PDT Sports Editor
The Cincinnati Reds have hired pitching coach Bryan Price as their next manager.
Price, 51, will become a manager for the first time in his career. Before becoming the Reds’ new skipper, Price served as the team’s pitching coach since the start of the 2010 season. Cincinnati has made the playoffs in three of Price’s four seasons with the organization.
“I didn’t know him that well,” former Cincinnati Reds scout and Wheelersburg native Gene Bennett said of the Reds’ decision to hire Price. “He did do a good job as a pitching coach for the Reds. I’m sure they gave that a lot of thinking before they hired him. I have complete trust in management, they want to win as bad as anyone.”
Under Price’s tutelage, the Reds had the fourth-best earned run average in Major League Baseball during the 2011 campaign while compiling the most strikeouts in the National League. During the 2012 season, Cincinnati’s pitching staff ranked third in ERA in the major leagues. All five members of the starting rotation started a minimum of 20 games that season with four-of-the-five starters reaching at least 200 innings pitched.
Before joining Cincinnati in 2010, Price was the pitching coaching of the Seattle Mariners from 2001-2006 and was the Arizona Diamondbacks’ pitching coach from 2007 through May 2009.
Before entering the coaching ranks, Price was a starting pitcher in the 1980s but never appeared in a major league game. Price spent five seasons in the farm system for the Mariners and the California Angels before elbow problems derailed his career.
Price replaces the departed Dusty Baker who was fired after Cincinnati lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League Wild Card Game. The Reds lost their final six regular season games before the playoff defeat. Baker compiled a 509-463 record in six seasons as the Reds’ skipper.
“On Dusty, I’ve known him for a long, long, long time,” Bennett said. “I was there when we hired him. But you know, the way he put it to them, it really didn’t leave them a whole lot of choice. From what I understand, they were going to let the hitting coach go and from what I hear, the statement was made ‘if your going to let him go, then just let me go too.’”
Bennett is referring to various media reports about a conversation between Reds’ General Manager Walt Jocketty and Baker this offseason, which centered around Reds’ hitting coach Brook Jacoby, before Baker was relieved of his duties. Those reports have not been confirmed or denied from any official within Cincinnati’s organization.
Regardless of the situation this offseason, Bennett has complete trust in Reds’ management.
“Walt Jocketty has been an outstanding general manager for many years,” Bennett said. “And Bob Castellini is one of the all-time great Cincinnati Reds’ owners who really wants to win badly.”
Whether those reports have come to fruition, former Pittsburgh Pirate and current Portsmouth resident Al Oliver wouldn’t be surprised to hear Baker standing up for his colleagues.
“That’s the Dusty Baker I know,” Oliver said. “That’s Dusty. He will always back his coaches and his players. Sometimes, you can be to nice in baseball and you get the shaft, which I know from personal experience. But that’s Dusty and I could see Dusty doing that.”
After Baker was dismissed, Reds’ right-handed pitcher and impending free agent Bronson Arroyo endorsed Price for the job.
“I think he’d be unbelievable (as the manager),” Arroyo told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “He’s a freaking smart guy. He makes his decisions on reasonable evidence. Sometimes in baseball we go by hunches, what someone else said or the way things have gone in the past. He doesn’t do that.”
The Cincinnati Enquirer and Mark Sheldon from MLB.com contributed to this report.
Chris Slone can be reached at 353-3101, ext 298, or email@example.com. For breaking news, follow Chris on Twitter @crslone.