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Price optimistic Reds will be better; Joey Votto reports to camp

The numbers don’t lie about the Cincinnati Reds. They lost 94 games in 2016 and 98 the year before.

Ever the optimist, manager Bryan Price expects this season to be a different story.

“We went from more of a veteran team to a much younger team,” Price said before Thursday morning’s workout. “I love the challenge, but I’d like to have won more than we did. I expect for us to be a really strong ballclub this year and to not have to make excuses for youth or depth.

“We have talent and it’s time to have a higher expectation of what we can get out of these guys.”

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Injuries have certainly have had a hand in derailing any hopes Price might have had in his first three seasons, but the skipper did see some positives to build on at the end of last season.

“I think what we saw in the second half of last season as we got healthy and got better performances from out pitching and had some guys pick it up offensively, we looked like a team that could compete against any team that we faced,” he said.

The “R” word has been thrown around a lot the last couple of years and Price says the club has turned the corner in its rebuilding.

“It’s the responsibility of the club to tell fans this is where we are and we’re being realistic,” Price said. “It’s hard to tell that to your fan base and not have it affect your players. As soon as you buy into a rebuild it’s like saying it doesn’t matter if you win or lose … but it does matter.”

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Price said he’s had plenty of input with General Manager Dick Williams in building the 2017 team, and he likes the mix of some veteran hitters with what he considers some of the strongest young arms in the game.

“I think they’re going to be really good, young and experienced players,” he said, “and I think they can do more than probably most of the people that follow our club think they can do.”

Votto arrives: First baseman Joey Votto reported to camp and said he gets “saddened” as teammates continue to disappear as part of the team’s rebuilding process. The latest to go was second baseman Brandon Phillips, shipped to the Atlanta Braves for two non-prospect pitchers.

“You miss the guys,” Votto told reporters. “It can be odd sometimes looking around the clubhouse and seeing certain players I used to play with not around. But I’m really excited about the next group. I’m excited to share future winning with them.”

Votto, 33, is now the oldest position player on the 40-man roster.

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