There’s a new competitor in the battle for the Cincinnati Reds starting shortstop position: Eugenio Suarez.
Suarez played shortstop in his rookie season with the Detroit Tigers in 2014 and in his first season with the Reds in 2015, but he has played third base the last five seasons.
The Reds planned to start Suarez at shortstop Tuesday night against the Colorado Rockies in Goodyear, Ariz.
“He’s been working throughout camp (at shortstop), off and on, still focusing at third base as well,” manager David Bell said Monday. “But we’ve seen enough in camp. Knowing his background and his original position being shortstop, we’re going to take this opportunity in the camp just to see him play a little bit at short and kind of just go from there. If nothing else, it’s good for him, and it also creates more flexibility with our infield.”
Suarez last appeared in a regular-season game at shortstop in 2018, but he plays the position when the Reds shift the infield.
“We’re looking forward to seeing it,” Bell said. “I think he’s looking forward to it. It’s not like he’s never done it before. He has a a history and a lot of experience.”
The Reds entered the spring with three players competing for the shortstop job: Dee Strange-Gordon; Kyle Farmer; and Jose Garcia.
Strange-Gordon has hit .263 (5-for-19) in eight games. He has started four games at shortstop. Farmer has hit .250 (6-for-24) in nine games, making six starts at shortstop. Garcia is hitless in 12 at-bats and has started one game at shortstop and appeared as a defensive replacement in seven games.
Moving Suarez to shortstop would give the Reds a spot for Jonathan India, who would play second base. Mike Moustakas would move to third base. That’s the position he played for the majority of his career, but he moved to second base when he came to the Reds because Suarez was the starter at shortstop.
India has hit .333 (7-for-21) in 12 Cactus League games. He has appeared in 10 games at second base in spring training and made two appearances at third base. India said earlier in spring training he was ready for the big leagues, and he may now be on the path to make his debut three years after the Reds drafted him with the fifth overall pick in the first round.
The Reds promoted India to the big-league camp Friday.
“It’s great news for me,” India said. “I just took it as another day. You can’t get ahead of yourself. But I’m really grateful to be in this position. I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing.”
Notes: Outfielder Shogo Akiyama suffered a left hamstring strain while running out a ground ball Saturday and will start the 2021 season on the injured list. He will miss at least a few weeks, Bell said.
“He loves to play,” Bell said, “and obviously he’s disappointed. He has a challenge in front of him now to get healthy, and no one’s going to work harder than he is to get back.”