CINCINNATI — Closer Raisel Iglesias skirted the tarp-covered infield along with the rest of the Cincinnati Reds pitchers, heading for the outfield and a quick game of catch before the rains returned.
That’s as good at it would get on this opening day in Cincinnati.
The Reds and Nationals dodged raindrops at Great American Ball Park on Thursday instead of facing off to open the season. Their first game was pushed back to Friday because of the weather. While most other major league teams got after it, they wound up watching.
“Disappointed,” Reds leadoff hitter Billy Hamilton said. “It’s not opening day.”
The Reds had to call off an opener because of weather for the first time since 1966. It’s already an unusual start to the season in the place where professional baseball began in 1869. The traditional opening day parade was pushed back to Monday because the sponsors are busy with their Easter weekend business.
So the celebration of baseball’s return will last a weekend instead of only one day.
“I was here for one as a visitor,” said new Reds reliever Jared Hughes, who was on Pittsburgh’s staff in 2015. “It’s the best opening day in baseball. This is where it all began, playing professional baseball. That’s why it should start here every year.”
Not this year.
Although there wasn’t much on the field other than the tarp, the Reds were busy patching up an already injury-sapped roster.
They put Iglesias on the three-day paternity list, meaning the Reds will miss their closer for the start of the series. They also put four other pitchers on the disabled list, a blow to a team struggling to break a streak of three 90-loss seasons.
Anthony DeSclafani went on the 60-day DL with a strained left oblique suffered during spring training, the third year in a row that he’s sidelined by a significant injury. He hasn’t started throwing yet.
Setup man David Hernandez — who like Hughes was signed in the offseason to bolster the bullpen — went on the 10-day DL after getting a cortisone shot in his sore right shoulder.
“Definitely not how I wanted to start my Reds tenure,” Hernandez said.
Left-hander starter Brandon Finnegan (strained biceps) and relievers Michael Lorenzen (shoulder strain) and Kevin Shackelford (forearm strain) also went on the 10-day DL.
Homer Bailey (6-9) will start Friday afternoon against Washington’s Max Scherzer (16-6), who has won the last two NL Cy Young awards. The forecast is for a dry afternoon with temperatures around 50 at game time.
“I pitched five years in Detroit opening day,” Scherzer said. “That’s 30 degrees. I’ve pitched in much colder than this. If we’re in the 50s, we’ll be happy.”
Washington went into last season with an unsettled back end of the bullpen and the results were disastrous. General manager Mike Rizzo rebuilt it during the season by acquiring left-hander Sean Doolittle and righties Ryan Madson and Brandon Kintzler. They’re all back, giving first-year manager Dave Martinez a comfort level.
“We came together really well in the second half of the year,” Doolittle said. “We had a chance to work all spring knowing our roles, knowing what we’re going to be called upon to do.”
The Reds called up left-hander Cody Reed to fill Finnegan’s spot in the rotation. He’ll face the Cubs next Tuesday. Right-handed reliever Jackson Stephens and utility player Cliff Pennington were added to fill out the roster.
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