Suarez: Playing shortstop ‘like riding a bike’

Veteran third baseman could move back to his original position in 2021

Eugenio Suarez returned to where he started his big-league career Tuesday night in Goodyear, Ariz., starting at shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds in a 11-7 loss to the Colorado Rockies.

The Reds’ attempt to get their best players on the field, which means finding a spot in the infield for one of their top prospects, Jonathan India, could mean a full-time move to shortstop for Suarez.

Suarez went 0-for-3 ad made one error in five innings.

“It’s exactly what we talked about as far as trying to get him out there,” manager David Bell said. “It’s just different. He needs to see the game speed and situations and plays. The one play he wasn’t able to handle, I’ve seen him handle that about a 100 times on the backfield, but it’s different when you have runners. He needs to have plays like that.”

Suarez played shortstop in his rookie season with the Detroit Tigers in 2014 and in his first season with the Reds in 2015, but he has played third base the last five seasons. This was his first appearance at shortstop this spring. The Reds have 12 Cactus League games remaining before opening the season April 1 against the St. Louis Cardinals at Great American Ball Park.

Prior to the game Tuesday, Suarez talked about the potential switch.

“I feel so grateful for the opportunity to be back playing shortstop,” Suarez said. “I’m so happy right now, and I just want to enjoy these moments and do my best and see what’s gonna happen.”

Suarez transformed his body in the offseason, losing 15 pounds, in part because he was thinking about moving back to shortstop. He didn’t think the Reds would ask him to make the move, and he didn’t ask them if he could change positions. Suarez started practicing at the position early in spring training, and the coaches saw he still had the ability.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Suarez said before the game. “I don’t think about that either. I just think about doing my best, and right now I’m just feeling like this is my first game, my first professional shortstop game.”

Suarez started 166 games at shortstop in his first two seasons but started only two games there in the last five seasons. Zack Cozart took over the position in 2016 and 2017. Jose Peraza had the job in 2018. Then it was Jose Iglesias in 2019 and Freddy Galvis in 2020.

“It’s like riding a bike,” Suarez said. “You’re not forgetting how to do it. Right now I feel great because I’ve got my movement back. I feel good. I feel like baby with a new toy.”

NOTES: The Reds fell to 4-11 with .267 winning percentage in the Cactus League on Tuesday. They’re the only team with a winning percentage lower than .300. Wade Miley started and allowed four earned runs on five hits in three innings. Brandon Finnegan (three earned runs in 2/3 of an inning) and Sean Doolittle (three earned runs in one inning) also struggled.

About the Author