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Price sets nerves aside, slides right in to new role

Price sets nerves aside, slides right in to new role

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- On the morning of his first-ever game as a manager, at any level, Bryan Price didn't have too many butterflies in his stomach Wednesday before the Reds opened their Cactus League schedule against the Indians.

"I woke up at 4 and I usually wake up at 4:30, so I had a half-hour to jumpstart the anxiety," Price joked.

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Most of the nerves Price felt about his new job were actually experienced in the early days of the offseason, just after he was promoted from pitching coach to manager in October to replace Dusty Baker.

"When I first got hired was when I realized the size of the job, so there was a lot of sleepless nights or times when you wake up and can't get back to sleep," Price said. "I want to do this thing right and feel like everything is in order. I think the best thing that I've done is get the right people in place on the coaching staff. In the end, this is a bad job to try to micromanage. It's provided me with a lot of better nights of sleep."

After four years as Reds pitching coach, Price didn't expect to form many different dugout nuances as a manager. He sat in a chair behind the dugout rail next to the top step.

Dugout positioning was less on Price's mind than communicating with his coaches and players. One player, third baseman Todd Frazier, did not notice anything different in Price's demeanor now that he's at the helm.

"I think he's the same. He's a fun-loving guy. He enjoys the game. There is no pressure really. It's Game 1 and he understands it's going to be a lot of fun for us," Frazier said. "He came up to everybody and said, 'Let's have a good year, keep having fun and let's be the team we want to be.'"

Price didn't expect to be overly creative with strategy during the first few exhibition games. That will come later.

"Let these guys get used to seeing pitches again and playing the game before we get too focused on situational baseball," Price said.

There was still plenty to keep Price busy throughout his first game.

"It's funny how you can't drop your head," Price said after an 8-3 win. "You drop your head and realize you've got to give a sign. You've got to check your infielders, the depth they're playing or the outfield positioning, and realistically, I'm going to turn it over to the guys that run those areas. There is so much to be constantly watching for, anticipating and being at least a pitch ahead -- if not a hitter ahead. Routine and repetition will help."

At one point during the game, Price allowed himself a moment of sentimentality when he noticed third-base coach Steve Smith on the field.

"We go back to 1991 with Seattle in the Minor Leagues. I was looking over to him at third base waiting for my sign," Price said. "That took me by surprise, but it was a pretty neat thing to see that 23 years later, that he and I would be back together on the same staff. It's pretty neat."

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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