LIMA — The 2019 Cincinnati Reds Caravan made its annual stop Friday night in Lima and it quickly turned into the Scooter Gennett show at the Apollo Career Center.
The All-Star second baseman was a late addition to the Lima stop and his presence helped bolster the attendance that appeared to have approximately 100 more people than last year as approximately 400-500 Reds fans showed up to ask questions, meet the Reds players and get autographs.
Also on the stop were pitchers Sal Romano and Cody Reed along with minor league prospect infielder Brantley Bell, vice president and senior adviser to the general manager Buddy Bell, vice president of player development Shawn Pender and mascot, Mr. Red.
The event opened with a 15-minute question and answer period and from the first question it was evident many in the audience came to see and get Gennett’s autograph as he fielded about 90 percent of the questions thrown at the panel.
“It was a dream come true,” Gennett said when asked what it was like when he signed with the Reds. “I grew up in Cincinnati and I watched Pokey Reese and Barry Larkin and all those guys at Riverfront Stadium play on that hot AstroTurf they had to play on. Now I am playing for the Reds and it is amazing. It is a little surreal but I am getting used to it.”
Prior to the event, Gennett said he was optimistic going into the 2019 season and hopes to continue his personal success to help bring the team more success.
As an individual, Gennett, who is entering his sixth year in the bigs, had a breakout season in 2018. The Cincinnati-born Red had career highs in nearly all offensive categories after hitting .310, second in the National League, with 23 home runs and 92 RBI. He was named to the All-Star team where he hit a ninth inning home run to tie the mid-season classic.
However, all those big numbers did not translate into the team having similar success as the Reds endured their fourth straight season with 90-plus losses and fifth straight losing year.
Gennett, who enters his third season with the Reds, said this year it is about accountability
“I think the most important thing this year is to keep each other accountable and try to be prepared as well as we can be and take care of each other so we can be there for one another in ballgames,” Gennett said.
The hiring of a new manager, David Bell, coupled with the blockbuster moves of acquiring Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp, along with pitchers Alex Wood and Tanner Roark, has Gennett optimistic the Reds can compete this season.
“I met him (David Bell) Thursday and I have talked to him on the phone a few times and I am really excited, and I think a lot of the players are excited that he is our manager along with the other coaches we got,” Gennett said. “It is amazing the guys we got from winning teams. David’s big thing is to be the best version of yourself.”
Gennett is already surrounded by an All-Star caliber infield and he added the addition of Puig and Kemp should make the Reds stronger.
“Those are big time pickups, Gennett said. “I think that is a sign that the front office expects us to compete. In the past couple of years I got the feeling it was a rebuilding phase but this year it is time to win ballgames. It is go time now. I think the fans should really be excited too.”