Bell on Reds in '22: 'Play to our potential, we win'

Manager dishes on outfield breakdown, Greene, DH candidates

March 14th, 2022

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Well before the lockout ended, Reds manager David Bell had already traveled from his home in Cincinnati to his Spring Training residence in Arizona last month to be ready -- just in case.

When the lockout officially ended Thursday, it was well received.

"My son [Gus] jumped up and down and came in, ran and jumped into my arms and we were celebrating,” Bell said Sunday. “Just the relief of ... We love to work. We love to compete together. It's a rhythm of the year. There's some anxiety when you're not able to do what you're used to doing, and so it was a relief more than anything.”

The work of Spring Training has been condensed from the usual seven weeks to 3 1/2 weeks, and Bell and the coaching staff will have to cram a lot into a shorter period.

Cincinnati has jobs open for competition, with the latest being another spot in the rotation after Sonny Gray was traded to the Twins on Sunday morning. Despite that, and other offseason moves made to shed payroll, Bell remained bullish about his club.

“I really believe, [if] we play to our potential, we win. That's how I see it,” Bell said. “I wouldn't say that if I didn't believe it. I'm saying it's based on my knowledge and experience with our players and who we have.”

Bell spoke with reporters about various topics and competitions Sunday.

Who plays right field?
Nick Castellanos exercised an opt-out clause from the final two years of his contract and isn’t expected back as a free agent. The Reds have not signed a right fielder as a replacement.

“We have to see where everyone is,” Bell said. “In fairness, we haven't been able to speak with guys. The obvious is Jesse Winker [for left field]. We have Tyler Naquin, who stepped up and had a good year last year. He's going to get an opportunity to play right field. We have to see where [center fielder] Nick Senzel is. I'm very confident that it's going to be a big year for Nick. And he's healthy, he is here. He looks good. He's ready to go. A good mindset.

“As far as the rest of our outfield, it's going to have to play out a little bit. We have [Aristides] Aquino and [Max] Schrock played out there, and things could change, but for the most part, I would say Wink, Tyler Naquin and Nick Senzel going into this.”

Is Hunter Greene ready to compete for the rotation?
Greene, Cincinnati’s No. 1 prospect (No. 26 overall) according to MLB Pipeline, is in big league camp for the first time.

“We're all excited to see Hunter,” Bell said. “He's healthy. He had a full season last year. Obviously, we know what he's capable of and the kind of person he is, the kind of talent he is. I believe he's ready. This [Gray trade] creates even more of an opportunity for Hunter. Hunter just has to go out and be himself and do his thing. All that'll take care of itself. But we're looking forward to seeing him pitch, seeing where he is.”

How will having a designated hitter be utilized? A full-time DH or multiple players?
Between Mike Moustakas, Eugenio Suárez, Joey Votto, Tyler Stephenson and Winker, the Reds have a few players who could take on the DH role.

“We don't have any players that I consider a DH. We don't have any players that would want to be a full-time DH either,” Bell said. “That's just not how they're wired. But at the same time, I do think that we can -- given the makeup of our team -- use it to our advantage. It might be a little bit more rotational as far as, you know, who's DH-ing, but I think we can do it in a way that keeps guys fresh, keeps guys on the field that gets another bat in the lineup that otherwise wouldn't have. It actually really serves our team well. For our team, I really like it.”

Is Moustakas a DH candidate? Will he prepare for different infield positions?
“I have not seen him. But I know that he is not going to want to be a full-time DH,” Bell said. “We will not have to approach it that way. He may get some time there. But given that he's played multiple positions, it's going to work itself out.”

Will there be a dedicated closer in 2022?
Bell avoided having a single reliever as the closer in 2021 and turned to Michael Lorenzen, Mychal Givens and Lucas Sims -- among others -- for save situations. Lorenzen has departed as a free agent, while Givens remains unsigned.

“I'm not opposed to a closer. There's definitely benefits to having someone that you can slot in that's comfortable pitching in that role,” Bell said. “We're not there yet though, as a team or a staff. We're going to have to let it play out a little bit. I think we have quite a few pitchers that could step into that role.”

Who will be the regular shortstop?
Kyle Farmer
stepped up from a utility role early last season and did a nice job as the regular shortstop. The Reds also have a dynamic young shortstop in Jose Barrero. Barrero got chances at shortstop and center field late last season, but he is expected to only work at shortstop in camp.

“Barrero, we all know what a talented player he is. He's going force the issue somewhere on the field, there's no question,” Bell said. “He's still a young player. It doesn't have to happen Opening Day -- it could. He did play some center field last year. We do consider him a shortstop coming into camp, and we'll just see what happens. If he forces the issue, we'll make a spot for him on the team. But Kyle, everything he did last year offensively, defensively, what he means to our team -- I don't even think that is a question. He's coming in as the shortstop.”