Rookie season out of sight, out of mind for Reed

Rookie season out of sight, out of mind for Reed

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- When he was at home during the offseason, Reds pitcher Cody Reed could tell people were a little uncomfortable asking him about his rough first big league experience in 2016. So with a dash of self-deprecation, Reed let people know it was OK.

A prospect that arrived with high expectations, Reed went 0-7 with a 7.36 ERA in his 10 starts last season.

"I'm the type of person that I could joke about it and dog myself and be like, 'You know what? I can handle this,'" Reed said on Sunday. "It's not something that will make me never have a good attitude again. That was my way of dealing with it, as a joke."

Reed also turned the page by changing his uniform number -- from No. 44 to No. 25.

"I changed because I'm very superstitious. I don't want any bad juju on me at any time. I changed my cleat colors and all of that stuff," Reed explained. "I had 44 and had a bad year. I didn't want to keep it on my back. In high school and college, I was No. 24, and there was obviously no being No. 24 around here [with it being retired for Hall of Famer Tony Perez]. Twenty-five was the closest, and I was trying to get that 44 off my back."

Reed is back this spring with a great opportunity to make the big league rotation, which has two openings. He will be battling with prospects Amir Garrett and Robert Stephenson, along with Bronson Arroyo, Tim Adleman and Lisalverto Bonilla.

The lessons Reed learned from 2016 were mostly mental adjustments as opposed to mechanical changes. He feels that will help him this season.

"I just have to learn to throw all pitches for a strike in any count," Reed said. "That's what really hurt me last year. I'd get into a 2-0 count and have to throw a fastball. Guys like Dan Straily could flip a changeup in there and get back in the count right away, and do it again. I was the type of guy who was not comfortable enough to do that, so when I'd get into those counts where I had to throw a fastball, I got hurt."

Reds manager Bryan Price saw Reed was exposed for not having a changeup as a strong enough third pitch to go with his fastball and slider. He also struggled with controlling the running game and slowing things down when the game accelerated out his control.

"Games pick up pretty quickly for these young pitchers when things start to go south," Price said. "I think controlling the tempo of the game is extremely important. The other part is the importance of his command in the zone and working ahead, keeping his pitches in the zone they're intended to be thrown in. Unfortunately, a lot of the damage against Cody was in the first inning [14.40 ERA]. After that, he could settle in, but by that time there might be two or three or four runs on the board. That's a tough position to put the club in."

Reed's impressive outing

The Reds acquired Reed along with fellow left-handers Brandon Finnegan and John Lamb in the July 2015 trade that sent ace Johnny Cueto to the Royals. Finnegan put together a strong first year as a big league starter, while Lamb struggled with performance and injuries before being dealt to the Rays for cash in the offseason.

Reed, who turns 24 in April, was considered the best prospect of the three at the time of the trade. Following a strong showing at Double-A Pensacola, he arrived last year at Spring Training as a non-roster invitee and almost earned a spot in the rotation, with a 2.87 ERA. In his first 11 starts for Triple-A Louisville, he compiled a 3.20 ERA with 17 walks and 63 strikeouts over 64 2/3 innings.

"He was a guy that we all talked about wanting to have on our team Opening Day," Price said. "I think organizationally we made the smart move to not have him make the club. I wish he didn't have to go through [struggles], but he did. It should benefit him at the beginning of this year to know where the potholes are and how to avoid them."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.