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Gennett has happy homecoming with big blast

Ohio native goes 1-for-2 in first Opening Day with Reds
MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- An area native who lived in nearby Lebanon, Ohio, until he was nine years old, Reds infielder Scooter Gennett has experienced the fun of Opening Day in Cincinnati. But Gennett was a little hazy on his memories.

"I was like 6 or 7. It was obviously a good experience," Gennett said following the Reds' 4-3 loss to the Phillies in their opener on Monday. "The streets shut down and stuff like that. It was pretty unique. I only remember Schottzie, Marge [Schott's] dog and the Naked Cowboy guy with the tighty whiteys playing guitar."

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CINCINNATI -- An area native who lived in nearby Lebanon, Ohio, until he was nine years old, Reds infielder Scooter Gennett has experienced the fun of Opening Day in Cincinnati. But Gennett was a little hazy on his memories.

"I was like 6 or 7. It was obviously a good experience," Gennett said following the Reds' 4-3 loss to the Phillies in their opener on Monday. "The streets shut down and stuff like that. It was pretty unique. I only remember Schottzie, Marge [Schott's] dog and the Naked Cowboy guy with the tighty whiteys playing guitar."

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Now a member of the club after being claimed off of waivers from the Brewers on March 28, Opening Day with the Reds was all set to be special for Gennett whether he played or not. Despite the defeat, he made it more memorable while also tightening the game with a two-run home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning against closer Jeanmar Gomez.

With Scott Schebler on second base, Gennett lifted a 1-0 sinker that carried a projected 369 feet and into the first couple of rows of seats beyond the left-field wall.

"He's more of a finesse-type guy," Gennett said of Gomez. "I was just trying to see something out over the plate. He tends to work lefties away."

The Reds could not keep the game alive as Billy Hamilton flied out to end it and give Gomez the save. Until Gennett's homer, the Reds were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

"Gomez had his issues there, but he held on," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said.

Gennett entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning, and with Tucker Barnhart on first base, he scorched a line drive near first base right into the glove of Tommy Joseph. Barnhart was too far off of the bag and was tagged out for the double play.

Video: PHI@CIN: Joseph doubles up Barnhart with diving play

The day after he was claimed, Gennett also hit a homer in his first and only Cactus League game with the Reds.

"Lately I've been squaring up some balls," Gennett said. "I feel pretty good, really. It's trying to tone things down a little bit, and not try to do too much. It's the type of game where you start doing those things, it can be a quick downhill effect."

Gennett moved with his family from Ohio to Sarasota, Fla., but he returned to Cincinnati at 17 to play travel baseball. When with the Brewers, he had some nice games against his hometown team. He came in as a career .295 hitter vs. the Reds, with all five homers against them coming at Great American Ball Park.

"He did a really nice job today," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "He told me he really likes hitting here. We didn't know that coming in when we made the claim. [The homer] was an impressive at-bat. We're tickled to have him. He's going to help us."

Gennett wasn't too celebratory because his homer came during a loss.

"It's about winning. I can't say I'm happy because we didn't win," Gennett said. "It's crazy how things work. My first home run here and my first game as a Red here, it's special. I probably have 25-30 family members in the stands. For them, it was probably pretty cool too."

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.

 

Cincinnati Reds, Scooter Gennett