By mid-February, most of us are securely wrapped in our winter cocoons. A multitude of wool coats clutter our closets, nights are spent wrapped in Snuggies (don’t hate) and the thought of getting up in the morning is like an icicle to the nads.
Then, just as we’re ready to give hibernation a shot (show me someone who says hibernation doesn’t sound awesome and I’ll show you a stone-cold liar), we’re reminded of the golden age of summer by one simple phrase: pitchers and catchers report.
When baseball fans hear those four words, it’s as if some bizarre baseball dog whistle pierces through the frigid still of the season, calling us to action. It’s as if a bat signal is lit in the night sky, gleaming triumphantly and reminding us the time has come. Baseball fanatics begin to cling to their Internet feeds, hungry for any nugget of intel from the Promised Lands down South.
Yep, every year, as the temperature slowly climbs and daylight invades our evening commute, America’s pastime begins to pervade our consciousness. For baseball fans, February is the beginning.
And, of course, for Reds fans it’s no different.
This winter, the talk in Cincinnati has been about sustaining a winner. Can they? Will they? What will stand in the way? With most of the roster returning, the Reds have only a select few question marks (the fourth and fifth starters will be selected from three candidates, the last bullpen and bench spots are up for grabs) and those issues have been discussed at length already.
However, while Cincinnati may not see much roster upheaval, their success in 2011 most certainly will depend on the continued development of several key youngsters, and a few new additions. So, to celebrate the pilgrimage of the Reds hurlers to Arizona, here are five pitchers (not named Chapman) whose progress should be monitored closely as Spring Training gets underway.