Loading scores...
Baseball Daily Dose

Suarez at Short?

by Ryan Boyer
Updated On: March 16, 2021, 12:15 pm ET

After searching far and wide for a shortstop all offseason, the Reds might have finally found one.

It’s their third baseman.

Eugenio Suarez will get the start at shortstop Tuesday for Cincinnati in their Cactus League contest against the Rockies, while Mike Moustakas will slide over to cover for Suarez at third base.

Shortstop isn’t completely foreign to Suarez, of course. He came up through the minors as a shortstop and it was his primary position with the Tigers in 2014 and with the Reds in 2015. Over the last five years, though, he’s made all of two starts there, and made no appearances at all at short since 2018.

“We have to see what it looks like. We're not making any decisions now, we have a lot of options. We have guys willing to do what's best for our team and have bought in to whatever it takes,” manager David Bell said. “That's making this look at Geno at shortstop possible.”

There’s a reason Suarez was moved off of shortstop previously, of course. Of the 33 players to play at least 500 innings at shortstop in 2015, no one ranked worse defensively than Suarez. The 29-year-old has also gotten noticeably bigger since then, but he shed 15 pounds over the winter and that’s a big reason why Bell is considering the move.

“I don't think I ever considered it seriously until the beginning of spring training,” Bell said. “I do think it did have something to do with how he came into camp just lighter and in really good shape. That's when it was first considered. Over the course of the last three weeks, he's gradually started working a little bit more on the backfields and I've seen him a few times. I've had conversations with him, feeling out the situation and he was open to it.”

If Suarez winds up sticking at shortstop, the domino effect would be Moustakas settling in at his natural position of third base and second base potentially opening up for prospect Jonathan India. India has opened eyes this spring, putting together a .333/.481/.571 batting line with one home run and one stolen base through 12 Cactus League games.

The No. 5 overall pick in the 2018 Draft, India’s numbers so far in the minors haven’t been great. He most recently posted a .767 OPS with 11 home runs and 11 stolen bases between High- and Double-A in 2019. He does have a good eye at the plate, though, and is a flyball hitter who would benefit from Great American Ball Park. If he’s starting, he’d be worth a look in deeper formats.

Kyle Farmer, Alex Blandino, Dee Strange-Gordon and Kyle Holder – all of who have been in the mix at shortstop – would also get a look at second if Suarez moves to short. However, you’ve got to think Suarez getting a serious look at shortstop is due in part because the Reds would plan to use India at second.

The shortstop position is pretty deep in fantasy, but Suarez gaining eligibility there certainly wouldn’t hurt his value. One thing to keep in mind if the Reds’ infield defense gets weakened is that it would ding their pitching staff, especially groundball guys like Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray.

Editor’s Note: Get an edge on draft day with our premium Draft Guide that is packed with rankings, projections, tiers, ADP reports, mock drafts, expert columns and much more. And don't forget to use promo code WELCOME10 to get 10% off. Click here to learn more!

 

Sho-Time Times Two

Can you hear that?

It’s the sound of Shohei Ohtani’s fantasy stock skyrocketing.

Ohtani continued his assault on the Cactus League Monday, smashing a pair of solo home runs to the opposite field in the Angels’ loss to the Reds. The victim of those two long balls? Fellow two-way player Michael Lorenzen.

“That first home run he hit, I thought it was an Arizona home run and me and [catcher] Tucker [Barnhart] looked at each other and started laughing,” Lorenzen said after the game. “I looked in at [pitching coach Derek Johnson] and he just said, 'Ah, forget about it.' But the second one, I think made up for the first one because it went about twice as far. Man, he's impressive.”

Ohtani is now 9-for-13 with three home runs so far this spring. His first dinger went over the batter’s eye in center field and was measured at 468 feet.

The 26-year-old put together a feeble .190/.291/.366 batting line across 175 plate appearances for the Angels last season. However, Ohtani has admitted that his surgically-repaired left knee was never 100 percent in 2020, which led to him struggling to keep his back foot planted in the box. He’s healthy now and has looked this spring more like the guy who batted .286/.351/.532 from 2018-19.

Ohtani’s results on the mound have been more of a mixed bag. Nine of the 12 outs he has recorded have come via the strikeout, and he has touched triple digits on the radar fun. However, he’s also surrendered six runs on nine hits and three walks, including five runs over 2 1/3 frames in his last outing Saturday.

