The Reds' three National League All-Stars -- Joey Votto, Scooter Gennett and Eugenio Suarez -- descended on Washington, D.C., Monday grateful for their careers and achievements while also seeking to keep improving.For Suarez, his year began with his signing a long-term contract extension with Cincinnati."It's unbelievable. I'm living my dream
The Reds' three National League All-Stars -- Joey Votto, Scooter Gennett and Eugenio Suarez -- descended on Washington, D.C., Monday grateful for their careers and achievements while also seeking to keep improving.
For Suarez, his year began with his signing a long-term contract extension with Cincinnati.
"It's unbelievable. I'm living my dream right now," Suarez said at media day for the All-Star Game presented by Mastercard. "The last few months have been amazing. I just try to do my best every time."
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Suarez, who was signed to a seven-year, $66 million deal in March, is batting .312/.399/.574 with 19 home runs and 71 RBIs. He is second in the NL in RBIs and in offensive WAR (3.6), third in OPS and fifth in batting average.
Gennett is the NL's leading hitter with a .326 average, has 3.4 WAR that's tied for sixth in the NL and is sixth in RBIs with 63. With 16 home runs, he's on pace to break his career-high of 27 from 2017 during his first year with the Reds.
A native of suburban Cincinnati, Gennett told MLB.com that an extension with the club was possible and that his chances of being dealt at the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline had been greatly reduced.
"I'm living out my dream playing for the Reds," Gennett said on Monday. "I think the biggest thing, just coming up in my younger days as a Reds fan and going to those games at Riverfront -- they were obviously playing well at that point and did years and years prior. But I feel like the Reds community and their fans, it's a great fan base. They're real baseball fans. There's a lot of places you go where it's all sold out and stuff, but you don't get the vibe of the game as plays develop."
Both Gennett and Suarez are first-time All-Stars and are taking in the experience for the first time. For Votto, this is his sixth trip to the All-Star Game.
"Every time I have an opportunity to join the National League roster, I am grateful. I'm very proud," Votto said.
Batting .289/.422/.442 with nine home runs and 50 RBIs, Votto is the NL leader in on-base percentage, reaching base safely and third in walks. The lack of power shown this season isn't something he is feeling pressure about, but he isn't satisfied.
"I'm always trying to round out my game," Votto said. "I hit 26 home runs before the All-Star break last year. I would never have expected that. I've got nine this year and I wouldn't have expected that. I'm going to just keep playing and try to become a balanced hitter able to handle most situations. We'll see how it plays out."
As a left-handed hitter, Votto's numbers have potentially been affected by the increased use of defensive shifts to the right side in recent years. When asked if the shift should be curtailed or banned, Votto responded it was his responsibility to make the adjustment.
"As someone who has really been dinged by the shift, I think I would welcome it if there's only two guys on one side of the field," Votto said. "I'm going to take what I can get. Once they started shifting more, without question I adjusted my approach. You have to or you get burnt by it. [Then] .290 turns into .250 turns into .220 like nothing."
Both undervalued acquisitions by their former clubs when they came to the Reds, Gennett and Suarez did not start out as everyday players. Gennett, a waiver claim before last season, spent the first half in a bench role. Suarez, was a role player in 2015 but shifted from backup shortstop to regular third baseman in '16.
"We are not [originally] from Cincinnati, but they gave us an opportunity to play in the big leagues every day," Suarez said. "We enjoy this and we deserve this. We're working hard to put Cincinnati on top."
Votto, who signed a 10-year contract before the 2012 season, has been a mainstay in the Reds lineup since his 2008 rookie season and was the 2010 NL Most Valuable Player. But his work ethic has long been respected around the Majors -- and especially inside the Reds clubhouse.
"It's that mindset of not being satisfied with just playing in the big leagues," Gennett said. "I want to be the best that I can and continue to get better every day. Look at a guy like Joey, that's all he does. He's not satisfied with being just average. He's going to work hard. He's going to continue to get better. It's just impressive to see on an everyday basis, a guy like that with a long-term deal to have a fire like that. It's great to see. It's refreshing. In all sports, there are guys locked up for that long, and not all of the time do they still have that fire."
While watching the 2018 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard live on FOX on Tuesday, fans can submit their choices for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet with the 2018 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote.
The 89th Midsummer Classic, at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 180 countries. FOX Deportes will provide Spanish-language coverage in the United States, while ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network, MLB.com and SiriusXM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage.
For more information about MLB All-Star Week and to purchase tickets, visit AllStarGame.com and follow @MLB and @AllStarGame on social media.
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince contributed to this report.