Owner Marge Schott had a busy off-season. She drew a grievance charge by her reserve catcher, called Pete Rose classless, alienated the city of Indianapolis and tried to hoist her pet pooch to cult-hood. But then, how else could she justify this line on page 4 of the media guide: "Mrs. Schott...attracts as much attention as anyone on the team"?
It's a tribute to Schott's checkbook, and what it has wrought, that none of the Reds—including one alltime hit leader and one should-have-been MVP—have taken much offense. There is a new stability to this club that would have been unimaginable three years ago. "Every team has questions to answer," says Rose. "We just have a lot of answers."
Rose, 45, will continue playing first and batting second if he can again see his way on base 40% of the time for Dave Parker. No one carried more of an offensive load in '85 than Parker. He scored or drove in a quarter of the Reds' runs and had a league-leading RBI total of 125, practically double that of the club's cleanup hitter. Parker, 34, carries the majors' biggest stick and speaks anything but softly. Trivia quiz: How many other rightfielders have called their manager Butcher-Block Head?
This year, finally, proven bats on the Reds abound. Third baseman Buddy Bell, 34, joins Rose, Dave Concepcion and Tony Perez as infielders old (average age: 42) and wise (2,000-plus hits each). Catcher Bo Diaz, 32, like Bell a midseason acquisition, may not dazzle, but he can throw out would-be base stealers.
As for youth, centerfielder Eric Davis, 23, the lone big-time base-stealing threat, will once again try to put bat on ball from the leadoff spot. After switching from third to leftfield in August, Nick Esasky batted .270 with 13 homers and 34 RBIs. "I wish I could put a number on what Nick could do," says Rose.
The Reds will have their best pitching staff in years with 20-game winner Tom Browning, Mario Soto, ex-Phillie John Denny and ex-Expo Bill Gullickson. Relievers John Franco and Ted Power helped give the Reds the best one-run record (39-18) in the league.
Cincinnati changed Second Street to Pete Rose Way last year. If the Reds reach First Street this season, it could become Marge Schott Lane.
THE ELIAS ANALYST:
Had career-high 0A (.352) with runners in scoring position last season.
Still has only one career grand slam: in 1964 off Dallas Green.
Career BA with two outs and runners in scoring position is. 189.
Committed 11 errors in 46 games on grass, 13 errors in 109 games on the rug.
Drove in 21 runs in 22 games from Sept. 8 through Sept. 30.
In 61 ABs at Atlanta Stadium, he has eight HRs, a. 459 BA and a .967 slugging average.
He and Brett start the season with identical career totals in games (1,617) and RBIs (977).
Allowed an NL-high 30 homers; Reds were 6-14 when he gave up at least one.
Total of 78 extra-base hits allowed was 3rd highest in NL.
Allowed 25 first-inning runs in 29 starts, 2nd most In NL in'85.
Performance against Reds didn't inspire trade: 0-3 in four starts with a 7.40 ERA.
Made four appearances in which he faced only one batter, and got a save in each one.