Reds send their newest starter vs Phillies in opener

CINCINNATI (AP) Jeremy Hellickson was still getting accustomed to the name on his jersey when he started the season opener for the Phillies in Cincinnati last year. The right-hander did very well in the high-profile start, and he'll get to make another one on Monday at Great American Ball Park.

His counterpart? Someone still getting accustomed to the name on his jersey.

Scott Feldman will open for the Reds less than three months after he signed with them in a move to fill one of several openings in the middle of the rotation. Elbow injuries to Homer Bailey and Anthony DeSclafani put him in line to make his third opening day start - he's also done it for the Rangers (2010) and Astros (2014).

''It's pretty cool,'' Feldman said. ''I know the about the history of Cincinnati, being like the capital of opening day.''

Cincinnati has baseball's oldest professional franchise and does it up like a holiday. There's a pregame parade through downtown that draws thousands of red-clad fans to see the floats and the celebrities and the grand marshal - this year, it's former Reds star Sean Casey.

Yes, first baseman who is known as ''The Mayor'' around these parts because of his popularity will be in the spotlight more than the actual mayor. The last time the city's top official was the focus of opening day was 10 years ago, when Mark Mallory's delivery was so far off the mark that intended target Eric Davis shook his head and an umpire pretended to eject the major.

How's that for wacky opening day history?

Instead of entrusting the ceremonial toss to a politician or celebrity this year, a local business leader will make the pitch. Former Reds shortstop Davey Concepcion will deliver the game ball to the mound.

This opener matches a pair of rebuilding teams with young lineups that started it off in Cincinnati a year ago as well. The last time the Reds opened against the same team in back-to-back seasons was 2006-07 against the Cubs.

Hellickson was acquired from the Diamondbacks after the 2015 season and made his Phillies debut last April 4 in the opener. He did very well - one unearned run and only three hits in six innings. He also got a single off Raisel Iglesias. The Phillies' bullpen couldn't hold a late lead, giving up five runs in the eighth as the Reds won 6-2.

The right-hander was the first starting pitcher to make his Phillies debut on opening day since Roy Halladay in 2010. He went 12-10 overall as the Phillies lost 91 games - eight fewer than the previous year.

''I'm ready,'' Hellickson said. ''It's been a long spring, but now that it's over, it feels like it went by fast.''

Feldman becomes the ''ace'' of a depleted rotation that will start the season with two untested rookies. The Reds plan to add some experience by calling up 40-year-old Bronson Arroyo as soon as next weekend, completing his comeback from Tommy John surgery two years ago.

''The one big highlight would be a chance to see Arroyo in a Reds uniform, taking the ball for a start early in the season,'' manager Bryan Price said. ''That would be a big personal moment for me. I think the world of the kid. Kid? Middle-aged man.''

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AP Sports Writer Rob Maaddi in Philadelphia contributed to this report.

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More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

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