Do David Bell's comments reveal the Reds plan for Christian Encarnacion-Strand?

Cincinnati Reds prospect Christian Encarnacion-Strand
Cincinnati Reds prospect Christian Encarnacion-Strand / Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY
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Elly De La Cruz was supposed to be the most talked about young Reds prospect in Goodyear this spring, but Christian Encarnacion-Strand has been turning heads since his arrival in Arizona.

With as well as he's played in the Cactus League, there's a buzz about the possibility of Encarnacion-Strand breaking camp with Reds and earning a spot on the Cincinnati's Opening Day roster.

Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell spoke with reporters on Wednesday about Encarnacion-Strand's impressive spring. Did the Reds skipper reveal the team's plans for their infield prospect?

Did David Bell reveal the Reds plan for Christian Encarnacion-Strand in 2023?

Though he came up through the Minnesota Twins organization as a third baseman, the Cincinnati Reds have been giving Christian Encarnacion-Strand more reps at first base. With Joey Votto rehabbing from shoulder surgery, the 23-year-old has received a ton of work at a position that is relatively foreign to him.

While Encarnacion-Strand has been impressive at the plate, David Bell seems to be equally impressed with his play defensively. Bell spoke, via MLB.com, about what he's seen from Encarnacion-Strand defensively this spring:

"He hasn’t had a ton of plays over there [first base]. With his work on the back fields and things like that, he’s doing great. He’s also doing a lot of work at third base. First base is a little bit newer to him so he’ll probably do a little bit more work. But [Tuesday], he stayed back and worked a little bit more at third base. You’ll get to see him there, also."

David Bell, Reds manager

Coach-speak, as it's oftentimes called, requires one to read between the lines. But it would appear as though you can garner two things from David Bell's comments; 1) Encarnacion-Strand will see time at third base, and 2) Encarnacion-Strand will probably begin the 2023 season in the minor leagues.

To date, Christian Encarnacion-Strand has logged just eight innings at third base but has racked up nearly 33 innings at first base. While Spencer Steer is seen as the favorite to be the Reds Opening Day starter at the hot corner, don't put it past Bell to get Encarnacion-Strand some more innings at third base this spring.

The bigger takeaway, however, might be Bell using the word "newer" when referring to Encarnacion-Strand playing first base. Center field was a "newer" position for Nick Senzel in 2019 and the former first-round pick began the season at Triple-A in order to get more time to learn the position.

The fact that Encarnacion-Strand is learning how to play first base may be what keeps him in the minor leagues to begin the 2023 season. That, and the fact that Cincinnati already has a contingency plan in place. Joey Votto has yet to take the field for a game this spring, but both Tyler Stephenson and Wil Myers have seen time at first base this spring.

Perhaps I'm reading into David Bell's comments too much. But if Christian Encarnacion-Strand keeps swinging a hot bat this spring, it's going to be very hard for the Cincinnati Reds to leave him off the Opening Day roster.

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