Cincinnati Reds: Four players make Opening Day roster for first time

The Reds will have three new faces and one that is familiar to Dayton fans who will make the Opening Day roster for the first time.

Phil Gosselin, Cliff Pennington, Kevin Quackenbush have spent their time in pro baseball in other organizations. Phillip Ervin is a home-grown product.

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• Gosselin beat out Brandon Dixon and Alex Blandino for the utility role.

Gosselin, 29, has played in 256 big league games with Atlanta, Arizona, Pittsburgh and Texas. He is a .270 career hitter who hit .244 this spring. He has 132 pinch hit appearances with a .244 batting average and one home run. Gosselin has played all four infield positions, mostly second base, left field and right field.

“Gosselin was a guy we’ve been trying to get for the last two or three years because he was so good against us when he was with Atlanta,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “He fits the role. If you need him to play second or third or left field, I’m comfortable with that. He gives a good at bat against a left or right-handed pitcher. He hits the better guys late in the game.”

• Pennington can play multiple positions but shortstop is his stock in trade. The 33-year old was the Oakland Athletics top pick in 2005. He signed with the Reds in February after spending two years with the Angels backing up Andrelton Simmons. Pennington is a switch hitter with a career .243 average in 955 games over his 10-year career.

“He is good for our young players to be around. We have a lot of young players. We have a lot of young pitchers in our starting rotation,” Price said. “The leadership quality he brings are more important to us than the physical attributes.”

Pennington hit .205 in 19 games this spring. He played a lot of second base and third base this spring.

• Ervin gives the bench a speed component.

“Ervin can be an early bench bat, steal a base, score from first on a double, that kind of thing,” Price said. “That in and of itself isn’t enough. There are not a lot of at bats for Phil (Ervin). I will do my best to get him enough at bats so he can be productive.”

Ervin was the Reds first pick in the 2013 draft. He completes his five-year climb to the Reds in the role of fifth outfielder.

The 25-year old can play all three outfield position, giving Price the flexibility of three players who can cover center field.

Ervin hit .237 as a Dayton Dragon in 2014 which was consistent with his other seasons in the organization. He hit .242 with Daytona in 2015 and .239 with Pensacola in 2016.

Last season Ervin hit .256 at Louisville. He did slightly better with a .259 average in 28 games with the Reds. He hit three home runs for the Reds. Ervin has stolen 30 or more bases three times in pro ball. He had 23 at Louisville last year and four with the Reds.

• Quackenbush will bolster the bullpen. The right-hander, who struggled last season in San Diego, made the team as a non-roster invitee. Quackenbush has four years of Major League experience. He made at least 56 appearances from 2014-2016, but made just 20 appearances last season. He was 0-2 with a 7.86 ERA.

“Off the radar, Quackenbush has pitched very well,” Price said. “He is not overpowering but has good deception. He keeps the ball down with a good mix of breaking pitches.”

Quackenbush did not give up an earned run until he surrendered three in his last appearance of the spring.

“ It was a relief when they told me yesterday,” he said. “I was ecstatic. The last outing made the news very nice to hear. It was a tough walk off the mound. Knowing it was my last walk off the mound, made it harder. It was rewarding to hear that I made it.”

The Reds wrap up the exhibition season today at Texas. The Reds host the Nationals at 4:10 p.m. Thursday on Opening Day.

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