Yonder Alonso Gets First Start at 1B; Has 4 RBI as Reds Whip Marlins

By Cliff Eastham


Rookie Yonder Alonso has just added more fuel to the fire. The fire, or course, is finding a place to play the strong Cuban.

On his first homecoming as a major leaguer, in front of 200+ friends and family the 24 year old belted a solo home run on his first pitch against the Florida Marlins. That was just a prelude of things to come.

Alonso finished with a 3-4 night with 1 R, 1 BB, 1 HR and 4 RBI. Oh, what a night!

He was playing his customary position of first base, as Dusty Baker gave MVP Joey Votto a night off. Not just because he needed some rest, he hits poorly against Marlins’ starter Ricky Nolasco.

One of Baker’s attributes is his desire to play guys in front of their home crowds. Of course Alonso was a 1st team All-America at the University of Miami, so the roots run deep.

In a game where the Reds had a 2-0 lead, lost it, scratched and clawed back in to win it with four runs in the ninth, it was clearly Alonso’s spotlight.

So, did Alonso do enough to prove anything to anybody? I am sure he did, but I am not so sure his offensive display will result in any big time moves.

Alonso has been a point of controversy since Votto became the Reds every day first-baseman in September of 2007. Where can you put a seemingly bulky player with offensive potential that is off the chart?

Talk became rampant later about the possibility of moving Votto to left field and putting Yonder at first. Reds GM, Walt Jocketty stepped in and said that Votto was going to be the Reds first baseman for a long time.

During this season at Triple A- Louisville, Alonso was given many starts in LF in an attempt to groom him for that job with the parent club.

The next thing you know, Jonny Gomes gets traded to Washington at game time without being able to tell a soul goodbye. Alonso is called up from Louisville, and everyone assumed he would be taking that job that Gomes was run from.

Alonso is very cumbersome in the outfield. His lack of speed makes it appear that he is lethargic and a non-hustler. He is a fish-out-of-water out there and is perhaps more of a liability than he is an offensive asset.

Third baseman Scott Rolen has been injured and may not be back this season, so quickly the thought became a whisper and Alonso began fielding ground balls at third base in practice.

He claims that he played the hot corner while in high school and that was his primary position. Baker is afraid to allow him to learn at the major league level, even though a half-year of On Job Training in left field at the Triple A level has not helped him.

One thing is for sure, the man can rake. Did you hear me? I said the man can rake! Look what he is capable of when he plays a position that he is comfortable with.

Here is what I take away from last night. Try Votto in LF with Alonso at first. Votto is flat-out more athletic than is Alonso. He is played that position, albeit just a few times. He will be able to adapt, as any great player adapts.

This is for the team, folks. It is not a matter of Votto being their first, or Votto being an MVP. It is getting another potent stick in the lineup while solving the seemingly non-ending saga formerly called LF.

His current statistics are astounding. He has a line of  .448/.529/.759 with 2 HR, 8 RBI, 3 R, in only 29 AB.

It is worth a try, that is all I am saying. That’s my story and I am sticking to it.

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