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Commissioner excited for first Cincy opener

February 19, 2019

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has never been to an Opening Day in Cincinnati. Manfred is excited to experience one for himself, now that he has the honor of being the grand marshal of the 100th Findlay Market Opening Day Parade on March 28."I understand it

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has never been to an Opening Day in Cincinnati. Manfred is excited to experience one for himself, now that he has the honor of being the grand marshal of the 100th Findlay Market Opening Day Parade on March 28.
"I understand it is a great event," Manfred said on Tuesday. "I actually kind of like parades. I'm really looking forward to it."
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It's a big year for Cincinnati as the 2019 season marks the 150th anniversary of the Reds becoming baseball's first professional club. Major League Baseball is celebrating the year, with all its clubs wearing commemorative jersey patches throughout the season.
The Commissioner was asked by Reds CEO Bob Castellini to take part in the festivities.
"I felt it was important," Manfred said. "The Reds have been fantastic about taking the lead on the 150th. It all makes sense to everybody. But I wanted at the very beginning of the year to show that Major League Baseball is 100 percent behind this celebration. When Bob asked, I was more than happy to show up."
The Findlay Market Parade is scheduled to begin at 12 p.m. ET and run through Over-the-Rhine and downtown Cincinnati. At 4:10 p.m. ET, the Reds host the Pirates at Great American Ball Park.
The Reds' anniversary plans include wearing 15 different throwback uniforms from the franchise's history during the season, as well as other celebrations and legacy projects.
"I give the Reds a lot of credit, from a marketing perspective," Manfred said. "Our fans love our athletes, but our fans also love the clubs, the teams. They're attached to those teams. Celebrating the fact that the Reds are such an important part of the beginnings of the greatest game in the world, I think is a really smart strategy for the club."
Gray to start Cactus opener
Manager David Bell has named Sonny Gray as the Reds starting pitcher for their Cactus League opener on Saturday vs. the Indians. Gray is scheduled to pitch one inning and be followed by fellow starter Tanner Roark for one inning.
It would be premature to assume that this means Gray will be Cincinnati's Opening Day starter on March 28 vs. the Pirates.
"D.J.'s been working on this for a few months," Bell said of pitching coach Derek Johnson. "I think it's pretty well thought out but not to that extent."
Sal Romano is scheduled to start Sunday vs. the Angels and Alex Wood is slated to pitch Monday vs. the Mariners.

Some pitchers to get stretched out
Romano, Michael Lorenzen, Tyler Mahle, Cody Reed, Brandon Finnegan and Robert Stephenson will get a starter's workload of innings in camp even if they aren't expected to be in the starting rotation.
"[It's] to give them the innings that they need and build them up to a point where they can slide into any role depending on how the rotation shakes out," Bell said. "There's the obvious guys that are on track to be starters, but the group that we've talked about is going to be built up to probably three or four innings to go either way."
There are some starting pitchers in camp who will be prepared so they can start the regular season in Triple-A Louisville.
"Some of these guys, they could make the team as relievers. I would say Tyler is like [big league] rotation or Triple-A rotation," Reds president of baseball operations Dick Williams said.
Stephenson still held back
Stephenson has been dealing with right shoulder inflammation that has limited him during the first week of workouts.
"I think he's real close to being back on a normal routine," Bell said.
Stephenson's efforts to make the team are different than other pitchers' because he is out of Minor League options. The club can't send him down without exposing him to waivers first.
"I don't know about a wrinkle. He either makes the team or we have limited courses of action," Williams said.

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.