MESA, Ariz. -- With every day that passes, Opening Day draws nearer. Along with that comes the time crunch of whether Reds third baseman Eugenio Suárez, who is on the comeback trail from right shoulder surgery, will be ready to take the field.
While it was clear ahead of Friday’s 11-5 win over the A’s that the expectation remains that the Venezuelan slugger will be in the lineup come March 26, there are still questions surrounding how it will happen.
Namely: How many spring games will Suárez need to play in to be ready for the start of the year?
“It’s different, depending on the player,” manager David Bell said. “An experienced player like Geno, I think it can be a lot [fewer games] than another player. I’ve seen guys of Geno’s level of experience get ready in a really short matter of time.
“And I think the other part is that it’s not like it’s an injury where he hasn’t been able to do a lot. That’s the advantage that he has. It’s really just waiting on the health to get to a point where he can go out and [perform]. It can happen fast.”
Suárez took swings in the batting cage Friday, an indication that his optimistic target remains within reach.
If Suárez is not ready to play, Mike Moustakas is the likeliest candidate to fill his place. Signed this offseason to be the team’s second baseman, Moustakas has extensive experience at the hot corner, having made 95.8 percent of his career starts at third.
While the team has multiple internal options in the short-term, Nick Castellanos, who spent four big league seasons as a third baseman for Detroit, is not one of them. Bell spoke highly of the work that Castellanos has put in defensively in right field and said that the team doesn’t plan on shifting him back to the infield.
Miley on the mound
Wade Miley’s second start of the spring ebbed and flowed between success and a loss of the strike zone. He ultimately worked 2 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on two hits and four walks while striking out three.
Miley walked four or more batters just four times across his 33 starts last season. After yielding a two-run blast to A’s first baseman Matt Olson in the opening frame, Miley dialed in and struck out the next three batters.
“I had a good cutter,” Miley said. “I was able to throw the cutter wherever I wanted to, when I wanted to. I just had nothing else with it -- the changeup was so spotty and then the curveball, same thing.”
Davidson goes deep
Matt Davidson’s bat collided with a pitch in the third, resulting in a three-run homer that went deep beyond the left-center-field fence.
“We know he has power,” Bell said. “He’s impressed us with the way that he can play first and third base. … We saw today what he’s capable of.”
Davidson, who is in camp as a non-roster invitee, mashed 33 home runs last season at Triple-A Nashville while in the Rangers’ organization. His plus power projects well as a potential bench bat for the club to utilize should he remain with the Reds past spring camp.
Larkin back in managerial seat
Reds Hall of Famer Barry Larkin will once again be at the helm of Team Brazil as it attempts to qualify for the 2021 World Baseball Classic.
On Friday, World Baseball Classic, Inc. released the coaching staffs and rosters of the clubs that will be involved in the Pool 1 World Baseball Classic qualifier from March 13-18 in Tucson, Ariz. It marks the third time that Larkin will man the post as skipper, having previously been at the helm when Brazil made the WBC in 2013 and when they fell short during a WBC qualifier in ’16.
The Reds will split up Saturday as one group heads to Las Vegas for a two-game exhibition set against the Cubs. Right-handed prospect Tejay Antone is slated to start the first game at 4:05 p.m. ET. Notable offensive names making the trip are Moustakas, Aristides Aquino and Jesse Winker. Fans will be able to watch the game live on MLB.TV.
The group staying in Arizona sends right-hander Sonny Gray to the hill vs. the Royals at Surprise Stadium, with first pitch set for 3:05 p.m. ET. Fans can listen to an audio webcast of Gray’s third start of the spring as he looks to ramp up his workload ahead of his second season in Cincinnati.