No Cincinnati Reds player has seemed more genuinely excited to talk to reporters on a Zoom call in the first week of Summer Camp than Eugenio Suarez, and that’s no surprise — he’s one of the friendliest players in the game. He admitted Monday one of the hardest things about the new health and safety protocols was being unable to hug anyone.
The Reds have made several players available to the media each day since workouts began Friday. Suarez took his turn stepping in front of the camera Monday at Great American Ball Park and greeted the faces on the other end with enthusiasm.
“I’m happy to be here with you guys,” he said.
Suarez, who’s entering his sixth season as the Reds’ starting third baseman, said he missed the media, his teammates and, of course, the game. He didn’t think about opting out of not playing this season because he said his family’s safe back in Miami and he feels comfortable with the precautions the Reds have taken to keep the players safe during the coronavirus pandemic.
“To be back on the field and see all my teammates around made me so happy,” he said. “Let’s go. That’s what I feel like. We’re here now. We’re going to do something special for our fans and our organization.”
Suarez is happy to be playing in general and happy to be healthy as well. He tore cartilage in his right shoulder in January after diving into a pool and underwent surgery. He said he may have been ready for Opening Day if the season had started on time, or he could have missed the first series. He isn’t sure.
What Suarez does know is he feels good now a little over two weeks before the 2020 season opener on July 24.
“My body feels great,” Suarez said. “My shoulder feels very good. My mind feels strong. I think everyone else feels very good. I’m happy to be back home in Cincinnati and to put everything together on the field and see what happens his year.”
Suarez has increased his home run totals ever season since his big-league debut with the Detroit Tigers in 2014. Last season, he hit a career-high 49 home runs. He has topped 100 RBI in two straight seasons.
After the suspension of spring training on March 12, Suarez returned home to Miami and joked about trying to avoid eating too much Venezuelan food, while working out with several other big leaguers. The group included Cleveland Indians second baseman Cesar Hernandez and Milwaukee Brewers right fielder Avasail Garcia, two fellow natives of Venezuela.
Throughout the spring, Suarez missed his teammates. The silver lining was he got to spend more time with his 2-year-old daughter. That helped him think about what life will be like when he retires. Still, he was ready for the return of baseball and said everybody has looked good in the early Reds workouts.
“Everybody’s in shape,” Suarez said. “Everybody looks like they did something at home during the quarantine. Everybody’s happy to be back on the field. That’s what we need. Good energy. Enjoy this time. I feel everybody needs it.”