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Winker's emergence creates 4-man OF rotation

Reds' No. 5 prospect thrived at plate during final two month of 2017 season
MLB.com @m_sheldon

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- With one caveat, Reds manager Bryan Price plans to have four outfielders rotating around the three spots this season. That means someone among Adam Duvall, Scott Schebler, Billy Hamilton or Jesse Winker will sit each game.

"Unless performance dictates otherwise," Price said on Monday. "I think all four of these guys can help us in significant ways."

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- With one caveat, Reds manager Bryan Price plans to have four outfielders rotating around the three spots this season. That means someone among Adam Duvall, Scott Schebler, Billy Hamilton or Jesse Winker will sit each game.

"Unless performance dictates otherwise," Price said on Monday. "I think all four of these guys can help us in significant ways."

Price felt that Winker -- the organization's No. 5 prospect according to MLBPipeline -- is a big leaguer after his performance over the final two months of the 2017 season. The club did not trade one of the other outfielders, hence the rotational system.

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Performance could drive the decision of who plays, but Price didn't believe it would be hard to split the four players' playing time.

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"We know the current strengths and weaknesses of that group of four," Price said. "I will certainly always try to put them in the best position to be successful and to help our ball club. But unless there's reason to do so, I think they all should be playing regularly."

Complicating the maneuvering will be a couple of factors. Price plans to use Duvall only in left field. He was a Gold Glove Award finalist each of the past two seasons.

"To take him off of that position for the convenience of putting someone else over there that doesn't play it as well, doesn't make a great deal of sense," Price said.

Video: Winker on being a part of the Reds' outfield in 2018

Hamilton, of course, will be only be used in center field. Schebler can play all three spots and will be the only outfielder besides Hamilton to get time in center field. Winker can play either corner-outfield spot.

"It's one of those dynamics we just haven't had in several years," Price said. "We haven't had position-player depth to the point where these guys are nipping at the heels for playing time. Jesse's done that. Jesse's pushed himself into this equation."

Winker, 24, batted .298/.375/.529 with seven home runs and 15 RBIs in 47 games.

"That's great to hear. It's awesome," Winker said of Price's opinion. "I feel like last year I did my part to kind of earn that. I feel like that's something you earn."

Video: Top Prospects: Jesse Winker, OF, Reds

Winker played every day in the Minors, so being in a four-man outfield platoon will be a new experience.

"It doesn't bother me," Winker said. "I just look at it as I've got to go help the team win. That's the God's honest truth. I don't have time to put that thought into it. When I'm called upon, I'm going to be ready, whether it's to pinch-hit, whether we rotate. Whatever it is that day, I'm going to be ready for it."

Full squad gets to work

The Reds held their first full-squad workout of Spring Training. During drills, the team practiced some rundowns. Top prospect Nick Senzel -- who is being exposed to different positions in camp -- spent most of the time at shortstop.

Video: Senzel on learning new defensive positions in spring

Hitters won't face pitchers in live batting practice for a couple more days. But with a shortened Spring Training, they will have just one day of seeing pitches before the first Cactus League game on Friday against the Indians.

"The challenge is to get all of our fundamentals in, which we will do," Price said. "We may have to stack a couple of fundamentals on the same day. What the hitters won't have is that 7-8 days, typically, that they have prior to the first at-bat against a game pitcher."

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, Jesse Winker