New faces in new places could be key for Reds
The Reds, despite an impressive showing in 2012 that included winning the National League Central, will look a little different this season.
Gone is Scott Rolen, the veteran presence brought in during the 2009 season to anchor the team at third base. The 37-year-old made the decision in mid-February to retire, and in his place is the gregarious Todd Frazier, 27, who previously filled in at third.
"It's in my hands for the taking," Frazier said of the third-base slot. "It's been a fun Spring Training so far, working on it, trying to hone your skills and trying to hit. And you know, early in the spring, there's going to be some troubles. You've got to understand that's going to happen."
For Frazier, those troubles may come at the plate.
"I think it comes down to hitting," he said. "Any job you have in baseball, you've got to hit. I think [the Reds' front office knows] that I can do that.
"I can play the defense, and what I did this offseason was to work on my first step. That's the biggest thing for me -- because at third base, those balls are hit hard down there, and you have to understand, if you got that first step, you can make a quick glove and then throw."
What's the key to the Reds going deep into the postseason?
"Health. I think that's the bottom line," Frazier said. "If everybody's healthy, we have the pitching staff. We have Aroldis Chapman, who is going to try [being a starter] out now, too, which I think is pretty cool. A lot of people are skeptical about what's going on with that. I think he could be a really good starter. He throws the ball hard."
Another key will be offseason acquisition Shin-Soo Choo. A right fielder for the Indians, Choo is making the transition to center, as decided by the Reds' brain trust.
Will the transplant be successful? Even Choo, who hasn't played center field since 2009, isn't sure.
"A lot of people ask me that question, but you know what? It's not easy to change at my age," said Choo. "It's not old, but I'm 30 years old. I'm comfortable in one spot now, but I changed positions. It's not easy. Cincinnati is not easy, either. But, you know, I'll just try. We'll see."
He won't worry about the specifics of his hitting, either.
"I'm not changing anything," he said. "I see the ball, just [take an] aggressive swing -- sometimes being walked, hit by a pitch. So just my focus is getting to first base. Something happens, get to second, third, and then score."
After all, scoring is the name of the game.
Meggie Zahneis, winner of the 2011 Breaking Barriers essay contest, earned the job of youth correspondent for MLB.com in the fall of '11. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.