Suarez settling in to everyday role at short
Newcomer getting comfortable following Cozart's injury
CINCINNATI -- After a solid weekend with his bat and glove, it appears Eugenio Suarez is starting to come together nicely as the Reds' new everyday shortstop.
Suarez, who was acquired by the Reds in an offseason trade with the Tigers, recorded hits in all three games against the Marlins, including a 3-for-4 performance on Sunday to help capture the series. Following the impressive weekend, Suarez is hitting .248/.324/.419 with one home run and five RBIs in the nine games.
The 23-year-old was recalled from Triple-A Louisville on June 11 after Zack Cozart experienced a season-ending right-knee injury. Suarez played a similar role with the Tigers last year, appearing in 85 games as the injury replacement for Jose Iglesias.
The transition early on was tough as Suarez was hitting only .150 in his first 20 at bats, but he said he's feeling more comfortable with the Reds.
"It's hard because I got here and [there were] new things, new guys, nobody knows me," Suarez said. "Now, I know everybody and I got my family here, my heart here now. The first hard part is, like I said, nobody knows me here, but now I feel like family. Those guys are really good guys. [Joey] Votto, [Jay] Bruce, [Brayan] Pena, [Devin Mesoraco], everybody on this team is really good guys, really good teammates, good persons."
Despite the lackluster start in the batter's box, Reds manager Bryan Price hadn't lost any confidence in Suarez. Price pointed out the number of at bats was a small sample size, and he likes the idea of being able to use Suarez in certain game situations, like laying down a perfect squeeze bunt on Wednesday against the Tigers to score Bruce from third base.
"We had the squeeze the other day, which I thought wasn't an easy pitch. Breaking ball out over the plate and he got it down," Price said. "So those are the things he'll need to be able to do. He's going to need to be able to hit-and-run, get his bunts down and be a good situational offensive player. He's got enough power to be seduced by home runs, hitting home runs and [we] just got to keep him off that thought process of him thinking that he's got to be a big run-producing, home-run-hitting shortstop. He has to be an effective situational offensive player."
Price also acknowledged Suarez's reliable defense in the field. Suarez has been perfect on all 40 defensive chances through nine games. His defensive ability was noticed on Sunday when he completed a perfect relay to throw out speedy Dee Gordon at the plate in the fifth inning. The play was crucial in keeping the game tied, as the Reds scored the game-winning runs the following inning.
"We felt that when we traded for him he'd be a very, very good offensive performer and outstanding defensive player," Price said. "The defense has shown up every day, the offense is soon to follow. I think he looks very comfortable in our lineup, and he'll do a fine job."