Last season the Cincinnati Reds, along with all of Major League Baseball, had alternate training sites. With no minor league baseball season happening, teams still needed a reserve of players to come up in case of illness, injury, or just lack of performance (or a big step up in performance from someone not already in the big leagues). Some teams utilized their minor league affiliate ballparks if there was one that was close enough. The Reds had both Dayton and Louisville that were relatively close to Great American Ballpark, but they opted to use the facility even close in Mason at Prasco Park.
In 2021 a minor league baseball season is expected to take place, but it’s also going to be delayed. Triple-A was initially expected to begin the same time that the Major League season was. But two weeks ago that was delayed to the start in early May along with the rest of the minor league levels. That decision means that for April there is still a need for alternate training sites to exist in case the big league clubs need to make roster moves and there are players ready to go.
With the big league season set to begin in two weeks, the decision still hasn’t been made on where the Reds alternate site will be, but according to manager David Bell it sounds like it’s going to be in Louisville where the Reds Triple-A affiliate plays. He was asked about where Shogo Akiyama would rehab at, which led to him speaking about the alternate site and other things.
“That has not been decided yet,” Bell said. “We’ll have to make that decision for Shogo, and hopefully no one else, but it’s a discussion right now. There’s a lot that goes into it because there are still some unknowns with where our alternate site will be, what that will look like, what camp will be going on here in Arizona, the numbers, the protocols, how many guys we can have with us, how many players can be at the alternate site – which likely would be in Louisville. There’s just a lot we’re still trying to get information on.”
The drive from Louisville to Cincinnati is about an hour and a half more than the drive from Mason to Great American Ballpark. That may be the only downside on the surface if the team does indeed wind up in Louisville. The stadium in Louisville has already had the technology installed there – there’s a Trackman system set up that has been there for years. They also have Field F/X set up there, which tracks the movement of players on each play. The other tech you’ll see teams using is all portable – Rapsodo’s, high speed cameras, etc. – and can be taken everywhere.
Many of the players who will be on the Reds alternate site roster will remain with Louisville when the season begins in May, too. While there are some who will head to some of the levels below, most guys are slated for Triple-A and that transition will be rather easy than having them move twice in the span of about a month (Arizona to wherever, then wherever to Louisville). Now that situation would only come into play for a few guys rather than 20+.
Nothing is official yet, and plenty of details are still going to need to be worked out. But they’re going to figure it out soon given that they will need to be there in two weeks and be ready to go.