What a perfect way to start the 2014 season with one of the most intense rivalries in baseball today. The Cardinals and Reds will play each other six times of the first nine games to start the season beginning this afternoon at Great American Ball Park.
The Cardinals are the defending National League champions and are one of the favorites to return to the fall classic this season.
They got their ace Adam Wainwright on the mound today and will be opposed by the Reds ace in Johnny Cueto.
This rivalry has always been intense and it all started with the Yadier Molina-Brandon Phillips brawl in 2010. It will be the second time in 20 years, that both teams will play each on opening day.
One of the major storyline that will be a huge focus on the 2014 season for the Reds is new centerfielder and speedster Billy Hamilton, who stole 13 bases in his debut last September and will be leading off this season and playing center field.
”Opening day is big in the minor leagues, but nothing like here,” Hamilton said.
Much of the focus will be on how the Reds handle their injuries. Cincinnati opens the season with eight players on the disabled list. The impact players on the list includes starter Mat Latos, closer Aroldis Chapman and catcher Devin Mesoraco.
It wasn’t a very good spring for Cincinnati. Latos tore cartilage in his left knee while throwing and had surgery the day camp opened. Chapman got hit in the forehead by a line drive and will be out for at least two months. Nobody else on the active roster has significant experience closing games in the majors, so new manager Bryan Price will go with the “closer by committee.”
”It seems like we have caught some bad luck,” Joey Votto said. ”A lot of teams deal with this. It’s very common. I think we’re a resilient team. I think we’re deep in talent and I think we can withstand this.”
The Reds failed to catch St. Louis last season, settling for a wild card. They went to Pittsburgh and lost the one-game playoff, the third time in the last four seasons that Cincinnati couldn’t get past the first round.
Dusty Baker was fired and replaced by Price, a former pitching coach who has helped developed a lot of pitchers, to reach their full potential.
”All we can do is be optimistic going into the season,” Price said. ”We know that we have the bulk of our team intact. We know we have some guys getting healthy and they’re on the way.
”But we can’t lower expectations or we’ll play to those expectations and not be as good as we should be.”
Wainwright went 1-3 in four starts against Cincinnati last season with a 7.77 ERA. In his last two starts against the Reds, he gave up 18 hits and 15 runs in only eight innings. He lasted a career-low two innings in one of those starts. So, this obviously favors the Reds right?
All we know is that, baseball is back!
First pitch at 4:10pm on FSN Ohio, ESPN, or listen to it on 700 WLW.