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 situationĀ  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.

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Doug Gray is the owner and operator of this website and has been running it since 2006 in one variation or another. You can follow him on twitter @dougdirt24, or follow the site on Facebook. and Youtube.

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4 Responses

  1. Old Big Ed

    This whole scheme sounds pretty clumsy to me, except for the Dbacks, Marlins and Rays. Louisville in April will have the extra guys from the 40-man, a lot of AAA-destined guys not on the 40-man, probably some top guys headed to AA, and some injured guys like Akiyama. Who coaches in Louisville, and who coaches the Goodyear group? And what does it really accomplish?

    I’d pretty much just keep everybody in Goodyear, and reserve some private jet time, in case anybody is needed. The MLB team will be in Arizona and California for nine games in April, anyway, plus three in St. Louis and five off-days. For the home games it takes 100 minutes by auto to get from downtown Louisville to downtown Cincinnati, and a bit more than two hours longer by jet to get to from Goodyear to Cincinnati. And for nine days when the Reds are out West, Goodyear is much more convenient than Louisville in getting a new player to the Reds.

    Is baseball requiring this, and if so, why? It doesn’t make any business or development sense to me. I suppose that from a pandemic sense there might be 140 guys in camp in Goodyear, but they have 12 hours of daylight, good lighting and several fields. Or there could be some family issues, such as a young player’s wife being due in April, but the logistics of that ought to be pretty simple to work out.

    • Doug Gray

      I’ll try to tackle this the best that I can, without having any for certain answers for you.

      I’m guessing that the Triple-A coaching staff heads to Louisville to coach the alternate site guys, who will mostly make up the Triple-A team when the season begins and the alternate site ends. The rest of the coaches stay back in Arizona for minor league spring training. This can accomplish one thing that may actually be an important factor: The group size at the complex. Until everyone can be vaccinated/numbers fall off enough, the size of groups of people have to meet a certain threshold. Keeping 20+ players back in Arizona, then bringing in 80 more, plus the coaches and other staff – that may be higher than the “allowable” number of people. This is just me talking out loud – I don’t know the exact numbers they’re allowed to work with, but we do know that the number of players was 75 for “big league camp + early minor league camp” this year.

      As for the travel of Plane Time versus Drive Time – the difference there is probably key, too. If a player is driving to the stadium for a “call up” they aren’t interacting with the public unless they stop to get gas. If you fly, you are flying commercially and that’s a different set of rules. The player then has to go through intake, which would delay their eligibility to join the team. This is a big factor as for this one. As for out west…. taxi squad guys are coming back this year, so those guys are going to be heading to Cincinnati to travel by private plane with the team for road trips.

      • Old Big Ed

        You are probably right on the numbers issue in Arizona/Florida, although for coronavirus purposes I would rather have my AAA guys outside in the sun in Arizona or Florida than huddled inside between April workouts in frigid Minnesota or Boston or Chicago. I am sure that they will have protocols, but outside is almost always better than inside.

        The Blue Jays are going to open the season at Dunedin, as I understand it. They will have every level from MLB down to complex/rookie at Dunedin in April. They play the Yankees there April 12-14, which would be a good ticket to get.

        I didn’t know about the “taxi squad” being used again for road games. Do the taxi squads end when the minor leagues open?

      • Doug Gray

        I don’t know how the taxi squad will be handled once the minor league season begins. I’m just guessing and talking out loud here, but I’d imagine it’ll still exist because not everyone will be vaccinated by that point and you will still need “backups” ready to go just in case. I do think we will likely reach a point this year where they’ll stop having them as vaccinations will be available to every adult before midseason arrives, giving everyone (or nearly everyone – there may be a few players who can’t get them for other medical conditions that they have) the chance to get their shot(s) and have the time to get it to the point of efficiency.

        In the end, I think the fact that you can’t get guys on commercial flights and be ready to play that same night is why the “keep them back at the facility” just doesn’t work.