Zack Cozart was on the way to his best season when a mis step at first basc on June 10 cost him the rest of the season.
Cozart’s nine home runs in 53 games more than doubled the four he hit in 147 games in 2014. He left with a .258 average which would have been his highest in his Major League career to date but a he tore ligaments in his right knee which required surgery on June 16.
Cozart, 30, was a finalist for the 2014 Rawlings Gold Glove Award but struggled at the plate with a .221 batting average. The Reds signed him to a one-year contract thorough 2016 to avoid arbitration.
“No chance,” Cozart said. “I couldn’t start swinging until a month ago. I wouldn’t say it was my normal offseason. I rehabbed all the way through to the end of the season. I was on a protocol where, I lifted, I lifted, I lifted. I got to the point where I could do agility drills and working side-to-side, eventually, getting into groundball and finally got to where I could start swinging (the bat).”
Brandon Phillips was glad to see Cozart back.
“Seeing Cozart back on the field was like a blessing in disguise,” Phillips said. “I really missed him a lot. He’s like a brother to me. He has played next to me more than anyone.”
Phillips has played in the field with 28 different shortstops but Cozart at 427 games has played next to him the most.
The team is on a youth program and acquired Jose Peraza in the offseason. Peraza could play second of short as well as the outfield Eugenio Suarez filled in for Cozart last season and looked good at the plate is going to get a shot at thirdbase with the departure of Todd Frazier.
Cozart is the still the Reds’ shortstop but Peraza is likely to see some time there this spring.
“We are going to take it slow with Zack,” manager Bryan Price said. “Peraza will get some time at shortstop.”
Meanwhile Cozart is “full go” this spring.
“I’m just working. I’m doing as much as I can. I’m feeling pretty good,” Cozart said. “I have no limitations just taking it slow. Basically, I’m not going to be standing around outside waiting on things to be done. While I’m loose and everything, I’ll get my work in. When it comes to my workload, I can do pretty much everything. I’m building stamina up right now.”
There are a lot of new faces in camp besides Peraza there are a lot of young pitchers and Cozart is interested to see them.
‘I haven’t seen much of them so far. I know that they work hard. They’re bringing a lot of energy,” Cozart said. “I looking forward to seeing not only the young position players but the pitchers to. I curious to see what they have. I’ve heard a lot of good things about them but the first time I will see them is in the first couple games. Hopefully, a lot of the young guys can help us win.”