2/26/2014 7:33 P.M. ET
Pena starts opener at DH while he works on defense
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Reds' lineup for their first exhibition game on Wednesday had backup catcher Brayan Pena batting ninth as the designated hitter against the Indians.
Pena, who was signed in the offseason, has been working on his defensive skills behind the plate during workouts.
"He's done a really nice job of making a strong commitment to work with [catching coordinator] Mike Stefanski on making some adjustments to his footwork and his throwing," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "The trio of us have spoken on his readiness to transition what he's doing early in the day to games. We agreed that mostly likely Game 4 will be his first game behind the plate, just to make sure that all the footwork and things of that nature are more fluent and more instinctive."
Price sets nerves aside, slides right in to new role
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- On the morning of his first-ever game as a manager, at any level, Bryan Price didn't have too many butterflies in his stomach Wednesday before the Reds opened their Cactus League schedule against the Indians.
"I woke up at 4 and I usually wake up at 4:30, so I had a half-hour to jumpstart the anxiety," Price joked.
Most of the nerves Price felt about his new job were actually experienced in the early days of the offseason, just after he was promoted from pitching coach to manager in October to replace Dusty Baker.
"When I first got hired was when I realized the size of the job, so there was a lot of sleepless nights or times when you wake up and can't get back to sleep," Price said. "I want to do this thing right and feel like everything is in order. I think the best thing that I've done is get the right people in place on the coaching staff. In the end, this is a bad job to try to micromanage. It's provided me with a lot of better nights of sleep."
After four years as Reds pitching coach, Price didn't expect to form many different dugout nuances as a manager. He sat in a chair behind the dugout rail next to the top step.
Dugout positioning was less on Price's mind than communicating with his coaches and players. One player, third baseman Todd Frazier, did not notice anything different in Price's demeanor now that he's at the helm.
"I think he's the same. He's a fun-loving guy. He enjoys the game. There is no pressure really. It's Game 1 and he understands it's going to be a lot of fun for us," Frazier said. "He came up to everybody and said, 'Let's have a good year, keep having fun and let's be the team we want to be.'"
Price didn't expect to be overly creative with strategy during the first few exhibition games. That will come later.
"Let these guys get used to seeing pitches again and playing the game before we get too focused on situational baseball," Price said.
There was still plenty to keep Price busy throughout his first game.
"It's funny how you can't drop your head," Price said after an 8-3 win. "You drop your head and realize you've got to give a sign. You've got to check your infielders, the depth they're playing or the outfield positioning, and realistically, I'm going to turn it over to the guys that run those areas. There is so much to be constantly watching for, anticipating and being at least a pitch ahead -- if not a hitter ahead. Routine and repetition will help."
At one point during the game, Price allowed himself a moment of sentimentality when he noticed third-base coach Steve Smith on the field.
"We go back to 1991 with Seattle in the Minor Leagues. I was looking over to him at third base waiting for my sign," Price said. "That took me by surprise, but it was a pretty neat thing to see that 23 years later, that he and I would be back together on the same staff. It's pretty neat."
Reds, Price get clarity on instant-replay changes
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Reds manager Bryan Price and general manager Walt Jocketty were among several team representatives who met with Major League Baseball officials on Tuesday to go over the parameters of the new instant-replay rules.
MLB executive vice president of on-field operations Joe Torre and special consultant Tony La Russa -- two Hall of Fame managers -- led the meeting.
"It was informative," Price said Wednesday. "The thing I appreciated most were the percentages and breakdown of the most commonly missed plays."
Price said he learned during the meeting that 46 percent of missed calls are on force plays. On average, a missed call will go against a team once every 12 games. Two missed calls against a team in one game occurs once every 90 games.
There still will be added strategy, and second-guess potential, for managers regarding if and when to use a challenge for a replay. Under the new rules, a manager gets one challenge, and if the review results in an overturned call, he gets a second one.
"You really want to appreciate what a high-leverage position looks like. The only issue is you may not know what that is," Price said. "It may end up being the last out of an inning that ends up leading to a two-out rally and a three-run homer in the first inning. You [could] say, 'Boy, maybe I should have been more aggressive in pursuing a challenge or looking a little deeper into that play.'"
The Reds have to determine their protocol of how exactly they will make sure Price and the bench is informed that a replay challenge should be used.
There will be five exhibition games this spring for the Reds to sample the process -- March 9 vs. the Angels; March 17 and 24 vs. the Indians; March 26 vs. the White Sox and March 27 vs. the Brewers. It will only be a test of the process, not the complete review that can happen during the regular season.
"The communication between the umpires and the managers is going to be key," Price said of the new rules. "The relationship has to be really strong. We're trying to integrate a system that I don't know if there is any way to get to know it better or faster than just living in its environment."