— First, a sad note, Larry Sheppard, pitching coach of the Big Red machine, passed away Tuesday at the age of 92.

Larry Shepard, the former pitching coach for the Big Red Machine, has died Tuesday in Lincoln, Neb. He was 92.

Shepard was the pitching coach for the Cincinnati Reds from 1970-78. On a team known for its big hitting, he oversaw a staff that helped the Reds win the World Series in 1975 and 1976.

Before joining the Reds, Shepard managed the Pirates to an 80-82 record in 1968. Shepard was fired in 1969.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Shepard family.

The DDN previews the Dayton Dragons before their season opener tonight.

Billy Hamilton, the best prospect assigned to the Dayton Dragons by the Cincinnati Reds to start the 2011 season, got his first glimpse of Fifth Third Field on Tuesday.

It was empty, but he could feel the intensity.

“It just hyped me up,” said Hamilton, a base-stealing machine from a tiny Mississippi town who will be playing shortstop and leading off when the Dragons open their 12th Midwest League campaign tonight at 7 against the Bowling Green Hot Rods.

“I’m ready to get this thing under way. I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep.”

— A Carolina Mudcats preview: David Bell predicts a “special season”.

“I was telling them today, it just has a feel of being a special season here,” Bell said. “It’s the Reds’ last Double-A season here, and it’s going to be a good one.”

Pressed further on the topic, Bell said, “I don’t know. I see it just being a special season, and if that means playing up until close to October and playing in the playoffs, that would be a great experience for these guys. That’s our goal here.”

— And a fresh start in Bakersfield, as the Reds High A team comes to town…

“We come in with expectations to win,” Griffey said. “We’d like to win the first half if not the whole thing. We’ll see how it works out. A lot depends on injuries and how people go up and down. At this level there are a lot of changes on roster spots. We’re just looking at staying consistent and hopefully we can come out of this place with a championship.”

— Finally, the Louisville Courier-Journal gives us 5 Questions for the 2011 Louisville Bats.