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Price confident in Hamilton, shifts

*Reds leadoff man and center fielder Billy Hamilton kept his head up following Monday’s 0-for-4, four strikeout game on Opening Day vs. the Cardinals. Reds manager Bryan Price was asked Monday if Hamilton needed any added encouragement from the team to keep Hamilton confident.

Price said it’s already been given and there is nothing for Hamilton to be worried about.

“He knows he doesn’t have to look over his shoulder here,” Price said. “He’s our center fielder. We’re not looking to evaluate him in two weeks or one game. There are a million stories you can refer back to. Willie Mays going 0-for-20 and wanting to get sent back to Triple-A and Leo Durocher said that will never happen. He’s not the first guy to have an Opening Day where he struggled, especially against the pitching he faced the other day. He had a great spring. He did a great job here in September. We’re very confident he’s ready to be here and thrive. I anticipate that he will electrify us here in the coming games.”

*Twice on Monday, the right-side shift on lefty slugger Matt Adam backfired. Adam hit a lined single to the left side and tapped a 92-foot rolling double inside the third base line for two of the three hits St. Louis had in the game. The outcomes did not have Price re-evaluating about doing more defensive shifts this season.

“He got out in front of a change-up and squibbed it off the end of the bat,” Price said of Adams Wednesday. “That, of course, is hard to defend even if we had [Todd] Frazier in the standard position there at third base.

“Beyond the obvious statistics that we all know and love, one thing we can do is get a better grasp on where hitters will primarily put the ball in play in the ground and in the air. If we can find a way to defend the probabilities than we have in the past, we will do that. Things are going to happen.”

During those shifts, Frazier played on the right side of second base while Zack Cozart remained closest to the shortstop area. That was an effort to disrupt the norm of as few players as possible when re-aligning.

“There’s certainly that familiarity of being around second base with Zack with nobody on still being in that area positioned around the base,” Price said. “It’s better for him, I think, than anybody else.”

Game 2: Reds vs. Cardinals

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Opening Day ends with loss

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Plenty of quotes following a 1-0 Reds loss to the Cardinals. Here are some that did not make my final story on MLB.com/Reds.com:

“Typical Wainwright, we’ve had some success off him in the past and he’s had success in the past. His cutter was moving really well. It seemed like when he did get into a little trouble behind hitters, it seemed like he hit the corners really well. He stayed away from being in the middle of the zone. You look at him and Cueto, that’s what those guys are supposed to do.” — Ryan Ludwick

“After what I witnesses with Chapman, every time that I see something back there, you’re a little scared. He’s a trooper. He bounced back and kept us in the ballgame. He threw a great ballgame.” — Brayan Pena on seeing Johnny Cueto get hit on the left wrist by a Matt Carpenter comebacker that began the game.

“I felt really good today. All of my pitches were where I wanted. I located where I wanted. Everything was good.” — Cueto through translator Tomas Vera.

“I didn’t get overwhelmed or terribly caught up in the fact that it was my first game. I was just trying not to be unprepared. I’ve got a great staff around me of coaches that would not let that happen. Once I got the fruit basket, it was on. And it was great. There’s nothing like a regular season game.” — Reds manager Bryan Price on his first game.

Other items:

*There were loud ovations today for Aroldis Chapman, Billy Hamilton and Bryan Price among others.

*In injury news updates, reliever Jonathan Broxton remained at extended Spring Training in Goodyear, Ariz., and is scheduled to throw one inning on Tuesday. Broxton (right forearm) is expected to join Double-A Pensacola on Thursday and pitch again on Friday.

*Lefty reliever Sean Marshall (sore left shoulder) is also in Goodyear and slated to throw one inning at the team complex and pitch one inning on Friday vs. the AZL Rockies.

*Catcher Devin Mesoraco (strained left oblique) took batting practice today and will join Pensacola on Thursday.

Game 1: Reds vs. Cardinals

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Opening Day roster set

The Reds made a bunch of moves today to set their 25 man and 40 rosters on Sunday. Full details are on MLB.com/Reds.com.

Here is the Reds’ official 25-man roster ahead of Opening Day:

Catchers (2): Brayan Pena, Tucker Barnhart

Infielders (6): 1B Joey Votto, 2B Brandon Phillips, SS Zack Cozart, 3B Todd Frazier, 1B/3B Neftali Soto, SS/2B Ramon Santiago

Outfielders (5): LF Ryan Ludwick, CF Billy Hamilton, RF Jay Bruce, OF Chris Heisey, OF Roger Bernadina

Rotation (5): Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey, Mike Leake, Tony Cingrani, Alfredo Simon

Bullpen (7): Sam LeCure, J.J. Hoover, Manny Parra, Logan Ondrusek, Nick Christiani, Trevor Bell, Curtis Partch

15-day disabled list (6): Aroldis Chapman, Mat Latos, Jonathan Broxton, Sean Marshall, Skip Schumaker, Devin Mesoraco.

