Paul Janish came into spring training this year knowing he was fighting for a bench spot. It was undoubtedly a disappointment after being the Reds' presumptive starting SS for six months, but he was prepared. He even got himself a first base glove and broke it in, knowing that he had to be able to play every infield position.
Dusty Baker said last year that a SS like Janish could play any position on the field, even outfield. Oddly, he rarely used him any place but SS. Fellow backup infielder Drew Sutton was put in LF for the first time in his life, but not Janish. He played only at SS - except for two games at 3B and two games as a relief pitcher.
Today, Dusty said something similar, after putting Janish in the lineup at 3B.
This morning Dusty was asked if Janish could play the other positions as well -- Baker said if you can play short at the level Janish plays, you can play anywhere else. Well, Janish showed that -- Jose Lopez grounds down the line and makes a diving stop, throws over to first -- Cairo with the scoop.
Apparently, the pride of Rice University acquitted himself at third...at least with the glove. He was 0 for 2
at the plate. Meanwhile, the pride of the University of Texas, Drew Stubbs, hit a double, and so passed Janish in the slugging department.
Janish has done everything they could have hoped for this spring. I had assumed that he was a lock as a utility infielder, but now I'm starting to wonder. Dusty Baker said yesterday
that the Reds might go with as many as 13 pitchers to start the season. If so, that's bad news for reserve infielders like Janish.
I don't think Miguel Cairo has a real shot at making the team out of spring training (though I wouldn't be surprised if he was called up later). The guys Janish has to worry about are Aaron Miles and Drew Sutton. Neither of them is a real shortstop, so he has the advantage there. OTOH, the Reds' biggest hole is offense. And they've been willing to start the defensively challenged Jeff Keppinger and Jerry Hairston, Jr. at SS in the past. They may be willing to sacrifice defense for offense.
Miles had a terrible year last year, and isn't playing well this spring. But he has a pricey big league contract, and he was a solid player for three years before last year - in St. Louis, where GM Walt Jocketty hails from. Third baseman Scott Rolen is notoriously fragile, so I could see the Reds wanting a guy like Miles, who has proven he can hold down a starting position at the big league level, as a backup. I don't think a guy with as much service time as he has can be sent to the minors unless he agrees to it, so the Reds may have to put him on the 25-man roster if they want to keep him.
I thought Drew Sutton was likely to start the year in AAA, but apparently the Reds brain trust really likes him. He doesn't have anywhere near the glove Janish has, but he's got more pop, and that's something the Reds really need. He still has options, so he could be stashed in Louisville if necessary.
Janish also has options, but I hope they don't send him down. The Louisville Bats have a ton of shortstops this year, including Chris Valaika, Todd Frazier, and likely shortstop of the future Zack Cozart. There wouldn't be much room for Janish. Though I suppose he could learn to play outfield and polish up his relief pitching skills.
Labels: Paul Janish