Ask Hal: Crowded outfield a good problem for Reds

Tyler Naquin, of the Reds, returns to the dugout after leading off the first inning with a home run against the Pirates on Wednesday, April 7, 2021, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff
Tyler Naquin, of the Reds, returns to the dugout after leading off the first inning with a home run against the Pirates on Wednesday, April 7, 2021, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

Hall of Fame baseball writer Hal McCoy knows a thing or two about our nation’s pastime. Tap into that knowledge by sending an email to

Q: How awful would Eugenio Suarez have to play at shortstop and for how long before he is moved back to third base? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: OK, three errors in his first four games is a minuscule sample size. He came up as a shortstop and he will be fine. If they move him back to third, what do they do with Mike Moustakas? Move him back to second? Then what do they do with second baseman Jonathan India, a solid candidate for Rookie of the Year. It’s the old domino effect and the Reds only play dominos in the clubhouse. They play baseball on the field.

Q: Will Tyler Naquin still get serious playing time when Jesse Winker and Shogo Akiyama are healthy? LEE, West Carrollon.

A: You forgot about Aristides Aquino. Does he get playing time? I’m not sure what analytics say about a five-man outfield, but could that be a possibility? Of course not, but too many good outfielders is much better than not enough good outfielders. As hot as Naquin has been, they certainly can’t sit him down, can they? Sure, they can. But as manager David Bell says, “We’ll figure it out.” Good luck with that one.

Q: The NBA and the NFL have both allowed women to officiate so why aren’t there any women umpires in baseball? — LAURA, Troy.

A: The NBA and NFL don’t allow women officials, those women have earned it. We all know the NBA and NFL are more progressive than the sometimes stodgy MLB. There have been at least six women work spring training games and make it as far as Triple-A. The first was Pam Postema. She umpired from 1977 to 1989, but never made The Show. Jen Powal worked in the low minors from 2017 to 2020 and quit to become catching coach at Millikin University. C’mon, MLB, it is past time.

Q: What is your prediction regarding an MLB work stoppage after this season? — BOB, Washington Twp.

A: Oh, they’ll all stop working after the World Series and aren’t due back to work until spring training. The CBA (collective bargaining agreement) expires on Dec. 1. That gives both sides 2 1/2 months to argue, threat, stomp their feet, walk out of meetings and pout until they reach an agreement at zero hour.

Q: If the Reds’ dugout and bullpen had emptied right when Nick Castellanos was hit by a 93 mph fastball, would Cardinals pitcher Jake Woodford have been the one suspended for instigating an incident? — J.R., OXFORD.

A: As I understand it, Castellanos was suspended for what he said to Woodford on the play at home, thus instigating the on-the-field shoving match. While I love the way St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina plays the game, historically the word ‘instigator’ should be his middle name. He actually shoved Castellanos in the back and had words with him. Shouldn’t he have been suspended? That’s the consensus from Reds fans, but we all know how Reds fans feel about Yadi.

Q: With eyesight so crucial to hitting, you rarely see a ballplayer wearing glasses, so do many wear contact lenses? — DENNIS, Huber Heights.

A: Most major leaguers have chameleon-like eyesight, much-needed to track 100 mph fastballs and 92 mph cutters. Mostly you see pitchers wearing glasses, probably to intimidate batters into thinking the pitcher can’t see home plate. Position players who need them wear contacts. Before contacts, glasses were more prevalent and I remember Dom DiMggio, Joe’s brother. wearing glasses. Reggie Jackson, ever the showman, wore tinted glasses, probably because they were stylish.

Q: Have you ever had to miss a game due to a family event and then something once in a lifetime happens during a game? —RON, New Lebanon.

A: Unfortunately, I missed many family events involving my sons and grandkids, which I now regret. I just hated to miss games. But something like that happened in reverse for me. Before I was the beat writer, Jim Ferguson held the position. One day I received a call from sports editor Ralph Morrow that I should hustle on down to Riverfrpmt Stadium because something came up for Fergie. It was the night Rick Wise pitched a no-hitter and hit two home runs — something never done before or after by a pitcher. And I was there.

Q: Does the World Baseball Classic help or hurts baseball globally? — TYLER, West Carrollton.

A: There is no doubt is spreads the gospel of baseball throughout a world dominated by soccer. It is fantastic to see the game catch on in places like Australia and to see a team from The Netherlands win games. The only detriment is that it interrupts MLB spring training. Fortunately, most players are happy to represent the country and the U.S. puts a good product into the WBC.

Q: MLB players are flipping baseballs to fans routinely, but as I recall that was a fineable offense, so when did it change? —DUKE, Beavercreek.

A: It really began way back in 1995 after the last baseball strike. To regain fans, players were instructed to be fan-friendly, hence ball-sharing. When Dick Wagner was general manager of the Reds in the 1980s, he watched batting practice intently, not to see how his players were hitting, but to catch any of them throwing baseballs to fans so he could fine them $50. During spring training, I used to love to grab used baseballs out of the batting practice bags and hand them to kids in the stands.