60-day DL: Jack Hannahan, Brett Marshall

Additions to 25-man roster

Mark Schmetzer is covering the Reds for MLB.com in Louisville on Saturday and was there after the game when manager Bryan Price revealed the latest names that were added to the 25-man roster.

Price said infielder Neftali Soto, catcher Tucker Barnhart, reliever Trevor Bell and outfielder Roger Bernadina have made the team.

No corresponding moves were revealed for the 40-man roster. It also wasn’t announced that Devin Mesoraco is headed to the DL but with Barnhart’s call-up, it’s rather easy to connect the dots.

More when there is news…

Rotation set

The Reds posted their rotation for the first six games:

Vs Cardinals
RHP Johnny Cueto
LHP Tony Cingrani
RHP Homer Bailey

At Mets
RHP Mike Leake
RHP Johnny Cueto
RHP Alfredo Simon

For full story, Barry Bloom has the details on reds.com/MLB.com.

3/27 Split-squad lineups

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Roster battles amid loss

Let’s take a look at the players on the bubble for roster spots after a 9-5 Reds loss to the White Sox:

*Jason Bourgeois — Played whole game in left field and went for 2-for-5 with a ninth-inning RBI double. In the fifth, he was thrown out running from first-to-third on Chris Nelson’s RBI single to center field. The out at third base was upheld after Bryan Price’s challenge.

*Roger Bernadina — Nine innings in center field and went 1-for-4 with a single and stolen base. He is batting .409 for spring and has a seven-game hitting streak where 8-for-22 in that span.

*Kristopher Negron — Played entire game at second base and went 2-for-4 with a double and two runs scored. In the sixth, Negron robbed Jose Abreu of a single by stopping his chopper up the middle, followed by a perfect throw to first base. Negron, batting .317 for spring, is 10-for-22 (.455) over his last 10 games.

*Neftali Soto — Entered the game as the catcher in the seventh and went 1-for-1 with a single in the eighth.

“I thought it was great. He was very comfortable back there,” Price said of Soto behind the plate. “His heart might have been beating a mile a minute, I’m sure, but he seemed very under control. It didn’t look like he hadn’t been back there in a while. He’s worked hard with Mike Stefanski all of Spring Training. I wasn’t surprised by it but it was certainly good to see.”

*Brett Marshall — The pitching staff contender for either the fifth spot in the rotation, or to be the bullpen’s long man, was hit around pretty hard in his final start of spring. The line: 5 ip, 12 H, 7 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 HB, 1 HR. During a four-run fourth inning, Marshall gave up Abreu’s wind-aided three-run homer to the left field bullpen. Price didn’t give Marshall too many breaks because of the windy conditions.

“He’s a better pitcher than he pitched today,” Price said. “They put some balls in play. They had some soft hits. They had some balls hit right on the screws. In the four-run inning, they had two outs and nobody on and the No. 9 hitter got a four-pitch walk, followed by hard base hit, a soft hit and a homer. It ends up being a problem.”

**That puts my Spring Training in the books for another year. I will be flying home on Thursday and not covering the split-squad games vs. Arizona and Milwaukee. They will be covered on MLB.com, however. I also won’t be totally off the clock as there are still roster decisions looming, obviously. Thanks for reading and following along throughout camp and I hope you keep coming back during the regular season.

Santiago makes the team

One more piece of the roster puzzle is in place. Infielder Ramon Santiago, a non-roster invite to camp, has been told by the Reds that he has made the team and will go north.

Reds manager Bryan Price said that it doesn’t mean players like Kristopher Negron haven’t made it and that there are other spots still open for competition. Santiago will earn $1.1 million this season in the big leagues.

One reason the 34-year-old Santiago was picked was that he’s a veteran who has come off of the bench before in Detroit and Seattle. It’s a harder role for a younger player, according to Price. There were several other reasons too.

“When our season got over, we looked at our club and felt like we needed to have that type of a player,” Price said. “Ramon has been in a tough spot as a big leaguer, as a utility infielder. He’s a guy that doesn’t put up big offensive numbers but does a lot of the little things to help you win games. Especially in the National League, if you’re in a double switch situation – especially if it involves [Zack] Cozart – you’d like to have a reliable sure-handed infielder that really could go anyplace. And he’s a good situational offensive player. He’s not going to drive in a lot of runs or hit home runs but he moves runners, he bunts well. He’s a scrappy guy with two strikes, puts the ball in play. He knows how to play the situational game and that’s very important. And he’s guy that can not play for a while and you still get a nice performance from him.”

There has not been any corresponding 40-man roster move made to make room for Santiago, yet.

More to come on MLB.com/Reds.com.

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