Brandon Phillips’ T-shirt at a pregame press conference Monday read “Got Swag?” The flashy Reds second baseman can answer yes to his own question. He might lead the league in swag.
That’s not a reference to the old definition of swag, an ornamental drapery or curtain. In this case, swag is short for swagger. Phillips, aka DatDudeBP on Twitter, has plenty of that, and he’ll need it for he and the Reds to achieve their goals in 2013.
“I feel we owe it to the city to bring a championship back to Cincinnati,” he said before Opening Day against the Angels. “It didn’t go the way we wanted it to go last year. I think the fans felt like that, and we felt like that also.
“It still hurts me to this day, but it’s time for us to worry about this year and go out there and win as many games as possible and get back to the postseason.”
Playing the Angels and Nationals in the first two series will help the Reds prove they’ll be contenders again.
“I’m glad we’re playing these guys at the beginning to see what type of team we really are,” Phillips said. “I think it’s a challenge. It’s good to always get the best teams out of the way now.”
Final roster: Veteran infielder Cesar Izturis, 33, made the Opening Day roster for a number of reasons over Jason Donald and Emmanuel Burriss. Izturis hit .333 in the spring, and this will be his 13th season in the big leagues with his ninth different teams.
“He’s a guy that has experience,” manager Dusty Baker said. “He’s very sure-handed. The fact that we lost Scott Rolen and Miguel Cairo, we needed some leadership, especially coming off the bench, and he had the best spring of the other guys he was competing against.”
The other big move on Sunday involved reliever Logan Ondrusek, who was sent to Double-A Pensacola, where he’ll be reunited with pitching coach Tom Brown.
“Tom Brown turned his career around,” Baker said. “(Ondrusek) wasn’t throwing very well (in the spring). He knew it. His velocity was down for whatever reason. He wasn’t hurt.”
Interleague play: This was the first interleague Opening Day game in Major League history.
The Angels came into the game having won eight of their last nine openers, and they were 4-2 all-time against the Reds. The teams played three games in Los Angeles in 2002 and three in Cincinnati in 2007.
“We’re not as familiar with (the Angels) as we would be a team in our league,” Baker said. “They’re probably not as familiar with us. Playing these interleague games so quickly, you hope for no rainouts. They only come here once. You’ve got to pray for good weather.”
Shades of October: In their last game of the 2012 season, Game 5 of the National League Division Series, the Reds left the tying run on base in the last four innings, and in the last three games of that series against the Giants, the Reds were 3-for-24 with runners in scoring position.
The Reds left four runners on in the first three innings Monday.
Statue shows spirit: A large Reds cap adorned the head of the statue of Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus in the park at Sawyer Point on Monday. The Roman statesman has faced west toward Great American Ball Park, and Riverfront Stadium before it, since 1988.
By the numbers
7: Batters in a row retired by Reds starter Johnny Cueto to start the game.
1: Former big leaguers to have thrown out the ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day at GABP. Joe Torre became the first Monday.
60: Consecutive Opening Days on which Reds have scored at least one run.
40: Consecutive Opening Days broadcast by Hall of Famer Marty Brennaman.