When the Reds acquired Shin-Soo Choo and announced that he’d be playing center field this season there was a lot of skepticism about his ability to handle the position defensively at age 30 after starting just one game there since 2007.
And it turns out Choo is skeptical too, telling John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer:
I’m not comfortable there yet. At the major league level, I played 99 percent of my games in right field. I’ll try. I’ll work on it this spring training. We’ll see how they’re thinking. If they’re not [happy], somebody else will be playing in center field. I’ll try the best I can.
Not exactly the words Reds fans probably want to hear, although Choo is right in that if the team decides he simply can’t hack it in center field they could try to move Gold Glove-winning right fielder Jay Bruce there instead.
There’s no doubt that Choo and his excellent on-base skills will provide a huge boost to the Reds’ lineup, but with either Choo or Bruce in center field and 34-year-old Ryan Ludwick in left field the outfield defense could give back a bunch of runs.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.