CINCINNATI – From Pete Rose to Barry Larkin to Ken Griffey Jr., Ron Oester and Bill Doran, the Reds have had numerous Cincinnati-area natives play for them through the decades.
Signed during the past offseason, catcher Luke Maile is the latest member of that club within the club. Maile, who is joined by Curt Casali in backing up Tyler Stephenson, grew up in Northern Kentucky and went to Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills, Ky. He's played for Tampa Bay, Toronto, Milwaukee and Cleveland before finally getting to play for his favorite team growing up.
It's been a strong start with the Reds for Maile, who is batting .286/.348/.548. He has three homers in 21 games, equaling a career high for a season that he's done three previous times. The 32-year-old has also demonstrated leadership on the team.
"He’s serious, but he’s not quiet. He’s pretty outspoken in a good way on our team," Reds manager David Bell said. "Players have really looked to him. He has become a big part of our team and a big voice for our team."
This week, I spoke to Maile about his time so far with the Reds.
MLB.com: Now that you’ve been doing this here for six weeks, is playing in your hometown what you hoped it would be?
Maile: Yeah. In that respect, it has. I’m a little disappointed with where we are in the win-loss column right now, obviously. But it doesn’t change the fact that it’s an honor to play here. I don’t use that word lightly. It is an honor to play for the Reds. Kind of a pleasant surprise here for me is just seeing the energy that we play with and the preparation of our young guys, especially. That sticks out that they have so much attention to detail. I’ve been impressed with it.
MLB.com: As a kid or coming up in professional baseball, who were some of the Reds players you really admired or liked?
Maile: Barry Larkin is probably the first one I remember. At the time when I was a kid, I played a lot of shortstop. He was the captain. I remember they had a really good team in 1999. They didn’t make it to the playoffs, but they had Greg Vaughn. I always tried to hit like him. [I liked] Sean Casey and then when I started catching, Jason LaRue was the everyday guy. I was watching him play a lot. There’s too many to name. If you gave me a minute, I could probably name every starting lineup on Opening Day.
MLB.com: Has it been a bonus to also have been personally successful so far while playing here this season – both hitting and catching?
Maile: Of course, 100 percent it is. There’s a lot of season left but when you’re on a new team, I don’t know if relief is the right word, but I will say it. It’s a huge relief to get off to a good start. It takes a little bit of pressure off guys. They see what you’re about. They see what you’re capable of and you feel a part of it. It’s absolutely nice to have some personal success at the plate. At the end of the day, nobody really cares unless you win games. That’s the goal.
I know it’s cliché, but that’s the truth. At this level, you’re not up here to have personal success and then just hold your hat on that. You’ve got to win.