MILWAUKEE -- Kyle Farmer is taking one for the team.
Farmer was happy playing shortstop for the Reds, but beginning with Friday’s game vs. the Brewers, he’s the regular third baseman.
The decision, revealed by manager David Bell on Wednesday, came as a surprise.
“It caught me off guard,” Farmer said before Friday’s 5-1 Reds loss to the Brewers at American Family Field. “I wasn’t expecting it at all. But it happened, so I can’t really complain about it.”
Farmer got the night off on Wednesday at Miami as Jose Barrero started at shortstop. Despite his offensive struggles this season at Triple-A Louisville (.209/.262/.377 in 55 games), Barrero has long been viewed by the Reds as a future option at shortstop because of his defensive skills and is getting a chance to see if he can solidify himself in the big leagues.
That means Farmer’s streak of 192 consecutive starts at shortstop ended with the move, not including one game as DH in June. He went from a utility role to shortstop in May of last season when Eugenio Suárez was moved back to third base from shortstop.
Farmer had a breakout season at the plate in 2021 and set career highs with 16 home runs and 63 RBIs.
On Friday, Farmer was 2-for-4 and delivered the Reds' lone run with a fifth-inning RBI single to left field that snapped an 0-for-10 skid. The offense was not enough to overcome a rough night for starting pitcher Robert Dugger, who gave up a pair of home runs and trailed, 5-0, after two innings.
Farmer is batting .254/.324/.371 this season with six homers and 51 RBIs in 90 games overall. He had a .289 average on June 17 before an extended slump.
Shortstop was Farmer’s favorite position and the one he played in college. But until he told Bell he was interested in going there in 2021 Spring Training, it hadn’t happened in the big leagues.
Farmer often drew praise for his reliability and steadiness at shortstop. But his defensive range is not as strong, especially compared to Barrero, as he came in ranked 30th among MLB shortstops with a -4 outs above average rating and -3 runs prevented.
Getting moved wasn’t viewed as good news by Farmer, who turns 32 on Aug. 17.
“It sucks. I love short. I’ve loved short my entire life,” he said. “It’s part of the game, I guess, and they see me at third. Hopefully I play well to maybe play third here next year.”
An opening was created at third base Tuesday after Brandon Drury was traded to the Padres for Minor League shortstop Victor Acosta. Farmer got the starting nod over Donovan Solano and Mike Moustakas. Both the right-handed hitting Solano and lefty hitting Moustakas are expected to mostly split time as the designated hitter.
Because of the different angles, the speed of balls from contact and the longer throws, switching positions will take an adjustment for Farmer. Friday marked his 30th career start at third base but his first since April 26, 2021.
“It’s going to be very hard. I’m up to the challenge but I haven’t played there in two years, pretty much,” said Farmer, Cincinnati’s 2022 Heart and Hustle Award winner. “Whatever is best for the team, I guess. I’ll play wherever they want me to play, and I guess third is where they see me playing.”
Milwaukee's hitters kept Farmer busy as he was involved in seven putouts, including three ground balls and a line drive. All appeared to be routine plays.
"He was good," Bell said. "The more plays he gets, the more comfortable he's going to be over there. It's different. To state the obvious, it's a lot closer to home plate. Things are quicker and get on you fast."