GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Eugenio Suarez has an 8 a.m. appointment every day with infield coach Freddie Benavides and instructor Miguel Cairo.
While he's served in a center fielder role for the Reds, he wants to get in extra work at third base before full team practice.
“He’s bought in,” Benavides said. “He’s the one who tells me, '8 in the morning, we’re out there every day.' I have to slow him down sometimes.
"He’s learning, he’s a worker," the coach said. "He’s trying to get his proper footwork down and he's starting to read balls off the bat from different angles.”
Suarez, 24, was one of the pleasant surprises from 2015 for the Reds. He took over at shortstop after Zack Cozart was injured in mid-June and acquitted himself very well. He hit .280 with 13 home runs and 48 RBI over 97 games.
With the departure of Todd Frazier, the Reds decided to shift Suarez to third to keep his bat in the lineup. Moves like this one tend to go smoothly when a player wants to make the switch.
“It’s a lot easier for the player, and it’s a lot easier for us to watch players who are invested in making an adjustment in their game,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “He really understands he has a great opportunity to be an everyday player in the big leagues by making this move."
Suarez is very willing.
"We think the world of this kid," Price said. "We feel like he can do a really nice job at third base. I think he’s smart enough to see the big picture.”
It is a big shift. The biggest difference is proximity to the plate.
“It’s my first time playing (third base) in spring training,” Suarez said. “I think it’s third base is a lot different because the ball gets to you quick. You’ve got to be ready. But I’m just going to enjoy it. I feel great.”
Suarez knows his bat plays in the big league. But his fielding has not been as consistent: He made 19 errors last year.
“I’m working hard because I want to play third base every day,” he said. “I want to do a good job.”
The extra work is necessary.
“It’s new for him,” Benavides said. “He’s only played a few games there in the minors. He’s working on his footwork and a bunch of different reads. But (Cairo) having played that position in the big leagues is very helpful.”
Suarez came to the Reds from Detroit in the Alfredo Simon trade. He’s always been a shortstop; he won milb.com’s Gold Glove in 2012 at shortstop.
Some players would have expected the shortstop job to be theirs after a year like Suarez had.
“He’s been an everyday shortstop,” Price said. "I talked to him about it last year. Relinquishing that spot to go someplace else to play every day is a selfless act on his part. But it's also a smart decision to not go into it with any reservations or personal concerns about what’s in his best interest.
"This is in the team’s best interest," Price said. "And he understands that.”
Suarez visited his native Venezuela, but he spent most of the offseason in Miami working with a personal trainer. He added five pounds to his 5-foot-11 frame. He’s up to 212 pounds.
“I worked hard in the offseason," he said. "I just want to do a good job and have a great season. I worked to get my body stronger. I worked on speed, too. I want to steal some bases."
That would be a bonus. The Reds are hoping Suarez can hold his own at third and keep his bat in the lineup. He’s confident he can.
“I think third base is going to be good for me,” he said.