Reds Caravan connects club's bright future with encouraging present

January 23rd, 2023
Photo credit: Reds Twitter

CINCINNATI -- As the club hit the road to meet fans from near and far in Monday's kickoff of the Reds Caravan, they tried to balance two almost competing themes. The rebuilding club wanted to talk up its bright future while ensuring people weren't overlooking the present.

That is not an easy task, especially since the Reds finished 62-100 in 2022.

"It’s not easy. We’re not asking for it to be easy. We love the challenge of it," manager David Bell said.

The last time there was a caravan was in 2020 -- before the health restrictions stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic -- and at that point the Reds could tout five free agent signings, including Nick Castellanos, Mike Moustakas and Shogo Akiyama.

On this year's trips across four states, however, the younger players and prospects are clearly front and center.

“It will be really good to get out and be on the Caravan again," Reds general manager Nick Krall said. "Just to be on the road and getting to see fans in a lot of different places is great. For us the last couple of years, it’s bringing young players up here, trying to build sustainability with our Major League club, building through our player development and scouting system.”

Before setting out, the Reds held a Caravan kickoff event inside the home clubhouse at Great American Ball Park where more than 100 fans -- all season-ticket holders -- attended. They were able to take pictures, get autographs and talk to Bell, Krall, shortstop Jose Barrero and outfield prospect Austin Hendrick. Former pitcher also was on hand, but he isn't going on the road.

Scheduled to be at other stops are 2022 first-round pick Cam Collier, infielder , outfielder and infielder .

While the fans in the room seemed upbeat, Krall realizes there has been lingering fan frustration overall. As Spring Training opened last year, the Reds cut payroll and traded several star players, including Jesse Winker, Eugenio Suárez and Sonny Gray. More players departed around last summer's Trade Deadline, such as Luis Castillo, Tyler Mahle and Brandon Drury.

“This is only the second year we’ve actually been in [a rebuild]," Krall said. "We made the playoffs in 2020. In the new format, we would have made the playoffs in '21 and we were in it until the end. Obviously, we tore it down. We traded some players off last year. It’s something we need to go through. We’re trying to build it back up.”

Currently in the final season of his two-year contract, Bell can only focus on the present and on trying to get the most out of the roster he's given.

That 26-man squad should have some noteworthy players. The starting rotation is led by rising stars , and . There is also second baseman and 2021 National League Rookie of the Year , as well as catcher Tyler Stephenson -- both healthy after injuries marred their '22 seasons.

"I love the goal of having a sustainable team. Nobody wants to win and then never win again," Bell said. "I think having the goal to build something and win every year, ultimately, that’s what you are trying to do. For me, our staff and our players, you can’t look at it any other way than going out and trying to win this year. If you’re not thinking that way, that’s tough. There is a lot that we know about our team that we’re excited about. A lot has to come together.

"We all have to be the best we can be, but when that happens and things start going right, you start building momentum, amazing things can happen with a team. I’ve seen it. That’s our goal is to do everything we can to help our team come together. We have a lot of work to do in Spring Training."

The Reds opened the 2022 season a franchise-worst 3-22 record. Getting off to a better start will be a major focus to build the momentum Bell is seeking.

"Last year, I learned as much as guys tried to become a team, there was so much change. We didn’t become a team until a month or two into the season," Bell said. "Our players tried, our coaches tried, but it just didn’t happen. Looking back, it’s something we learned from. We’re going to make that a priority. We have to find a way to become a team in Spring Training and take that into the season."

Reds Caravan has four separate legs traveling through Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and West Virginia and it will run through Saturday. For more details, go to