- Jerry Crasnick, ESPN.com MLB Sr. Writer
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GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Cincinnati Reds finished tied for 11th in the National League with 67 stolen bases last season. That was the franchise’s lowest total since 1971, when the Reds stole 59 bases as a team and Pete Rose led the way with 13.
Joe Morgan arrived and Bobby Tolan returned from injury the following year and combined for 100 steals as a tandem, and a whole new mindset took root in Cincinnati.
Bryan Price, Cincinnati’s new manager, isn’t necessarily looking for a return to the go-go days at Riverfront Stadium. But he does expect the Reds to take more chances on the bases this season. And dynamic young center fielder Billy Hamilton is only part of the reason.
Price plans to open things up in the Cactus League and encourage his players to run when they have the opportunity. He understands the potential downside of running into too many outs during the regular season -- particularly at Great America Ball Park, where home runs abound. But he thinks the Reds have the personnel on the roster to strike a better balance. At the very least, the new approach could help the Reds manufacture a few more runs on the road.
“I know that we need to be able to create scoring opportunities, especially in that bottom third of our lineup," Price said. “Being station to station didn’t give us as many opportunities to score as I would have liked. We have to be somewhat creative."
Cozart stole 30 bases in 34 attempts with Triple-A Louisville in 2010, but has only four steals in 300 major league games. Last year he logged a .284 OBP, so he needs to do a better job at the plate before becoming more of a factor on the basepaths.
Although Frazier is no burner at 6-3, 220 pounds, he’s a capable baserunner with above-average instincts. He stole 58 bases over six minor league seasons, and the Reds think he has the ability to steal 10-15 bags.
“We’re not going to do anything blindly," Price said. “When we talk about being aggressive on the bases, it means working hard on your secondary leads, understanding where the fielders are, and knowing the game situation and score in the inning. We want guys to be aggressive, instinctive and smart. We might run into some outs over the course of the spring. That being said, we’re going to learn more about what these guys can do."