GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) — Bryan Price won in his managerial debut, Ryan Ludwick and Joey Votto singled home runs, and the Cincinnati Reds beat the Cleveland Indians 8-3 on Wednesday.
Price was elevated from pitching coach to manager when the Reds fired Dusty Baker after last season despite their third playoff appearance in four years. Price managed a game for the first time at any level.
Chris Heisey hit a two-run homer and a double in the spring training opener for both Ohio teams. Ludwick has recovered from a shoulder injury that cost him most of last season and limited him after his return.
Billy Hamilton, who stole 13 bases for the Reds last September, drew a nine-pitch walk and stole a base as the Reds leadoff hitter. The 23-year-old Hamilton, expected to replace Shin-Soo Choo in center field, stole second and continued to third on Yan Gomes’ wild throw.
“We just throw them out there and they get to utilize their natural aggressiveness,” Price said. “We want guys to take some risks and challenge themselves on the bases. We can see what we need to work on or what guys have more to offer than we’ve known in the past.”
Votto, who drove in just 73 runs last season from the third spot in the batting order, hit an RBI single off lefty reliever T.J House.
Ryan Raburn doubled and scored for the Indians. He won a spot on Cleveland’s roster last year with a strong showing in spring training.
Indians: Trevor Bauer, trying to earn the fifth spot in the rotation, walked the first two batters of the game. He escaped without allowing a run when Gomes caught Brandon Phillips stealing as Votto struck out. “Gomes helped him out with that throw,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.
Bauer pitched one inning.
“I felt comfortable,” he said. “I got to work with some guys in scoring position that I would prefer not to. I got it all today. I just concentrate on getting the guy out. I don’t think of competing for a job.”
Reds: Alfredo Simon pitched two scoreless innings. He pitched exclusively out of the bullpen for Cincinnati the last two years, but is being considered as a starter.
“I worked on my two-seamer and it was pretty good,” Simon said. “It felt good to be a starter. It has been a long time.”
Simon started 16 games for Baltimore in 2011.
Reds: Ace Johnny Cueto failed to make three consecutive starts last season, but showed up in camp in good shape.
“There will be a collective sigh of relief when he leaves camp healthy,” Price said. “He hasn’t had any issues in throwing and fielding drills. It was a new injury that lingered last year,” Price said.
Latos and reliever Jonathan Broxton continue to progress coming off elbow surgery. Latos’ operation was minor, and he also a tear in his knee repaired. He has already thrown one bullpen.
“My best guess is that I will throw another one next weekend,” Latos said.
Indians: Infielder David Cooper is 100 percent recovered from a unique surgical procedure performed by Dr. Curtis Dickman of the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix. Cooper was injured sliding into first base headfirst while with Toronto in August 2012. The dive caused an injury that seemed minor at the time, but led to a spinal cord injury that threatened his career. In his first action since the injury, Cooper started and went 0 for 1 with a walk.
Reds reliever Trevor Bell is the grandson of Bob Bell, who was Bozo the Clown on radio in the 1950s. Bell, trying to win a spot in the Reds’ bullpen, pitched a scoreless ninth inning.
Former Reds ace Aaron Harang followed Bauer on the mound for Cleveland. The 35-year-old is competing for the starting rotation after pitching for Seattle and the New York Mets last season.
“When you get out in game situations, you’ve got to get it done,” Harang said. “I’ve been doing this long enough. I don’t think about competing. I’m just out there building myself up for the season and leave the rest up to the manager and coaches.”
The Reds and Indians share Goodyear Ballpark and play again Thursday and Friday. The Indians send Justin Masterson against Cueto on Thursday. Homer Bailey, who signed a six-year, $105 million contract last week, pitches for the Reds against Josh Tomlin on Friday.