As former Reds’ manager, Jack McKeon, used to say,”When Mr. opportunity knocks, open the door and say come on in.”
Eugenio Suarez knows Mr. Opportunity when he comes-a-knockin and he is opening the door.
Todd Frazier was traded leaving the Reds with two shortstops and a gaping hole at thirdbase. Suarez, a shortstop all his life, opened the imaginary door in the 5-6 hole and seized the opportunity.
Zack Cozart was a finalist for the Rawlings Gold Glove Award in 2014 and was on his way to his best season in the Major Leagues in 2015 until a knee injury cut his season short. It created an opportunity for Suarez, who came to the Reds from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for Alfredo Simon.
Suarez played 97 games for the Reds at shortstop and showed he had a corner infielder’s bat. The 24-year old from Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela hit a solid .280 with 13 home runs, 19 doubles and 48 RBI.
The downside is that he made 19 errors at shortstop and if you combine that with his error total from Louisville, he committed 30 errors in 154 games.
“We feel like he can do a really nice job at thirdbase,” Price said. “He’s smart enough to see the big picture. We talked about it last year. He’s been a shortstop all his life. He played a little bit of thirdbase, a little bit of secondbase. Relinquishing that spot to go someplace else to play everyday has been a selfless act on his part, but it’s also a smart decision.”
Suarez hit two doubles in the Cactus League opener against Cleveland and handled one groundball. Saurez doubled and scored in two at bats Wednesday. He handled three chances without an error, including a nice backhanded stop off the bat of Roberto Perez to end the second inning.
Billy Hamilton DH
Manager Bryan Price put Billy Hamilton, who had shoulder surgery in September, in the lineup as a designated hitter.
“Billy is having fatigue issues consistent with the surgery,” Price said. “I will flip him between DH and the outfield depending on how he’s feeling. Some day’s he’s feeling really good throwing from the outfield. Other days he’s feeling achiness. Shoulder surgery is a son-of-a-gun. Just when you think you’re over the hump, it comes back to tell you that there’s a way to go.”
It is not expected to keep him from playing opening day.
Hamilton was 0-for-2 with a strikeout.
Three Reds’s starting pitchers, Raisel Iglesias (shoulder fatigue), John Lamb (back) and Homer Bailey (elbow), are progressing with their throwing progams. Iglesias and Baily threw 35-pitch bullpens this morning. Lamb threw his fourth bullpen, 30-pitches, on Monday.
“I’m just going with the flow, getting my back and body ready to go,” Lamb said. “I’m going through the groups during team fundamentals. Right now I feel good.”
Iglesias will face hitters in live batting practice this weekend and pitch in games around the 10th of March. Bailey and Lamb will face hitters then pitch in games closer to the middle of the month.
Robert Stephenson, the Reds’ top draft choice in 2011, pitched two scoreless innings. The right-hander is in the mix for a spot in the Reds’ starting rotation. He allowed a hit and a walk.
“My nerves go the best of me in the first inning,” Stephenson said. ‘I was able to get on top of the ball in the second inning. There is a lot of difference between starting a game and pitching the eighth or ninth like I did two years ago when I pitched in a game here.”
RHP Anthony DeSclafani will start for the Reds against the Indians on Wednesday. RHP Layne Somsen, LHP Jonathan Sanchez, RHP Stephen Johnson, RHP J.J. Hoover, RHP Pedro Villarreal and RHP Sal Romano will follow for the Reds.