By: Matthew McAdow
With the freezing temperatures, snow, and enormous amounts of rain over the last couple weeks, baseball has never felt so far away. However, pitchers and catchers report on February 13th, along with the first Spring Training game occurring in roughly a month. While cabin fever might be getting the best of us here in Ohio, baseball is nearly at our fingertips. I think I can hear “Squints” saying ‘Just a little bit farther’ every time I gaze into my Reds calendar and mark off another day. While I have spent the last few weeks talking about my opinion on the rotation, the competition battles between players, where Joey Votto may end up, and more, this week felt like a perfect time to hear from Cincinnati’s favorite broadcaster and the future outfielder for the Cincinnati Reds.
John Sadak Q&A
As we all know, John Sadak is the Reds TV sports announcer and has been doing so since 2021. His exciting calls, knowledge of the game, and his outreach to the community is second to none. He quickly became a fan favorite and there is nothing the people of Cincinnati enjoy more than tuning in on a Summer day to listen to Sadak call a game. I have been blessed to talk baseball with John a few times over the years and I think I speak for everyone in Cincinnati when I state “Cincinnati wants this to be your forever home.”
Q: What has Cincinnati’s favorite broadcaster been up to during the off-season?
A: “LOL, you’d have to ask Marty or Dan! As for me, a fun mix of NFL/college football, college basketball and family time. One of the highlights had me calling Ravens/Titans in London. My wife and daughter took the trip with me and we got to spend a full week in England as a family. Our first European vacation. Marty and Amanda kindly helped us with advice and connected us with a local tour guide. We had a fantastic time.”
Q: With Spring Training approaching, what competition battles are you most excited to watch?
A: “I think my favorite will be for the starting rotation. There are so many options, this will be one of the bigger spring trainings for starters in some time. Who is healthy/performing? Who may help the team in the big league bullpen versus being a Triple-A starter? I can’t wait to see what happens with this much very young talent vying for those spots.”
Q: Is this the most excited you’ve been for a Reds season with the anticipation of success in 2024?
A: “Without question. So much excitement from last season, and with those accomplishments, expectations for 2024. Something the team itself definitively recognizes and welcomes.”
Q: What was your favorite moment from the 2023 season and why?
A: “That’s so darn hard. There were so many electric moments. But to me, I think it was Elly’s cycle. At the peak of the 12-game winning streak. Facing a Braves team that was the barometer of greatness at the time. A wild, back-and-forth night. A huge crowd just buzzing with amazing energy. Joey goes deep twice! The City Connect uniforms. And Elly in his 15th big league game hits the Hollywood script, delivering what no Red had done in decades. And the crowd KNEW it – perfectly reacted to it. The most fun I’ve ever had at one baseball game in my life, all thanks to the team’s talents/contagious energy, and the crowd’s thirst for it all.”
Q: If you were to rank the teams in the NL Central as it currently stands, what would it look like? A: “Somewhat fluid right now. The Rhys Hoskins signing by Milwaukee is significant, I think he is a huge addition. Aroldis Chapman to a talented Pirates bullpen is another big add. As of when I’m answering this, we still don’t know what’s happening with Cody Bellinger and the Cubs, or if he may wind up somewhere else. Right now, I’d go: Reds, Brewers, Cubs, Pirates, Cardinals. But the Cardinals have been proven winners for a long time. Sonny Gray was an excellent addition. Their culture is historically strong. And the Cubs have a darn talented team that added one of the best managers in baseball. Plus, the minor league help coming in this division is robust – particularly with the Reds, Brewers and Cubs. I think you can make a case this is the most competitive division in baseball. That the teams from top to bottom are as close to each other as any other division.”
Q: With Spring Training quickly approaching, what are you looking forward to the most?
A: “Warm weather, joyous optimism and the sounds of sizzling/hissing baseballs off swinging bats and into the pockets of gloves. Also, Grimaldi’s pizza in the desert!”
Blake Dunn Q&A
A lot of the fanbase has seemingly been worried about a right-handed outfield bat going into this 2024 season. However, a right-handed bat that hit .312 with 23 homeruns is in our system and I couldn’t be more excited to see how Spring Training goes for Blake. Blake is a 6 foot, 25 year old outfielder who recently was awarded the Reds Minor League Player of the Year. Get familiar with this name Cincinnati, as I think we are going to be hearing it quite often this year as Blake makes his mark on the Queen City!
Q: What is your goal for the 2024 season?
A: “My goal for the 2024 season is to stay healthy, continue to play hard and help my team win as many games as possible.”
Q: You had 23 home runs last season. Is power something you’re continuing to focus on as you continue to grow as a player?
A: “Power isn’t something that I focus on as a player. I focus on trying to hit line drives, put together as many quality at bats as possible. The power comes from thinking to hit line drives and when I’m just underneath the ball that line drives turns into home runs.”
Q: Against LHP, you batted .359 last season. Has batting against LHP always been a strength of yours?
A: “I think I’ve always been pretty good against LHP even going back to college, seeing the ball come towards me and seeing it come from across the plate from a lefty is beneficial to a righty hitter. However, I also have confidence and the ability to hit right handers as well and I think that’s what helps me be a complete hitter.”
Q: What is one thing you are currently working to improve on before Spring Training?
A: “Throughout this offseason I’ve been working on continuing to handle the high pitch with the high fastballs that are being thrown a lot in today’s game. I’ve also worked a lot on driving the ball the other way while continuing to build on my strength to the pull side.”
Q: If you could have a batting practice with any past or current player, who would you choose and why?
A: “If I could have a batting practice with a former player or current player I would choose Ken Griffey Jr. He played for the reds and he’s one of the best hitters to play the game with one of the sweetest swings in the game.”
Q: With your speed and arm, are you hoping to play center field?
A: “I think the tools that I have give me the chance to be a great center fielder for a long time, however I know I can also play very well in the corner outfield spots. And for me I work on all three in bp and getting reads in all 3 positions so that wherever I end up playing I’m a high quality defender at that position.”
Q: What is your favorite moment in your career?
A: “My favorite career moment is kind of multiple little moments. I wouldn’t be here without the people that support me the most and so I would say that my favorite moments are when my parents, my siblings, my girlfriend, and my college coaches are able to come to games and watch me play. Those people have been by my side for so long and I love when they support from afar but it’s extra special when they are able to come watch in person.”