CINCINNATI — The logjam is coming and it might take a stick of dynamite to unjam it and even that might not work.
And even if the Cincinnati Reds trade shortstop Zack Cozart and let him go through free agency there remains a possible traffic jam in the infield.
Nick Senzel, the team’s No. 1 draft pick last year, is a third baseman who is sprinting through the organization like a California forest fire. He might be ready next year.
So what do the Reds do? Do they move Eugenio Suarez back to his natural position at shortstop. Well, how about Jose Peraza, whom the Reds have had ticketed there as Cozart’s replacement. Could Peraza play second? Well, how about Scooter Gennett?
AS ONE MIGHT EXPECT, manager Bryan Price is reluctant to chat about it, calling it more of an organizational decision.
But he made one thing as clear as bottled water — he likes Eugenio Suarez at third base.
“I think Suarerz is playing the position at such a high level right now,” said Price. “You have to do what’s best for the team. I don’t even want to talk about it because I don’t to speculate if he is the moveable piece. I like him at third. He is doing a heck of a job. And he has done a nice job
of transitioning to third.”
Suarez was obtained from the Detroit Tigers before the 2015 season in exchange for pitcher Alfredo Simon, a virtual high-jacking.
He was a shortstop but Reds traded Todd Frazier and moved Suarez to third. At first he was one step below awful defensively, but now he is one step above terrific.
And his offense just keeps getting better. This month he is hitting .333 with eight home runs and 19 RBI.
“And there is still plenty of room for him to continue to improve,” Price add. “He was a really fast starter, then things dropped and now he is coming back up again. There is less of an ebb and flow this year than there was last year.
“What we’re seeing now is a lot better strike zone discipline, trusting in his two-strike approach and power from gap-to-gap,” Price added. “And the improved defense from the beginning of the season to now has been sensational.”
LUIS CASTILLO IS ALREADY 20 INNINGS beyond the most innings he has thrown during his young career and it is something the Reds are monitoring.
When he takes the mound Saturday against the Pittsburgh Pirates he will be at 150 innings this season — 80 at Class AA Pensacola and 70 with the Reds.
Last year he pitched a combined 132 innings at Class A and Class AA in the Miami Marlins system.
“He will pitch until his innings are up and that can’t be much longer,” said Price. “We have to consider he threw 130 innings last year, so he has some wriggle room, but not a lot.”
Price would not put a number on the innings, saying he didn’t want to be locked in, “But that doesn’t mean if he continues to throw good he will continue until the season is over. So, it is hard to say, other than we know there are two more in there.”
CATCHER STUART TURNER IS leaving the team after Thursday’s game, going on maternity leave. And the catcher Tucker Barnhart’s wife is due any minute.
To cover Turner, the Reds will bring up a catcher from the minors. Price knows who it is, but wouldn’t reveal it because that player hasn’t been notified. There are no 40-man roster catchers at Class AAA Louisville or Class AA Pensacola, but the logical choice would be Louisville catcher Chad Wallach.
And what happens if Sierra Barnhart goes into laboer over the next few days?
“This is one of those things we can’t control,” said Price. “After Turner leaves we’ll add a catcher for Friday and hope that the Barnharts don’t have their kid during that time. But it certainly is not in my control.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY
Joey Votto’s 10-year anniversary as a major league baseball player Thursday and when somebody congratulated him he smiled and said, “Thank you very much. Now I can get my full pension.” In near-unison, three writers looked at each other and said, “As if he needs it.”