Moustakas feeling comfortable with move to 2B

March 6th, 2019

PHOENIX -- Two weeks into the project, and with three weeks remaining before Opening Day, has answered the most basic question about his proposed shift to second base?

In other words, is this going to work?

“Yeah, I think so,” Moustakas said Wednesday. “I always ask [manager Craig] Counsell and [bench coach Pat] Murphy and [first-base coach] Carlos [Subero] about how I look over there, and they say I look good. I’m moving around good. I’m in the right spot when I need to be. Obviously, there are still some things I need to work on, and I think that just comes with playing in all the games and continuing to work and practice and all that stuff. 

“Other than that, I feel really comfortable over there.” 

Counsell has described Moustakas’ Spring Training task in similar terms to Ryan Braun’s short-lived move to first base last year. The aim is to experience as many different plays as possible in exhibition games, and even if there are mistakes along the way, those experiences are in the player’s proverbial tool belt for next time. 

One critical play Moustakas has yet to experience in a game: turning a double play. 

“In games? Zero,” Moustakas said. “There haven’t been many double plays yet, period.” 

“But that’s just in games,” said Brewers utility man Tyler Saladino, who walked past Moustakas’ locker during the conversation. “How many have we turned in practice?” 

Hundreds, at least. And Saladino said Moustakas looks “like a natural second baseman” in those practice sessions. 

That’s not particularly surprising. Moustakas was a shortstop his whole life before converting to third base full time during his second full season in the Royals’ Minor League system. When the Brewers traded for Moustakas last July, he manned third and Travis Shaw moved to second.

But when Moustakas re-signed last month on a one-year, $10 million contract, the Brewers’ preference was to keep Shaw at third, in part because defensive metrics rank Shaw higher. At second base, Moustakas is a one-year bridge to middle-infield prospects Keston Hiura and Mauricio Dubon. 

“I feel like I’m going to play a good second base,” Moustakas said. “It will be good.”

That’s become clear to Counsell, whose latest look at Moustakas came Tuesday in the Brewers’ 1-0 win over the Rockies in Scottsdale.

“His game situation awareness has really been good, too, which is always good to see,” Counsell said. “A lot of the awareness stuff is better than expected. You feel like the right questions are coming out. His work, really, has been very, very good. He’s doing well.”

Moustakas was not in the lineup Wednesday, so his next game action will probably come Friday, when the Brewers are home again against the D-backs. He had five hits, including two doubles and a homer, in his first 12 Cactus League at-bats.

“I would rather [mistakes] don’t happen, but if there’s a time to make mistakes, it’s now,” Moustakas said. “Now’s a good time to learn from them. But with all the shifting and movement we have, I feel like I’ve already played second base a handful of times every game. And once we have in-depth scouting reports and charts, I think it will be even [easier]. No matter what, I feel comfortable over there.”