Suarez upping his game on offense

Suarez upping his game on offense

SAN DIEGO -- The Reds certainly never expected to lose shortstop Zack Cozart to a season-ending knee injury in June. But one of the reasons they traded for Eugenio Suarez in the offseason was just in case something happened to Cozart.

What the club didn't foresee was how much offensive punch Suarez would bring.

"The bat is playing at a higher level in the big leagues than it did in Triple-A," manager Bryan Price said Monday after he moved Suarez up to the second spot in Cincinnati's lineup. "We're seeing some power. We're seeing some run production. We're seeing an improving two-strike approach, some patience in looking and getting a good pitch to hit early in the at-bat and not giving at-bats away. And this is a kid that just turned 24."

Suarez, who was acquired from the Tigers in the Alfredo Simon trade in December, was a .276/.361/.417 hitter in seven Minor League seasons. He batted .242/.316/.336 with four homers in 85 big league games for Detroit in 2014. On Monday, he entered batting .305/.332/.475 with six homers for the Reds since his June 11 callup while hitting safely in eight straight games and 18 of 20.

Suarez's RBI single

"I changed my mechanics at the plate a little," Suarez said. "I've got a leg kick that's helped me a lot. I worked on that with Marlon Byrd and he helped me a lot. The hitting coach, Don Long, helps me a lot every day. We work extra. I'm hitting the ball hard. I've got more power."

It's the second time this season that Suarez has gotten to bat second.

"It's really special for me," he said. "The manager is giving me the opportunity because my work right now is very good. I work a lot on my play at the plate, and my defense is getting better now."

Suarez's performance has already set up one of the bigger questions heading into the next offseason. What happens when Cozart returns? Price had previously mentioned taking a look at Suarez in left field next spring.

"Certainly at this point, looking at him simply as a defensive-minded shortstop who's a support system in case something happened to Zack next year, I think he's elevated himself beyond that in our organization as a guy that's establishing himself as a Major League-ready player," Price said.

• Following Sunday's bizarre walk-off loss to the D-backs, the Reds took a closer look at the circumstances that followed Chris Owings' game-ending RBI hit. Ultimately, the club decided not to file a protest or an appeal of the outcome.

"After we had done all of our reconnaissance work on the subject, it seemed highly unlikely that we would win an appeal. So we did not appeal the play," Price said. "At the end of the day, the feeling was that even though it was kind of discombobulated to a certain degree ... the call would stand."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.