Are the Cincinnati Reds Making the Right Move with Devin Mesoraco?

On Thursday, Cincinnati Reds’ manager Bryan Price said that the team was going to give catcher Devin Mesoraco a shot in left field to get his bat in the lineup. Today, Price said that Mesoraco will be sent on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Louisville to get him acclimated with the position and that will begin on Monday in Columbus.

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Of course, Mesoraco is currently on the disabled list with a left hip impingement and won’t be able to catch again this season, but is still able to run and hit.

Is this the right move for Mesoraco and the Reds, though?

To me, the answer to that comes down to two things: can he play without further injuring his hip and will this affect his ability to be ready for 2016? According to the doctors that the Reds have consulted, both of those answers are “no.” The Reds have said from the start that Mesoraco can’t further injure his hip by playing. Recently, doctors have even said Mesoraco might not end up needing surgery at all. If he does wind up needing surgery, recovery time would be four to six months.

Given all that we know, it seems like a sound idea for now. For a team that has struggled on offense at times and just lost Marlon Byrd, the Reds could certainly use Mesoraco’s bat in the lineup. From a defensive perspective, Mesoraco is plenty athletic enough to make the move, but has never played an inning at any position other than catcher in his entire professional career. Will some pregame work with outfield coach Billy Hatcher for a couple of days and a few games in Louisville make him a great left fielder? No. However, plenty of former catchers have been able to make the switch to outfield successfully, whether they moved there permanently or not. Johnny Bench and Yogi Berra, two Hall of Fame catchers, both played the outfield during their careers to save their legs and keep their powerful bats in the lineup.

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Of course, if you’re a Reds fan, you remember the last time the team tried to move a player to left field with no prior experience there. Blocked by Joey Votto at first base, Yonder Alonso was moved to left field for a time in 2011 and while he continued to hit, he became a defensive liability. There’s no reason to believe Mesoraco’s trial in left field will go like Alonso’s did, but you have to expect there will be some bumps in the road.

All in all, having Mesoraco’s bat in the lineup will be better than having Skip Schumaker playing every day and his offensive production should outweigh any shortcomings with the glove. That being said, if it’s ultimately determined that Mesoraco needs surgery and the Reds are still out of it come August (which seems highly likely), the Reds need to shut him down, let him have the surgery and ensure he’s ready to go when spring training rolls around next year.

You’ve heard what I have to say, but what do you think about the Devin Mesoraco situation? Are the Reds making the right move?

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