In an intrasquad scrimmage Thursday, Winker hit a two-run home run against Sonny Gray, who was named the Opening Day starter Wednesday. The only sounds were the ball hitting the bat, the ball landing somewhere beyond the fence and Winker shouting in excitement as he rounded the bases. He jumped in the air and acted as if he were shooting a basketball after he rounded third base.
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The quiet in Great American Ball Park did not bother Winker.
“Once the game started, it was kind just competing and having fun,” Winker said. “We’re back out there playing ball. It kind of just felt right.”
Winker, 26, is entering his fourth season in the big leagues. His average fell from .299 in 2018 to .269 in 2019. He hit 16 home runs and drove in 38 runs, spending the majority of his time in left field but also playing right field or center.
Manager David Bell expects most of the designated hitter at-bats to go to outfielders, and Winker will be candidate to see time there.
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“I just want to see my name in the lineup,” Winker said. “That’s it. If that’s with a DH next to it at seven, eight or nine, I’m going to do my job. I’m just here to win. That’s it. If that means DH, if that means playing the outfield, if that means pinch-hitting in the seventh, eighth or ninth, whatever is called for me on a given day, I’ll be ready for it. Obviously with the short season everything is kind of out the window personally. It’s just time to win, and I think it’ll be a special World Series to win, if we’re given opportunity to be there late in the year.”