GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- As Reds Spring Training opened with pitchers and catchers reporting for physicals on Tuesday, new manager David Bell was already be tasked with many responsibilities. But there will be one that looms largest.Following five years out of the postseason, including the past four with more than 90
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- As Reds Spring Training opened with pitchers and catchers reporting for physicals on Tuesday, new manager David Bell was already be tasked with many responsibilities. But there will be one that looms largest.
Following five years out of the postseason, including the past four with more than 90 losses, Bell must restore a culture of winning.
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The front office provided Bell with many of the needed resources for success. The rotation was revamped with three new starters in Sonny Gray, Alex Wood and Tanner Roark, the offense was boosted with outfielders Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp and the club added a reliever in Zach Duke.
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Bell, 46, was able to add an almost all-new coaching staff that included plucking pitching coach Derek Johnson and hitting coach Turner Ward from playoff clubs and assistant coaches who understand the ins and outs of analytics.
The new additions join a core already in place that includes Joey Votto, Eugenio Suárez, Scooter Gennett, Luis Castillo and Jared Hughes, while top prospect Nick Senzel has a legitimate chance to break into the big leagues this season.
"A lot of our projection models and the ones that are publicly available have this being a very tight division right now with a lot of talented teams. We feel like, right now, that we're very comfortably in the mix. It's a good place to be," Reds president of baseball operations Dick Williams said last month.
Pitchers and catchers will hold their first workout on Wednesday. The full squad is scheduled to report for physicals on Sunday and the entire team will work out together on Monday.
That's when all eyes will be fixed on Bell and how he goes about leading a team. He hasn't tipped his hand too much on how he will conduct business. Based on his background, he will likely be merging his old-school background in the game while leaning hard on current methods of using data, video and analytics.
Bell is no stranger to the Reds Player Development Complex in Goodyear, where he spent a few Spring Trainings as a Minor League manager. This is now his first opportunity to manage in the big leagues after an extensive process in which he beat out 11 other candidates. Last season, Bell moved into upper management as the Giants' director of player development. That would prove to be an important step in his preparation for managing in the big leagues.
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"[It was] just the process of valuing players, the process of how important it is to really understand your own players and who you have in the Minor League system, who you have on the Major League team," Bell said in December. "How important it is to [have] all departments to work together -- the front office, player development, scouting. I see that as a great challenge. I also see that as part of my job to help bring that together."
The family name and background experience won't matter to Reds fans or ownership if the team isn't winning under Bell. There is less of a honeymoon period than was afforded to predecessors like Dusty Baker and Bryan Price. Price was not given the same level of talent needed to win that Bell has been handed. An expectation to reach the postseason would be lofty, but not impossible.
Being a factor and turning a corner in the ultra-competitive National League Central is not too much to ask from Bell and the Reds, however. It starts with setting the right tone, and that began in earnest on Tuesday in Arizona.
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.