While his bottom-line results as a pitcher this spring haven’t been great, it’s hard not to be extremely encouraged overall given how dynamite Ohtani’s stuff has looked and how many bats he’s missing. And, of course, the most important thing is that he’s looked healthy after making just two appearances the last two years because of arm issues.

The Angels plan to loosen the reins with Ohtani this season. They will use him just like all of their other rotation members, letting him start on five days’ rest as part of a six-man rotation. That’s more often than he pitched in 2018 when Sundays were typically “Ohtani Day.”

Ohtani also looks to be in line to be in the lineup more often. In the past, he never served as a designated hitter the day before or day after he pitched. That won’t necessarily be the case in 2021, as manager Joe Maddon has indicated a willingness to use Ohtani as a hitter whenever he feels physically up to it.

Fantasy managers are taking notice of the two-way star. From the beginning of NFBC draft season up until a month ago, Ohtani’s ADP sat at 230. Since then, it’s jumped up nearly 50 spots to 181.

 

American League Quick Hits: Luis Robert was scratched from Monday's lineup as a precaution due to a lower abdominal strain … Astros manager Dusty Baker said that Alex Bregman (hamstring) is "slated" to make his Grapefruit League debut on Tuesday … Hyun-Jin Ryu blanked the Tigers for four innings in the Jays' 4-0 victory Monday … Dylan Cease allowed one hit -- and no walks -- over three scoreless innings Monday in his Cactus League debut against the Cubs … Domingo German fanned six in four scoreless innings Monday as the Yankees topped the Phillies 4-2 … Alex Cobb tossed 3 2/3 innings of one-run ball Monday in a Cactus League start against the Reds. Cobb has impressed this spring after visiting Driveline Baseball over the offseason … Danny Duffy struck out four batters across four perfect innings Monday in a Cactus League start against the Giants … Logan Allen worked four scoreless innings in a Cactus League start Monday versus the Athletics … Mariners manager Scott Servais said Monday that Jarred Kelenic (knee) could get into a Cactus League game later this week … Chris Bassitt tossed 3 2/3 innings of one-run ball in his Cactus League start Monday against the Indians … Nick Pivetta limited the Rays to one run over four innings and struck out four on Monday … Xander Bogaerts (shoulder) was set to play in a simulated game on Monday morning in Red Sox camp … Hunter Harvey is reportedly "real sore" due to his oblique injury and is expected to miss an extended period of time … Athletics manager Bob Melvin said Monday that Mike Fiers (hip) is a "little bit of a longshot" to begin the year with the team … Brett Phillips will be sidelined for 3-4 weeks after being diagnosed with a Grade 1 left hamstring strain.

National League Quick Hits: Max Scherzer dominated the Cardinals on Monday, striking out seven in four scoreless innings … Giants manager Gabe Kapler said Monday that Aaron Sanchez and Logan Webb are both in “great position” to be part of the team’s rotation on Opening Day. It’s probably not a good sign for the health status of Alex Wood (back) who is headed to see a spine specialist … Corey Seager homered again Monday, giving him five home runs over his last six Cactus League games … Blake Snell allowed just one hit over three scoreless frames in a Cactus League start Monday against the Brewers … Ke'Bryan Hayes went 2-for-3 and homered off the Orioles' Matt Harvey in Monday's loss … Ryan Braun said in a radio interview Monday that while he's "not at a place where I'm ready to fully retire yet," he is "strongly leaning in that direction" … Making his spring debut, Sixto Sanchez pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings Monday in the Marlins' 6-5 defeat of the Astros … Tyler Anderson fanned seven while allowing two runs in four innings Monday against the Orioles … Chase Anderson tossed three scoreless innings and struck out four Monday against the Yankees … Bryse Wilson scattered five hits over four scoreless innings Monday against the Twins … Ryan Zimmerman went 2-for-3 and hit his third homer of the spring Monday against the Cardinals … Shogo Akiyama (hamstring) is expected to begin the season on the injured list … Lorenzo Cain (quad) is scheduled to play on Saturday and remains on track for Opening Day … The Rockies believe that Brendan Rodgers' hamstring issue is not serious.

Ryan Boyer

Ryan Boyer is a baseball writer for NBC Sports Edge. He can also be found on Twitter.