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Reds move forward without Price vs. Cardinals

By
Bucky Dent, The Sports Xchange
Tucker Barnhart and the Cincinnati Reds face the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday. Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski/UPI
Tucker Barnhart and the Cincinnati Reds face the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday. Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski/UPI | License Photo

The Price is no longer right in Cincinnati.

Ahead of the opener Friday night in a three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, the Reds fired manager Bryan Price after four years and 18 games at the helm.

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Bench coach Jim Riggleman will run the club for the remainder of the season with speculation swirling around the franchise that Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin will be the manager for 2019.

Price went 279-387 in his tenure with Cincinnati, spending the last 2 1/2 seasons overseeing a rebuilding project as the team busted up its core in July 2015. Pitching coach Mack Jenkins was also dismissed, with Double-A pitching coach Danny Darwin being promoted to replace him.

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"Everybody in the clubhouse needs to get better and do more," Gold Glove catcher Tucker Barnhart said. "Even though we're off to a bad start, there needs to be a feel that we need to prepare and we need to expect to win every single day.

"It's no longer good enough just to get to the field and get ready to play. I think we need to get to the field, get ready to play and get ready to win. That's the first step in continued development."

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The hope was that the Reds would take a step forward behind a potent offense as a young pitching staff matured. Instead, nothing has gone right. The team has been outscored by 46 runs in a 3-15 start, the worst record and run differential in baseball.

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What's more, Cincinnati is making the kind of mistakes that point to a lack of focus. All-Star first baseman Joey Votto got picked off for the last out of the eighth inning last Friday night with the Reds down by two runs. The defense has been unexpectedly poor and the pitching staff owns the National League's worst ERA at 5.42.

"This is an organizational disappointment," general manager Dick Williams said. "Nobody feels that Bryan or Mack is a scapegoat for what happened."

In its first game under Riggleman, Cincinnati will attempt to exact revenge on St. Louis (10-8) for its four-game sweep last weekend in Ohio. Left-hander Brandon Finnegan (0-1, 10.38 ERA) will take the mound for his second start of the season.

Finnegan was a 6-1 loser Saturday to St. Louis, giving up five runs, six hits and four walks in 4 1/3 innings while fanning four. In nine previous appearances against the Cardinals, Finnegan is 2-3 with a 4.38 ERA, allowing nine homers in 39 innings.

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Michael Wacha (2-1, 5.52) will look for his third straight win as well as a longer, more efficient outing for St. Louis. He picked up a 13-5 win April 12 in Cincinnati despite yielding four runs in five innings, upping his career record to 9-1 with a 2.99 ERA in 17 career outings against the Reds.

The Cardinals lost 8-5 on Thursday at the Chicago Cubs, ending a five-game winning streak. Because of postponements Monday night and Wednesday, they switched their rotation around to give ace Carlos Martinez the start Saturday and move Miles Mikolas back to Sunday.

"When you have your No. 1 guy, you want to get him out there as often as possible," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. "Carlos is our guy."

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