sunday as the Reds lost 9-3 to the Brewers. The Reds (7-9) don’t play Monday and start a two-game series at Great American Ball Park against the Kansas City Royals at 6:40 p.m. Tuesday.

Kuhnel tried to make the most of his time at Prasco Park even through it got redundant pitching to the same batters over and over again.

“At the same time, you’re still trying to make your pitch,” Kuhnel said. “You’re still trying to work on the stuff that you need to work on. It’s good because there are times when you get up here, especially in our league play when you’re gonna be facing guys you know five, six, seven times in the span of possibly two weeks.”

TUESDAY’S GAME

Royals at Reds, 6:40 p.m., FS Ohio, 700

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