Ask Hal: Would the Reds move Nick Senzel to third base?

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Q: Are there more talented players sitting at home with salary requirements that exceed what the Reds are willing to pay? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: Of the so-called top 50 free agents after the end of last season, 48 signed. Kyle Seager retired and outfielder Michael Conforto remains unsigned. The Reds have no interest in him. They have enough bodies filling the outfield and they won’t pay what Conforto wants. Tommy Pham was Cincinnati’s ‘big’ free agent signee. Of the lesser unsigned free agents, Brett Gardner and Khris Davis are still out there, but would they be any better than what the Reds already have?

Q: Why don’t the Reds move Nick Senzel to third, his natural position, and maybe avoid some injuries? — MIKE, Indianapolis.

A: When you are injury-prone, you get hurt no matter where you play. You can’t hide a guy on defense. But purely for production, yes, Senzel could be the answer at third because Mike Moustakas is more of a question than an answer. Senzel, though, is outstanding on defense in center field and moving him would hurt the outfielder defense. Defensively, center field is more important than third base.

Q: If major-league baseball were to implement larger playing fields by moving back the outfield fences 15 to 20 feet, don’t you think that would solve a lot of the issues they’re trying to create with all these stupid rule changes? — Larry, DALLAS, Tex.

A: Most teams with new stadiums start big and go small. They’ve moved the fences in at Detroit’s Comerica Park, New York’s Citi Field, at Seattle’s Safeco Park and at San Diego’s Petco Park, all after the venues were built. Notice the trend? Move the fences in, not out. One exception. The left-field fence in Baltimore’s Camden Yards was moved back. Baseball is looking for more offense, not less. All the absurd new rules are based on more offense and speeding up the game. And in most parks, moving the fences back involves considerable construction expense because it involves re-configuring the grandstand and it involves losing seats, even though in most parks losing empty seats is no problem.

Q: With the Reds seemingly always having talented players on the shelf, why aren’t the health, performance director medical director ever called out? — DOUG, Liberty Twp.

A: What is there to call out? The staff does everything possible to prepare the players and keep them healthy. They have no control over players colliding or players pulling hamstrings while running or pitchers hurting their shoulders throwing a slider. Those are acts of nature and under no control of the medical staff. Those people work hard and the line at the athletic trainer’s office is a long one this year for the Reds. But check other teams. It’s the same with most teams. Injuries are a big and unfortunate part of the game.

Q: Who was the last pitcher to face the minimum 27 batters and not throw a perfect game or a no-hitter? — BILL, Kettering.

A: Facing the minimum 27 batters without pitching a perfect game has happened 69 times since 1905. The last to do it was Baltimore’s Eric Bedard in 2007 against the Texas Rangers. He gave up two hits, the only baserunners, and both were erased by double plays. In 1982, Pittsburgh’s John Candelaria had four base runners but faced only 27 batters. Three were wiped out by double plays and one was caught stealing.

Q: When Leon Durham was the Louisville Bats hitting coach he worked on the swing of Aristides Aquino and cut down on strikeouts, so why don’t the Reds bring Durham back work with him again? — SCOTT, Syracuse, N.Y.

A: Indeed, Aquino is ‘The Lost Soul’ at the plate. His swing is not his problem. It is his pitch selection. If it is a breaking ball, he swings at anything in GABP’s zip code. The Reds already have about 13 coaches and hiring one to work with one player is a bit exorbitant. Durham, 64, is no longer with the Reds and comfortable in retirement. Daryle Ward is in his seventh year in the Reds’ organization and is Dayton’s hitting coach. Perhaps he could help Aquino with a fresh approach.

Q: Why does MLB need larger base bags in 2023? — RICHARD, West Melbourne, Fla.

A: I’m tempted to say it is because the modern player has bigger feet. That’s probably true, but it is not the reason. Bases will go from 15-square inches to 18-square inches. That will help prevent injuries from runners stepping on infielders, especially at first base. And MLB hopes bigger bags will promote more base-stealing by providing a wider (and somewhat closer) target. Now if they widen home plate, maybe pitchers will throw more strikes.

Q: Seems like the ball isn’t as lively as in the past and is it true that each stadium now has a humidor in which to store the balls and keep them from drying out? — DENNIS, Beavercreek.

A: Don’t judge it by what you are seeing in Great American Ball Park, 10 home runs by the Reds in their first 17 games. Yes, every ballpark has a humidor and former Reds manager/cigar aficionado Jack McKeon would have put it to double use.

The humidor-stored balls and cold weather should hold down homers, but don’t tell that to Anthony Rizzo, the Yankees first baseman who hit eight homers in his first 17 games. Brian Buxton of the Twins had six in 18 games, Ozzie Albies of the Braves had six in 17 games and C.J. Cron of the Rockies has six in 17 games.

Q: When the Reds travel do all the players and coaches get the same type of hotel rooms and do any players get special room upgrades? — GREG, Miamisburg.

A: The manager always gets a suite. Back when players made a working man’s salary, most of them had roommates. Now that they make mega-millions, everybody gets their own room and, if available, the big stars get suites, but on some teams they have to pay the difference. One day in Montreal during the Big Red Machine days, several of us were on a small elevator in the Sheraton Mont Royal , which had rooms that doubled as broom closets. Pete Rose said loudly from the back of the crowded elevator, “What’s everybody doing in my room?”

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