Browning, Soto guest instructors
By Marc Lancaster
Post staff reporter
The inspiration came from Johnny Bench - or, more specifically, the reaction to Johnny Bench.
Every year, the Hall of Fame catcher pays a visit to Reds spring training, and in the words of general manager Dan O'Brien, "heads turn." Major league and minor league players alike respond to Bench's presence and the advice he offers, whether in a group pep talk or one-on-one instruction.
With that in mind, the pitching-poor Reds are summoning two successful hurlers from their past to Sarasota this year, hoping Mario Soto and Tom Browning will make a similar impact in a more structured role. The two former All-Stars will serve as guest instructors during spring training, providing specialized guidance to the current crop of arms. Soto, for instance, will focus on how he used his legendary changeup.
"Obviously a number of guys have shared with us that they've been able to pick up bits and pieces from Johnny that they find valuable," said O'Brien. "All we're trying to do is bring in other past Reds that we think have something to offer from a coaching point of view."
Soto already works for the Reds as a pitching instructor at their academy in the Dominican Republic. Browning, the top vote-getter in this year's Reds Hall of Fame class, is not employed by the organization but has maintained an active role in the community.