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Reds benefiting from sticking around in offseason

Greater Cincinnati residents able to work out at ballpark, with team staff members

CINCINNATI -- Once commonplace and now a complete rarity for several years amongst the Reds, some players haven't decamped from Cincinnati for the winter for preferred locales that are warmer, their hometowns, or both.

For them, they don't just play here, but live here too -- year-round.

"Last offseason, I stayed here also. I rented last offseason," said Reds reliever Sam LeCure, who recently purchased a home in Greater Cincinnati.

Besides LeCure, fellow relievers J.J. Hoover and Logan Ondrusek have become full-time residents in Cincinnati. Second baseman Brandon Phillips, also a local homeowner, has spent much of the winter between both Cincinnati and his native Atlanta area. Starting pitcher Mat Latos and his wife, Dallas, bought a suburban home during the season and have spent part of the offseason staying there.

Reds general manager Walt Jocketty thinks it's great to have players sticking around during the offseason.

"I think it's encouraging," Jocketty said. "They obviously enjoy the community and being there year-round. It's nice to have them stop by once in a while. I'm sure our business side likes having them there from time to time."

Some of the motivations for players staying in town were personal.

"In all honesty, my girlfriend is here and I wanted to be close to her," Hoover said.

But there is no denying the professional benefits of the players having an offseason workout facility with all the bells and whistles at Great American Ball Park.

"It's a big plus I can work out at the stadium and see Logan, Sam and Mat on occasion," noted Hoover, who lives about 15 minutes from the ballpark.

"It's good to be around those guys at the ballpark and be comfortable and not have to go to Lifetime Fitness and not have all the things you typically have," LeCure said.

When players work out in the Reds' facility, they also get easy access to Reds staff members. Assistant trainers Steve Baumann and Tomas Vera also live in Cincinnati and are at the ballpark to monitor workouts and provide treatment when needed.

Until leaving for a similar job with the Yankees last week, strength and conditioning coordinator Matt Krause could do likewise. The Reds are now seeking a replacement for Krause.

Before the season ended, Krause and the trainers designed specific workout programs for the entire Reds roster.

"They've actually got me on a more strict shoulder program this year, which will help me," Hoover said.

Reds manager Bryan Price wouldn't mind if more players chose to remain in Cincinnati after a season ends. That way the club would know exactly what each player was doing for offseason preparation.

When Hoover, LeCure, Ondrusek, Phillips and Latos are at the stadium, the Reds have just that.

"We have a much better gauge on what they're ready to do and if they've really done what we've expected them to do in preparation for Spring Training," Price said. "The last thing you want to do is have an injury in Spring Training because a guy wasn't ready to do something. There's not going to be any secrets with those kids coming out of Cincinnati."

That transparency extends between the players as well. It's easier to know what a teammate has done with his winter when they're on a weight machine or exercise bike a few feet away, rather than hundreds, or even thousands of miles.

"J.J. and Logan and I are together a lot in the bullpen during the season," LeCure said. "Having those guys there, you're able to look people in the face and understand the type of work that they did. You're more willing to give them the benefit of the doubt when they struggle. You know it wasn't because they didn't work hard. I will always take somebody that worked."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon.

Cincinnati Reds