[This report on the Ashland, KY caravan stop was filed by Kasey Beckham. If you want to learn about Bryan Price's comments on the batting order, Billy Hamilton and Aroldis Chapman's role, and what CEO Bob Castellini thinks about signing Homer Bailey to a long-term extension, then read on.]
I don’t love winter, and yesterday was a prime example of why I do not.
But in the end, drifting snow and nasty wind chills couldn’t keep me or hundreds of other Reds fans from the Ashland, KY Reds Caravan stop. Northeastern Kentucky is a stronghold of baseball and particularly Reds fans. Reds baseball is still taught from the cradle in that area…my hometown. Its hold on me certainly started young.
So despite facing down a Level 2 Snow Emergency in my county and detouring down a two-lane because the interstate was closed, I arrived only 5 minutes after the Q&A began. I confess, I’m not much of an autograph seeker in general, so the Q&A and the general atmosphere are what I enjoy most.
I walked up to the back of the crowd while manager Bryan Price was being grilled by a youngster on Billy Hamilton. Price’s answer of “if the season were to start today” Hamilton will be in centerfield makes me think that it may not be as set in stone as we think.
Fans took advantage of Price’s former role by asking several pitching-related questions. Price was asked about Aroldis Chapman starting (no, even though he admitted that he had wanted him to this past season) and if there was any chance of re-signing Bronson Arroyo (again, basically no).
The crowd began to buzz a little when the next volley of questions began on Joey Votto and his role and place in the lineup…or maybe that was just me. I seem to have developed a Pavlovian response when I hear things in association with one another, such as “Votto” and “too many walks,” but fortunately I was able to control myself.
But I digress.
Price handled the questions deftly and talked about getting Votto some protection in the lineup. He said we would see Bruce behind him some and yes, that would mean lefty lefty in the lineup. He also emphasized a return to the lineup by a healthy Ryan Ludwick. Price won points with me by emphasizing others roles in the lineup over trying to change Votto’s approach at the plate.
And then I nearly had a scuffle with the guy behind me over Votto’s contract.
But I digress again.
Price was answering questions about his coaching staff when I re-focused and something he said caught my ear.
“There needs to be some newness in what we do.”
I wished I could have been close enough to a mic to ask for some specifics on that.
But then Mr. Castellini himself stole the show by answering fans questions about plans for a Tony Perez statue…and even saying he wanted a Pete Rose statue.
Perhaps the most significant thing he said was in closing, though, as he looked across the panel at Homer Bailey and said, “It would be a huge disappointment for our franchise to not sign Homer (long term).” Castellini went on to say he would do everything possible to keep him.
The countdown to pitchers and catchers reporting is ticking away, and it appears the Reds are for the most part set for the path they plan to take. But a few hedged answers make me wonder if there may be a few little surprises still up some sleeves.
Reds fans in Northeastern Kentucky are anxiously awaiting. But none more than me. As a certain RedlegNation contributor often tweets… It’s #alwaysbaseballseason.