Suarez moved from shortstop to third base after the 2015 season in which he made 95 starts at shortstop filling in for injured Zack Cozart.
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The Reds moved Suarez to third base to get his bat in the lineup when Cozart returned. The transition was rough at first.
Suarez made a Major League-high 23 errors but belted 21 home runs while hitting .248 in 159 games. He improved across the board in 2017, hitting .260 while setting career highs with 28 home runs and 82 RBI in 156 games. He led the National League in fielding percentage with .976. He was drawing favorable comparisons to six-time Gold Glove third baseman Nolan Arenado of the Colorado Rockies.
Rookie Reds manager David Bell is eager to see Suarez.
“I’ve seen him enough to know he has great hands and has the feet,” Bell said. “I’m excited to watch him play. He will continue to get better and better at third base. He had a break out year offensively.”
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Suarez is ready to go.
“I am putting my body together to play,” Suarez said. “My body feels great. I’m mentally strong. We put in a lot of hard work to get ready.”
The best offensive performance of Suarez’ career led to a bonus. He invited on the Major League players tour of Japan to play an All-Star team from Nippon Professional Baseball. They played six games on a 15-day tour.
Suarez got extra work in against good competition.
“I was so happy to be part of that trip to Japan,” Suarez said. “It was fun. We spent five days in Hawaii then flew to Japan. The people were great. My wife and my daughter had a great experience.”
They were in three cities, Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagoya.
“We travel a lot here in the United States but Japan was impressive,” Suarez said. “They know how to play this game. They take it serious. They want to beat us.”
Reds at Mariners, 3:10 p.m., 1360