Reds, Brewers have hopeful opening weeks in transition years
MILWAUKEE >> Whether contender or assumed also-ran, baseball teams share at least one sentiment at the beginning of every season.
There is always hope.
Decent starts have some of the National League's underdogs thinking optimistically after the first week.
The Reds won five out of six against the Phillies and Pirates.
The Padres rediscovered their offense.
The Brewers? A .500 record after facing top teams San Francisco and Houston to open the year.
"Don't try to do too much; just do your own job," Brewers closer Jeremy Jeffress said after a 3-2 win Sunday over the Astros. "I'm telling you, we've got some guys that are going to take us a long way."
The Brewers did get beat up in a lopsided loss to the Cardinals on Monday in St. Louis' home opener.
Still, overall it has been an upbeat start to the rebuilding project in Milwaukee, where the Brewers have shed payroll over the past nine months and replenished the farm system. First-year general manager David Stearns is overseeing the renovations after helping to build the Astros into playoff contenders.
Stearns hasn't offered a timeline, though the Brewers do have a bevy of prospects on the horizon in the minors.
"It's a first for me," Attanasio said last week about the focus on rebuilding. "We know it's a lot of hard work ... but because (the franchise) has done it before, and David's done it before, we know we can do it again."
Here's a look at the first-week starts for other NL underdogs, by division:
There were thought to be two races in the NL Central this season, with the Cubs, Cardinals and Pirates jockeying for the division crown. At the other end were the Reds and Brewers, angling to avoid the basement.
Early advantage to Cincinnati, which went 5-1 in its season-opening, six-game homestand, even with four starters on the disabled list.
"It's only going to get better as our pitchers continue to get healthy. There is a lot of optimism here," manager Bryan Price said.
A familiar refrain after the Reds' started 4-0 last season. Cincinnati dropped its next three en route to a 98-loss season.
"We don't concede anything. We're not going to say it's OK to go out there and lose. Nobody wants to do that," Price said.
Figure the Phillies were on their way to a rough season after getting swept by the Reds? Well, Philly came back to take two of three from the NL champion New York Mets.
The Braves were not as fortunate after going 0-5 against Washington and St. Louis.
There is still optimism for the long-term future.
"Short-term expectations may not be. We've gone from one of the worst farm systems in our league in a snap of fingers to one of the best," said former team president John Schuerholz, who recently took more of an advisory type role as vice chairman
"It's going to be a lot of fun around here very soon," Schuerholz said.
San Diego hitters awoke from their slumber in Colorado, scoring 32 runs in three games after getting shut out at home by the Dodgers in three straight games to set a major league record.
The Rockies at least won the final game of the three-game set against the Padres to get to .500 after Week 1 in a division in which the Dodgers and Giants are the favorites. The Diamondbacks' addition of big-money, free agent ace Zack Greinke in the offseason also made NL headlines.
That story line has been supplanted, for now, by the rise of Rockies rookie shortstop Trevor Story, who hit .333 with seven homers in his first six games. The key is staying consistent after April, Colorado third baseman Nolan Arenado said.
"Obviously, April's an exciting month because baseball's back," Arenado said. "But we need that excitement throughout the whole year and we need guys to come out and really perform and be ready to play and including myself. We've got to keep the consistency and stay the track."
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