Alonso trying to find a spot
By C. Trent Rosecrans, CNATI.com Posted March 1, 2010 12:14 PM ET
GOODYEAR, Ariz. - Yonder Alonso hears the talk, how could he not? Even without the talk, it makes sense. The Reds have a franchise first baseman who is young and getting better every season in Joey Votto, and Alonso plays the same position.
Picked by the Reds with the seventh overall selection in the 2008 draft, Alonso's bat is nearing big-league ready, but he just needs a place to play. That could come from a change of team or a change of position.
"I don't want to get traded, I really like it here," Alonso said.
Alonso played in Class A Sarasota last season and in Class AA Carolina before missing two months with a broken right hamate bone and then played in the Arizona Fall League. Baseball America rated him the Reds' second-best prospect coming into the 2010 season. Bottom line is, he's got to play. It just doesn't appear it'll be at first base.
So Alonso's trying his hand elsewhere. On his own, he's been working in the outfield. He's also gone back to work on third base, a position he played in college, and he even caught bullpens last season ("I sucked," he notes. "I was terrible.")
"I've got to make sure I prepare, look at all the field, right, left, third, first, anything. I can also catch and just hope for the best," Alonso said.
Reds manager Dusty Baker said he noticed Alonso working in leftfield on his own on Sunday.
"I know he can hit," Baker said.
Alonso will likely get his chance to show that in the exhibition games. He and Votto are the only players who are primarily first basemen in camp, although several others can and have played first. Danny Dorn plays first too, but is listed as an outfield. Baker also said the team would employ a designated hitter for much of spring in order to get more players at-bats.
Regardless, Alonso said he knows he'll get his chance and isn't frustrated at having to find a way around Votto, who is unlikely to move positions now that he has established himself as a good defensive first baseman.
"It's not frustrating, because I look at it as a challenge for me," Alonso said. "I look at (Votto) and try to learn as much as I can. I talk to Scott Rolen about what I can do. I talk to Jay Bruce. You'll see me talking to everyone, trying to learn. So far it's worked out good. I'm getting positive feedback. I'm happy. As long as I hit, I guess."
Because Alonso can hit, the Reds will find a place for him - until then, he'll be saddled with the questions, which is the worst part.
"It comes with it," Alonso said. "We've got an All-Star at first base and you have someone coming up that's young, 22, and it's just part of it. I've got to make sure I'm prepared and do my part, and everyone's going to do their part and win."
Baker noted that it's hardly unprecedented, either.
"I remember coming up as a kid when they had Willie McCovy and Orlando Cepeda on the same team and they ended up moving one to the outfield. You remember when the Cincinnati Reds had Lee May and Tony Perez. They had a similar problem there, right?"
In the end, the Reds traded Lee May to Houston to alleviate that logjam and got a decent second baseman out of the deal.