3 questions in the battle for first base during Reds spring training
By Drew Koch
Reds fans, we can officially close the book on 2022. A season that saw the Cincinnati Reds lose 100 games is now in the rearview mirror. With that in mind, it's time to focus on the upcoming 2023 season.
Pitchers and catchers will be reporting to Goodyear, Arizona next month and Opening Day will be here before you know it. While it seems unlikely that the Reds will be competing for a division title in 2023, it would appear that the worst is behind us.
With a new season comes renewed optimism. However, a surgically repaired shoulder stole nearly 50 games away from Joey Votto last season and it's questionable as to whether or not the former MVP will be reay to begin the season. Let's look at three questions in the battle for first base during the upcoming Reds spring training.
3 questions in for in the battle for 1B during Reds spring training.
Since Joey Votto made his major league deubt back in 2007, there's been little debate as to who will be the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day starter at first base. Votto won the NL MVP in 2010 and should have won the award a second time in 2017.
The six-time All-Star has been a fixture in the Reds lineup for the past 16 years, but heading into 2023, there are more questions than ever when it comes to first base.
1. Will Joey Votto be healthy once Reds spring training begins?
Joey Votto underwent shoulder surgery shortly after the Field of Dreams Game against the Chicago Cubs in 2022. The normally durable Votto missed the final two months of the season and is still not 100% healthy with spring training just several weeks away.
Votto prides himself on being an everyday player and has perished the thought of being used strictly as a designated hitter. However, his health may play a key role in how the team uses Votto during his last guaranteed season in a Cincinnati Reds uniform.
2. With Mike Moustakas gone, who will receive increased reps at 1B during Reds spring training?
The Reds chose to absorb the $22M hit and designated Mike Moustakas for assignment. It was the right decision, as Moose had been a shadow of his former self since joining Cincinnati prior to the 2020 season. Moustakas' absence, however, now raises an interesting question; who will be Joey Votto's backup in 2023?
This duty will likely fall to one of three players. Wil Myers, Tyler Stephenson, and Spencer Steer all have experience at first base. With the Reds depth at catcher, one could surmise that Stephenson may be in line for an increased role at first base in 2023.
3. Will Christian Encarnacion-Strand be invited to Reds spring training?
A lot of fans throughout Reds Country are dying to see Tyler Stephenson be Joey Votto's successor at first base. But Cincinnati may have a better option currently sitting in the minor leagues.
Christian Encarnacion-Strand, whom the Cincinnati Reds acquired from the Minnseota Twins last summer, has the makings of an All-Star first baseman if he reaches his ceiling. Will the former Oklahoma State standout receive an invite to Reds spring training this year?