By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
12/15/09 4:50 PM EST
CINCINNATI -- Since he was named the Reds' new pitching coach in mid-October, Bryan Price has immersed himself in getting to know his pitchers.
Price has made phone calls. He has watched video of them in action. He's watched the Arizona Fall League and made sure he introduced himself to starters and relievers recently at Redsfest.
"We haven't gotten too much into the baseball stuff, just informal introductions," Price said. "As we get into January, we'll have a better idea about Spring Training and how it's going to run and what the expectations are."
As for the makeup of his staff and evaluating the hand he's been dealt, Price is not forming any preconceptions.
"Most of these guys I only know on paper," Price said. "We played them so few times, about six times a year when I was in Arizona, and I didn't see them at all this year. I think it's a good thing. I have to have my own fresh perspective on guys. A lot of the staff here and the front office will have established relationships with players. I will be able to come in and make up my own mind. I'd really like to formulate an opinion I've established by myself. I look forward to that.
"Until guys get on the field and work out -- I can watch video I have -- but you have to watch guys perform in person to get a really good feel for them."
Price, 47, has 10 years of experience as a Major League pitching coach. He was with the Mariners from 2000-05 and followed manager Bob Melvin to the D-backs from 2006-09. When Melvin was let go by Arizona in May, Price resigned as a show of loyalty to his manager.
When the Reds dismissed pitching coach Dick Pole at the end of the season, Price was named as a replacement a couple of weeks later.
"He's very proactive," general manager Walt Jocketty said of Price. "He wants to know what the young guys are doing in winter ball. He's working on offseason programs for the guys."
The only pitcher on the Reds' staff personally familiar with Price is Micah Owings, who was with the D-backs from 2007-08.
"First off, BP is a great guy," Owings said. "I got to know him for two years. He was great to work with. He comes prepared, works hard and is really involved with the scouting reports. Personally, he helped me. It was my first time in [the Majors] as a rookie. He pushed me and helped me be prepared for each game. He's an easy guy to relate with, too."
Owings' reviews aside, Price realized he will have to spend the early weeks of the 2010 season trying to earn the confidence of his pitchers.
"Guys at this level don't automatically trust coaches," Price said. "They anticipate that a new guy is coming in and wants to make changes and things of that nature. That's not really my MO. I want to get to know them and at Spring Training, build some trust and maybe they'll be a little more open to suggestions I have along the way."
A resident of Scottsdale, Ariz., Price was able to watch Reds pitching prospects in the Arizona Fall League. He saw 2009 first-round Draft pick Mike Leake, as well as Brad Boxberger and Logan Ondrusek.
"Even though Leake was at ASU, I never saw him until the Fall League," Price said. "As much as people talk about him being a command guy, he's got good stuff. He's got plenty of velocity, movement and deception. He's got two good breaking balls and a changeup. It seems like he's a good athlete on the mound and he's got intangibles, which is the most important. He's got a feel for hitters and making adjustments. He was very impressive in the two starts I saw.
"I wouldn't put a timetable on him. Really, it's just polish on a guy that is already pretty polished. It's a matter of him getting innings under his belt."
Price is inheriting a Reds pitching staff that is in better shape than in years past. The rotation finished ninth in the National League last season with a 4.50 ERA and is returning with 15-game winner Bronson Arroyo and two young, decent starters in Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey. The bullpen ranked third in the NL with a 3.53 ERA and is expected to have all of its principle relievers back.
What can Reds pitchers understand about Price's philosophy now that he is in charge?
"You have to be in good shape, professional athlete shape," Price said. "You have to be on the field prepared. You have to be able to compete and be a good teammate. Those are the four basic expectations for guys. I don't think any of those things are hard if this is what you want to do for a living. I don't follow these guys around wondering what they're doing and getting into everybody's business."