The skipper, a highly prized prospect, a couple of pitchers hoping to earn a starting spot, a former Red who threw a perfect game and even Mr. Red made a stop in Maysville Thursday morning at the Maysville Event Center for the Reds Caravan East Tour.
After introduction, the tour members answered questions from the audience that was closed to the public, signed autographs and took pictures of fans in attendance.
The tour consisted of manager Bryan Price, pitchers Sal Romano and Cody Reed, infielder Nick Senzel, Reds Hall of Famer Tom Browning, Vice President and Senior Advisor to the General Manager Buddy Bell, broadcaster Jeff Piecoro and Mr. Red were all part of Thursday's first stop of four on the day for the Caravan.
Price, in his fifth season as the manager, addressed the added pressure he might face this year with it being time to start breaking out of the developmental stage and start producing a playoff contending team.
"We have to look at it organizationally that what we've put our fan base through was worth it. You can only ask the same group to come out and continually support a club knowing that we're going through a change and we did since last making the playoffs in 2013," Price said.
Price is 276-372 in his four seasons with the organization, they've gone from 76 to 64 wins to back-to-back 68 win seasons the last two years.
"It's been a painful journey for me personally. We have to show signs that we're not just better, not winning 72 games, we really have to keep ourselves in this thing," Price said. "We certainly are aware we have a young club and a young pitching staff, that being said it really is time for us to make a jump. I think we should be held accountable to that and certainly there is going to be consequences to that, both good or bad based on how we play."
Romano started 16 games for the Reds last season as he aims to be one of the five starters on the Opening Day roster. Competition will be fierce, as the Reds will have 31 pitchers in camp fighting for roughly 13 roster spots.
"I'm going to go in with the same approach as I did last year. Last year I felt I had a pretty good Spring Training, a lot of people didn't know who I was or thought I had a chance of earning a spot," Romano said. "I gained a lot of experience last year and learned a lot as a pitcher in order to succeed."
Romano was 5-8 with a 4.45 ERA in his first season in the Majors. He went 3-3 down the stretch with a 3.17 ERA with four quality starts.
Reed hopes to bounce back from a year in which he struggled with his control, walking 19 batters in 17.2 innings pitched. His career record is 1-8 with a 6.75 ERA as he adjusts to the big leagues.
Senzel carries a lot of buzz in the organization and rightfully so. The No. 2 pick in the 2016 draft out of the University of Tennessee has done nothing but rake since playing in the Minor League system. Last year he hit .321 with Single-A Daytona and Double-A Pensacola, combining for 14 home runs and 65 RBIs in 119 games.
He'll get his chance to compete in Spring Training for a spot on the 25-man roster.
"I'm excited. Came out to Arizona a couple weeks ago to get an early head start on some of the different spots I could be playing. I'm excited for my first Big League camp and being around some of the older guys and learning from them," Senzel said.
Another thing with Senzel is his flexibility, as the Reds have entertained the idea of him playing third base or shortstop or possibly even outfield.
"We certainly are very, very aware of Nick's history of playing shortstop. At this point as badly as we'd like Nick to be on our ball club, we need to find a spot for him and he'll get a lot of chance to compete at a lot of different spots in Spring," Price said.
Browning threw a perfect game in 1988 against the Dodgers and was inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame in 2006. He talked about the changes in the game when he was a player to where the game is now.
"These guys are bigger and they're stronger," Browning said. "Bullpens are more specialized, they're a little bit deeper. I know in the 90's we had the Nasty Boys, but bullpens are pretty much documented now and they know what they're going to do."
Bell played 18 years in the Majors, managed the Tigers, Rockies and Royals and has had several front office positions, last with the Chicago White Sox organization before coming over to the Reds. He discussed how much analytics has paved its way into the modern game.
"We have a lot more resources now. I personally like analytics or sabermetrics because it confirms the things I might see or in a lot of cases things I don't see. We're able to evaluate a lot quicker than we're used to," Bell said.
Spring Training is right around the corner, pitchers and catchers report to Goodyear, Arizona in 20 days and the first Spring Training game is February 23 against the Cleveland Indians.
Opening Day is March 29 when the Reds host the Washington Nationals.