Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
The Official Site of the Cincinnati Reds
news

Reds News

Schebler wants to win Reds' CF job 

Position up for grabs after Hamilton's departure
@m_sheldon
February 21, 2019

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Amid a logjam of corner outfielders in Reds camp this year, Scott Schebler sees a solution to the issue of who could be the regular center fielder: himself. “That’s where I’ve been working. That’s what I want,” Schebler said on Thursday. “I want the opportunity, at least,

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Amid a logjam of corner outfielders in Reds camp this year, Scott Schebler sees a solution to the issue of who could be the regular center fielder: himself.

“That’s where I’ve been working. That’s what I want,” Schebler said on Thursday. “I want the opportunity, at least, to go out in Spring Training and win the job. I understand that they don’t just hand over jobs. That’s not how the big leagues work, but I’ve shown in the past and have had some success in center field. I feel like I’m the best option right now.”

Cincinnati non-tendered speedster Billy Hamilton in the offseason and did not add a true center fielder to the roster. The in-house leading options are Schebler, Yasiel Puig and top prospect Nick Senzel, who is trying to convert to the outfield.

The Reds acquired Puig and fellow corner outfielder Matt Kemp in the seven-player trade with the Dodgers in December. Schebler and Puig were teammates in Los Angeles during the 2015 season.

“At first, it’s a natural thing to think, ‘Oh, they’re getting guys for your position.’ But any help is good help, especially with how skilled they are, how much time they have,” Schebler said. “Puig was there for two World Series and Kemp was there for one. To have that experience is great. They’re both good guys and bring a lot of energy to the club.”

Reds manager David Bell plans to utilize Schebler in all three outfield spots during camp.

“I’m interested to see him in center. Everyone I’ve talked to that has seen him, people are confident that he can do it,” Bell said. “I am, too, but it’ll be a good opportunity to see him out there. I’m convinced he can be really good in left and right.”

Following a 2017 season where he slugged a career-high 30 home runs, Schebler’s power dipped last season as he hit .255/.337/.439 with 17 homers and 49 RBIs. He batted all over the lineup but led off the most with 42 starts.

Schebler's 2018 season was interrupted twice by injuries. First came an ulnar nerve contusion in his right elbow that cost him 10 days in April when he was hit by a pitch. The injury left Schebler without full feeling in his hands and fingers well into the offseason. He missed five weeks in July and August with a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder after he crashed into the right-field wall. Schebler said both injuries are healed, and his arm is at full strength.

The 28-year-old started 14 games in center field in 2018 and has logged 49 games there over the last three seasons. According to FanGraphs' advanced metrics, he recorded his best numbers in center field with one Defensive Run Saved and a well above-average Ultimate Zone Rating of 4.6. By comparison, Hamilton was at 6.0. Anyone compared to Hamilton appears slow, but Schebler does have good speed.

“It’s my body type. People are like, ‘He’s got a linebacker body type, he can’t run,’” Schebler said. “It’s part of it. I’ve dealt with it my whole life.”

For the past three seasons, most of Schebler’s time has been spent in right field, but he likes center.

“It’s a little bit easier,” Schebler said. “You see the ball better. You just get truer reads because you’re looking straight at it. Making sure you cover that first 20 feet is extremely important in center field because you’ve got more ground to cover. You have to make the right read and cover that first 20 feet fast to get to a certain spot. If you have the acceleration, it can be an easier position to play than left or right.”

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.