Optimism was high last October in southwest Ohio after the Cincinnati Reds finished the regular season with 97 wins and a National League Central title. It appeared the club was headed to the NLCS after taking the first two NLDS games in San Francisco before the Giants claimed all three contests at the Great American Ballpark and dismissed the Reds from the NLDS for the second time in three years.
Entering spring training, Cincinnati is well-positioned to repeat its NL Central crown, though with the rebuilding Houston Astros set to make their American League debut in April, there will be one less cupcake in the division to face.
The Reds are taking a gamble with moving power closer Aroldis Chapman into the starting rotation. Chapman posted a 1.51 ERA, a 0.81 WHIP and 38 saves while striking out 122 batters in 71.2 innings for a whopping 15.3 strikeouts per nine innings. He also allowed just 35 hits. Can he maintain his velocity and effectiveness after facing an order for the the second time in a game? Will he have the durability to give the club six to seven strong frames each start? Those are the questions that will not be answered until the season begins.
Cincinnati boasts a solid 1-2 punch atop the rotation with Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos. Veteran Bronson Arroyo provides a durable arm at the No. 3 spot while Homer Bailey finally showed signs of reaching his considerable potential with a 13-10 record and a 3.68 ERA in 2012. Chapman will occupy the No. 5 position while right-hander Mike Leake offers rotation depth.
Shin-Soo Choo, who was acquired from Cleveland earlier this offseason, will take over for Drew Stubbs in center fielder. The 30-year-old Choo hit .283 with 16 home runs, 21 stolen bases and a .815 OPS for the Indians in 2012, but he is primarily a right fielder and only has 10 games of Major League experience in center field. Reds manager Dusty Baker is counting on Choo to have smooth transition to center field because the club has Ryan Ludwick in left and Jay Bruce in right, and they are entrenched there because of their power bats.
First baseman Joey Votto, who is one of the best all-around hitters in baseball, did bat .337 with 14 home runs last season, but two knee surgeries limited him to 111 games and 475 plate appearances. His power was sapped when he returned to action in September. The health of Votto’s knee is critical to Cincinnati’s post-season hopes.
At the hot corner, Todd Frazier replaces veteran Scott Rolen. One of the game’s best rookies in 2012, the 26-year-old Frazier belted 19 home runs and batted .273, helping the Reds lineup while Votto and Rolen were injured.
With Choo, second baseman Brandon Phillips, Votto, Ludwick, Bruce and Frazier projected as the first six hitters in the order, the Reds expect to score enough runs to support the pitching staff.
The St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers look like the most formidable threats to dethrone the Reds in the NL Central. If the rotation, bullpen and lineup perform to their capabilities – and core players like Cueto, Latos and Votto remain healthy – October baseball should return to Cincinnati. The next step for the Reds will be winning a post-season game at home.
About Goodyear Ballpark
Situated on a three-acre spread southeast of the future Goodyear City Center in Goodyear, Ariz., Goodyear Ballpark seats 10, 311 and serves as the spring training home of the Reds and the Cleveland Indians.
South of the ballpark, the Goodyear Recreational Sports Complex includes clubhouse/player development facilities and practice fields for each team on 100-plus acre site.
After training in Florida for decades, the reds moved from Sarasota to Goodyear in 2010.
Nestled amid the Sonoran Desert and the Sierra Estrella Mountains, Goodyear is a city that teems with outdoor recreation. There are more than than 100 miles of bike lanes, 39 miles of mountain hiking and biking trails and 11 area golf courses.
Estrella Mountain Regional park is another natural treasure, consisting of around 20,000 acres, most of which is still pristine desert. The developed area of the park contains eight major mixed use trails (for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding) of more than 33 miles, a 9.5 mile competitive track, campgrounds, two baseball fields and a large horse staging area. The park also has the county’s only grassy picnic area, a golf course and a professional level rodeo arena.
The 30,000-acre White Tank Mountain Regional Park features extensive campgrounds, 11 major trails and a ten mile competitive track. The barrier-free Waterfall Trail, though only one mile in length, is the most visited trail in the system, featuring trail-side petroglyphs, varied desert scenery and plants and a seasonal waterfall. White Tank is located at 13025 N. White Tank Mtn. Rd in Wadell, which is about 10 miles northwest of Goodyear.
For a religious history lesson, the Bible Museum houses the world’s largest collection of antique Bibles. It is located in the Grand Lobby of the Hampton Inn and Suites Hotel at 2000 N. Litchfield Rd. in Goodyear.
The museum has hundreds of bibles dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries as well as a 900-year-old Biblical Hebrew scroll with original Old Testament scriptures on a giant sheepskin scroll. The Bible Museum is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Situated north of Goodyear in Litchfield Park, the Wildlife World Zoo showcases Arizona’s largest collection of exotic animals with more than 2,400 individual animals representing more than 400 exotic and endangered species. The state’s first aquarium has now opened at the zoo
Cincinnati Reds Spring Training Information
First Practice Dates
Pitchers and Catchers – February 11
Position Players – February 15
Cincinnati Reds: Top 10 Prospects For 2013
1933 S. Ballpark Way
Goodyear, AZ 85338
2013 Ticket Prices
Right Field Pavilion, $30 (all-inclusive food and non-alcohol beverages)
Premium Field Box, $27
Field Box, $27
Infield Box, $23
Outfield Box, $18
Outfield Reserved, $12
Information About Goodyear
City of Goodyear, www.ci.goodyear.az.us