By Hal McCoy
There was no head-hanging. There was no breaking of bats over his knee. There was no helmet-smashing in the dugout. There was no, “Oh, why poor me?”
Eugenio Suarez was true to his own credo, “Good Vibes Only.”
And if anybody had a right to be downtrodden, disheartened and distraught, It was Eugenio Suarez.
The month of April was 30 days of agony with no personal ecstasy for the Cincinnati Reds shortstop. While most of his teammates bashed and battered baseballs into oblivion, Suarez swung the bat like a fly swatter against an evasive fly.
His batting average was 75 points below the dreaded Mendoza Line, hovering around .125. And he led the league in strikeouts, whiffing nearly once every two times at the plate.
But the smile never disappeared. The attitude remained above the Norman Vincent Peale line.
So there was extreme happiness in the Reds clubhouse Sunday when Suarez collected three hits, including a home run, because Suarez is one of the most popular players amongst his teammates.
“The most important thing is winning and only good vibes in the clubhouse,” he said after Sunday’s 13-12 extravaganza over the Chicago Cubs to take the series two games to one.
It had to be difficult for Suarez to watch teammates like Nick Castellanos, Jesse Winker, Joey Votto and Tucker Barnhart taste so much success while he starved.
“When you struggle, nothing is the same. But I try to be the same Suarez that everybody knows,” he said. “I do my best, everybody knows that. And I get support from my family and my teammates.
“Even when I go 0 for 4 with four strikeouts, I feel the support, everybody tells me, ‘You’ll be all right.’ I just focus on my hard work because I know hard work will pay off. I do what I can to help my team. . .defense or baserunning,” he said. “Work hard and see what happens next.”
It is within Suarez’s personality that he makes no excuses and aims credit to others, even pitchers on the other teams.
“I’m the same guy, I haven’t changed anything, the pitchers just beat me,” he said. “They did a really good job against me. There is nothing I can say but just, ‘Good for them.’”
And there certainly is no jealousy. Suarez could not be happier for guys like Castellanos and Votto.
Speaking after Castellanos had five hits Sunday that included two home runs and a game-winning, walk-off single in the 10th, Suarez said, “It is really exciting watching Nicholas right now, how he is doing. He has had a really good start, a really good month of April.
“And he can keep doing it the way he started this month hot,” he added. “It’s fun watching him hit and how he is doing it, how he plays on the field. . .he looks so good. His vibes — he transfers that to all of us. We want to do it like that. I’m so happy for him.”
Then there was Friday night when Joey Votto crushed his 300th career home run. Suarez was in the dugout, but sprinted to home plate, the first to reach Votto to help him celebrate.
“Three hundred homers? That moment was so exciting for me,” he said. “I am so happy for Joey and his long career. Three hundredth home run in front of his people in Cincinnati.
“They deserved that and that moment was really good for me and I told him, ‘I’m so happy for you.’ I’m so proud to be part of his career and to see how hard he works every day,” said Suarez.
How can one not root for and pull for a genuine guy like Suarez?