Throwback Thursday for Suarez with start at SS

Throwback Thursday for Suarez with start at SS

CHICAGO -- It was a bit of a Throwback Thursday for Eugenio Suarez in the series finale against the Cubs. Normally the Reds' third baseman, Suarez started at his former position -- shortstop.

Suarez came up as a shortstop and played 96 games there for the Reds last season after Zack Cozart sustained a season-ending injury to his right knee that required reconstructive surgery. But until he started taking ground balls on Wednesday, Suarez hadn't been there at all since the final game of 2015.

First-base coach Freddie Benavides hit dozens of ground balls to Suarez at shortstop again on Thursday to get him ready.

"Yeah, I feel comfortable. It's my natural position," Suarez said. "Even if I haven't taken a ground ball [since] a long time ago, today I took a little at shortstop and I feel great. It's my natural position."

"I think he could give us a season. I'm not worried about his ability to go back to short, it's the position he's played almost exclusively almost his entire life," manager Bryan Price said. "It's just taking him back to where he's been hundreds of time before. There's no concern."

Cozart, who has been out since the fourth inning of Monday's game because of tightness in his lower right quadriceps, also took grounders from Benavides on Thursday.

"I wanted to get my ground balls in early today," Cozart said. "The weather, obviously, is a lot nicer out there right now. I felt great. I hit, I ran, I took plenty of ground balls. Throwing felt good, taking a lot of crow-hops or whatever. Way better."

Cozart could probably have started on Thursday, but with chilly conditions again at Wrigley Field, it was decided to have him sit out one more day.

"I think staying loose is the key for me, which is easier said than done in Chicago," Cozart said. "It's windy, we don't have the facilities other places have to stay loose. It's probably why there is more caution here. If you have 10 minutes on defense in the cold and come in, there's nothing here where you can warm back up."

Ivan De Jesus started the last two games in Cozart's place. According to Price, starting Suarez at shortstop was more about getting playing time for role player Jordan Pacheco, who started at third base.

Cozart is expected to be back in the lineup on Friday, when the Reds open a three-game series vs. the Cardinals in St. Louis on Jackie Robinson Day.

"Because we're not that far removed from [Cozart's] surgery and going through the continued rehab process to full recovery, it just makes sense to get into some better weather," Price said.

Worth noting:

• Catcher Devin Mesoraco, also bothered by soreness in his right quad, is also a possibility to return to the lineup on Friday. He has been out of the lineup the last two games.

• Pitcher Anthony DeSclafani, on the disabled list with a strained left oblique, will throw his second bullpen session of the week on Friday and is slated to throw batting practice on Monday in Cincinnati. A rehab assignment will follow if all goes well.

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.