Price adjusting to busy life as a manager
New position brings added responsibilities, but Reds' skipper is excited for camp
CINCINNATI -- Bryan Price was promoted from pitching coach to Reds manager in October. Immediately, the new position added responsibilities and brightened the spotlight of attention above his 6-foot-3 frame.
As the weeks and months have gone by since Price took the job, some of its different dimensions are gradually surfacing.
"There's been many of them," Price recently said.
One of them came this winter when traveling secretary Gary Wahoff called Price about setting flight times for when the team travels out of Cincinnati on its off-days.
"'What time do you want to get into the next city?'" Price recalled hearing. "I'm thinking, 'Just get me in town in time for dinner.'"
Price, 51, was Cincinnati's pitching coach under Dusty Baker the previous four seasons and also served as a pitching coach in the big leagues for the D-backs and Mariners. Never before, at any level, has Price been a manager.
"So much more comes across your table -- organizational rules, policies, dress codes and things of that nature that otherwise I have just always followed," Price said. "Now, I have some opinion on what we're going to do organizationally as far as rules and policies. There's been a lot to think about. I don't think there is going to be any drastic changes in that regard."
Since he was hired by general manager Walt Jocketty on Oct. 22, Price has been in contact with his players, helped the front office interview the new coaches and has overseen the plans for the 2014 season -- at least as much as can be planned out in advance.
"We've tried to get on the same page with the message and the direction we wanted to move going towards Spring Training," Price said. "It's been a real busy winter, but it's been a lot of fun."
Now that Price has had the time to put his thumbprint on the off-the-field areas of the team, his chance to put his stamp on the team in the field comes next. The Reds open Spring Training in one week, when pitchers and catchers report to Goodyear, Ariz., on Feb. 14.
Unlike many other new managers, Price isn't taking over a rebuilding effort or a team in disarray. Under Baker, the Reds won 90 games in 2013 and finished third in the National League Central. It was good, but not good enough. A six-game losing streak, including a season-ending loss to the Pirates in the NL Wild Card Game, left a bad taste in the organization. Even though the Reds had won division titles and more than 90 games in 2010 and '12, they still hadn't won a postseason series.
There were two large free-agent losses in leadoff hitter Shin-Soo Choo and starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo. A lack of offensive punch last season was not addressed in offseason transactions.
But the core of the Reds' lineup -- namely Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips -- is back. The incumbent rotation, featuring Mat Latos, Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey, is impressive. The team's bullpen, with closer Aroldis Chapman, could already be one of baseball's best.
"We understand we have a really solid ballclub," Price said. "We're really going to focus on playing this game the best we can possibly play it. We'll work every day to be excellent and be willing to accept whatever comes from that and use that as our goal."
For much of the winter, Price has been vague on details such as lineup construction. Until regular-season games are played, his views on strategy remain mostly theory. Tough in-game decisions with a victory on the line still await him -- as does a competitive division race that will feature the NL champion Cardinals and the same Pirates club that foiled Cincinnati's World Series dreams a few months ago.
The theme of Price's offseason public comments has more often returned to player accountability and playing the right way. How well the message is received will begin to be understood in Arizona next week.
"Everyone can go to statistical stuff because baseball is a statistical game," Price said. "The goal has got to be to show up every day, out-prepare every opponent, out-hustle every opponent and supply energy every day, and be able to connect every day with the people that watch us and support us, and be something on the field that people admire. We want to be the type of team that nobody wants to play."