Reds’ Jesse Winker eager for 2019 season
HUNTINGTON - In 2018, Cincinnati Reds outfielder Jesse Winker was having the type of rookie season that Major League Baseball players wish for.
Winker was batting close to .300 in late July and had a .405 on-base percentage. Of the rookie performers at that time, Winker ranked first in walks (49), second in hitting, on-base percentage, multi-hit games and runs batted in (43). He also had four outfield assists.
The only thing that could’ve slowed Winker down at that time was an injury, which he unfortunately suffered in late July. The prognosis was a torn labrum that required surgery and ended his season.
While it was a disappointing and premature end to 2018 for Winker, that has not diminished his excitement for 2019 as he works back into the mix and gets set for spring training, which opens next month in Goodyear, Ariz.
“I am ready to go,” Winker said Saturday at the Reds Caravan visit to the Huntington Mall. “I’m 100 percent and I’m looking forward to getting this year started. It was not the way I wanted my year to end last year, but I’m just looking forward to a fresh chapter and a new chapter with a healthy shoulder.”
When the Reds get to Arizona for spring training Winker will feel right at home after spending the offseason there with team doctors and others assisting with his rehabilitation.
“It’s a lot of training, lot of rehab,” Winker said. “We have got a great staff there in Arizona. I’ve been up there the whole offseason. They’ve taken great care of me and they’ve gotten me back to 100 percent. Everybody involved with my shoulder, they are very thrilled with how its gone - this whole process - so I can’t complain. It’s been a really good time.”
The outfield will have a bit of a new look for the Reds as Winker gets set for his second season.
Center fielder Billy Hamilton is gone, but the Reds brought in Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp in a blockbuster trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers that helps bring offense while adding some depth to an outfield rotation that also features Winker, Scott Schebler and Phillip Ervin.
“I’m very excited with everybody we’ve added,” Winker said. “I look forward to playing alongside them and winning with them. It should be a good time.”
In addition to the outfield additions, Cincinnati made a move to bolster its starting pitching.
Alex Wood came over in the trade with Los Angeles and, on Monday, the team announced a deal with the New York Yankees to bring in coveted arm Sonny Gray, who has a career record of 59-52. The former first-round draft pick of the Oakland Athletics has won 10 games in four of his five full major league seasons.
The different faces all come together for a special 2019 season in Cincinnati. During the season, the team will wear several different jersey combinations to pay homage to the 150 years of professional baseball in Cincinnati.
“We’re representing the city and everybody who has put on the uniform,” Winker said. “If you think about that, that’s a really big deal. It’s an honor, a huge honor, so the fact that we get to do it with a bunch of different uniforms and represent the different eras of Cincinnati Reds baseball, I think it’s just really cool.”