Created on Monday, 11 March 2013 Written by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Shin-Soo Choo is using this spring to adjust to a new team and a new position. On Sunday, he made his best showing yet.
The Cincinnati leadoff man got four hits, stole two bases and scored twice in a 7-3 victory over a split squad of Chicago White Sox.
"He's a heck of a ballplayer and a great addition to this lineup," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "He hasn't done anything that surprises me because we already knew he could do it all. He's a gamer and a hard worker, which is why we traded for him. The more comfortable he gets with a new team and a new position, the better he'll play."
After the Dec. 12 trade with Cleveland, Choo moved across the state of Ohio and to center field after a career spent as a corner outfielder. After six seasons with the Indians, he was disappointed to be moving on, but was warming to the Reds' way of life.
"I was definitely surprised when the trade came down," Choo said. "I had a really good experience in Cleveland, and when you're in a place for a such long time, you can get attached. But I'm with the Reds now and I couldn't be more excited about it. We have a real chance to win it all here, and I hope I can help us achieve that ultimate goal."
Choo is expected to be the table-setter for a powerful lineup, and certainly has the skills to do so. A lifetime .289 hitter with a .381 on-base percentage, Choo has speed to steal bases and enough power to leave the ballpark.
"It feels like I've been here a couple years," Choo said. "I fit in well here, and I think the guys are going out of their way to make me feel like a part of the group. It's a great clubhouse and there's a ton of talent here. I'm excited to be a part of this organization and I'm excited about the potential we have."
"In terms of playing center, I feel more comfortable every day. I was nervous the first few days, but I'm getting used to it. It's already starting to feel like my spot, my territory," he said.
Reds starter Johnny Cueto was erratic in his second spring start. He walked three and hit another, but completed four innings and gave up just two runs.
"He was just off with his command, which was odd because he's pretty sharp," Baker said. "When Johnny senses something wrong, he can correct it. That didn't happen today, but he knows how to pitch his way out of trouble. If it's one thing Johnny Cueto knows how to do, it's get out of a jam."
Chicago starter Gavin Floyd allowed four runs and struck out five in 3 1-3 innings.
"I'm trying to make pitches and act like it's a middle-of-the-season game," Floyd said. "I threw all my pitches for strikes, but they just got some good hits off me. I still got some good work in. It is a process of little things here and there. As soon as you can try to emulate a real game, the more prepared you are for the season."
NOTES: White Sox DH Paul Konerko went 0 for 3 after recording hits in eight of his nine previous plate appearances. ... Chicago 3B Jeff Keppinger was scratched from the lineup because of shoulder soreness, but the ailment is not considered serious. He will not play the field again until Wednesday, but he may be a designated hitter before then. ... White Sox SS Alexi Ramirez was hit by a pitch from Cueto, but he remained in the game and was not seriously injured. ... With Team Canada eliminated from the World Baseball Classic, 1B Joey Votto is expected to return to the Reds' camp on Tuesday. Cincinnati has an off day on Monday.