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Price gives green light to improve baserunning

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GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Drivers dream of stretches of streets with only green lights ahead. For Reds baserunners during Spring Training, the light to run will always be green.

Manager Bryan Price wants his team to be more aggressive on the bases and is encouraging the players to run and take extra bases.

"The one way to find out where we need to improve is giving these guys more responsibility and more freedom in Spring Training and see what they do with it," Price said on Saturday. "We're not going to get to Opening Day and then give the green light to everyone. However, in Spring Training, it's the perfect time to evaluate what these guys are capable of doing and which guys need extra help."

Price believes giving players the chance to run during camp will create more discussion between them and the coaches and the opportunity for more teaching.

"We were a really good, aggressive baserunning team back in 2010," Price said. "A lot of people said it was the Scott Rolen effect, because he's such a professional. He took advantage of everything that was given to him. I think we want to get back there."

Reds right fielder Jay Bruce embraced the approach of running more this spring.

"We didn't run the bases very well last year in my opinion," Bruce said. "We have to do a better job of that and we're going to. That's one thing that's on the docket for me: take the extra base and be the best baserunner you can. That's something you can control."

The Reds were tied for 10th in the National League last season with 67 stolen bases. Only a handful of players attempted more than 10 steals, and Zack Cozart did not make any attempts. The club often relied on the big home run rather than manufacturing runs.

The presence of rookie Billy Hamilton atop the order will bring more steals, but Price would like to see improvement all the way down the order.

"I know that we need to be able to create scoring opportunities, especially in that bottom third of our lineup," Price said. "Being station to station didn't give us as many opportunities to score that I would have liked. I think we have to be somewhat creative."

"I think it's great. It's letting baseball players play baseball," Bruce said. "Each player will -- from the results -- will be aware of what they can and can't do. And if the player isn't, I'm sure Bryan and the staff will be watching. They will know who can and who can't."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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