Reds: Shogo Akiyama continues to sit, Nick Senzel plays second base

CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 08: Shogo Akiyama #4 of the Cincinnati Reds grounds into a fielders choice. (Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 08: Shogo Akiyama #4 of the Cincinnati Reds grounds into a fielders choice. (Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images) /

David Bell has chosen to sit outfielder Shogo Akiyama for the second consecutive game in favor of Tyler Naquin. Nick Senzel, the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day centerfielder, will get another start at second base and bat leadoff.

I have no problem with Senzel playing second base, in fact, I love it. While I know a lot of fans want to see what Jonathan India brings to the table, Senzel’s speed on patience at the plate can help get someone on base ahead of Jesse Winker. I am, however, a bit perplexed as to why Akiyama is out of the lineup.

Reds manager David Bell has a difficult task ahead.

With Akiyama returning from the 10-day IL following his recovery from a hamstring injury, we knew Bell would be faced with the difficult task of finding playing time for all his outfielders. It seems, for the moment, that Senzel’s versatility will certainly offer Bell some intriguing options.

Obviously, Nick Castellanos and Jesse Winker are going to get the lion’s share of starts in right and left field respectively. Senzel’s athleticism affords him the ability to not only be the team’s everyday centerfielder, but also grab an occasional start at second or third base.

But this is just the beginning of what will be a challenging dilemma for the Cincinnati skipper. Bell has proven over two-plus seasons that he’ll put the best eight players on the field based on the matchup.

Today’s matchup features Pittsburgh starter Mitch Keller. Neither Shogo Akiyama nor starting centerfielder Tyler Naquin have a hit off the right-hander. Akiyama is 0-for-1 with a walk and Naquin is 0-for-2 with a strikeout.

The Reds bigger problem will be what do when Joey Votto returns.

With Joey Votto out of the lineup with a broken thumb, David Bell has the luxury of platooning Nick Senzel and Jonathan India at second base and Tyler Naquin and Shogo Akiyama in center field. Kyle Farmer is getting the start at shortstop today, but Bell could easily shift Eugenio Suarez back to shortstop and move either India or Senzel to third base as well.

Next. Winker's long-term future is not at 1B

But, once Votto returns from the IL, another everyday spot will be occupied by the former MVP. David Bell will have his hands full then, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Shogo Akiyama has hit JT Brubaker, Tuesday’s starter for the Pirates, well (1.167 OPS). So, I’d expect to see the Japanese outfielder back in the starting lineup tomorrow night.