New Red Moustakas healthy and slimmer as 2020 season nears

Second baseman lost weight during quarantine

Mike Moustakas hasn’t gotten used to Zoom calls, which have taken over the world during the coronavirus pandemic, but likes the new interview setup at Great American Ball Park.

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The Cincinnati Reds second baseman took his turn talking to reporters, who in normal years would have crowded around him at his locker, via the Zoom video app Wednesday.

“I like my space, so this is cool for me,” Moustakas said.”I always put a chair in between us. I don’t know if you guys noticed that — kind of like a little barrier that I always had.”

Moustakas signed a four-year, $64 million contract, the largest free-agent deal in Reds history, in December. He hit .254 last season with 35 home runs and 87 RBIs in 143 games for the Brewers and averaged 34 homers in the last three seasons.

Moustakas spent the spring at home in California with his family. He said he lost 12 to 15 pounds during the quarantine. After adding muscle by lifting heavy weights during spring training, he didn’t have access to the same weights and spent more time on cardio workouts.

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“I was riding the Peloton a lot and running around chasing three kids and swimming every day and eating really healthy,” Moustakas said. “My wife was cooking a lot of healthy meals. It actually helped me out a lot. That was one of the benefits that I saw during quarantine: being able to hang out with my kids and getting my body into better shape to play second base. Being over there in the middle of the infield, I’m little bit bigger guy so any extra steps I can get, I feel like would be a huge advantage for me.”

Moustakas is a left-handed batter but has garnered attention during Summer Camp by starting batting practice by hitting a home run right-handed. He began that tradition a couple of years ago. He would bet Dale Sveum, the Kansas City Royals hitting coach, every single day on whether he could do it. Moustakas used to switch hit as a kid, so he never lost the ability, though he doesn’t do it in games.

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“It’s actually good for me, loosening up my hips going the other direction,” Moustakas said. “I’m so used to going one way. Being able to rotate my body getting the other directions is beneficial for me as a hitter, and it’s pretty cool to hit homers right handed.”

During his eight seasons in Kansas City, Moustakas played in the World Series twice and hit .304 in the 2015 World Series when the Royals beat the New York Mets to win the championship. Now he’s trying to help the Reds win the World Series for the first time since 1990.

The 60-game season will be a sprint, Moustakas said. No one in big-league baseball has ever experienced what’s ahead. The Reds have to treat every game like a postseason game, he said, adding on runs when they can and saving the bullpen when possible, doing whatever they can to make manager David Bell’s job easier.

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“We have a great staff,” Moustaks said. “We have a great offense and a great bullpen. It’s just gonna be everybody buying into the fact that those numbers up on the scoreboard aren’t going to matter that much this year. What’s going to matter is that win-loss total and going out there and finding ways to win ballgames. I think this team is definitely buying into that. It’s only been a couple days of this camp, but it’s been fun so far and everyone seems to be on board with that plan.”

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