CINCINNATI -- As the busses warmed up outside on a chilly Thursday morning for the start of 2018 Reds Caravan, the group realized the patience it has preached to fans out on the road in recent years won't be as bountiful after four straight losing seasons.
Talking about rebuilding has a shelf life, and the Reds know that time has expired. They prefer to talk about winning and it being more realistic due to having the right players in place. The 2018 season will be about progress.
"It's very important," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "You can only ask your fan base to be patient for so long. I think because we have an educated group, they understand when you're bringing up a very young team -- not just from a pitching standpoint but position-wise -- you can't expect them all to have these huge debuts where they just simply come up and perform here like big leaguers.
• 2018 Reds Caravan
"That being said, we've struggled to be competitive since the second half of 2014. That's a fair amount of time to ask our fan base to wait. I think we're going to see a lot of improvement, as far as wins and losses. We need to see that. We need to make a real commitment to lock in and win way more games. I think we have the talent to do it, and I think we need to be accountable for that."
Short of adding reliever Jared Hughes and pitching swing man Vance Worley, the Reds have not been active with offseason additions after a second straight 68-94 season in 2017. Price, general manager Dick Williams and the club are banking strongly on the healthy returns of starting pitchers Anthony DeSclafani, Homer Bailey and Brandon Finnegan and the advancement of their cadre of young pitchers such as Luis Castillo, Amir Garrett, Sal Romano and others.
Romano, Garrett and Cody Reed were among the pitchers taking part in Caravan.
"There's an awful lot of reason to believe we've finally got there," Price said. "The young guys will continue to work hard to get confidence and consistency at this level. Having the stabilizing factor of some of our more experienced pitchers will certainly benefit all of us."
The Reds Caravan's four busses departed the team's Hall of Fame amid frigid temperatures to begin a four-day, five-state journey that will cover a combined 3,800 miles.
Reds CEO Bob Castellini always carries an optimistic message, but seemed particularly bullish about his team heading into the new season.
"I'm saying that we're definitely cautiously optimistic," Castellini said during his prepared remarks. "We have a very good squad. I'll just give you two words about the '18 season: stay tuned."
Reds left fielder Adam Duvall is with the Caravan on Thursday only and will wrap up the day with a fan stop in his hometown of Louisville, Ky. Duvall was happy to spread the positive vibe the club feels to help get fans ready for the upcoming season.
"We're coming in healthy this spring, that's a big deal," Duvall said. "To get some pitching back and obviously for the hitters to be healthy and stay healthy is important. There is a buzz. We've got some young guys ready to compete for some spots."