GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Scott Schebler had a historic first full season in the Major Leagues in 2017. Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price said he sees no reason not to expect more of the same from the 27-year-old outfielder this season.
Schebler finished last year with 67 RBI, 25 doubles and 30 home runs, 22 of those coming before the All-Star break. Schebler became just the seventh right fielder in Reds history to hit at least 30 home runs in a single season, joining Jay Bruce, Frank Robinson, Dave Parker, Wally Post, Ival Goodman and Ken Griffey Jr. Bruce and Robinson each did it three times.
Schebler started 115 games in right field last season, but Price said Schebler likely will see some time in center as part of a four-man rotation in the outfield.
Adam Duvall, Billy Hamilton, Phillip Ervin and Schebler will make up the four-man crew.
"Right now, we'll get everybody regular at-bats," Price said. "The guys that have been there – Schebler, Duvall and Hamilton – they're regular Big Leaguers to me."
Price said Jesse Winker, who played 25 games in right field last season, also will see some time.
Price, entering his fifth season as Reds manager, has mentioned the plan several times this spring. He said it's just something he's doing to keep things competitive, "fluid" and to keep players healthy.
"We knew we were coming in with a four-man outfield," Schebler said. "That was kind of on everybody's mind. It's a competitive world we're in. I'm just competing for a spot. I want to be an everyday guy. That's what I'm competing for. I want that everyday spot. Do I think it benefits us to have four outfielders that can play? Yeah. But I still want that spot in the everyday lineup."
Price said Schebler will play center in the event Hamilton, who missed 13 games last September with a broken thumb, isn't in the lineup.
After tallying 125 strikeouts a season ago, which ranked fourth-most on the team, Schebler said he wanted to focus more this spring on learning the strike zone.
"Last year, I took a lot of pitches," he said. "But I didn't take them aggressively. I didn't take them like I was going to hit it. It was more of a passive take. This year, I'm going up trying to find a pitch. And if it's not there, I'm taking."
Schebler had a .233 batting average in 473 at-bats last season. He's hitting .500 with two home runs and 10 RBI in 28 plate appearances this spring (entering Friday).
Price acknowledged Schebler's growth at the plate, saying the 6-foot, 228-pound Iowa native is no longer chasing the high fastball out of the zone.
But Price said Schebler's true maturation has come in the field and with his work with outfield coach Billy Hatcher.
"(Schebler) has worked really hard on his defense and his throwing," Price said. "He's always been an above-average defensive outfielder with the glove. But maybe the knock initially was he didn't throw really well or well enough as a right fielder. He has greatly improved his throwing. I have no qualms at all about him playing right field or center."
The Reds acquired Schebler from the Dodgers in December 2015 in a three-team deal that sent Todd Frazier to the White Sox.
Schebler won the 2013 Branch Rickey Award as the Dodgers' Minor League Player of the Year.
But Schebler's first Major League Opening Day experience came last season in Cincinnati. He said he can't wait until March 29, when the Reds open the 2018 campaign against the Nationals.
"That parade is unbelievable," he said. "From what I've heard from other people who play on other teams, there's no better place than opening day in Cincinnati."