On Monday afternoon Cincinnati Reds general manager Nick Krall spoke with the media before the team heads out to Goodyear, Arizona to begin spring training. There were more than a few topics discussed, and some were more important than others. Here’s what he had to say:
On the signing of reliever Sean Doolittle and what drew the team towards him:
“Sean’s been a good closer in the big leagues for a long time,” said Krall. “For us, he comes in with a track record of doing that. He got hurt last year, struggled at the beginning of last year. He came back and pitched well at the end of last season. But I think we’re going to come in and be open minded to how we could use everybody and be open minded to what guys can do.”
“Sean’s been a very quality major league reliever for a long time. Good veteran presence in the clubhouse. We feel he’ll fit in really well with this group of guys and he’s got a chance to pitch in the back of this bullpen, that’s first and foremost.”
On the signing of Dee Strange-Gordon:
“We’ve got a handful of guys competing for the shortstop position at this point,” Krall said. “Dee hasn’t really played there consistently since 2013, so he’s going to come in and compete for a utility role. Probably get some shots at shortstop and see where he is there, but he’s probably going to play all over the field as well.”
This would seem to suggest that shortstop isn’t a spot that Dee Strange-Gordon is likely to get much time at and that he’s not really being looked at as a possibility for the starting shortstop spot on the team. But if you wanted more to back up that assertion, see the next quote about the shortstop position as it stands.
The shortstop position and how it looks right now:
“Kyle Farmer was a solid shortstop,” said Krall. “He did a good job, especially hitting left-handed pitching last year. Kyle Holder’s a guy who, left handed hitter, plays good defense. I think we’re going to do what we can with that group, and they’re going to compete for that spot and that’s who we have right now. I do believe in those guys. Jose Garcia’s got a lot of tools, and really can make a difference. It’s just making sure he puts everything together and becomes the player he needs to be.”
Who is heading to Goodyear prepared to be a starting pitcher:
“Right now it’s Luis (Castillo), Sonny (Gray), and Tyler Mahle are probably the first three starters,” said Krall. “Then you’ve got Wade Miley who’s been a starter his whole career, Michael Lorenzen, Tejay Antone, José De León , Jeff Hoffman are probably the guys you’re looking at that come in to compete for those last couple of spots. That’s probably where we are right now.”
This is interesting. Many of us, myself included, seem to have assumed that Wade Miley would have had the 4th spot in the rotation locked up if he was healthy and didn’t have just a disastrous spring training. Krall, though, seems to have him lumped in with Lorenzen, Antone, De León, and Hoffman as competing for one of the final two spots. There’s nothing wrong with that – give those spots to the two best guys. But it is a bit surprising, at least to me, that he’s not seemingly as locked into that 4th spot.
Lucas Sims and Brandon Bailey are a bit behind other pitchers:
“Sims is a little delayed with where he is,” said Krall. “Brandon Bailey is probably the one who is delayed, but we’re expecting everyone to be healthy at some point in spring training. (Sims) had some elbow tightness this offseason.”
Lucas Sims was sure to clarify, via twitter, that “it was precautionary and I’ll be ready for opening day. All good!”
Negotiating and talking with Trevor Bauer in the offseason:
“We talked with him throughout the offseason to keep tabs on him,” Krall said. “We weren’t in that range and we kind of knew it sooner rather than later. We did keep tabs to kind of see where it went. You never know what’s going to happen throughout the offseason.”
Still unsure on all of the spring training protocols with regards to player numbers:
“I think right now we’ve got 65-66 guys that are penciled into camp with regards to Major League/Minor League camp and what we’re trying to do and we’re still trying to work through that with the protocols coming,” said Krall. “With that said we’re trying to figure out if we can add more quality guys to this camp and more quality guys to this mix and see what happens.”
“Right now we’ve got some guys that we’re bringing in that we are waiting to get the protocols before we determine exactly how many and who, but yeah, we’re going to have some prospects in camp as well. I do not know the cap and it’s a lot of hearsay on what the cap is going to be. So we’re just planning on where the group is for right now. And if we add or subtract we’re going to have to go from there.”
This is interesting to read. Spring training starts in a week-and-a-half when pitchers and catchers report but teams still don’t quite know how many players can be in camp due to the health and safety protocols that are going to be set. While we are going to be getting a full season in 2021 as opposed to 2020, we are still going to have some weird aspects of the game this year.
We’ve seen that minor league spring training is going to be delayed due to this. Sort of, at least. You’ll note that Krall said Major League/Minor League camp in his quote above. Last reported, Triple-A and Major League Baseball would have a camp that followed the same timeline. That allows the team at the big league level have backups ready to go in case of injury/performance issues early in the season. But the Double-A, Advanced-A, and Low-A levels aren’t expected to begin spring training until the Major League and Triple-A spring training is over. That will set up a situation where there are fewer people at the facility at once, allowing for there to be easier following of protocols and lessen the chance of any team spread of COVID-19.