Reds drop Opening Day lineup with surprise Elly De La Cruz decision

The Reds shortstop is in the starting lineup, but not where you would think.

Cincinnati Reds shortstop Elly De La Cruz
Cincinnati Reds shortstop Elly De La Cruz / Chris Coduto/GettyImages

Throughout spring training, Elly De La Cruz received most of his at-bats as the Cincinnati Reds' No. 2 hitter. After the leadoff experiment during a 20-plus game stretch in 2023 didn't work out, it's not surprising to see manager David Bell abandon that idea heading into 2024. It is rather odd, however, to see De La Cruz all the way down at No. 6 in the Reds batting order.

Bell's lineup card has Jonathan India leading things off against Washington Nationals pitcher and former Reds farmhand Josiah Gray. The Nats' starter was part of the 2018 trade that brought Yasiel Puig and Kyle Farmer to Cincinnati.

India will be followed by Will Benson who's drawing the start in center field. Bell said prior to the season that with Friedl on the injured list, the Reds would rely on the duo of Benson and Stuart Fairchild taking over in center field.

Reds drop Opening Day lineup with surprise Elly De La Cruz decision

Taking Joey Votto's spot, both in the batting order and on the field, will be Christian Encarnacion-Strand. The slugger put up incredible numbers during spring training, and will be looking to carry that over to the regular season.

Batting cleanup will be free agent signee Jeimer Candelario. The veteran will be manning the hot corner today, taking the place of suspended infielder Nolevi Marte. Slotted behind Candelario is Jake Fraley, followed by De La Cruz. With Gray on the hill, De La Cruz, a switch-hitter, will be batting from the left side until Nationals manager Dave Martinez decides to go to his bullpen.

Just as surprising as De La Cruz batting sixth in the Reds Opening Day lineup is the fact that Spencer Steer is hitting seventh. Last year's rookie will be occupying left field, a position he's been hard at work trying to master this spring.

The final two spots in the Reds Opening Day lineup will see Nick Martini at DH and Tyler Stephenson catching. Frankie Montas, who signed a one-year, $16 million deal with the Reds this offseason, is Cincinnati's Opening Day starter.

There you have it, Reds Country. Opening Day is here. Enjoy the festivities. Nobody does Opening Day like Cincinnati. Go Reds!

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