My wife, middle daughter and I attended the Reds Winter Caravan stop in Indianapolis tonight and I thought I'd give a report for anyone who might be interested.
The Indy stop was at Jonathon Byrds Banquet Hall in Greenwood from 7-9pm. There were about 300 people in attendance, which, I think, they were really pleased with. The caravan group was a bit delayed arriving from their previous stop in Muncie, IN. Thom Brennaman said it was due to a great turnout and wanting to stick around and sign autographs for all those in attendance.
The Reds representatives were Thom Brennaman, Phil Castellini, Jerry Narron, Todd Coffey, Tom Browning, and Chris Dickerson. In their introductory remarks, Thom and Phil both expressed how thrilled they have been with the turn out at each of the stops so far. They really expressed a strong desire to reconnect with the Indianapolis fan base and do more to draw fans from Indy over to Cincy. They stressed that it took the entire Tri-State to support the Reds because Cincy couldn't do it alone.
After the opening remarks they through it open to the floor for questions. I have to admit that I kinda cringed because I was almost expecting it to turn into "Banana Phone Live" at that point. But, it didn't...the questions were really quite well thought out - I'll share a few of the highlights.
A couple of questions went to Tom Browning about his perfect game and also whether he really snuck out of the Wrigley Field bullpen and over to the rooftops across the street. Tom shared his thoughts (remembered the last out was a strikeout of Tracy Woodson on a 2-2 fastball) and fessed up to sneaking out and getting a $1000 fine because of it.
Jerry is really excited to have Josh Hamilton coming to camp. As reported, he's been working with him a couple times a week. Said he's working off the rust, but is still super talented and could make the team.
concerning Majewski - Phil C. said that the grievance is filed, but they really aren't expecting much to come of it. When asked about Majik's health, Jerry said he claimed to be 100% already the end of last season, but that they had given him a strength workout regimen for the off-season and he was waiting to see how he looked when he got to camp.
When asked about the bullpen situation, Jerry said that they obviously don't have a prototype closer, but barring the team doing something before Spring Training, would go in with Weathers and Stanton closing, and Bray and Coffey as the main set up guys out of the pen. As for the rotation, he said Harang and Arroyo were 1-2 with Lohse and Milton 3-4 and open competition for #5 among Saarloos, Elizardo, and Belisle. he said Homer would get a good look in Spring Training, but the last thing they wanted to do was wreck him by rushing it if he weren't ready. It was clear that whether he made the team depended totally on how he performed.
Another question was when Bailey made the team if he would start in Bullpen or the Rotation. Jerry said he was confident Homer could be another Papelbon if he pitched from the bullpen, but that since Homer had never pitched relief before that he expected when he was ready, he'd be in the rotation.
Jerry stated his desire for the team to improve defensively, and in moving runners around the bases (not just station to station). he said they've been working on this through the draft the past couple of years, drafting guys who are versatile in the field and guys who are good on the basepaths. He gave some props to Dickerson on his baserunning skills. He also feels like middle infield defense will be solid this year with Alex Gonzalez and Brandon Phillips and that they are capable of winning Gold Gloves.
Narron talked about how it was great to play meaningful games in Sept. last year and he hoped the young guys had learned from it. He also said that since they'd handled the Cards during the regular season last year that this should give more confidence going into this year. He also liked having the World Series experience of Gonzalez and Conine on the team and that this would be good for the clubhouse.
Regarding Junior's status - he's healing and is still saying he will be ready for Spring training. There was a question about what position he'd be playing. Narron acknowledged that there was discussion about him moving to RF, but that it wasn't as easy as you think to move positions like that after playing CF your entire career. The main objective is to keep Jr. healthy and on the field. Jerry said he would probably open in CF in Spring Training , but that they'd see what happens as S.T. progressed.
Last but not least a question came in about Dunn's status. Jerry said he's still with the team and he expects he'll hit 40 HRs and probably strike out 180 times this year. He was laughing when he made the strikeout remark - he said he knew this is a big point of debate for people. Jerry said that he was glad to have Dunn and that Adam was one of those guys that scares the other team when he comes to bat, because they know what he is capable of.
I knnow there was lots of other stuff, but it's late and my brain is turning to mush. If there are any questions, I'll be glad to elaborate or give further insight......after I get some shut eye!
Overall it was a great night - gave me a little dose of Red's basball to hopefully hold me over until Spring Training starts!