With debut in rearview, Steer eyes starting job at third

January 29th, 2023

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- When he gets to Spring Training next month, Reds infielder Spencer Steer knows he has to earn his roster spot. Steer will be aiming for more than that, especially knowing there is a wide-open vacancy at third base, the position where he has the most experience. 

“Third base seems like the most realistic for me," Steer said Saturday just before stepping on stage for a Reds Caravan event. "I’m going to do everything I can to win that spot. I think it’s doable and attainable. That will be my focus: getting into that lineup and staying in that lineup.”

Acquired by a rebuilding Cincinnati team in the Aug. 2 trade that sent pitcher Tyler Mahle to the Twins, Steer was the only big league-ready prospect out of the near-dozen acquired through a multitude of trades last year. He debuted a month later on Sept. 2.

In a dream-like beginning, Steer was 2-for-2 with a home run for his first hit, and he reached safely four times. He also scored the game-winning run in a 3-2 walk-off win over the Rockies. The rest of Steer’s first month in the Majors proved challenging, as he batted .211 with a .632 OPS and two homers in 28 games.

Upon returning home to Southern California, the 25-year-old Steer had time to reflect on the experience. 

"I was honestly a little disappointed with myself, because I feel like I got out of character a little bit," Steer said. "I felt like I let the stage and the moment become a little bigger than what it should have been. I tried to do too much, too early. Coming to a new organization -- I had never met the coaching staff or any of these guys -- I tried too hard to kind of prove myself. I stepped out of what I’m good at."

The good news is that Steer got all of the big league firsts out of the way, and in 2023, most of the faces in the clubhouse will be familiar ones.

"I’m looking forward to learning from that and coming to Spring Training having a full offseason of making adjustments and reflecting," he said. "I don’t think anybody establishes themselves as a player the first month. It’s more of a longevity kind of thing. It’s consistency over a long period of time rather than a really good month. I got caught in that trap a little bit. I learned a lot from that month. I will use that to my advantage.”

The Reds released underperforming veteran third baseman Mike Moustakas earlier this month, with one year and $22 million left on his contract, and they did not retain free agent infielder Donovan Solano. Steer, who played 14 of his games at third base for the Reds and also played first base and second base, could compete for third base with Alejo Lopez and non-roster invite Matt Reynolds.

During his travels on the southern leg of Reds Caravan throughout Kentucky, Steer was wearing the No. 12 Reds jersey he had last season. In 2023, he will wear No. 7, and catcher Curt Casali will assume the No. 12 he wore previously with Cincinnati from 2019-20. 

“He’s been here before, so I’d obviously give that number to him," Steer said. "I wore No. 7 in college, and it worked out that the number was available.”

Traveling with pitching prospect Levi Stoudt, Minor League infielder Nick Northcut, assistant general manager Sam Grossman, former players Sam LeCure and Corky Miller and broadcasters Tommy Thrall and John Sadak, the southern leg of Reds Caravan wrapped up late Saturday afternoon at Game Day Sports Bar inside the LexLive entertainment center.

A full restaurant was on hand for a Q&A session with the group followed by autographs. For a player with very little time in the Reds' organization, Steer was able to form fresh connections with fans.

“The common theme for me and the guys I’ve been with is we're kind of just in awe of how widespread the fan base is," Steer said. "We’ve been going to towns 2 1/2-3 hours outside of Cincinnati, and the fans are coming dressed head-to-toe in Reds gear. It’s pretty cool to see how passionate the fans are. Mingling in smaller groups, you see it’s a family thing generation to generation -- they’re fans their entire life. It’s cool to see that passion and how much the organization means to them and their families.

“I was pretty excited to get to Spring Training before this. This added a little extra juice to get down there and ready to go."