It’s unclear whether Jose Reyes will be able to make Opening Day — for what it’s worth I agree with the Post’s Joel Sherman that it would be folly to push him simply to make Opening Day — but when he does return, Jerry Manuel says he’s likely to bat leadoff. This is a reversal of earlier plans to move Reyes down to the three spot while Carlos Beltran is out. By putting Reyes back at the top of the order, Angel Pagan is likely to move way down — like to sixth or seventh — with Luis Castillo hitting second, David Wright third and Jason Bay cleanup.
The article says the change is because Reyes won’t have time to “to get comfortable hitting in more of a power spot” with which he is unaccustomed. I don’t pretend to know more about lineup construction than Jerry Manuel does, but apart from stealing less, is batting third that terribly different from leading off? Reyes doesn’t become a different hitter simply because he’s batting third. He doesn’t gain power. Hopefully he’s trying to get good pitches and drive the ball no matter where he hits. What, exactly, is there to become accustomed to?
We’ve poked fun often at the spring training trope of players showing up to camp in the “best shape of [their] life.” Reds first baseman Joey Votto has turned that entirely on its head. Talking about his offseason, the 2010 NL MVP said, “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently. We did all the testing and I am fatter,” Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto, of course, wasn’t trying to say he’s not in shape; he was just using some of his trademark self-deprecating humor.
Votto did get serious when discussing the state of the rebuilding Reds. As Buchanan also reported, Votto said, “I think we’re starting to get to the point where people are starting to get tired of this stretch of ball. I think something needs to start changing and start going in a different direction. I’m going to do my part to help make that change.”
Votto, 34, is under contract with the Reds through at least 2023, so he still has plenty of incentive to help see the rebuild through. He has been nothing short of stellar over the last three seasons. This past season, he hit .320/.454/.578 with 36 home runs, 100 RBI, and 106 runs scored in 707 appearances across all 162 games. Votto led the majors in walks (134) and on-base percentage and led the National League in OPS (1.032).
Despite Votto’s presence, both FanGraphs and PECOTA are projecting the Reds to put up a 74-88 record. The club had a pretty quiet offseason, expecting to enter 2018 with largely the same roster as last year.