LOS ANGELES – For the first time in David Bell’s four seasons as manager, the Cincinnati Reds are using the opener as a promotion strategy.
Luis Sesa will kick off the series’ opening game Thursday against the Los Angeles Dodgers as the previously scheduled starter is expected to follow River Sanmartin Sesa out of the game at some point. Cessa, who has played 19 games for the New York Yankees, hasn’t thrown more than 35 picnic throws since the start of spring training, so he’s limited to a maximum of three runs.
We’ll have a nice lounging chair behind Sesa,” Bell said. “He was the right guy to do it. He came up with a lot of different positions and roles. There was no hesitation.”
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The Reds didn’t finalize their decision to use the opener until Wednesday’s loss to the Cleveland Guardians. Bale said he wouldn’t have stopped Cessa from betting if there was a position to use for the 7-3 loss.
Bale has always kept an open mind toward editorials since becoming more popular across the league in 2019. The Tampa Bay Rays are the team most associated with strategy. The Reds’ shooting coach Derek Johnson used it during the 2018 playoffs with left-footed Wade Miley facing just one hit in Game Five of the National League Championship against the Dodgers.
“We talked about it a lot, but we never did,” Bell said. “We’ve had guys in the past who just started out and had a track record of success as rookies. We’ve come a few times close to doing it, but such strength for our team as well, we’ve never really messed with it. With some of the guys we have now, after taking on multiple roles, it’s become Easier this time.
The three-stroke minimum rule means right-hand Cessa will face the top of the Dodgers lineup, which has been Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman and Trea Turner in the first five matches. Using Cessa won’t give the Reds a faction advantage, but the strategy means Sanmartin, a soft left-winger, won’t have to face the top of the squad very often.
Sanmartin, 25, has only made three major league games, but has been tougher against left-handed hitters throughout his minor league career. In two MLB games against the Pirates and one against Atlanta, the left fights 0.182 against Sanmartin while the right has a batting rate of 0.375 against him.
“To be able to get Cess, who has put in a really good show, maybe for once in the standings, pick the place to bring him – if it’s Reiver, we can find the place for their lineup to bring him in and then let him throw,” Bale said. “Let him go as deep as he can. We have a big comfortable base, and plenty of right sedation behind Reiver.”
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The Reds will miss Sesa in the back for at least one game, but they have Tony Santillan, Art Warren, Hunter Strickland and Justin Wilson to cover the late innings.
slow start? The Reds have the fourth-lowest hitting average (.198), the fourth-lowest on base (.268) and the sixth-lowest batting average (.318) in the Majors during the first week of the season.
Tommy Pham, who missed Wednesday’s game with a left hand injury, was unhurt in his first 15 rackets. Aristides Aquino has nine hits in 13 bats. Mike Mustakas and Nick Senzel both hit two strokes on 17 beats.
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Tyler Naquin and Kyle Farmer are the only Reds hitters to hit more than five hits.
“It’s not too early yet,” Bell said. “The start is like the first month or two. We feel good about it. We had a really good show. We loved how we came back. It’s really not fair to think about that yet.”
Rehabilitation trips: Left-handed player Mike Minor didn’t participate in any of the spring practice games, and had a rough outing to begin his rehab job at Double-A Chattanooga.
Slight allowed six runs on five hits (two house brows) and walks in 1 and 2/3 innings while hitting one. He threw 45 throws and 23 hits.
The Reds hope to have Minor ready to return to the Majors before the end of April. He’s late to spring training with a sore shoulder, so he’s building his roles again.
Lucas Sims, the Reds’ assistant, who could return as early as April 22 when the Reds return to Cincinnati for their next home, allowed Homer on his first outing on a rehab assignment in Triple-A Louisville. Sims threw 12 throws, and crossed out one hit.
Youtube game: The Reds already had games scheduled to air on Bally Sports Ohio, ESPN, AppleTV+, Peacock and FOX this year, and now YouTube is back in the mix.
YouTube will exclusively broadcast the Reds’ home game against Milwaukee on Wednesday, May 11 at 12:35pm, with Scott Brown set to be the stage announcer and ex-Reds player Yonder Alonso as the color commentator. MLB Network’s Siera Santos will host a 30-minute pre-match show.
Red Scout Trails: Reds scout supervisor Jeff Brookins died Wednesday in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, after battling pancreatic cancer. He was 69 years old.
Brookens was honored last season for being the MLB East Coast Scout of the Year. He spent nearly 18 years at the Reds and signed several Premier League players including Devin Misurako and Chris Hesse, along with top Reds favorites Austin Hendrick and Andrew Abbott.
Known as “Brookie”, he was the 2020 Barton Scout of the Reds and the 2011 Mid-Atlantic Scouts Award. He has been inducted into the Pennsylvania American Baseball Hall of Fame and the Mid-Atlantic Scouts Association Hall of Fame.
Brookins has also been a football and basketball referee for more than three decades.