Despite the plethora of new, high-priced faces and general enthusiasm surrounding this particular edition of Cincinnati Reds spring training in Goodyear, there has been one thing noticeably absent:
A giant, melon-sized gum bubble manning 3B.
While Mike Moustakas has made his lineup presence felt and Nick Castellanos has begun to ramp up action following an illness, the heart of the would-be Reds lineup has still been sidelined, as Eugenio Suarez gradually works his way back to health after a freak pool injury roughly a month ago. That injury caused enough damage to require a minor surgery from which he has yet to return to game action, but as The Enquirer’s Bobby Nightengale relayed earlier today, manager David Bell expects Geno to get back to DH duties by the end of the week.
David Bell says Eugenio Suárez is scheduled to DH in Friday’s game. It’s possible he could play Thursday with his shoulder feeling good. #Reds— Bobby Nightengale (@nightengalejr) March 9, 2020
That news is just about as welcome as it could be, obviously. Geno and his record-breaking 49 dingers last year served as the single greatest power source for a lineup that needed additions, and while the additions were certainly acquired this winter, they were brought in to complement his as much as anything. With him back, the 2020 vintage of the Reds should bop and bash with the best lineups in baseball, so it’s good to see him with the opportunity to at least get some spring work in before diving head-first into the regular season.
In other interesting David Bell quote-news, Nightengale also has him on record as suggesting he’ll bat Shogo Akiyama and Joey Votto 1-2 in the lineup on days when Shogo is playing, meaning he certainly has liked what he’s seen from Shogo in the first few weeks of action.
David Bell says Shogo Akiyama is expected to be the #Reds' leadoff hitter in games that he starts. He likes the on-base approach for Akiyama-Votto at the top of the lineup.— Bobby Nightengale (@nightengalejr) March 9, 2020
Shogo came to the Reds with quite the long record of on-base excellence in his career in Japan, repeatedly flirting (and often passing) the .400 mark over long stretches. That and Votto atop the order would, in theory, give the Reds the kind of consistent base-cloggers for the Suarez/Moustakas/Castellanos to drive in everyday, which is how this whole systemic offense is supposed to work, man. Of course, on days when Shogo is in the lineup and leading off, that will mean that one of Jesse Winker, Nick Senzel, or Castellanos is not in the lineup, but that’s the kind of wealth of depth that the front office has provided Bell with this winter, and that’s far from a bad problem to have.
Here we sit, just some 17 days from Opening Day, and it sure does appear that portions of this Reds roster, lineup, etc. are beginning to fall into place. Baseball’s so close you can begin to smell it, folks.