CINCINNATI -- New Reds manager David Bell now has a freshly completed coaching staff. As Redsfest got underway on Friday at Duke Energy Convention Center, he started the next step of introducing himself to his players and to the fans.What comes after that? Lots of planning and preparation for 2019."We
CINCINNATI -- New Reds manager David Bell now has a freshly completed coaching staff. As Redsfest got underway on Friday at Duke Energy Convention Center, he started the next step of introducing himself to his players and to the fans.
What comes after that? Lots of planning and preparation for 2019.
"We finally got together for the first time as a staff today, which was nice," Bell said. "The last two days have been great, just seeing some players and seeing some faces. We kind of just hung out in the clubhouse as guys came through. It's really been the two best days on the job so far, seeing those guys."
There really is no message Bell will try to impart to the players this weekend.
"It's more just making a connection and talking and getting to know them," Bell said. "At this point, I'm just trying to get to know everybody. We get in-depth a little bit. Right now, it's just building relationships and saying hi to guys."
Bell -- who grew up in Cincinnati, is a third-generation Major Leaguer and was the Giants' vice president of player development last season -- was hired on Oct. 21 to be the Reds' new manager. In the weeks since, his coaching staff has come together slowly. First, pitching coach Derek Johnson was plucked from the Brewers, then hitting coach Turner Ward arrived from the Dodgers.
On Nov. 19, J.R. House became the third-base and catching coach, while Donnie Ecker was named assistant hitting coach. On Wednesday, former first-base coach Freddie Benavides took over as bench coach, with Delino DeShields named first-base coach. Lee Tunnell became the bullpen coach, and Jeff Pickler the game planning and outfield coach.
Most of the players met Bell and the coaches for the first time while backstage moments before the team was introduced to the fans.
The first impressions were positive.
"You can tell he has a presence about him that we really need in the dugout," Reds outfielder Scott Schebler said about Bell. "His coaching staff speaks for itself, with their records. It's just an exciting time. You can tell the fans have a little more pep in their step. It's a fun time being a Red."
Third baseman Eugenio Suarez, who got one of the loudest ovations from the Redsfest crowd, also enjoyed the opportunity to meet the staff.
"We've got good talent. Now we've got a new staff. I feel like this young group will be really good next year," Suarez said. "I talked to him a little bit, David, the hitting coach and everybody. They've got a good idea for next year."
The Reds are coming off of a 67-95 season under managers Bryan Price and Jim Riggleman, their fourth straight season of at least 94 losses. The front office, which was bold in luring away Johnson and Bell from 2018 postseason teams, wants to be just as aggressive in adding to the roster.
Cincinnati is seeking starting pitchers, and as of Friday, a new center fielder after Billy Hamilton was not tendered a contract for 2019.
"I've been engaged. I've been included in discussions," Bell said. "I've done a lot of listening because it helps my knowledge base of the organization as we talk through everything. I've been included in a lot in the front office, which has been great. There's definitely been discussions, as you guys know. It's definitely ongoing. I love our team, but we also know it's the way the game works, especially this time of year going into the Winter Meetings."
Bell's first foray with the fans came on Thursday during a two-hour question-and-answer session with season-ticket holders. There will be much more fan interactions throughout the weekend.
"Last night was great. A lot of great questions. It really showed their knowledge of the team, and that was fun. A good warm-up session," Bell said. "Of all the teams I've been with, I've never seen anything like this. This is very unique. It says a lot about the fanbase."
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.